Germany Moves To Expand Anti-Free Speech Laws With The Criminalization Of Flag Burning

Recently we discussed how decades of anti-free speech policies in Germany have reduced the expectations of citizens in that country to the level of an authoritarian regime. A survey, conducted by the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach(and published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) found that only 18 percent of Germans feel free to express their views in public. Undeterred, leaders have called for greater limits on free speech during election periods — a concept that would normally be viewed as counterintuitive outside of the new European model. In addition, Germany just announced that it would expand anti-free speech laws even further to criminalize the burning of flags — an expression of free speech protected in this country.

For years, we have discussed the unrelenting attacks on free speech in Europe with the expansion of hate speech laws and the general criminalization of speech, including international speech crimes. France has also been a leader in the crackdown on free speech. Most concerning is the call for European style speech limits in this country.

German lawmakers have been pushing for a flag burning crime since 2017 when Israeli flags were burned at a protest in Berlin. As always, the response to seeing offensive forms of speech in Germany is to make it a crime. The new law would impose fines or prison sentences on those who burned a national flag. Burning the German flag is already a crime.

Junior Justice Minister Christian Lange was the perfect spokesperson for those who oppose free speech of those with whom they disagree. He said simply “We will not allow these symbolic acts of hatred and contempt to continue.” Problem solved. If you find the speech of others to be contemptible, you throw them in jail and threaten any other speakers that they will be arrested if they utter thoughts deemed offensive to the majority.

President Donald Trump has called for the criminalization of flag burning.  However, in the United States, the destruction of the flag remains a protected form of free speech. In Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), the Supreme Court voted 5-4 that flag burning was protected speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is considered one of the core cases defining free speech in the United States. Brennan was joined by Marshall, Blackmun, Scalia, and Kennedy (Kennedy wrote a concurrence). I agree with the decision as did conservatives like Scalia. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a powerful concurrence where he famously stated:

Justice Kennedy
Justice Kennedy

“For we are presented with a clear and simple statute to be judged against a pure command of the Constitution. The outcome can be laid at no door but ours. The hard fact is that sometimes we must make decisions we do not like. We make them because they are right, right in the sense that the law and the Constitution, as we see them, compel the result. And so great is our commitment to the process that, except in the rare case, we do not pause to express distaste for the result, perhaps for fear of undermining a valued principle that dictates the decision. This is one of those rare cases.

Though symbols often are what we ourselves make of them, the flag is constant in expressing beliefs Americans share, beliefs in law and peace and that freedom which sustains the human spirit. The case here today forces recognition of the costs to which those beliefs commit us. It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt.”

What is most frustrating is to see these legislators bask in the glory of suppressing free speech. CDU justice committee spokesman, Jan-Marco Luczak, declared flag-burning “should not be allowed in civilized countries.” Actually, what defines a civilized country or at least a country with civil liberties is free speech. Luczak longs for the civilized values of Iran, Russia, China, and other countries that impose majority values on dissenting voices.

I readily admit to following the classic liberal view of free speech. The solution to bad speech — even hateful speech — to more speech. It is free speech that allows people of conscience to contest the flawed and hateful ideas of bigots. Germany has proven the fallacy of changing minds through threatened prosecution.  While I am certainly sympathetic to the Germans in seeking to end the scourge of fascism, I have long been a critic of the German laws prohibiting certain symbols and phrases, I view it as not just a violation of free speech but a futile effort to stamp but extremism by barring certain symbols. Instead, extremists have rallied around an underground culture and embraced symbols that closely resemble those banned by the government. I fail to see how arresting a man for a Hitler ringtone is achieving a meaningful level of deterrence, even if you ignore the free speech implications.

We discussed how Germany is extending its criminalization of speech to the Internet.  Germany imposed a legal regime that would allow fining social networks such as Facebook up to 500,000 euros ($522,000) for each day the platform leaves a “fake news” story up without deleting it. Governments have finally found a vehicle to get citizens to allow them to curtail or chill speech — ironically in the name of facilitating “real news” or “truth.” It is perfectly Orwellian and Merkel’s contribution to the erosion of free speech in the West.

Germany however remains hellbent on leading the free world to give up this core freedom. It often claims the need to fight free speech because of its ugly history under Hitler. However, the first thing that the Nazis did was crackdown on free speech. Free speech is not the cause of but the defense against extremism. Denying freedom in the name of freedom is an Orwellian concept that is taking hold around the world. It gives an excuse for people, including many liberal organizations, to deny the free speech in others while claiming to fight intolerance. Obviously, the denial of free speech is the very embodiment of intolerance.

53 thoughts on “Germany Moves To Expand Anti-Free Speech Laws With The Criminalization Of Flag Burning”

  1. I see that Germany has not learned one thing from Hitler’s crimes against his people and all humanity. Not a good fact to show that Angela Merkel knows anything about real democracy.

  2. Germany seems determined to re-establish the stereotype of its government as rigid, regimented and totalitarian. Fred speech is the keystone freedom. If you are not free to speak, you can’t protest denial of other freedoms.

    1. Let’s try that once more:
      Germany seems determined to re-establish the stereotype of its government as rigid, regimented and totalitarian. Free speech is the keystone freedom. If you are not free to speak, you can’t protest denial of other freedoms. Germany is setting themselves up to repeate the tragic mistake of the Nuremberg Laws – by denying people within its borders the crucial rfeedom to engage in graphic dissent.

  3. This is free speech at its most glorious. These young women rock!

    👍🏽

    “The coolest thing that we did today is that we jumped in front of the women’s March with our pro life science and our pro life chance and it was amazing. I mean even really just feel the energy shift in the entire space we really stirred things up and we brought a pro-life narrative to this message

    because so many times people think Planned Parenthood or NARAL or the abortion agenda is something that is Pro woman and I’m here to tell you and the young women’s generation is here to tell you that it is not.

    We are profoundly Pro-woman, we are pro-family, we are pro children and we don’t need abortion. women don’t need abortion to be liberated or to be in a working world or to be the same as men. that is insulting to me as a woman, to think that abortion is somehow in any way a gift to me or to help me liberate myself. I would never want to liberate myself by decimating somebody else. that’s not liberation, that’s a lie. it’s a lie that’s been fed to women everywhere.

    we just witnessed some amazing students who are out here in the front lines chanting their voices out to represent this pro-life generation and this amazing pro-life movement now we all get to be a part of and it was actually a really successful day we counter protested their March they did not see it coming”

    1. Estovir, who’s the ‘we’ in your comment? ‘Guys who speak for their wives and daughters?’ You you live in a Reagan Neverland where everyone is happily married in upper-middleclass comfort?

  4. Not sure banning flag burning is depriving free speech. SCOTUS only resolved it 5-4 in Texas v. Johnson and the logic is less than compelling, May I throw red paint on the Washington Monument and call it free speech? I’m a citizen with an ownership interest right?

    1. May I throw red paint on the Washington Monument and call it free speech?
      _____________________________________________
      Yes you may if you first buy the Washington Monument and legally own it.
      If you burn or throw paint on a flag that belongs to somebody else, that is not protected speech. But if its your own flag why would you not be able to do what you like with it as long as you don’t hurt anybody.

  5. Trump Seeks To Federalize Enforcement Of Volunteer School Prayers

    The new rule would also streamline the process of complaints against a school district that denies someone’s right to prayer. Under the new guidance, if a state Department of Education is aware of a prayer-related lawsuit it must report it to the U.S. Department of Education.

    “The Department’s efforts will level the playing field between religious and non-religious organizations competing for federal grants, as well as protect First Amendment freedoms on campus and the religious liberty of faith-based institutions,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

    Members of the Congressional Freethought Caucus slammed the proposed rules in a statement Thursday, calling Trump’s guidance the “latest attack on our Constitution.”

    Democratic Reps. Jared Huffman and Jamie Raskin said in a joint statement that the regulations proposed by the various agencies “seek to muddy the clear and distinct separation of church and state.”

    “In America, people have the right to make decisions about their own religious practices,” the lawmakers said in a statement issued to McClatchy. “The Congressional Freethought Caucus is resolutely opposed to President Trump’s latest affront to the Constitution.”

    Edited From: “Trump Plans New School Prayer Rules For Religious Freedom Day”

    McClatchy DC, 1/16/20
    ……………………………………………………….
    It’s odd that Professor Turley felt compelled to write a column about free speech in Germany when the Trump administration issued this decree on Wednesday. We would have enjoyed the Professor’s take on this issue. Should enforcement of volunteer school prayers really be federalized,?

    1. “Members of the Congressional Freethought Caucus ”

      Bwahahahahahaha

      Hysterical Peter! You’re are funny! Next you’ll be saying you have a girlfriend!!!

      Bwahahahaahahaha

      👻👻👻

      1. Beatrix,
        I believe he has morphed into “Enoch Poor”, then “”John Burgoyne” in a matter of minutes.

        1. Anonymous, you’re too gutless to use ‘any’ name. What a loser you are! I bet you’re really the long concealed Tom Nash.

          1. I thought that Seth/ Phillip/ Peter/ Burgoyne/ Enoch etc. already bet that I was Estovir.
            I bet that one of the NFL teams in the playoffs will win the Superbowl.

            1. I thought that Seth/ Phillip/ Peter/ Burgoyne/ Enoch etc. already bet that I was Estovir.
              I bet that one of the NFL teams in the playoffs will win the Superbowl.

              When I joined this blog last year, Peter Hill was seeing Estovir in all posts. Soon the regulars on here were mocking him because he was paranoid about me lurking under every rock, All this initially stunned me because I took this blog to be a scholarly legal forum. Soon I caught on to Peter’s troll script: insult, mock, scream and kick like a girl in order to silence me, a classic David Brock and Saul Alinsky tactic

              One year later Im amused, flattered and flattered Peter sees me as his Kryptonite

              If my online presence, real or perceived by him, makes him this batsheet crazy, meeting me would convert him to Catholicism or set himself on fire

              Lets do it Peter.

              1. Estovir, you’re ‘kryptonite’..?? You can’t form an argument. Seriously! We have never seen you present a real political argument. You dont know how. You’re an anti-abortion activist who fancies himself as political but you’re more like a wannabe. That’s why you resort to gay-centric harrssment. That’s all you know.

  6. Angela Merkel will retire ONLY when she has inflicted so much damage on the EU and Germany that it will take decades to return Europe to the bastion of freedom that it once held. Does Merkel sound just a bit like N. Pelosi? God, can you imagine both of them in charge of your life? God help us all.

  7. “Found that only 18 percent of Germans feel free to express their views in public. Undeterred, leaders have called for greater limits on free speech during election periods — a concept that would normally be viewed as counterintuitive outside of the new European model. BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. A COUNTRY COULD BECOME ANOTHER ‘IRAN’

  8. For the uninitiated, Angela Merkel is a barren, narcissistic, stone-cold, dyed-in-the-wool, East German Communist despot and enemy.
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    How Angela Merkel’s Communist Roots Caused Her Downfall”

    “How many people were shot crossing the Berlin Wall from West to East?” was a useful anti-Marxist dialectical query in university debates (in the days when non-leftists were allowed to speak in universities). It highlighted the lack of eastbound traffic out of the capitalist West into the whimsically named German Democratic Republic.

    Such migration, though rare, was not completely nonexistent. In 1954, for example, Horst Kasner, a Protestant pastor of strongly leftist convictions, voluntarily moved from capitalist Hamburg to East Germany, taking with him his wife and weeks-old daughter Angela. Today that infant is the embattled acting Chancellor of Germany.

    To come anywhere near understanding the enigma that is Angela Merkel it is necessary to explore her early life as a Communist activist in East Germany. Among the photo-shopped images of her displayed online, satirically portraying her in Nazi uniform, there is one genuine photograph. It shows her wearing the uniform of the Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ), the East German Communist equivalent of the Hitler Youth or Soviet Young Pioneers, in company with other members of the GDR nomenklatura.

    Merkel was seldom interrogated about her Communist past for most of her political career: in Germany, too many people have sensitive histories involving personal or family service of one form of totalitarianism or another for such questioning to be considered good form. Merkel admitted to her former FDJ involvement, but insisted her activities were purely “cultural”, involving mainly the purchase of theatre tickets.

    In 2013, however, a new biography, “The First Life of Angela M”, exposed her as the former FDJ Secretary for Agitation and Propaganda (“Agitprop”) at the Academy of Sciences in East Berlin. Agitprop was at the sharp end of the ideological war, involving the aggressive inculcation of Marxism-Leninism among her colleagues. It would never have been entrusted to a lukewarm Communist. Theatre tickets, anyone?

    As a schoolgirl, Merkel took pains to learn fluent Russian – she could be seen learning vocabulary even while waiting at the bus stop – and at age 15 won the local Russian language “Olympics”. This was an obvious indication of her ambition: learning the language of East Germany’s Soviet masters would be of considerable advantage in pursuing a career in the Communist hierarchy.

    – Reaction.Life

    https://reaction.life/angela-merkels-communist-roots-caused-downfall/
    _______________________________________________________

    “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

    – William Casey, CIA Director 1981-1987

  9. Politicians represent arguably the greatest existential threat to liberty. And yet people continue to look at them as the answer to all that ails them. Thus, the cycle of willing abandonment of their rights to propel their politician to office continues to be used against them. Not only are the sheep leading themselves to slaughter, they willingly provide the knife under the illusion that it will be used against a perceived enemy.

    1. Absent a state which protects rights and the interests of the commons, your rights end with the powerful neighbor with goons or the neighboring tribe. Someone has to man and operate the state and we are fortunate to live in a democracy where we elect those people. I recommend googling “most lawless countries in the world” and visit some on your next vacation.

      1. – Congress may make laws which establish security and infrastructure but Congress may not legislate redistribution of wealth or to regulate other than money and commerce. Congress has the power to “…make all laws…” against existential threats such as property damage and bodily injury and to tax for “…general Welfare…” but Congress has no power to tax for “individual welfare” or any form of redistribution of wealth or charity, which is deliberately omitted and, thereby, deliberately excluded.

        – Congress may not legislate to claim or exercise dominion over private property (i.e. affirmative action, minimum wage). Congress may merely and comprehensively “take” private property for the public good under Eminent Domain. The right to private property is unqualified in the Constitution and is, therefore, absolute.
        ____________________________________________________________

        Article 1, Section 8

        The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States;

        To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

        To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

        To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
        ___________________________________________________________________________________

        In a related consideration, the President must be considered to have the right to temporarily “engage in war” if a state may do so under certain circumstances. Nancy Pelosi is a fraud who might take the time to actually read the Constitution.
        _______________________________________________________________________________________

        Article 1, Section 10

        No state shall,…engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

    2. Politicians represent arguably the greatest existential threat to liberty. And yet people continue to look at them as the answer to all that ails them.

      They don’t. The court system, regulatory inspectorates, the professional associations, the school apparat, higher education, the tech companies, &c are all worse threats than the general run of elected officials. The problem has been that elected officials have crapped out on oversight pretty much everywhere.

      1. “The problem has been that elected officials have crapped out on oversight pretty much everywhere.”

        Yep.

  10. IT IS THE CONSTITUTION “THAT’S ONE SMALL STEP FOR (A) MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND.”

    The American Founders described constitutional rights and freedoms as natural and God-given. To them, these rights must be and are ubiquitous, global and universal. The concept is simple, either people are free or enslaved. The only reason for governments to deny any rights is to impose a tyrannical and oppressive dictatorship by power-hungry despots. Laws and statutes must be limited to addressing existential threats such as property damage and bodily injury, leaving individuals to fully private, self-regulating freedom and free markets. At some point, America and the rest of the world must acknowledge that all natural and/or God-given rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities belong to all people everywhere, and put an end to dictatorial collectivism in any form in any place.
    _________________________________

    “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…”

    1st Amendment

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  11. Burning a flag is not speech, any more than would be torching some appellate judge’s chambers. It may be inane and abusive to prohibit burning flags, but it’s not an injury to public deliberation. An open forum for discussion is why we have principles of free speech incorporated into law.

    And you never acknowledge the source of this: European politicians are more influenced by the intellectual class than are American politicians. As far as the faculty are concerned, free speech is for peers. Appellate judges might be their peers, but the rest of us aren’t. As far as faculty members are concerned, what we call ‘free speech’ makes no more sense than allowing the building custodians on their campus to serve on faculty committees. As always, if you want to know the source of the pathology, all you have to do is look around you.

  12. SCOTUS To Revisit Contraceptive Coverage

    As Trump Seeks To Expand Denial Of

    The U.S. Supreme Court says it will consider whether employers should be allowed to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage to their workers because of moral or religious objections.

    At issue are Trump administration regulations allowing employers to claim such exemptions to the contraceptive insurance coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which requires most employer-provided plans to include birth control coverage without a copay. Churches and other religious organizations already can opt out of the requirement, but the Trump administration has sought to expand that exemption to include a wider array of businesses and organizations.

    Pennsylvania and New Jersey challenged the Trump administration regulation and won a nationwide injunction temporarily blocking the rules.

    Brigitte Amiri, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, called the Trump administration rules “an attempt to rob people of their contraception coverage.” The ACLU filed an amicus brief in the case opposing the Trump rule.

    It’s not the first time the Supreme Court has considered the issue. In 2014, the court sided with the conservative Christian owners of the national craft chain Hobby Lobby in a case challenging the contraceptive mandate on religious grounds.

    Amiri said that this case goes further and that it’s hard to predict how many employees could be affected if the court sides with the administration.

    Kristen Waggoner, an attorney with the religious liberty group the Alliance Defending Freedom, said the case could have far-reaching implications for other businesses and organizations that oppose providing contraception through their health plans.

    Waggoner’s group is representing the anti-abortion rights group the March for Life in a related case that is also working its way through the legal system.

    In a statement, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, “Two federal courts have blocked the Trump Administration’s rules because they would allow virtually any employer to deny women access to contraception for any reason—including the belief that women should not be in the workforce” and expressed hope that the Supreme Court would ultimately strike down the rules.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment on pending litigation.

    Edited from: “Supreme Court Takes Up Birth Control Concience Case,”

    NPR 1/17/20

    1. As Trump Seeks To Expand Denial Of The U.S. Supreme Court says it will consider whether employers should be allowed to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage to their workers because of moral or religious objections.

      The intramural culture of the Democratic Party could not be more puerile and inane. You’re ‘denied’ something when some other party cannot be coerced into providing it for you. (Diane, Enigma and Gainesville are too canny to be this revealing and Jill and Natacha are so kooky no one ever reads what they write line-by-line).

    2. Regarding Above:

      The fact that SCOTUS is electing to hear this issue again suggests, perhaps, that conservative members are partial to Trump Administration efforts to expand religious exemptions. Though it strains credibility to think the American public really wants to limit contraceptive coverage. Historically insurance providers had no objections to offering said coverage. It was cheaper for them than paying out maternity-related claims.

      However the so-called Christian Right is an essential constituency for Republicans and this is an election year. Therefore the American public has to be harrassed with frivolous claims of ‘religious liberty’. In this spirit the Administration wants to pursue ‘religious liberty’ at the expense of our secular majority. And sadly the conservative-dominated Supreme Court seems willing to indulge this tyranny.

      As I have frequently noted a peculiar irony exists in the sense that Donald Trump was, for decades, one of America’s best-known playboys. “The Apprentice” was largely built around Trump’s image as a playboy con man. Trump did not get that show because he was considered a God-fearing family man.

      1. Though it strains credibility to think the American public really wants to limit contraceptive coverage.

        Pay for your own condoms, Peter.

        That aside, electing to purchase contraceptives is not an event which requires or benefits from risk-pooling services, any more than is purchasing mouthwash or Clearisil.

        1. Tabby, birth control pills for women have applications other than birth control. They are widely prescribed for health issues having nothing to do with birth control. This aspect of the matter was reported in depth back in 2014 when Rush Limbaugh weighed in on the matter with stupid, sexist remarks.

          Again, the insurance providers never had a problem with offering birth control coverage. This is just an artificial controversy ginned-up by the so-called Christian Right which is not representative of the mainstream public.

          1. They are widely prescribed for health issues having nothing to do with birth control.

            They aren’t.

            That aside, prescription coverage for dual-use pharmaceuticals has not been a matter of controversy, and you know it.

            Again, the insurance providers never had a problem with offering birth control coverage. This is just an artificial controversy ginned-up by the so-called Christian Right which is not representative of the mainstream public.

            So what? The question at hand is whether or not employer x should be compelled to offer a particular fringe benefit against its better judgment. Your whole argument turns on the assumption that the preference of people who don’t think like you are of no account. And, as demonstrated, compelling employers to provide contraceptives is perfectly gratuitous. Piss off.

            1. TABBY YOU’RE LYING!

              Birth control pills are prescribed for many ailments. Women who work at Catholic hospitals and universities shouldn’t be hassled because of stupid ‘religious liberty’ laws. Religious Liberty shouldn’t empower employers to limit health choices. That’s tyranny of the minority.

              Below is an article listing the conditions for which birth control pills are prescribed.

              https://youngwomenshealth.org/2011/10/18/medical-uses-of-the-birth-control-pill/

              1. Birth control pills are prescribed for many ailments.

                No, they’re not. In any case, such dual uses have never been a matter of controversy.

                1. Tabby, you’re doubling down on a falsehood here. That article I posted clearly lists the uses. And this ‘has’ been a matter of controversy. It all came up in 2014 when SCOTUS was hearing arguments on the Hobby Lobby case.

                  You’re taking a typical Trumpian position here by doubling down on the falsehood and insisting that science doesn’t apply. And this illustrates everything that is wrong with this presidency and the effect it has on supporters.

                  1. And this ‘has’ been a matter of controversy.

                    It hasn’t. That some lawyer used it as a talking point is of no account.

                    1. Tabby, I’m sure ‘you’ missed this story when it first played out. Mainstream media covered it extensively. A young woman named Sandra Fluke was in the middle of this controversy. But the story, no doubt, never played in the rightwing bubble.

    3. Making birth control plentiful and accessible serves important individual and social interests. Even pro life citizens should get this.

      1. Actually, its a social contagion, but that is not at issue in this discussion.

        We have a social mechanism which makes contraceptives ‘plentiful’ and ‘accessible’. It’s called the market. People who wish to purchase a good or a service take money out of their wallet and purchase it. Seldom any social benefit from cross-subsidies.

  13. I guess de-Nazification didn’t work hey? But it serves a purpose. What your going to get if Comrade Pelosilyni, Comrade Schumer and the rest of the similar far left socialists adding in the International to the regressive liberals to the National Socialists. Vote No to the ‘D’s and their foreign ideology and dont forget RINO or DINO they are the same thing.

    Constitutional Centrist Coalition – 40% in 2016 and still growing,

    Constitutionalism vs socialism
    Independence vs serfdom.

  14. The Germans have mastered the concept of “tyranny of the majority”.

    A few at the top decide on a favored course of action and then impose it socially with the vast majority of people dutifully following orders.

    In Germany, the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

    For another example of German group bullying, see this video of German kids taught to sing: “My grandmother is an environmental pig”.

    https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/newslondon/song-that-describes-grandmother-as-environmental-pig-pulled-by-german-broadcaster-over-claims-of-promoting-generational-conflict/ar-BBYsHnb

  15. Needless to say you won’t find any Germans criticizing your anti-German bigotry here because that country has gone dark – free public speech is NOT permitted, particularly so when documented on the Net.

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