who "owns" the wilderness?

3:07 p.m. on December 20, 2008 (EST)
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kutenay wrote this in the gear selection forum:
: I DO NOT agree with those who state that the wilderness is : "the Grizzlies territory" and humans are intruders there...

This is an interesting comment which struck a chord with me for some reason. I guess it's something I think about each time I venture "out there".

I think of the wilderness as the "home" of those who live there (wild animals). We don't live there except where we continue to encroach on those spaces with "development". While I don't necessarily think humans are "intruders" there (we all share this planet), I do think of us as "visitors".

What do the rest of you think?

11:45 a.m. on December 21, 2008 (EST)
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I guess I do view myself as a visitor in the wilderness as I would to another persons home, I try to respect both. Both man and animal have at one time lived in the wilderness together. We have made our choices to be where we are today and how we live, animals do not have that choice unfortunately, we make choices for them. Since we are the decision makers we need to make them responsibily, listening to experts in many fields, then compiling all the information to make informed decisions that are benefit to all in the long run. Compromise is often hard but it is possible and I believe the answer, someone may have to take less in the short term to gain in the long. As humans we all have our own agendas but we have to set that aside at times and look at the big picture and try to see what will be the best for the world around us!

2:00 p.m. on December 21, 2008 (EST)
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I think you would need to learn more about Kutenay and his upbringing/background to really understand that statement. I might suggest you do a search and read a bit more about him before making any judgments on that statement.

2:40 p.m. on December 21, 2008 (EST)
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I hardly qualify as a subject of research, internet or otherwise and my comment was actually VERY simple. Briefly put, my thinking concerning the human place in the cosmos is derived from a mixture of my Roman Catholic private school upbringing, my fairly intense wilderness experience and my stint at post-secondary education in the "student revolution" era.

I think that humans ARE a part of the Biosphere and this means, IMO, that we are an essential aspect of wilderness. One obvious (or should be) aspect of this is that "wilderness" is ONLY defined by humans and post-industrial humans at that. It is a STATE OF MIND and we define it anew in every generation.

My late brother, among the most brilliant scholastic minds I have ever known, once remarked to me that when our ancestors came to North America, in the early 17thC., the wilderness WAS the "enemy" and humans HAD to subdue it to merely survive. This was largely a factual truth until the post-WWII period, when backpacking in a recreational sense began. We did not backpack for "fun" when I was a boy, it was a necessary and usually unpleasant aspect of work.

So, I think that Neil Young's wailing lament of 40 years ago, "we need to get ourselves back to the garden", an essentially Christian AND "Animist" feeling and one I profoundly share, was and is an accurate depiction of the basis of contemporary social malaise. We ARE a natural part of wilderness and simply need to learn how to interact positively with it as we do with the anthropomorphic aspects of the planet we inhabit.

I feel very relaxed and "at home" in remote wilderness and always have, BUT, I do not discount the inherent dangers and take steps to cope with those. I also require human interaction and do not try to pretend that I am "Davy Crewcut" the ultimate...well, you get the idea.

So, that is what I think concerning this topic; it IS "natural" for me to hunt, but, I deliberately restrict my killing as I am a member of the only species, as far as we now know, that can both conceive of "wilderness", harvest it and still protect it in perpetuity. It is much easier to contemplate this when sitting on a lookout tower surveying hundreds of sq. miles of un-touched wilderness than here in Vancouver...and that is what we need to re-consider, given our oftimes destructive interaction with all of the other aspects of the planet.

7:21 p.m. on December 22, 2008 (EST)
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Man started out in the wilderness and is always drawn back to the wilderness. That wildness is a part of every man. Even the most domesticated. Man may have tamed parts of the wilderness, moved mountains and changed the course of rivers, but he will forever still be a part of that wilderness.

9:10 p.m. on December 22, 2008 (EST)
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: I think you would need to learn more about Kutenay and his
: upbringing/background to really understand that statement.
: I might suggest you do a search and read a bit more about
: him before making any judgments on that statement.

Well, geeze, I apologize if it seemed like I was "making judgments on his statement. From my perspective, I saw the statement, found it intriguing, and thought it would make an interesting topic for discussion. It never occurred to me to "research" the person's background before posting.

No offense was intended. If anything, it's more of a compliment ... "hey, that was an intriguing comment". :)

12:30 p.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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I may be wrong but I think we have a misunderstanding happening. When I read bheiser's first thread I didn't take anything negative from it aimed at kutenay. When I read "struck a chord" I assumed he was referring to the statement in that it made him do some thinking about his own feelings on the subject. We all have our own thoughts and feelings that is why we are called individuals, what is right for one person may be wrong for another. These forums are very useful for gaining experience and knowledge from other peoples mistakes and successes. Opinions are just what they are "opinions". We all have our own and should try to respect others even if they are different!

12:59 p.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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Well, geeze, I apologize if it seemed like I was "making judgments on his statement. From my perspective, I saw the statement, found it intriguing, and thought it would make an interesting topic for discussion. It never occurred to me to "research" the person's background before posting.

Yes, a misunderstanding. I have read and enjoyed many of kutenay's postings. I appreciate the perspective from someone who really "lives it" and does not go out to visit "it".

It was a great statement to begin a thread on and great topic for conversation. I just wanted to make sure we did not make the conversation about kutenay since he was of course credited with the statement. His background and exposure to what I would call true wilderness formulates the basis for his position on the subject which may differ greatly from those of us who are just visiting. There are some folks out there who would see him strung up over a fire ant mound for such a brazen statement and to insinuate humans are part of the wilderness. I think the farther away you get from the city the more people perceive themselves to be part of the ecosystem. The closer to the city, the ecosystem is something out in the country. I can only relate this through the flush of a toilet. In the city you push the handle and it goes away, in the wilderness its a bit more complicated. You have a greater understanding and appreciation of your impact on the environment.


My position on the subject, no one owns it. Wilderness is not theirs our ours, it is wilderness where exists a tender equilibrium which can be destroyed at the hand of humans if not well managed. The best example is the Bison. This beautiful creature once co-existed with humans for thousands of years. Fast forward to the arrival of the early explorers. Bison numbering 60 million, (est.) seemingly an endless supply of fur, was hunted to near extinction. At one point the number of remaining Bison was put at 300. The boom in the fur trading industry and the arrival of the railroad all but sealed their fate providing easy transportation of the harvested hides. Sadly most of the rest of the animal went to waste, including the meat. With strict regulation that number has rebounded to around 150,000. (We could go on here about 60 million bison being to many and that they were destroying the environment,...but lets not)

In conclusion, its not our our theirs however we are the only ones with the capacity to destroy it. Its easier to say it is theirs and we are just visiting to get that point across.

6:19 p.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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I own the wilderness and will now be charging a fee. Please have proper change.

6:50 p.m. on December 23, 2008 (EST)
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Ahem....sorry ol' boy, but the government has beat you to it.

It costs me $33.00 for a three day non-resident fishing permit when I travel to TN. and to beat it all, they have rules too!

9:16 a.m. on December 24, 2008 (EST)
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Government doesn't like competition.

8:45 p.m. on December 24, 2008 (EST)
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You said it!

11:59 p.m. on December 24, 2008 (EST)
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Have you noticed the signs that used to say "This is your Park" no longer do outside most if not all National Parks.
I remember when the hiking permits were not manitory and were voluntary back in the late 1970's. Now just to hike and not take anything from the land but pictures it cost us money paid to the government. Some places even want to charge to take pictures if you profit from their taking.
Someday we may not be able to walk the land but have to look at it in pictures and from a fence like looking at animals in the zoo.

8:32 a.m. on December 25, 2008 (EST)
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As a wildlife rehabilitator, I often get calls about problem bears, skunks, snakes and other animals. People always want to know "How do I get that animal out of MY yard?"

I always begin my answer with "The animals were there first, and they'll be there long after you're gone. They're not living in your yard, you moved into THEIRS." Animals own the land, we're just visitors.

If we have to pay a fee because others did so much damage before us, then so be it. If someone doesn't pay to protect the land, then it will be soon gone. I read somewhere, that only 4 percent of the nation's (US) natural forests remain as they were 200 years ago. Animals didn't do that, we did.

8:59 a.m. on December 25, 2008 (EST)
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THAT is the attitude that I was referring to when I made the original statement which this thread is based on and it is not only a derivation of the "Judeo-Christian" attitude toward the Biosphere, it is essentially wrong.

Homo Sapiens ARE a "natural" species, just as Blue Whales, Grizzlies, cute little Harp Seal pups and even Cockroaches. We ALL inhabit this planet and are all a product of the continuous evolutionary process we see in action around us; my presence in a wilderness area is as "natural" as that of ANY other organism.

The "fee" issue is a separate discussion and one I do not wish to address at the moment as the various jurisdictions are different, i.e., I live and have worked in B.C., Canada.

WHEN and IF, we humans SEE ourselves as a part of nature and regulate our behaviour accordingly on a personal basis and worldwide scale, THEN, we may "save" the land. All other approaches, especially those that stress our separation from "nature" and our supposed superiority, i.e., "crown of creation" and all that crap, are doomed to failure...and the history of the onslaught on North American resource wealth demonstrates this all too strongly.

I do not and have never needed to call the various government factotums to deal with wildlife in my backyard and neither did/do my neighbours. This is due to the practical learning of coping techniques derived from my philosophy about my place in the Biosphere and the Cosmos at large.

Much of the alteration and serial progression of forest ecotypes is in fact caused by animals and only secondarily by humans. ALL organisms alter their environment and ambient change is the one constant factor of the environment that we can measure. The tiny organisms that build coral reefs are the usual example to demonstrate this.

I could go on in depth and at large, but, I have a whack of snow to shovel before my basement floods. Damm B.C. weather, the avalanche hazard is at "extreme" again and some of the best snowshoe places are pretty scarey, but, we will go on Sunday or Monday to put on a few miles and take some photos.

10:43 a.m. on December 25, 2008 (EST)
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I have to disagree a little. I think a women is the crown of all creation. I mean, come on, a women is more beauty than the eye can behold. Nobody paints naked men, art is full of women. I think all of creation reflects great beauty and a great woman is the crown of that creation.

:) Then again, I'm young.

11:38 a.m. on December 25, 2008 (EST)
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Yes, we humans have been a part of the land since time eternal, even if we evolved from lower or other species. We have just overtaken our place on the earth and subdued it as the christian way has said to do. "Be fruitful and multiply" we have surely done that! Maybe too much? 6 billion of us in some 100's of thousands of years.
Maybe someday when we have overtaken it and the earth has shown us finally that we are not totally in charge we will have finally learned to live on it in peace.

2:35 p.m. on December 27, 2008 (EST)
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Who owns the wilderness?

Merry Christmas to all.
Dealing with the FEE issue, like Kutenay, I live, work, and play in B.C., Canada. I will address the fee issue as best I understand it. Our Federal Government controlled parks for the most part have entrance fee’s some of which have been in place for many years. These fee’s, first brought in to help offset the damage caused by the unwitting public, were supposed to be used to repair, enhance the individual park. Later as Federal funding for projects was reduced more and more Federal Parks have become Fee collecting units, service has declined, been obliterated, or a fee has been imposed for said service. All of this as cost saving measures of course. If I understand correctly the fees collected are not left to the individual park itself but thrown into the general revenue.

The Provincial parks are being operated the same way, although one of the measures brought into place has since seen a decline. The Provincial Government started to charge a parking fee (with tow away possible if not paid) for many of the most popular parks. Locally it was a dismal failure, though still promoted in some parks. The number of visitors declined, with resulting loss of fees. Many of the parking lots became vandalized, often, so that if you showed up in the park, with the right change for the parking machine, it could not provide you with the required paid ticket. Result was that you risked all by staying and exploring that particular park with out a ticket. Again decline of fees collected. The Government has wisely reduced the number of parks charging a parking fee, collecting at only those that are close to urban areas, with a very large volume of visitors. The parking, camping fees, and or sale of fire wood all go to the general revenue accounts of the Provincial government.

The sales pitch used on us the owners of all this was that in other parts of the world the entrance fee or charge was much greater and that we should be charging the same or more for the same thing. Greedy Government. The government has reduced the amount of funds to the Ministry of Parks, with the expectation that the ministry make up the difference with their own fund raising efforts. With this mentality we have also seen a large rise in the Private Contractor supplying many of the services (at a cost to the user) previously provided by the government.

Who owns the wilderness?
The short answer is that we all “own” the wilderness. Or rather that the wilderness owns us.
Man has seen fit to think that we can build nature, move nature, replace nature as well as divide up nature amongst ourselves. Man thinks that we can do as we please, as we see fit without consequence. As a whole we are just beginning to learn and understand that we can and are altering nature in ways we really don’t want to. Nature reminds us by way of natural disaster, such as flood, fire, hurricane/typhoon, or drought, that we do not have the control that we would like.
People who see the old 55 Chevy rusting out and almost covered in moss think that nature is recovering from mans impact. I say, where that Chevy is moss covered, nature has been altered there, and only looks like the surrounding area. Animals may use the old car for a home, they also would and do use dead fall, or standing dead or living trees as homes. The animal may be seen as adapting as best they can. The animal cares little for man and looks only for its own survival.

11:51 p.m. on December 27, 2008 (EST)
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The short answer is that we all “own” the wilderness.

I prefer to say we are all responsible for the wilderness

The problem I see with everyone "owning" something is this:

When something is owned by everyone, no one takes responsibility for it. Most assume someone else will take care of it.

Example: A public street. You find trash on it, in increasing quantity, every day, but almost no one (average citizen) would think to bend over and pick something up. It's someone else's job. But just try to tell Mr./Mrs. Citizen they can't use that street and you'll hear the "I'm a citizen of this town, I paid for that street..." comments.

8:38 a.m. on January 2, 2009 (EST)
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I prefer to say we are all responsible for the wilderness.


I personally believe the earth and everything in it is the personal property of God himself. And I had better respect HIS property, because I will be held to give answer for it one day.

11:00 a.m. on January 2, 2009 (EST)
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I like Mikekey's quote on the subject, "Man started out in wilderness and is always drawn back to the wilderness."

The US government and the bureaucrats of the government actually own the wilderness. Ask the Indians and they'll tell you their individual tribe's history of how the US gov. and the US Army took their wilderness and kicked them off the land. And going along with BigSmoke, the buffalo bloodbath was part of the Indian final solution, to deprive the Indians of their spiritual and material sustenance by the mass slaughter of the bison herds(along with the cultural and physical genocide of the Am. Indians).

Hand in hand with this is the Christian attitude towards "Nature" and ecological historians such as Roderick Frazier Nash have written books on the subject. Here's a good sample quote from his book THE RIGHTS OF NATURE: "Didn't the book of Genesis say "be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it"? Christian crosses became symbols of vanishing wilderness: bulldozers of the spirit."

But beyond the mere puny activity of excessive human numbers, wilderness is the chosen form of the observable universe. It is everywhere. In fact, the universe is one big wilderness area, so wild that a human would find it impossible to endure the high winds, low temps and extreme heat of other planets. Some people here on Earth want to test themselves by climbing into the Death Zone and enduring sub-zero cold and high winds. How about going to another planet and climbing a 60,000 foot mountain in minus 250 degrees?

So wilderness is a reality of everything natural, and even though rodent-eyed humans seem bent on disfiguring the wild lands with their over-population, foul air and filthy water in their zeal to "tame" the land, in the long term(100 million years), it's a blip on the earth's history. This current human construct is temporary. The dinosaurs where around in wilderness for about 165 million years and where are the big beasts now? The modern human has been around for 200,000 years and where are we headed? Who's in charge? And why do we as a species seem to hate wilderness?

11:28 a.m. on January 2, 2009 (EST)
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Hand in hand with this is the Christian attitude towards "Nature" and ecological historians such as Roderick Frazier Nash have written books on the subject. Here's a good sample quote from his book THE RIGHTS OF NATURE: "Didn't the book of Genesis say "be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it"? Christian crosses became symbols of vanishing wilderness: bulldozers of the spirit."

I would disagree with your and Frazier's belief that Christianity = disregard for nature. The biblical record gives plenty of imperatives about how man is to be a good steward of both land and animals.

The dinosaurs where around in wilderness for about 165 million years and where are the big beasts now? The modern human has been around for 200,000 years and where are we headed? Who's in charge? And why do we as a species seem to hate wilderness?

The biblical record provides answers to these questions as well, but most refuse to accept the truth. Why does man "hate" the wilderness? The same reason he hates his fellow man: pride, selfishness, envy, greed (or, what the Bible calls sin).

8:43 p.m. on January 2, 2009 (EST)
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Without getting into a religious debate, I was a humanist and atheist for ten years. I know a thing or two about Christianity before I became one.

I'd have to say that while the Jews where given the command to be fruitful, they were also instructed to the care of the earth in Genesis and Leviticus.

Remember, Adam was first created in the wilderness, then God put him in the middle of the garden to TEND to it. (Which by the way is why men have a wild nature about them, woman was created in the garden)

I'm just not in the habit of bashing my fellow man and loving animals and trees more than people. Even if their ideas are wrong. We just need to show people how to take care of things, and this has to be done with love and education, not laws and carbon taxes and green police.

I'd say peoples treatment of the outdoors has a lot to do with how they were brought up and taught to treat possessions. Go into any ghetto and you'll see why it's a ghetto, no one takes care of the little they have. We grew up poor and I was taught to take good care of the little, and today I have a lot. But it never made sense why those with little would continue to cycle of trashing and not caring about what they had. This is also why I support the belief that outside of Africa, people in the US mostly choose to be broke.

That's my two cents. If it made any sense.

8:49 p.m. on January 2, 2009 (EST)
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Wow, just wow...

10:15 p.m. on January 2, 2009 (EST)
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Mankind was commanded to subdue the earth within the frame work of being a good steward.
The problem with books criticising the bible is that they are hideously flawed due to the aggressive cherry picking & taking things out of context, and total omission of anything not agreeable to the agenda of the author.

"subdue the earth" is not a license to rape and pillage the wilderness and it's resources. These things are caused by greed, selfishness, and overindulgence. Things which the bible warns about in great length and detail.
Acts contrary to the word of God carried out by Christians are not condoned by God or the Bible and are not evidence that God has commanded anything other than what is best for the wilderness, ie. the planet.
Many things throughout history have been done in the name of God or religion that were absolutely wrong. Those things were mans doings not Gods. I fully understand the cynicism created by those and current acts, also something that God warned Christians about.

I believe the wilderness belongs to God and we are charged with its care, it is not a job we have excelled at unfortunately.

I'll get off my soapbox now. I do not wish to debate the subject, just offering my viewpoint as we all have the freedom to do in this country.

12:17 a.m. on January 3, 2009 (EST)
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Remember, Adam was first created in the wilderness, then God put him in the middle of the garden to TEND to it. (Which by the way is why men have a wild nature about them, woman was created in the garden)

mikekey, that's an interesting perspective and one that mirrors the writings of John Eldridge, but I wouldn't claim it myself.

Much of the Christianity = disregard for nature stuff originated from Lynn White Jr, in the 1960s and 1970s. However, his theory has been refuted by numerous scientists, academics, and theologians. If someone is interested in more info on the topic of Christianity and ecology, I would recommend the Cornwall Alliance (www.cornwallalliance.org).

3:11 a.m. on January 3, 2009 (EST)
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... deleted post.

no sense in stirring the pot here

7:30 p.m. on January 3, 2009 (EST)
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mikekey, that's an interesting perspective and one that mirrors the writings of John Eldridge, but I wouldn't claim it myself.

"Wild at Heart" by Eldridge and "Maximized Manhood" by Edwin Cole have been the two books with the biggest impact on me.

... deleted post.

no sense in stirring the pot here

Darn, I really enjoy hearing others points of views. Helps me to expand my thinking. I can not claim to know everything or anything.

3:52 a.m. on January 4, 2009 (EST)
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My post would have been inflammatory and there really was no sense in making it because it was way off topic from the original post "Who owns the wilderness"

Posts regarding religion and ones perspective always seem to get very colorful and sometimes downright nasty. I really enjoy everyone here and don't want to get into any verbal idealogical battles over something as personal as religion.

5:55 p.m. on January 4, 2009 (EST)
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Sounds like good sense Bigsmoke. I think we need to consider what these forums are for. To learn and share with each other, not to be angry with someone because their view or opinion is different from our own. Everyone has the right to their own opinion on everything, that is what makes us different and individual. As long as someones opinion is morally and ethically sound then I think it needs to be respected. It may differ from mine and that I see as normal since we each have had different life experiences from which we form our opinions. There is so much to learn, lets keep doing and sharing it!

2:07 p.m. on January 5, 2009 (EST)
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Thanks for being civil, everyone.

I'm going to wade into this discussion only briefly enough to mention The Green Bible, which came out this year. Some of you might be interested in it, since it is a religious text that focuses on being a steward of the land instead of dominating it.

I haven't read it, but recently saw an article on it. It's also endorsed by the Sierra Club.

3:21 p.m. on January 5, 2009 (EST)
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Thanks for being civil, everyone.

I'm going to wade into this discussion only briefly enough to mention <i>The Green Bible</i>, which came out this year. Some of you might be interested in it, since it is a religious text that focuses on being a steward of the land instead of dominating it.

Alicia,

I would respond that The Green Bible is superfluous in the sense that the existing biblical record is already clear that we are stewards of the land.

The dominion = exploitation/disregard theory is a gross misinterpretation of the biblical text. A proper hermeneutic is needed, not a new Bible version.

3:55 p.m. on January 5, 2009 (EST)
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I think we just wondered off topic.

4:37 p.m. on January 5, 2009 (EST)
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mikekey,

You are correct. I apologize.

4:45 p.m. on January 5, 2009 (EST)
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Nice pun, Mikekey.

So did I still manage to put my foot in my mouth? I'll now duck away from all conversations about religion or politics.

July 24, 2014
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