We Are All #Monsanto

Outside Monsanto

Outside Monsanto

It’s November, 2011 and I’m standing in front of a “Millions Against Monsanto” table at a local vegan fest. The person stationed there is yelling about me: “DON’T LISTEN TO HIM, HE’S CRAZY, CRAZY!” I wasn’t aware of the gathering crowd of rubberneckers up until then. Now the table-er was in full-out fanatic mode, eyes bulging, spittle spraying. The conversation we were sharing somehow gained enough steam to jump the track and continue on without me. All I did was to ask a few harmless questions about the anti-GMO materials but she kept invoking “Monsanto” and the evil they do.

I get it, I really do. Early in my activist days that was me behind a similar table passing out fish-strawberry anti-GMO fliers. I heard about Monsanto persecuting farmers, something something chemicals, pesticides, food monopoly, all that. It’s a well-known story in my vegan tribe and there wasn’t a need for further scrutiny. But being outed for questioning the anti-GMO narratives shook me loose from the anti-Monsanto-ism. If this person was wrong about GMOs, maybe they were also wrong about Monsanto being evil.

Obligatory selfie with JP

Obligatory selfie with JP

Two years later I’m in staring up at a huge statue of the Monsanto logo within their campus headquartered in St. Louis. A five hour road trip from Chicago but I just had to visit. Instinctually I snap a picture realizing too late I never asked permission. I’m spotted and a person rushes out from inside the building. It’s Janice Person1, Monsanto’s Social Media Director and she was expecting me. We share a nervous giggle over the transgression and she welcomes me in.

I’m there to crash a customer tour Monsanto offers, well, I was kinda invited. You see, there are farmers who buy Monsanto’s seeds, willingly! Farmer Brian Scott is just one such farmer. Luckily this farmer maintains an online presence and talks about his expertise in growing food. When I saw him and Janice arranging a visit over Twitter I butted in and got an official tagalong invite that I just couldn’t resist.

Getting scienced

Getting scienced

The tour was a whirlwind of plant science which sorta surprised me. I almost expected them to lean heavy on selling or justifying their products. But their products ARE science and they are quite proud of the innovations they’ve achieved. It did feel like I was Charlie in the Chocolate Factory as we walked from room to room full of scientific high tech wonders. Naturally I thought the trip would make a good blog post. But somewhere along the way down I took my activist blogger cap off. What was more important to me though, I think, was to feel out the vibe of the place and the people I met. It didn’t help that the science was fascinating enough to side track me a bit. But here I was meeting real people at the real place. It was evident enough, through the tiny peek I was able to snag, that that the people there were…people. I mean they were passionate, friendly, and smart people but no different than anybody else at any other company. I do regret a bit not being more fastidious with my note taking, but, no fear, Brian Scott detailed the visit better than I could have ever anyway so if you’re interested please check that out here.2

Geeking out with the teosinte

Geeking out with the teosinte

But let’s try to unravel a little bit about this Monsanto business. The rabid fervor it has managed to inspire in a small but vocal minority is surreal. There has to be something to it, right? To find out I asked the antiMonsanto-ites online about their gripes just to be sure I was current in my understanding. I watched the movies, crawled through the websites, and saw the tweets and memes.3 To keep this post a reasonable length I’m going to defer many of the specifics to my cites. So this will be more of a distillation. Before you snap at me in the comments be sure to read those.

Monsanto’s customers are farmers, like Brian Scott.4 Monsanto does pretty well. Ya know why? Because their customers like their products and buy them.5 It’s as simple as that. Capitalism 1-0-freakin’-1, bro.

Brian Scott, The Farmer's Life

Brian Scott, The Farmer’s Life

The story though is that Monsanto is using egregious unfair business practices with farmers. How? We’ll get to that in a moment. But for now lets say that Monsanto makes a good product that farmers willingly choose to buy (and steal). But let’s maybe not be so quick to assume farmers are a bunch of idiots being conned. Buying good products, we are all doing it.

Monsanto “patents life,” those monsters! Well, patents are a means to protect and encourage inventions. Whether it’s the best system is a fine debate to have. Patents mean that inventors have to make their inventions public. In exchange, there’s a time limit for which the inventor can exclusively profit. Once that limit is up it’s free for everybody to exploit. It sounds kinda scary to think that somebody could patent a seed, but breeders have been doing that since before GMOs were ever around.6

I think this though is where one of the biggest fears resides: in idea that Monsanto could use patents to sue a farmer for unintended crops or cross pollination in their field. This is something farmers already manage regardless of GMO, patent or not.7 It doesn’t stop the myths though. There still hasn’t been a single case of that ever happening. Sure Monsanto protects its products from piracy but so does every company. Frivolously suing the customers would make for bad business. In fact, a buncha Organic farmers sued Monsanto preemptively to protect themselves from that. When asked to show evidence they couldn’t and lost the case. Not even in court could they demonstrate historical precedent.8 Patents, we are all doing it.

Chemicals are scary stuff eh? Agent Orange is probably a good reason why too. Indeed the Monsanto from the 60′s was one of the companies who made the Agent Orange defoliant during the Vietnam war. But there’s lots of tragedies, mistakes and regrets in war and past policies (or lack thereof) so I don’t mean to minimize this point.9 But if the Monsanto of today is accountable so too are we. We (our government) contracted companies to make the stuff to our specifications. Is Monsanto evil for making Agent Orange or are you for paying and telling them how to make it? History, we’re all as accountable.

Did somebody say “evil?10 It never fails to get uttered when the subject of Monsanto comes up. So much so it’s become a new logical fallacy dubbed as “Appeal to Monsanto.”11 Just like “Godwin’s Law”12, it attempts to short circuit any argument by association with something bad. But Monsanto is hardly Hitler, c’mon now. According to their record of awards and recognitions13, Monsanto or its employees don’t seem so evil. There’s an interesting letter the CEO of the Climate Corporation wrote to his employees.14 In selling his company to Monsanto he was diligent in evaluating the claims of evil. His letter is a smart business-insider’s perspective that deflates myths and offers context. With the growing list of people who become complicit with the supposed evil of Monsanto it becomes a conspiracy on too grand of a scale.

I hate to sound like a corporate defender15 or apologist16. What a weird position I find myself in. The worst of Monsanto’s offenses may be the sum of its parts17 and that’s always been a problem of big business. We should be wary and resolute in business ethics. But lets not cry wolf18 lest that wolf finally sneak past us. If Monsanto IS doing something nefarious, I would really like to know. If there’s any conspiracy maybe it’s this noise that could allow a company to better hide in plain sight. Otherwise people are wasting their time fighting a cartoon villain.19 Shouldn’t we find the real criminals and bring them to justice or change the system that would allow injustice to flourish? Let’s do that in a more just and rational manner. Business, we are all doing it.

This is just getting into 9/11 truther territory now. None of the charges levied against Monsanto are unique, inherent or evil. Just the same with the vilification of GMOs. Huh, imagine that. Others are discovering the same and sharing their stories.20 We don’t have to throw Monsanto under the bus in order to reach out to the GMO haters. Let’s not be complicit in fanning the flames of yet another conspiracy theory. Instead we can use this as a critical thinking exercise. If basic assumptions of Monsanto are shown to be myths, what else could be wrong? Monsanto may be the patsy for the ills of business, society and/or history but it comes down to an inevitable conclusion for me. Monsanto, we are all Monsanto.

Here’s the part where people might accuse me of being a “Monsanto shill.” It’s happened many times before. Obviously the company bought me off (with all my influence) as a PR stunt. But since this visit I wish I could honestly say I was never paid or influenced in any way. Here’s where I come clean.

  1. Upon my visit to Monsanto, they made me a special vegan lunch in their cafeteria. So yes, guilty, they fed me a meal (quite directly this time!)
  2. A little bit after my visit I got an email offering me $40 worth of stuff from their online corporate merchandise shillswag store. I saw through their ruse though, I knew they just wanted me to write something positive about them. Forty bucks should about do it too.

I’m kidding, of course. At first I refused their swag, paranoid about receiving any sort of gift. As I realized the conclusion of this post I thought it would be a pertinent opportunity. Instead of pocketing the merch myself I could pass along the shillness to you, dear reader. So I ordered forty bucks worth of the coolest Monsanto caps from them. If you share this article with hashtag #WeAreAllMonsanto I will send you, completely free of charge, your very own Monsanto cap Caps are all gone but please do continue to share and REPRESENT!

Oh and BTW, what happens when I visit the anti-Monsanto tables at vegan fests nowadays?

I'm number one!

I’m number one!

They think I’m number one! I must be doing something right.

  1. Thoughts on How I Want to Tell My Story | Janice Person
  2. Visiting Monsanto | The Farmer’s Life
  3. Why Does Everyone Hate Monsanto? – Modern Farmer
  4. I Occupy Our Food Supply Everyday | The Farmer’s Life
  5. Farmers Speak Out | Vegan GMO
  6. A Defense Of Plant And Crop Related Patents | Biology Fortified, Inc.
  7. Genetic Contamination May Not Mean What You Think It Means | Biology Fortified, Inc.
  8. Monsanto, Patents and Seeds – Part 3 | FrankenFoodFacts
  9. Misuse Of A Vietnam Era Tragedy | Biology Fortified, Inc.
  10. Speak of the devil | Cosmos Magazine
  11. Argumentum ad Monsantium | Skepticblog
  12. Godwin’s law | Wikipedia
  13. Awards and Recognition | Monsanto
  14. Why the Climate Corporation Sold Itself to Monsanto | The New Yorker
  15. What if a corporation isn’t evil incarnate? A progressive’s dilemma. | The Progressive Contrarian
  16. The Corporation Conundrum: Why Consumers Hate Monsanto, But Love Their iPhones | Real Agriculture
  17. Monsanto’s Business Model: Ethically Less than the Sum of its Parts | Biotech Ethics
  18. Biotech is a very small industry | Jim’s Kitchen Lab
  19. How to Really March Against Monsanto | Fancy Beans
  20. Recommended reading/watching:
    Meal Six: At Monsanto, I Learned I Am the Problem | One Hundred Meals
    My Biotech Weekend | Sleuth 4 Health
    An Organic Farmer Walks Into Monsanto…And This is What Happened | Real Agriculture
    ▶ I Love Monsanto! | Cult of Dusty – YouTube
    ▶ Monsanto Myths | The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe – YouTube

55 comments to We Are All #Monsanto

  • Dylan

    I think the important question here is did your lunch have a protein?

  • Lea

    I guess I don’t think Monsanto are great but I also don’t think most big companies are great because I think capitalism kind of works that way…

    ” But lots of tragedies, mistakes and regrets in war and past policies (or lack thereof) so I don’t mean to minimize this point.”

    I think there’s a word missing.

    • Capitalism does have its faults. I was just arguing with a tiny seitan manufacturer on Twitter because they were labeling nonGMO and fear mongering soy in order to sell products. They were flummoxed why I would ever criticize them for trying to make a buck.

      Thanks for the grammar catch, fixed. This was a hard post to get a handle on.

  • Kevin Folta

    Did they show you the room where they flip puppies into the wood chipper?

    Nice work on this one. Funny, when you take the time to actually learn what is happening, it is not so scary…

    • Kevin no, the day we were there they were chipping seeds. I even got my own set to take home! They had a neat trick to make soybeans orient properly. Puppies were in the Kickatron 2000.

      Thanks, I’ve been meaning to write this since I visited in the fall but it was a hard one to distill. You’re right, illumination mitigates fear.

  • Was great having you join us and I really appreciate your taking the time to write such a thorough post on the visit. You’re right, you had a yummy chickpea entree. :)

    • Janice, thanks for the invitation and hospitality. I feel very fortunate to have had such an opportunity. Lunch was great too! :) Although, you don’t know how hard I had to resist running to the cafeteria to ask them about their non-GMO policy. :D

  • sally

    This is one of the most well-written articles I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for your willingness to be open-minded, and even more thanks for sharing your story so clearly.
    I just retweeted and shared on Facebook!

  • Jenni Tilton-Flood

    Dagummit. This probably means I have to stop wearing black and consider myself Good as opposed to Evil…being a farmer who *gasp* plants GMO seed and reduces my farm’s carbon footprint and usage of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides while providing my livestock with the best food our family farm has been able to provide in over 2 centuries. Damn you Bloger Do Good. Damn you all to hell.

  • Hueman Beeking

    Reshared! Wonderful article, links to some other quality reading. I’d love a hat if they are still around!

    http://www.facebook.com/huemanbein

  • I loved this! I’ve recently been sharing the idea that I don’t believe Monsanto is evil. Quite a head turner especially for those just repeating what the vocal minority haters say. I shared it. I’ll pass on a hat though, just got some nice Elanco hats for the summer. :)

    • Thanks Joanna. The Evil Monsanto narrative is so ingrained that this article won’t make a dent in the true believer conspiracy theorists. Hopefully though, those who aren’t will think twice before accepting the rantings of that vocal minority.

  • Ben Schaefer

    Great article!
    It’s great to see people finally taking the time to do a little leg work and research something themselves!
    What a wonderful smarter polite world we might leave in if people researched facts before calling you a shill! LOL One can always dream!
    As a Monsanto employee and researcher who preps the plates of corn you and Brian and visitors see (shameless plug for myself. Sue me!)I am always trying to talk people into coming to take a tour and see what we are really about.
    Thank for coming and visiting us!

  • Anna

    I also want to know what you had for lunch and was it good and did you take a picture of it? I don’t know why this is so important for me to know; maybe I’m just hungry right now.

    • What, you think I’m one of those vegans who takes pictures of all their food?!

      FINE WHATEVER.

      Chickpea thing with eggplant thing, green beans and salad. Very yummy yes.

      :D

      • Anna

        Nice!

        I’m not one of those vegans either, but in exchange, here is my breakfast that I am eating right now:

        And before you say, Hey, Anna, isn’t it like 3 p.m. where you are? Know that it’s my first day off after working like 50+ hour weeks and sleeping in is the BEST THING EVER.

  • Dick

    Hating GMOs because Monsanto made Agent Orange is as stupid as hating Ziploc bags because Dow made Agent Orange or hating Krupps coffee makers because that company used to make tanks. Monsanto, Dow, Uniroyal, Hercules, and the other companies that made Agent Orange (The U.S. Army gave these companies the formula; none of them claimed Agent Orange was safe and Monsanto warned the Army AGAINST using it back in 1952), along with Krupps, aren’t the only big corporations with shady pasts. Volkswagen was founded by the Nazis, Mitsubishi’s Zero fighters were used by the IJA during World War II, IBM created the tracking system used in Auschwitz, Siemens and Kodak used Holocaust labor in production, Nintendo almost certainly sold playing cards to Japanese soldiers and politicians (Including to at least one war criminal “honored” at Yasukuni Shrine), Bayer made heroin until the end of World War I and made Zyklon B while aiding Josef Mengele with his sick experiments during the Third Reich, and last but not least, Nazi Germany killed millions of Jews, Slavs, LBGT people, Gypsies, and other “undesirables” while Imperial Japan killed millions of Koreans, Chinese, Malays, Filipinos, East Indians, Pacific Islanders, and Allied troops.

    These atrocities were committed by governments and militaries. None of this makes the companies’ products bad. It doesn’t mean all Germans and Japanese are terrible people, nor does it mean you should stop using Roundup or Ziploc bags. It doesn’t mean your Wii is going to commit war rapes that would give the sickos at Nanking a stiffy. It doesn’t mean your VW Beetle or Mitsubishi Lancer is going to explode. It doesn’t mean your aspirin is secretly designed to murder you. Yet the anti-GMO crowd crying about Monsanto being evil due to Agent Orange fail to realize that 1) the Monsanto of Agent Orange and the Monsanto of agriculture are two different companies and Pfizer bought the former long ago, and 2) probably everyone who had a hand in developing and selling Agent Orange is dead–from old age, not Agent Orange poisoning. The anti-GMO fear-mongers aren’t looking for the truth in context. They want to make a laundry list of decontextualized tragedies so they can smear anything the company produces.

  • harris morrison

    thank you x 1000 for posting again! i am new to this culture, and your posts (and let them eat meat’s (even though i dont) help me find a bit of clarity on the political side. im seeing that abstaining from meat is inherently political, even though i wish to hell it wasnt. anyhow, thanks and thanks! harris in sc

  • unethical_vegan

    Interesting post…but I still believe patents, global agricultural conglomerates, and non-socialized capitalism are evil. In fact, the anti-GMO people back away from me and grip their children tightly when I explain why (and how much) I hate Monsanto. Then again from my political perspective the lifestyle of the average librul DFH anti-GMO protestor is just as much of a tragedy of the commons as the lifestyle of the average pro-free markitz GOteaP ex-urbanite (and I am very, very, very angry about this).

  • Not just Monsanto though, and farmers willingly enter those agreements because it’s worth it to them. How should breeders recoup their cost on development? How do we ensure novel inventions get publicly disclosed? Do you really think it’s the worst form of rent seeking or are you just being hyperbolic?

    • unethical_vegan

      Yes, not just Monsanto.

      “How should breeders recoup their cost on development?”

      Farm-saved seed is allowed for traditionally-engineered cultivars. Why do you favor a special exemption from this allowance for recombinant plants?

      “How do we ensure novel inventions get publicly disclosed?”

      IMO, IP law stifles both innovation and public disclosure.

      • Farm-saved seed is allowed for traditionally-engineered cultivars. Why do you favor a special exemption from this allowance for recombinant plants?

        Well that wasn’t an answer at all. Before I answer yours I need to know what you mean by “traditionally-engineered cultivar” and “recombinant plant”?

        IMO, IP law stifles both innovation and public disclosure.

        How?

        • unethical_vegan

          Hybrids, selected-mutants, and forced crosses can be used by farmers to grow their own crops without restriction. Patenting a living organism is an absurdity and, IMO, it’s one of the best arguments against GMO. If monsanto is so concerned about farmers using their “patented” living organisms (pure absurdity) they can invest in genetic use restriction technology.

          How?
          *IP is fundamentally anti-competitive and promotes monopolistic misallocation of resources. For example, many patents are simply “trollish” changes/modifications to research that is already in the public domain. (And in my experience claims of priority are fraudulent far too often.)

          *Many IP innovations are based on or rely on publicly-funded research. It’s disheartening for academic researchers to see predatory and highly subsidized multinational coprporations derivatize, monopolize, and restrict their creative work.

          *Patenting natural genes or molecules can and has been used to oppress traditional users.

          *The ability to patent naturally occurring DNA or naturally occuring mutants often greatly inhibits further research on these molecules. In fact, industry scientists or those who collaborate with industry are often prohibited from publishing (and in some cases even discussing) their findings. I personally spend far too much time signing tech transfer agreements and in many cases I don’t even bother since companies categorically refuse to share even the most trivial information. It’s often easier to just sequence or clone their so-called “innovations” but it’s still a monumental waste of time.

          • Hybrids, selected-mutants, and forced crosses can be used by farmers to grow their own crops without restriction. Patenting a living organism is an absurdity and, IMO, it’s one of the best arguments against GMO. If monsanto is so concerned about farmers using their “patented” living organisms (pure absurdity) they can invest in genetic use restriction technology.

            1) Why would farmers want to replant hybrid seed?
            2) NonGM varieties can be patented and GMOs don’t require patenting. If that’s the best argument then there is no argument.
            3) Farmers willingly enter the license agreement when they purchase seed.

            *IP is fundamentally anti-competitive and promotes monopolistic misallocation of resources. For example, many patents are simply “trollish” changes/modifications to research that is already in the public domain. (And in my experience claims of priority are fraudulent far too often.)

            There may be bad actors but how is it fundamentally anti-competitive and monopolistic?

            *Many IP innovations are based on or rely on publicly-funded research. It’s disheartening for academic researchers to see predatory and highly subsidized multinational coprporations derivatize, monopolize, and restrict their creative work.

            Are not those innovations themselves protected?

            *Patenting natural genes or molecules can and has been used to oppress traditional users.

            How?

            *The ability to patent naturally occurring DNA or naturally occuring mutants often greatly inhibits further research on these molecules. In fact, industry scientists or those who collaborate with industry are often prohibited from publishing (and in some cases even discussing) their findings. I personally spend far too much time signing tech transfer agreements and in many cases I don’t even bother since companies categorically refuse to share even the most trivial information. It’s often easier to just sequence or clone their so-called “innovations” but it’s still a monumental waste of time.

            But don’t patents require public disclosure? Isn’t that better than trade secrets? I know patent crawlers who use the database to spark inspiration.

            In my naiveté I would personally favor something like an open source approach but the question still remains on how breeders would be fairly compensated.

  • I took the time to visit a Monsanto plot as well. I had a great time, and learned a lot! Thanks for posting this!! http://thebeefjar.com/2012/08/08/field-trip-monsanto-and-tomatoes/

  • Just one of countless examples of your BS: “Is Monsanto evil for making Agent Orange or are you for paying and telling them how to make it?”

    Way to turn it into a either-or question. Monsanto might be evil…or maybe the bad guys are the taxpayers.

    Let me solve this problem for you: Monsanto created Agent Orange (and DDT), end of story. If you want to argue that ordinary U.S. citizens were ALSO guilty to some degree, I would tend to agree. How the American public could have allowed the Vietnam War to continue is beyond me. But that doesn’t make Monsanto some innocent party that was forced at gunpoint to manufacture Agent Orange.

    As a long-time political activist, I’ve learned to connect the dots. DDT > Agent Orange > GMO. Or Monsanto > Supreme Court > FDA > Bill Gates (GMO’s unofficial spokesman).

    But I also have a degree in science, and the most basic knowledge of biology is all one really needs to debunk Monsanto’s lies.

  • Just one of countless examples of your BS: “Is Monsanto evil for making Agent Orange or are you for paying and telling them how to make it?”

    Way to turn it into a either-or question. Monsanto might be evil…or maybe the bad guys are the taxpayers.

    Let me solve this problem for you: Monsanto created Agent Orange (and DDT), end of story. If you want to argue that ordinary U.S. citizens were ALSO guilty to some degree, I would tend to agree. How the American public could have allowed the Vietnam War to continue is beyond me. But that doesn’t make Monsanto some innocent party that was forced at gunpoint to manufacture Agent Orange.

    If you are a United States citizen you conscripted Monsanto and other companies to make tools for the war effort.

  • No, THE GOVERNMENT conscripted Monsanto. There are many U.S. citizens who supported the government, and there are many others who were too apathetic to care one way or the other.

    But, believe it or not, there are a few intelligent, caring people out there, and it’s grossly unfair to blame us for all the crimes committed by George W. Bush, Obama, Microsoft, Monsanto, etc., etc. If I had the power, I’d have all those assholes executed.

    • No, THE GOVERNMENT conscripted Monsanto. There are many U.S. citizens who supported the government, and there are many others who were too apathetic to care one way or the other.

      But, believe it or not, there are a few intelligent, caring people out there, and it’s grossly unfair to blame us for all the crimes committed by George W. Bush, Obama, Microsoft, Monsanto, etc., etc. If I had the power, I’d have all those assholes executed.

      Bingo! That’s my point David. It’s similarly grossly unfair to blame (especially today’s) Monsanto for actions of the past particularly when we are all complicit. You cannot parse out particular incidents without implicating yourself.

      We can learn from our mistakes and correct for them in the future. That’s how we move on for progress, justice and the betterment of life on this planet.

  • No, that’s what you intended your point to be, but you missed by a mile. Monsanto is guilty regarding DDT and Agent Orange whether or not it had any accomplices. You can say Monsanto alone is guilty, or you can say Monsanto is guilty, along with X number of citizens. But using your logic, you argue that Monsanto isn’t guilty (or at least shouldn’t be blamed). That same pretzel logic would suggest that no U.S. citizens are guilty, either, since “we are all complicit.”

    In other words, NO ONE IS GUILTY. That’s precisely how a corporate attorney or media wh*re would frame it.

    Progress isn’t accomplished by sweeping past crimes under the rug. In fact, there can be real progress without accountability.

    • No, that’s what you intended your point to be, but you missed by a mile. Monsanto is guilty regarding DDT and Agent Orange whether or not it had any accomplices. You can say Monsanto alone is guilty, or you can say Monsanto is guilty, along with X number of citizens. But using your logic, you argue that Monsanto isn’t guilty (or at least shouldn’t be blamed). That same pretzel logic would suggest that no U.S. citizens are guilty, either, since “we are all complicit.”

      In other words, NO ONE IS GUILTY. That’s precisely how a corporate attorney or media wh*re would frame it.

      Progress isn’t accomplished by sweeping past crimes under the rug. In fact, there can be real progress without accountability.

      Nope, we are all guilty and it’s unfair to single out Monsanto. Progress is learning by our history in its entirety and context.

  • I don’t know if you’re a corporate attorney, a media whore or both, but you’re full of yourself. That’s an utterly stupid attitude. Using that same logic, we shouldn’t punish bank robbers or murderers; all of society is guilty, so we either punish everyone or no one.

    Idiot.

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