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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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45 Responses

  1. Melissa M.
    Melissa M. May 6, 2007 at 3:34 pm |

    I agree with your analysis of the situtation and I think that sobriety requirements on making porn should be required. People are more likely to engage in risky behavior including unsafe sex when drunk. If porn producers had to prove that their stars were sober when they agreed to star in a porn movie and were sober while shooting it, the most explotive porn operations that travel from city to city and don’t maintain a relationship with the women (and men) who star in their movies would have a harder time existing.

  2. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte May 6, 2007 at 3:51 pm |

    The waiting period strikes me as closer to the one in place for sterilization, which is one that is there to undermine coercion and not to promote it. Having heard from WOC feminists about the need for waiting periods for sterilization—precisely so doctors can’t ask you to sign a consent form to be sterilized while you’re drugged up in the hospital—I see that as fair, and can see extending that model to porn.

  3. Purtek
    Purtek May 6, 2007 at 4:03 pm |

    Damn, Jill, you’re rapidly becoming my very favourite feminist writer on the net. This is so ridiculously well thought-out and covers a really big range of relevant issues and possible objections. I agree that a shift in the age requirement doesn’t really solve the problem inherent in something like GGW, because, in addition to the sobriety issue being far more important, the maturity level of 18-year-olds vs. that of 21-year-olds is really something that has to be taken on a case-by-case basis, meaning we can’t uniformly say that 18 year olds don’t have an understanding of the implications of their decisions, while 21 year olds uniformly do. Imposing a different, even more arbitrary, age-based line doesn’t address the concern at its base, while an “informed consent” waiting period helps a lot more.

    Unfortunately, I’d be worried that the crowd of people who invoke the myth of the rape victim who changed her mind in retrospect, especially if she had been drinking, will bring that same crap to bear against the proposal of a waiting period for consent. While I think they’re categorically wrong in both circumstances, I’m not entirely sure how I’d argue against the equation of the two ideas, because I’m neither as smart nor as patient as Jill.

  4. Earl
    Earl May 6, 2007 at 4:18 pm |

    In Wisconsin, financial contracts have a 72 hour change your mind for free clause. It seems reasonable to do the same thing for pornography. Though given how much if it is, or could be, filmed outside of the USA, I dunno how much this will change.

    earl

  5. zuzu
    zuzu May 6, 2007 at 4:34 pm | *

    The waiting period strikes me as closer to the one in place for sterilization, which is one that is there to undermine coercion and not to promote it. Having heard from WOC feminists about the need for waiting periods for sterilization—precisely so doctors can’t ask you to sign a consent form to be sterilized while you’re drugged up in the hospital—I see that as fair, and can see extending that model to porn.

    Having been on the other end of that equation — as a white woman who had a hell of a time finding a doctor who’d perform the procedure even in bluest New York, and then have to wait an additional month by statute, all the while having my doctor try to talk me out of it — it has been somewhat of a revelation to me to read the stories of WOC (and disabled women) who’ve been pressured *into* it rather than *out of* it. Choice, if it’s meaningful, has to encompass *all* choices.

    But I don’t think that waiting periods for porn participation really falls under the same standard. Certainly, I think there’s room for requiring at least union scale for compensation — even extras get paid more than a cap or T-shirt. And given the fact that Francis collects contracts and releases from women under the influence, a sobering-up period is a good idea (professional porn performers under contract really wouldn’t have to worry about this, since their terms of employment are spelled out. But contracts can be voided if they were signed while impaired, and given the nature of the GGW recruiting, waiting periods might reel them in.

  6. mythago
    mythago May 6, 2007 at 4:34 pm |

    “Waiting periods” for sterilization were implemented because women were signing ‘consent forms’ they didn’t understand (e.g., not in their native language), or simply weren’t asked for consent in the first place. They’re about the only example of a “waiting period” that isn’t meant to treat the woman as a moral idiot who should be dissuaded.

    A sobriety requirement is far better than a waiting period. It’s not that hard to get around a waiting period–GGW takes videos of drunk girl and gets invalid consent form with contact info, waits 24-48 hours, then contacts girl (possibly when she is, again, drunk) and gives her a line of BS about how she’s a Special Star and they want to pay her more money for further filming. She agrees, they get a consent form that applies only to the first video and toss the second one.

  7. zuzu
    zuzu May 6, 2007 at 4:37 pm | *

    A sobriety requirement is far better than a waiting period.

    Probably true, but how would that be enforced? Monitors on the GGW bus?

  8. ACS
    ACS May 6, 2007 at 4:57 pm |

    Probably true, but how would that be enforced?

    It strikes me that Girls Gone Wild is in the business of providing videotaped documentation of women’s insobriety. Why not use that?

    – ACs

  9. mythago
    mythago May 6, 2007 at 4:58 pm |

    Put the burden on GGW to prove that that the model was sober, or at least they reasonably believed she was. It should be a laugh to see their lawyers argue that one. “Yes, it’s true that this was at a Margaritas by the Meter party, and Ms. Doe has a shot glass in her hand in that video, but we had no reason to think she was intoxicated! None at all!”

    Also, create a presumption that an underage drinker is, for purposes of a model release, automatically considered “intoxicated”. In other words, GGW can’t argue “She had a drink but wasn’t drunk” unless the woman was 21 or older. And they aren’t going to get quite as many people wanting to be filmed if everyone is sober.

  10. Maureen
    Maureen May 6, 2007 at 4:59 pm |

    How much does a Breathalyzer cost?

  11. Theodora
    Theodora May 6, 2007 at 5:00 pm |

    mythago Says: They’re about the only example of a “waiting period” that isn’t meant to treat the woman as a moral idiot who should be dissuaded.

    The fact that the sterilazation waiting period for a man is 24 hours and for a woman is 30 days suggests to me that the waiting period is indeed meant to treat women as a moral idiot, relative to men.

  12. Jennifer
    Jennifer May 6, 2007 at 5:01 pm |

    I like the idea of the 24 hour consent form, if it is signed in an office with a girl who appears to be sober enough to sign a contract. It would probably be a nail in the coffin of GGW, though, because I imagine far fewer girls (though certainly still some) would like to be on those videos if they had time to think it over, and if they realized how much money is being made from their breasts.

    I think the form would be a pain for the legit, professional porn companies, but from what I have read, the people in the “industry” out in CA have all sorts of forms and contracts and STD testing and everything, so it probably wouldn’t be a big deal. They also have sobriety requirements, from what I understand, same as any job. Of course, because of all the requirements (as well as because the government is going after legal porn instead of just the kiddie porn, as previous administrations have done) I have heard that a lot of the idustry is getting moved abroad.

    I really hate the idea of raising the age limit, because hell, let’s raise it on joining the army, or getting married, or anything else that could affect your future. I don’t see those age limits getting raised any time soon (of course, marriage and joining the army are things good American boys do, so of course they can do that as young as they want).

  13. tigtog
    tigtog May 6, 2007 at 5:18 pm |

    given how much if it is, or could be, filmed outside of the USA, I dunno how much this will change.

    But in most countries outside the US, how well would the GGW scenario work?

    In Australia, there are bare breasts all around on any ocean beach. It’s a while since I lived in a country town, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there are bare breasts on the riverbanks of most large inland towns as well.

    Our legal drinking age is 18, and most kids start surreptitious drinking a few years before that, and have embarrassed themselves enough to have some “no way!” defences by age 18. We do have notoriously decadent “schoolies” parties for people who’ve just finished high school (most are 18 when they finish here). There’s lots of drinking and lots of hooking up, but I’ve never heard of a culture of boobflashing at schoolies events. (Other Aussies may well turn up to disabuse me of this notion)

    I don’t believe the GGW tapes are big sellers in Oz because hey, it’s just tits. Other American big-money porn sells well enough, but not just boobflashing jollies.

  14. mythago
    mythago May 6, 2007 at 5:36 pm |

    tigtog, the attraction of the GGW videos is not about nudity; it’s about the “gone wild” part, i.e. that ordinary, non-professional women are getting talked into showing off their bodies and doing things like necking with their girlfriends. It’s peddling the fantasy that if that you could get a couple of beers into that hot chick in your English Lit class, she’d totally show you her tits.

  15. mythago
    mythago May 6, 2007 at 5:37 pm |

    whoops, double post. Theodora, again, sterilization in many countries, including the US, has a long and ugly history of ‘undesirables’ being sterilized without their consent or, in many cases, without their knowledge. Naturally, this was done primarily to women. 30 days (which I’m not sure is the law in all states) is less about the woman seeking the operation, and more about preventing unethical doctors from making racist and classist decisions about who gets to have babies.

  16. zuzu
    zuzu May 6, 2007 at 5:42 pm | *

    tigtog, the attraction of the GGW videos is not about nudity; it’s about the “gone wild” part, i.e. that ordinary, non-professional women are getting talked into showing off their bodies and doing things like necking with their girlfriends. It’s peddling the fantasy that if that you could get a couple of beers into that hot chick in your English Lit class, she’d totally show you her tits.

    True. Remember that LA Times article on Francis? He complained that the girls weren’t all innocent anymore, that they knew what was going on and were doing some calculating themselves. His little fantasy that this was the girl next door was all ruined.

  17. Vanessa
    Vanessa May 6, 2007 at 6:22 pm |

    Our legal drinking age is 18, and most kids start surreptitious drinking a few years before that, and have embarrassed themselves enough to have some “no way!” defences by age 18.

    Maybe mildy off-topic, but in my experience instead of drinking, in high school we all smoked weed. Because, no one was going to card you before you bought pot, so age limits weren’t a problem.

    So I think a lot of high school kids in the US have experience with intoxication, just not maybe with alcohol.

  18. Hugo
    Hugo May 6, 2007 at 10:18 pm |

    As with so many other things, I think the way to fight GGW and the rest of it is through a focus on reducing demand, rather than stigmatizing the “product” (though it can be satisfying to go after the producers like Francis).

    Men can help by holding other men accountable. Women can help by reacting with suitable wrath when they discover the “Barely Legal” and Girls Gone Wild DVD in their boyfriend’s stash. Saying “oh, it doesn’t bother me, it’s just what guys do” compounds and exacerbates the problem. No, women are not responsible for changing men, but sometimes, women enable the abuse of other women, and that’s unacceptable.

  19. kate
    kate May 6, 2007 at 11:10 pm |

    The concept of some sort of regulation over the porn industry via waiting periods or requirements for sobriety prior to signing consent smack to me of idealizing the porn industry a bit too much.

    Most women who participate in the sex industry have a skewed idea of what ‘consent’ is and most men whether viewing or making the films I doubt think much about issues of consent either.

    Economic, familial and social oppression are the larger factors in the development of porn than the porn industry wishes anyone to realize. Until women have full agency socially, to suggest that a set of arbitrary laws, the enforcement of which falls most often to those on the opposite end of the power spectrum, will somehow move the porn industry seems ridiculous.

    I also would be very troubled with women feeling they must sign consent forms and having these brandished before the world as justification that “the girls like the porn”. Worse, I could see situations where a consent form is used to pressure women to stay in the industry or as a form of blackmail “Leave us and we’ll show the world how much you wanted to do this.” As if they don’t have enough ability to do this already.

    I’d rather see more regulation of porn producers and purveyors, focusing solely on those who profit most from the industry rather than the constant obsession with the actors, as if they own the studios, manage and finance the operations and even hold the cameras themselves.

  20. kate
    kate May 6, 2007 at 11:12 pm |

    And Joe Francis would get no mileage if older women taught younger women that ‘teh sex’ ain’t the key to empowerment.

  21. idk
    idk May 7, 2007 at 1:17 am |

    idk, i think there is a degree of manipulation and vioent behavior behind a lot of porn. 18 to me – you have just moved out of your parents house for the first time, not necess an experienced independent woman. now 21-25, you have some life experience, not as easily manipulated by older men and alcohol. . ggw is a violation. most of the girls are underage and/or impaired, or surrounded by screaming drunk men, or isolated in a van with two older men. idk, i would ask porn stars and go with what they say – they’ve lived it. and from what i understand, most would agree with a higher age limit. i know at 18 i could have been talked into things that at 21 or 22 – no way. idk, there is so little regulation as it is. the latest trend which just makes me want to vomit is ATM. and this is a health risk – it’s something that could actually make yuo sick and it is now common place in a lot of porn. not to mention degrading. horrible. a serious talk about regulation and health safety is really needed. they obviously don’t regulate from within. profit dominates.

  22. Frumious B
    Frumious B May 7, 2007 at 8:37 am |

    sometimes, women enable the abuse of other women, and that’s unacceptable.

    I would be more comfortable if you used the word “unfortunate” rather than “unacceptable.” “Unacceptable” smacks of the kind of criticism Jill is going out of her way to avoid.

    Could we have a separate thread to discuss the sterilization issue?

  23. Lee
    Lee May 7, 2007 at 8:44 am |

    Joe Francis is a repellant pig and I hope he gets his just desserts in prison. but I have a hard time squaring your words “given that 18 is the general age of legal adulthood, it seems a little paternalistic to me to require that women be 21 before they can flash their boobs to a camera,” with “but the problem here isn’t that the ‘girls’ on Girls Gone Wild are 18 — the problem is that they’re exploited by men like Joe Francis.” How so? the idea that adult women are easily “exploited” when drunk is the very same insulting rationale used Anthony Kennedy in his awful abortion opinion: that women can’t be trusted to make their own decisions. Isn’t it reasonable to assume that adults – men or women – are responsible for their own actions, like getting drunk and then getting naked. To say that the women who do this are somehow victims is pretty paternalistic. And not a little patronizing. As you correctly point out they’re not “girls” so why treat them as such?

  24. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne May 7, 2007 at 10:03 am |

    I don’t believe the GGW tapes are big sellers in Oz because hey, it’s just tits. Other American big-money porn sells well enough, but not just boobflashing jollies.

    One of the biggest reasons the videos are so successful is that they are just boob-flashing, so they can be advertised on late-night TV, whereas actual soft- or hard-core porn cannot be advertised that way.

    They’re porn infomercials.

  25. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne May 7, 2007 at 10:05 am |

    Isn’t it reasonable to assume that adults – men or women – are responsible for their own actions, like getting drunk and then getting naked.

    It’s not the getting drunk and getting naked part that’s problematic — it’s having people sign legal documents while they’re drunk. I’m kind of surprised it took the lawsuits this long to catch up with Francis since no state recognizes a contract that was signed while the signer was drunk or high.

  26. justicewalks
    justicewalks May 7, 2007 at 10:16 am |

    the idea that adult women are easily “exploited” when drunk is the very same insulting rationale used Anthony Kennedy in his awful abortion opinion

    Yes, it’s exactly the same because abortion providers are driving their mobile clinics (if only!) from club to club and bar to bar looking for obviously intoxicated women onto which to inflict unwanted abortions. It’s not at all like women are making careful and painstaking arrangements to get themselves to an abortion clinic (which may be hours away) and back again, having already thought through the ramifications and possibly having discussed it over with friends and family.

    /sarcasm

  27. zuzu
    zuzu May 7, 2007 at 11:32 am | *

    How so? the idea that adult women are easily “exploited” when drunk is the very same insulting rationale used Anthony Kennedy in his awful abortion opinion: that women can’t be trusted to make their own decisions. Isn’t it reasonable to assume that adults – men or women – are responsible for their own actions, like getting drunk and then getting naked. To say that the women who do this are somehow victims is pretty paternalistic. And not a little patronizing. As you correctly point out they’re not “girls” so why treat them as such?

    As Mnemosyne says, we protect adults from decisions made while they’re impaired all the time — though she’s a little off on the consequences. Legal forms signed while impaired aren’t automatically void, but they are voidable — so if, in the cold light of day, you decide that that signing away rights to profit from your image in exchange for a T-shirt wasn’t really a good deal, you can sue Francis to have the release declared void.

  28. Rose
    Rose May 7, 2007 at 12:39 pm |

    If this goes through, it will open the door the the legal age of consent for women being 21. Does anyone think that’s a good idea?

  29. Thomas
    Thomas May 7, 2007 at 12:59 pm |

    I think we already live in a world where the age of adult responsibility is all over the map. A person in most places can drive at 16 (but not in some cities until 18). A person can have sex with a similar-aged partner in New York at 14, and with any partner at 17, but any image of the act occurring is child pornography under federal law unless the participants are all 18 or older at the time. Folks need to be accompanied into R-rated movies at 16 but can go alone at 17. Alcohol and gun ownership are reserved by law to those over 21, as was voting within living memory. The Constitution reserves some offices for even older ages, while increasingly children in their teens and even early teens are charged with crimes as adults — and those are just those that are enshrined in law. Private companies all have their own policies, such as minimum ages for rental cars.

    Since I don’t think we have a single age of consent now as a practical matter, I don’t think making an age limit for the making (or, my preference, commercial distribution) of sexually explicit images necessarily implies changing it for anything else.

    I’m not saying that an age limit is a better idea than voiding contracts procured from a party under the influence or than imposing a waiting or recission period (the latter especially has a sound history in real estate) — both are fine ideas and all three would probably end GGW as the enterprise currently exists.

  30. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne May 7, 2007 at 1:11 pm |

    Folks need to be accompanied into R-rated movies at 16 but can go alone at 17.

    I have to say, this has always struck me as one of the stupidest age-related restrictions. I was responsible enough to be licensed to drive a potentially deadly vehicle, but I was too delicate to hear the F-word in a movie?

    I realize I’m revealing my age with this, but what we did was buy tickets to the PG-rated The Sure Thing and sneak into the R-rated The Breakfast Club. Ironically, the content of the two movies, in retrospect, is almost identical, except for that nasty, nasty swearing.

  31. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne May 7, 2007 at 1:13 pm |

    As Mnemosyne says, we protect adults from decisions made while they’re impaired all the time — though she’s a little off on the consequences. Legal forms signed while impaired aren’t automatically void, but they are voidable — so if, in the cold light of day, you decide that that signing away rights to profit from your image in exchange for a T-shirt wasn’t really a good deal, you can sue Francis to have the release declared void.

    Not only am I not a lawyer, I don’t even play one on TV. :-)

  32. mythago
    mythago May 7, 2007 at 4:45 pm |

    I don’t think we’re treating them as “girls” by requiring consent be given while sober and unpressured.

    Since 18-year-olds can’t legally drink in the US in the first place, raising the ‘porn age’ to 21 seems beside the point–18-year-olds can’t be “legally drunk”, so why presume they can give consent after a beer?

  33. Sniper
    Sniper May 7, 2007 at 6:22 pm |

    How so? the idea that adult women are easily “exploited” when drunk is the very same insulting rationale used Anthony Kennedy in his awful abortion opinion: that women can’t be trusted to make their own decisions.

    I’m double the legal drinking age, but if I walk into an abortion clinic wasted, I’m not going to get served. Hell, if I walk into a respectable tattoo parlor wasted, I’m not going to get served. I

  34. Bloix
    Bloix May 7, 2007 at 9:39 pm |

    You don’t need a “waiting period” and this isn’t anything like abortion. What you want is a period during which the contractual consent can be rescinded. This is standard (mandated by federal law) in home mortgages – you can back out of the deal up to three days after you sign. So all you need is a law that says (1) Francis has to provide a copy of the contract that the woman signs to her (2) the contract has to clearly state that consent can be retracted for up to 3 business days after signing (4) the contract must permit retraction by email and must give an email address (5) if the consent is retracted the video footage must be destroyed (6) unless a proper contract has been signed and has not been rescinded, use of the footage in a video for sale or distribution is a crime and subjects Francis to a penalty and to liquidated damages of $1000 per video sold.

    This is easy and follows the home mortgage model closely. No need to limit it to women of a specific age- it can apply to everyone.

  35. zuzu
    zuzu May 8, 2007 at 12:15 am | *

    Think “recission period.”

    I actually like Bloix’s idea — let Francis do the work of ensuring that the release wasn’t obtained while impaired, was in exchange for some base amount constituting a fair wage (such as union scale), and have him reaffirm consent before he can use, and profit from, the footage.

    He’ll still get plenty of footage for use, but people with second thoughts would have some protection and be able to call the deal off.

    Plus, fair compensation. A string of beads is plenty to get me to flash my tits out on the street (what? they were the pearly kind thrown from balconies), but if someone wanted to sell that image, I’d want a hell of a lot more.

  36. BStu
    BStu May 8, 2007 at 8:16 am |

    I think the waiting period idea has a lot of potential. It can be crafted so its not an undue burden on “professional pornography” and only focus on spontanious subjects. Given his practices, I think putting the burden on the subjects of GGW to recind consent is unlikely to work effectively. I see a lot of potential for coersion no matter what the rules, but if the burden is on him to get consent it puts the women in a more powerful position.

  37. bmc90
    bmc90 May 8, 2007 at 10:45 am |

    I have a better idea! Anyone who is depicted nude in a commercially distributed video is entitled to a split of the profits unless that right is waived sober, 24 hours in advance, by someone 18 and older, male or female – liability extends to everyone from Netflix to Walmart, to the videographer, everyone who gets a cut. The person depicted can sue to enforce. State does not even have to get involved. If the proper consents are not signed (sober, over 18, waiting period), then the person can enjoin distribution, profits to date have to be disgorged. When you jeopardize the profits, the distributors etc. will be careful, believe me.

  38. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos May 8, 2007 at 12:39 pm |

    Ok, granted I have some issues with the BDSM community, but I think they know how to throw a public party at a bar with plenty of equal opportunity eye-candy, access to drinks, and a much more respectful that empowers people to tell creeps to fuck off.

    I think putting the focus on the filming is rather missing the point. Joe Francis isn’t doing anything that doesn’t happen every week at a party down the street from where you live. He just makes money putting it on film. The big problem is how do you change the culture of alcohol abuse endemic in the U.S. that sees no problems with pushing consent? I won’t mind seeing GGW go out of business, but it’s a business that depends on a deeply dysfunctional environment of alcohol abuse and mob behavior.

    And then there is the deeper problem of pushing passive consent (“she didn’t say no”) vs. getting active consent (“she asked me to do it.”) This is where I think that radical queers, old-style sex positives, and fetish folk have it right, and mundanes and have it wrong.

  39. mythago
    mythago May 8, 2007 at 8:41 pm |

    it’s a business that depends on a deeply dysfunctional environment of alcohol abuse and mob behavior

    The problem is that Joe Francis isn’t simply wandering around with a camera, passively capturing imagines of what’s going on around him.

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  41. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos May 9, 2007 at 1:26 pm |

    mythago: The problem is that Joe Francis isn’t simply wandering around with a camera, passively capturing imagines of what’s going on around him.

    Of course not, but would what he does automatically become acceptable if he didn’t have a cameraman in tow?

    Joe Francis’s operation is simply the visible tip of the iceberg.

  42. Atalantah
    Atalantah May 9, 2007 at 6:22 pm |

    On the voluntary sterilization issue, when my mom decided to get such a procedure done after just having me, she had to my dad’s signiture (her husband). She couldn’t believe such crap, but apparently the hospital was afraid of litigation. Since this was 20 yrs ago maybe thinks have changed, but I doubt it. Anyway, she ended up checking the single box on the form (though my dad was fine with her decision). She could have had me aborted (not that I believe in spousal consent laws) without him knowing but she couldn’t decide to prevent future pregnacies, with his or anyone else’s DNA. Had he elected to underdo serilization, no consent would have been needed from his wife. This definately speaks of the double standard of control of one’s body. Just like with abortion, women can’t be trusted to make sound decisions with their bodies. Anti-choice people seem to believe if a woman inhibits her reprodution facalties in one manner or another (which of course is woman’s main purpose) she will regret it later. I have heard several times that the reason women have been so universally oppressed is the dependency on men that being pregnate and then having to nurse has caused. Most recently, my history prof stated that women made the most financial and social gains once oral contraceptive was invented and used widely. Previously, I had considered the cause and effect reversed. While both views may be valid, what is important is how this all underscores how the xian right controls a womans reproductive rights in order to control the whole woman. they don’t just want to supress women’s bodies directly but hope that by doing such we ended up back in the cave too pregnant or overwhelmed by children to join the hunt. Maybe then we will be to weary and helpless to demand such “frivolities” as equal pay and protection from sexual harrassment and assault.

  43. Danyell
    Danyell May 9, 2007 at 9:02 pm |

    I totally agree that all-too-often people look around and say “Damn our kids are doing a lot of dumb crap. Therefore, we should increase the legal age when they can [do said dumb crap]!” But no one says “Maybe we should teach our kids NOT to BE dumb.”

    Oi.

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