St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

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St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#1  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Jun 03, 2011 3:28 am

St. Thomas Aquinas composed a whole lot of theology, and within his Summa Theologica, he even found time to ponder some of the pressing questions of marital life. Giving consideration to the case of an adulterous wife (“the woman more bitter than death, whose heart is snares and nets”), he allowed firstly that the aggrieved husband could beat her up:

The wife can be corrected for her sin of fornication not only by being put away, but also by words and blows.

(Summa Theologica: Supplement: Q. 62, Art. 2)


St. Thomas had the bad luck to precede Axl Rose in history, so we can’t know whether he would’ve enjoyed a song like Used to Love Her. Aquinas, for his part, reckoned that an offended husband lacked the prerogative to kill his unfaithful wife (the only exception being if he were to catch her in flagrante delicto, lose his senses completely, and fly into a murderous rage on the spot. The criminal codes of the time neither condoned nor punished such an action). If he wanted to kill her after the fact, the husband would have to have her tried, convicted, and executed by the secular authorities:

There is no doubt that a husband, moved by zeal for justice and not by vindictive anger or hatred can, without sin, bring a criminal accusation of adultery upon his wife before a secular court, and demand that she receive capital punishment as appointed by the law; just as it is lawful to accuse a person of murder or any other crime.

(Summa Theologica: Supplement: Q. 60, Art. 1)


The husband’s own capacity as head of the household did not extend to that of executioner. Why? Thomas reasoned that it was because a dead woman can not make amends:

There are two kinds of community: the household, such as a family; and the civil community, such as a city or kingdom. He who presides over a community of the first kind, can inflict only corrective punishment, which does not extend beyond the limits of amendment, and these are exceeded by the punishment of death. Wherefore the husband who exercises this kind of control over his wife may not kill her, but he may accuse or chastise her in some other way.

(Ibid.)
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#2  Postby willhud9 » Jun 03, 2011 5:31 am

In a Patriarchal society such as the one Aquinas lived in, this attitude was normal. Aquinas is talking about healthy and unhealthy marriages. A concepts found throughout the Bible. Adultery was not just a Christian crime back in those days. It was also a secular crime.

In fact, let us not deter from the fact that in good 'ole early Roman Law the Husband could legally be sexually promiscuous with a slave or unmarried woman without legal repercussions, but a woman could not.

Anyways, besides the point, adultery was frowned upon by cultures especially in the case where the culture is predominately patriarchal.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#3  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Jun 03, 2011 3:01 pm

willhud9 wrote:In a Patriarchal society such as the one Aquinas lived in, this attitude was normal. Aquinas is talking about healthy and unhealthy marriages. A concepts found throughout the Bible. Adultery was not just a Christian crime back in those days. It was also a secular crime.

In fact, let us not deter from the fact that in good 'ole early Roman Law the Husband could legally be sexually promiscuous with a slave or unmarried woman without legal repercussions, but a woman could not.

Anyways, besides the point, adultery was frowned upon by cultures especially in the case where the culture is predominately patriarchal.


Right. But what’s so telling about it is that even the musings of St. Thomas, “the Angelic Doctor,” were no less barbaric than the prevailing attitude of the times: for a husband to punish an errant wife “with blows” was permissible. The obvious implication is that Christian morality is provisional. For the Catholic Church (which sets herself up as a kind of oracle) to have her own grand titan of theology hemmed in by the shitty patriarchal standards of the Middle Ages indicates that either God is in the habit of changing his mind, or her moral teachings are just man-made—riffed off the cuff. Slavery and usury are also good examples, but finding Aquinas in the same league as a wife-beating thug is a little funnier.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#4  Postby HomerJay » Jun 03, 2011 3:09 pm

Don't forget he was keen on death for apostasy too.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#5  Postby HughMcB » Jun 03, 2011 3:10 pm

I have to agree with willhud9 on this one.

Using St. Thomas Aquinas fucktarded views on marriage as a case against him, is a bit like using the "but Isaac Newton was a Christian!" defense for apologists.

The context of contemporary times is always key.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#6  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Jun 03, 2011 3:43 pm

HughMcB wrote:I have to agree with willhud9 on this one.

Using St. Thomas Aquinas fucktarded views on marriage as a case against him, is a bit like using the "but Isaac Newton was a Christian!" defense for apologists.

The context of contemporary times is always key.


I’m not using Aquinas’ views as a case against him personally—for all I know, he may’ve been a genuine exemplar of moral rectitude given the age in which he lived. Of course “the context of contemporary times” is the key: it means that Christian morality, far from being dispensed from on high, merely shifts and morphs along with the mortal efforts of humans to come up with good morals.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#7  Postby Foxymoron » Jun 03, 2011 4:45 pm

The morals seem pretty much the same. It's the severity of the punishments that's changed.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#8  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Jun 03, 2011 5:29 pm

Foxymoron wrote:The morals seem pretty much the same. It's the severity of the punishments that's changed.


But even in the case of the punishments, the nature of dispensing a corporal punishment carries with it a moral consideration, since the health and human dignity of a person are involved. As far as killing an adulteress goes, the teachings of Pope John Paul II on the morality of the death penalty stand in stark contrast to those of prior popes (or, at least, to St. Thomas Aquinas). This can be chalked up to the fact that St. Thomas was in want of the charism of infallibility accorded only to popes—but there were popes in the thirteenth century, and they seem not to have gotten the memo which JPII received (perhaps it was late in arriving). An easier way to explain it would be to say that Christian morality is just as much drawn up by humans as any other kind is.

That much notwithstanding, I don’t think many latter-day Catholics would take a sanguine regard to wife-beating, even if the wife had committed adultery. They would probably acknowledge spousal abuse to be ghastly, brutish, and even fundamentally wrong. Hopefully, too, “immoral.”
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#9  Postby willhud9 » Jun 03, 2011 7:19 pm

Moses de la Montagne wrote:
willhud9 wrote:In a Patriarchal society such as the one Aquinas lived in, this attitude was normal. Aquinas is talking about healthy and unhealthy marriages. A concepts found throughout the Bible. Adultery was not just a Christian crime back in those days. It was also a secular crime.

In fact, let us not deter from the fact that in good 'ole early Roman Law the Husband could legally be sexually promiscuous with a slave or unmarried woman without legal repercussions, but a woman could not.

Anyways, besides the point, adultery was frowned upon by cultures especially in the case where the culture is predominately patriarchal.


Right. But what’s so telling about it is that even the musings of St. Thomas, “the Angelic Doctor,” were no less barbaric than the prevailing attitude of the times: for a husband to punish an errant wife “with blows” was permissible. The obvious implication is that Christian morality is provisional. For the Catholic Church (which sets herself up as a kind of oracle) to have her own grand titan of theology hemmed in by the shitty patriarchal standards of the Middle Ages indicates that either God is in the habit of changing his mind, or her moral teachings are just man-made—riffed off the cuff. Slavery and usury are also good examples, but finding Aquinas in the same league as a wife-beating thug is a little funnier.


Your usage of the word "barbaric" is noted.

We have grown up/lived in an age of humanistic thought. The concepts of punishment for various crimes changes with the society. Nowadays adultery is not so much a punishable crime, but it is still frowned upon, even in secular courts, i.e. it makes case for divorce and custody a bit easier if adultery was shown to be a factor.

You can see the change in society when you look at the capital punishment debate. I know many extreme humanists who view any form of capital punishment as "barbaric." Simply because it goes against their current philosophical beliefs.

Next, the laws and punishments were brutal. I would not call them uncivilized. At least they had a rigid sense of law and order which separated the culture from the barbaric cultures found else where.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#10  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Jun 04, 2011 1:35 am

willhud9 wrote:Your usage of the word "barbaric" is noted.

We have grown up/lived in an age of humanistic thought. The concepts of punishment for various crimes changes with the society. Nowadays adultery is not so much a punishable crime, but it is still frowned upon, even in secular courts, i.e. it makes case for divorce and custody a bit easier if adultery was shown to be a factor.


Forgive me, Will, I may’ve been unclear. I’m not trying to defend adultery. (Adultery has clearly survived as a no-no much better than wife-hitting has). I am only averring that a divine authority is supposed to have a more consistent sense of justice than is represented by the chasm between St. Thomas’ opinions on punishing adultery and the opinions of his 21st-century successors in the faith (Christians claiming that morals are derived from God, and whatnot). Since you admit that the latter can account for their morals by “having grown up in an age of humanistic thought,” how then do you argue that Christian morality isn’t relative to the standards of whichever era a Christian happens to be born into?

You can see the change in society when you look at the capital punishment debate. I know many extreme humanists who view any form of capital punishment as "barbaric." Simply because it goes against their current philosophical beliefs.


That's an interesting tidbit about the “extreme humanists” you know. On what grounds, however, does a Christian view it as wrong for a husband to inflict blows on his wife as a punishment for adultery? In the West, a wife-beater contravenes the laws of the land. Which commandment does he violate?

You can “see the change” indeed—not only “in society,” but in Christian morality.

Next, the laws and punishments were brutal. I would not call them uncivilized. At least they had a rigid sense of law and order which separated the culture from the barbaric cultures found else where.


You may be missing the point. This isn’t about how civilized Christendom was, circa 1270, compared to how uncivilized other people were somewhere else. It’s about whether Christian morality changes over time and is, hence, man-made.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#11  Postby willhud9 » Jun 04, 2011 3:26 am

Moses de la Montagne wrote:
willhud9 wrote:Your usage of the word "barbaric" is noted.

We have grown up/lived in an age of humanistic thought. The concepts of punishment for various crimes changes with the society. Nowadays adultery is not so much a punishable crime, but it is still frowned upon, even in secular courts, i.e. it makes case for divorce and custody a bit easier if adultery was shown to be a factor.


Forgive me, Will, I may’ve been unclear. I’m not trying to defend adultery. (Adultery has clearly survived as a no-no much better than wife-hitting has). I am only averring that a divine authority is supposed to have a more consistent sense of justice than is represented by the chasm between St. Thomas’ opinions on punishing adultery and the opinions of his 21st-century successors in the faith (Christians claiming that morals are derived from God, and whatnot). Since you admit that the latter can account for their morals by “having grown up in an age of humanistic thought,” how then do you argue that Christian morality isn’t relative to the standards of whichever era a Christian happens to be born into?


You are making a dichotomy that is unnecessary. God's standard is that adultery is bad and that it should be punished. The means of punishment are subjective to change via law of the society. If the society says beating a woman for committing adultery is a nono, then Christians need to follow that law society placed. The punishment is subject to change. The moral is not.

You can see the change in society when you look at the capital punishment debate. I know many extreme humanists who view any form of capital punishment as "barbaric." Simply because it goes against their current philosophical beliefs.


That's an interesting tidbit about the “extreme humanists” you know. On what grounds, however, does a Christian view it as wrong for a husband to inflict blows on his wife as a punishment for adultery? In the West, a wife-beater contravenes the laws of the land. Which commandment does he violate?


I think that the issue of forgiveness should be learned. I think a man who beats his wife is not a loving husband. Does he have grounds to seperate and divorce her? Sure, but resorting to blows is not an appropriate response. Then again, I grew up in a society where females are looked as equals(and often times superior ;) ) compared to Aquinas' days where woman were seldom looked at as more than property.

You can “see the change” indeed—not only “in society,” but in Christian morality.


Christian morality has not shifted. Again adultery is still against God's "law." But yes, society and its standards and view points change and indirectly it affects the view points of the people living in that society.

Next, the laws and punishments were brutal. I would not call them uncivilized. At least they had a rigid sense of law and order which separated the culture from the barbaric cultures found else where.


You may be missing the point. This isn’t about how civilized Christendom was, circa 1270, compared to how uncivilized other people were somewhere else. It’s about whether Christian morality changes over time and is, hence, man-made.


Again, I stress that the morality has not change. Punishment and viewing of how one reacts to "breaches in God's law" have changed. Even in the Bible, things were different in Paul's time then they were in David's time. But this is not Christian morality changing, this is the society changing.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#12  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Jun 04, 2011 3:34 am

You're missing the point, William. This isn't about adultery. It's about beating one's wife.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#13  Postby willhud9 » Jun 04, 2011 3:43 am

Moses de la Montagne wrote:You're missing the point, William. This isn't about adultery. It's about beating one's wife.


The beating one's life is NOT Christian morality. I am not missing the point. The Christian morality is the issue of adultery. How that issue is resolved is subject to change via society's laws. In those days, it was viewed as perfectly acceptable to beat an unfaithful wife because she was viewed as property or at least not highly regarded. As society changed, people realized, and yes even Christians realized that the maybe that punishment was too harsh. Was it not Jesus, who asked if you are sinless then throw the first stone at the adulteress? Society and laws and customs of different time periods affects how one views the measures taken against Christian morality.

Place yourself back in THAT time period. That was the secular thing to do, not just a Christian thing. Also, that does not mean Aquinas was right in his assumption that a man could beat his wife. But society said it was okay. Therefore Aquinas simply went along with the standard that society had laid down.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#14  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Jun 04, 2011 4:06 am

willhud9 wrote:I think a man who beats his wife is not a loving husband.


One would hope so. But does he not, in beating his wife, violate the fourth and fifth commandments?

The issue is not with a flux in the Church’s teaching on adultery (to that one, verily, she has clung tenaciously), but rather with the Church’s stance on wife-beating. Pope Pius XI, writing some seven centuries after St. Thomas did, posited that the wife—even though she is “subject to her husband”—cannot be denied “the liberty which fully belongs to her in view of her dignity as a human person.” It is because of a wife's essential human dignity, therefore, that she is (presumably) not to be treated as chattel or a punching bag. What is this if not a moral imperative?

Do you see the problem? The problem is not only that the punishment has changed, but that the various kinds of punishment carry important moral considerations.

Please answer my question posed earlier. On what grounds do you view it as wrong for a husband to inflict blows on his wife as a punishment for adultery?
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#15  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Jun 04, 2011 4:19 am

willhud9 wrote:As society changed, people realized, and yes even Christians realized that the maybe that punishment was too harsh. Was it not Jesus, who asked if you are sinless then throw the first stone at the adulteress?


It sure was Jesus, wasn't it? Whatever He was teaching on that day, it didn't filter down thought the ages (and via His own Church) to St. Thomas to be interpreted as "don't beat your adulterous wife" or "don't execute an adulteress." If there was a divine moral insight to be gleaned in there, it was lost on the infallible guide.

The reasoning nowadays, anyhow, isn't just that the punishment is "maybe too harsh." It's that the punishment is incompatible with a respect for the essential dignity of the human person. Several of the 20th century popes appear to have conceded that much. Can't you?

Place yourself back in THAT time period. That was the secular thing to do, not just a Christian thing. Also, that does not mean Aquinas was right in his assumption that a man could beat his wife. But society said it was okay. Therefore Aquinas simply went along with the standard that society had laid down.


And there is my point. Why didn't Aquinas' Christian morals transcend the brutal attitudes of his day? Because he was just a mortal, that's why, and he got his morality from other mortals too. Nothing divine about it.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#16  Postby willhud9 » Jun 04, 2011 4:22 am

Moses de la Montagne wrote:
willhud9 wrote:I think a man who beats his wife is not a loving husband.


One would hope so. But does he not, in beating his wife, violate the fourth and fifth commandments?


Remember the sabbath day and honour they parents? :dunno:

The issue is not with a flux in the Church’s teaching on adultery (to that one, verily, she has clung tenaciously), but rather with the Church’s stance on wife-beating. Pope Pius XI, writing some seven centuries after St. Thomas did, posited that the wife—even though she is “subject to her husband”—cannot be denied “the liberty which fully belongs to her in view of her dignity as a human person.” It is because of a wife's essential human dignity, therefore, that she is (presumably) not to be treated as chattel or a punching bag. What is this if not a moral imperative?


Okay. It is a moral imperative on the societal level. But not one on the biblical level. As I said, punishment and laws change thus affecting how one reacts to a certain "crime." As a Christian we need to be able to adjust according to society and obey societies laws.

Do you see the problem? The problem is not only that the punishment has changed, but that the various kinds of punishment carry important moral considerations.


But that morality was completely subjective to the day and age people lived in. Back in the 1600's slavery was viewed as normal and was expected. Slavery was viewed only by a small morality as being amoral. Nowadays slavery is viewed as evil and an abhorred practice. These are changes via laws and societal reformations. The beating of an unfaithful wife, where one can probably find a Bible verse condoning a similar act(most likely in the book of Laws), is not a standard God placed. It is a standard society placed which is subject to change.

Please answer my question posed earlier. On what grounds do you view it as wrong for a husband to inflict blows on his wife as a punishment for adultery?


The grounds that I do not believe a man should lay his hands on another person. Regardless of wrongdoings or crimes against. Are we not to "turn the other cheek?" Are we not to show forgiveness and compassion? Not to say I do not believe in self-defense, but I am saying I do not believe violence and aggression is an appropriate response to an unfaithful wife. My grounds are found within the Bible as well as what society says is and is not appropriate.

What an issue where this is heavily apparent look at homosexual rights. We have churches arguing amongst themselves on whether or not a loving, monogamous, gay couple is a sin against God. But, this is due to how society now views homosexuals.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#17  Postby willhud9 » Jun 04, 2011 4:30 am

Moses de la Montagne wrote:
willhud9 wrote:As society changed, people realized, and yes even Christians realized that the maybe that punishment was too harsh. Was it not Jesus, who asked if you are sinless then throw the first stone at the adulteress?


It sure was Jesus, wasn't it? Whatever He was teaching on that day, it didn't filter down thought the ages (and via His own Church) to St. Thomas to be interpreted as "don't beat your adulterous wife" or "don't execute an adulteress." If there was a divine moral insight to be gleaned in there, it was lost on the infallible guide.


Thomas Aquinas was a man and like all men made mistakes. There are things Augustine has written about which I find myself arguing against. I will never say someone is infallible.

The reasoning nowadays, anyhow, isn't just that the punishment is "maybe too harsh." It's that the punishment is incompatible with a respect for the essential dignity of the human person. Several of the 20th century popes appear to have conceded that much. Can't you?


Yeah, and that change of respect for the dignity of the person came about due to reformation of society. Societies change. The 21st century is not the same as the 19th century or even most of the 20th.

Place yourself back in THAT time period. That was the secular thing to do, not just a Christian thing. Also, that does not mean Aquinas was right in his assumption that a man could beat his wife. But society said it was okay. Therefore Aquinas simply went along with the standard that society had laid down.


And there is my point. Why didn't Aquinas' Christian morals transcend the brutal attitudes of his day? Because he was just a mortal, that's why, and he got his morality from other mortals too. Nothing divine about it.


Morals which society places on us can differ from morals God places. The Bible is very specific about that. Now, Aquinas may and probably did, miss the point. He may have interpreted certain passages incorrectly. And instead of being transformed by the renewing of his mind so that his view was not the world's/society's view he went along with society's view because it seemed fitting. Aquinas was wrong about beating a wife. Plain and simple. When a Christian says morality comes from God that does not mean everyone automatically is attuned to God's sense of right and wrong. Otherwise everyone would be a Christian and/or believe in the same thing.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#18  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Jun 04, 2011 4:41 am

willhud9 wrote:
Moses de la Montagne wrote:
willhud9 wrote:I think a man who beats his wife is not a loving husband.


One would hope so. But does he not, in beating his wife, violate the fourth and fifth commandments?


Remember the sabbath day and honour they parents?


IV. HONOR YOUR PARENTS, and V. YOU SHALL NOT KILL.

The fourth commandment typically umbrellas the Church's teachings on the family, and the fifth commandment extends to her teachings on physical violence.

As for the rest, you seem to be making my point for me. Given enough time, Christian morality is loosey-goosey. The passing of the centuries has eroded much away. What was your point about homosexuality? Has not the "sin of Sodom" been a moral issue throughout the Church's history? How can Christian morality change on homosexuality if it's not provisional according to the whims of the times?
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#19  Postby Moses de la Montagne » Jun 04, 2011 4:47 am

willhud9 wrote:Yeah, and that change of respect for the dignity of the person came about due to reformation of society. Societies change. The 21st century is not the same as the 19th century or even most of the 20th.


Right. You seem to be conceding that the Church takes its cue on important moral considerations like "the dignity of the human person" from the change in attitudes as societal paradigms shift. Okay. This is, then, man-made morality, not a divinely-dispatched variation.
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Re: St. Thomas Aquinas on domestic issues

#20  Postby willhud9 » Jun 04, 2011 4:57 am

Moses de la Montagne wrote:
willhud9 wrote:
Moses de la Montagne wrote:

One would hope so. But does he not, in beating his wife, violate the fourth and fifth commandments?


Remember the sabbath day and honour they parents?


IVV. HONOR YOUR PARENTS, and VVI. YOU SHALL NOT KILL.


FIFY :thumbup:

The fourth fifth commandment typically umbrellas the Church's teachings on the family, and the fifth sixth commandment extends to her teachings on physical violence.


Okay? I agree with you.

As for the rest, you seem to be making my point for me. Given enough time, Christian morality is loosey-goosey. The passing of the centuries has eroded much away. What was your point about homosexuality? Has not the "sin of Sodom" been a moral issue throughout the Church's history? How can Christian morality change on homosexuality if it's not provisional according to the whims of the times?


No Christian morality is not loosey-goosey. Have I said that adultery is fine? That is the seventh commandment. I said violence in response to adultery is not fine. That standard is subject to change. The former, adultery, is not.

As for homosexuality, I wrote an entire thesis on why I believe Bible translators messed up. I do not believe the correct translation should be homosexual. Especially since that term did not get coined until the mid 1800's. I believe the sin of Sodom was sexual perversion and promiscuity, but this by no means limits that sin to "homosexuality."
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Male necrocracy
Every child worthy of a better tale
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willhud9
 
Name: William
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