Punching up and down

Some people I have interacted with despise the concept of punching up and down. They believe everyone deserves to be criticised, regardless of how truly marginalised they are. This concept, they believe, is just an excuse to silence those with unpopular opinions.

I partially agree with the sentiment.

I do believe everyone deserves to be constructively criticised. But, the thing is I don’t know how others define punching up and down. In my mind, they are all about destructive criticism. I mean, the word “punch” is used here.

There are ways to “punch” people. You can either satirise them or straight up mean-spiritedly insult them. Doing either or both means you insinuate that they are the number one source of problems in our societies.

I am comfortable about targetting certain groups like white Christians in the west, Muslims of indigenous lineage in Indonesia or cishet people in every country. They have two things in common: they are the demographic majorities and they dominate the ruling classes.

If both traits apply to your group, then you directly or indirectly shape your societies inside out. Inevitably, just like how you can take some credits (SOME) in your societies’ achievements, you are also directly or indirectly to blame for their problems.

Of course, because humans don’t live in vacuums, marginalised minorities also have their share of blame. But, because they are numerically smaller and politically weaker, their share is far smaller.

If anything, due to their small share of power, they are often among the biggest casualties of the societal problems.

To sum it up, be careful when you criticise groups of people. Make sure to not depict them as more powerful than they really are.

Unless, of course, you are idiotic or bigoted enough to believe the persecution complex narratives.

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The curious case of angry Muslims

If you don’t know what the context is -either because you are reading from the far future or you live under a rock-, this is a response to the recent beheadings committed by Muslim extremists in France. I started writing this in late October.

Actually, this is more targeted to people who have opinions about said cases.

And, my God, I hate their opinions.

Some argue the anger is justified because Muslims are frustrated with the constant demonisation. I highly agree and disagree with the sentiment.

If you are a part of a Muslim minority and you grew up being constantly demonised for your faith, anger would an inevitable emotion. While the violence is not justifiable and will never be, the anger certainly is and will always be.

But, how about Muslims from Muslim-majority countries? Why do they have to be outraged as well?

Okay, I am being too simplistic. Every Muslim -regardless of their national origins- has the right to be angry. Believe it or not, we are humans, after all.

But, the problem with Muslims from predominantly-Muslim countries is we live surrounded by fellow believers. We live in places where our religion is the dominant, ‘golden child’ religion.

Basically, we don’t know how it feels to be a religious minority. While we have the right to be angry, there is no reason for us to be THAT angry.

Some people told me it has something to do with post-colonialism. They argue Muslims still suffer from self-hatred due to past European colonialism. While the colonial governments might disdain Islam, I don’t buy the assertion at all.

I mean, is it really self-hatred when Islam is the state religion of many Muslim-majority countries? Is it really self-hatred when not all of them immediately became quasi-theocratic after independence? Is it really self-hatred when Saudi Arabia -the greatest exporter of Islamic extremism- is not a fucking former European colony?

If anything, they are angry because they are privileged! They are used to seeing their beloved religion as untouchable. Hence, any efforts to prove otherwise is perceived as a personal attack against them.

I despise Charlie Hebdo and I refuse to give slain edge lords their martyrdom. But, I also despise how some try to frame the entire Muslim world as victims when clearly not all of us are! How is that different from bigots who lump all of us as extremists?

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An actually great defence of monarchism

Well, not ‘great’. Just more convincing.

I have my share of documentaries about royal families. Unsurprisingly, most of them are about the British one; to a lesser extent, I also have watched ones about the Japanese and Swedish ones.

When I watched the documentaries about the Swedish one, I was surprised by the presentation. Instead of classical music or any music that represent Swedish heritage, they utilise pop music. Instead of framing the monarchs as untouchable members of the elite, they are framed as if they would blend really well among the commoners.

I asked a Scandinavian friend of mine and he confirmed Scandinavians prefer their monarchs ‘relatable’.

For a long time, I was confused: how did Sweden, Denmark and Norway manage to cling to both monarchism and Jante Law? Now, I know why.

It is the complete opposite with documentaries about British and Japanese royal families.

Besides the more abundant use of classical music soundtracks, they also lavishly display the wealth, the lineage and the celebrity status of the monarchs… and they are seen as good things! The documentaries insinuate the monarchs are worthy of our admiration because they are blue-blooded wealthy celebrities, because we are (supposedly) inherently underneath them!

Don’t get me wrong: I am still not a big fan of ‘relatable’ monarchs. Even if their relatability is genuine and unfiltered (I doubt it is), it still does not erase the fact that they get their arbitrarily-existing jobs because their ancestors who lived centuries ago were politically powerful. The borderline cultish veneration is still there.

But surely, if you argue monarchs are needed because they are symbols of their people, wouldn’t it make sense to depict them as ‘relatable’? If that’s the case, there is a higher chance I would be a monarchist myself. I don’t see how anyone can symbolically represent others if they are seen as inherently above them.

Well, I do see it. People who are comfortable with the existence of wealth and lineage-based strata would be just fine with feet of the powerful (the right kind, obviously) rested on their heads. For them, it makes perfect sense to feel presented by over-privileged and definitely not relatable individuals.

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Riots: my Indonesian perspective

Martin Luther King said it is the language of the unheard. I am not 100% on board with it.

In the case of the still on-going Black Lives Matter riot (as of at the time of writing), I do think it is the language of the unheard. It is undeniable black Americans are disproportionately targeted by the justice system. Considering how every single one of their peaceful protests is condemned as ‘inappropriate’ by the establishment, it is no surprise race riot is still a semi-regular feature of the American life to this day.

Even if I dismiss the reports of white instigators (I don’t), I still cannot blame the rioters for being violently angry… while also acknowledging that small business owners also have the right to be bitter when their properties are burned down. Yes, you can do both.

Regarding the Hong Kong riots, I also think they are languages of the unheard. Contrary to popular belief (and I notice its prevalence among online Singaporeans), the Hong Kongers don’t rebel against the authorities just for the sake of it. They rebel because they truly appreciate the liberty they have enjoyed for decades, the liberty that citizens of mainland China (and Singapore) have never experienced.

The citywide legislative council has functional constituencies which allow special interest groups like corporations (many of which are Pro-Beijing) to vote and their votes have more weight than the ones of geographical constituencies. The city’s chief executive is directly appointed by Beijing. Pro-democracy camp is only dominant in the district councils.*

In Indonesia, it is a different case.

There are the infamous ‘wrapped rice’ protesters, those who join protest rallies simply because they want the free lunch and cash. The presence of organised and extensive logistical support, akin to a meticulously-planned event, is a dead giveaway.

Even though many of them are working-class people, their acts are not languages of the unheard. They do not represent their own causes, they represent the determination of certain parties to keep destabilising the public life.

Then, there are the Islamist protesters, who may or may not overlap with the aforementioned people.

They protest because they claim to be against the second-class status of Indonesian Muslims… even though we are a predominantly-Muslim nation that have never embraced state secularism, let alone the laïcité type; we were never banned from openly expressing our Islamic identity.

If anything, Islam is the golden child in Indonesia and has always been. Muslims do have privileges that non-Muslims lack.

Basically, the Islamist riots -which there are quite a lot of them- are not languages of the unheard. They are languages of fucktards who demand even more rights to oppress the religious minorities, who think protecting them is the same as oppressing the majority.

If you want to find Indonesian riots who are legitimate languages of the unheard, I will refer to the ones committed by Indonesian Papuans.

They are a marginalised racial and cultural group who have never benefitted from “joining” Indonesia. Their heritage is nothing but a mere cultural prop, their existence is a mere tokenism to our national diversity.

When they aggressively protested against a racism case in which Papuan students were called ‘monkeys’, the majority of Indonesians condemned the Papuans for rioting and not once acknowledging the root of the problem. Sounds familiar?

I am writing this essay (and pretending to have lots of readers) because I don’t want well-intentioned yet gullible people to defend the wrong parties. I don’t want them mistaking the oppressors as the oppressed ones.

We already have assholes who intentionally flip the narrative. We don’t need people to do it accidentally.

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*Yes, under the British rule, the governor of Hong Kong was appointed by the Queen and not by the Hong Kong people and all of the governors were white. But, the legislature was already dominated by Hong Kongers and it had far less functional constituencies.

Oh, and the government did not actively try to stifle freedom of speech. Don’t forget that.

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The overtly-polished Casey Neistat style

I call it the Casey Neistat style because that’s how others call it (even though some people think the style predated him) and I don’t have an alternative name for it.

From the title, you can easily tell I am not a fan.

Okay, I am not saying I hate the aesthetic. I actually think it looks beautiful and proves every image can look pretty when captured by the right person. But, that’s also my problem with it: it looks TOO beautiful.

Before I was immersed in Youtube cultures, I had already watched arthouse films like Andrei Tarkovsky’s and Ingmar Bergman’s. They are visually stunning and narratively compelling (for me), exposing me to cinematic art works.

Also resulting in my high expectations of vloggers like Neistat.

It is already ingrained in my mind that good cinematography HAS to be accompanied by compelling stories. But, vlogs don’t tell ‘profound’ stories (mind the quotation marks), even when they showcase out of the ordinary events or the lives of perpetual travellers.

If anything, those vlogs feel pretentious. The polished cinematography seems to do nothing but overcompensating the passable narratives.

Oh, and when I said that vlogs are not narratively profound, I meant it as a compliment. Because they are supposed to narrate Youtubers’ semi-personal lives, I always expect raw and mundane storytellings; that is what I find attractive about vlogs in the first place!

I actually do enjoy some Neistat-esque vlogs, like the ones of Evan Edinger, Terry Song and Adam Neely. The difference is theirs are more stylistically restrained, allowing a greater presence of rawness and mundanity.

Thanks to its participatory nature, Youtube has opposites for almost everything. For Casey Neistat style and the likes, there are content described by Nerd City as post-ironic.

I cannot make myself enjoy the works of Youtubers like Filthy Frank, MaxMoeFoe and IDubbz (his Content Cop videos are an exception). Apart from the crassness which I find extreme (even for a relatively crass person like me), I am also anxious about the blurred lines between irony and sincerity.

But still, despite my inability to relish such content, I cannot help but respecting those creators for their unsuppressed mockery of the insincere and synthetic charm endorsed by the establishment. While I admittedly do embrace some of the establishment’s ideals, I also despise the idea of venerating them.

Thankfully, despite the increasing pressure of uniformity, the platform still has a sizeable freedom to dissent, something those employed in the ‘traditional’ media can only dream of. Therefore, almost every imaginable type of content has a place on Youtube*.

Whether it is aesthetically and thematically extreme** or middle-of-the-road, you will definitely find it.

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*Obviously, there are restrictions to what can and cannot be uploaded. But, it is no secret Youtube content policing is both ineffective and misguided. ‘Lawful’ videos can get taken down and ‘unlawful’ ones stay. Supposedly, people have found porn on the site; while I do have found softcore films, I have yet found hardcore ones.

**Post-irony is extreme due to its depictions of life as an inherently ugly entity. But, I would argue overtly-polished aesthetic is also extreme for its overtly beautiful depictions of life; once one is accustomed to it, acknowledgement of the ugly reality feels taboo.

A bit of tangent here:

Andrei Tarkovsky said he utilised both colour and monochrome scenes in his films because those shot entirely in colour felt like animated paintings for him and therefore, felt ‘too beautiful’ to be realistic.

I never thought that I would reference Tarkovsky’s philosophy while discussing Youtube.

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I support monarchism because…

*puts on a mask*

Being a monarch is a hard-earned job!

If you have to compare between a person who gets his/her high-earning and high-ranking job by working all the way from the bottom and a person who gets her/his because of his/her lineage, it is obvious the latter is hardworking one!

It is just common sense that the former is a sign of laziness and the latter is extremely hard to achieve! Most of us have never made any efforts to be born into the right families and monarchs are the only ones who have achieved such high accomplishment!

It is frustrating how this thing needs to be said in the first place!

The monarchs make me feel happy!

Who cares about the education, healthcare, economy and political stability?

The only things that matter are my feelings! The purpose of human existence is to make ME happy!

And the only ones who can make ME happy are the monarchs!

They make ME feel extremely good about the world we live in, making ME forget about how fucking shitty the world we live in!

They are literally Gods!

Nepotism is everywhere!

It has been established that the ethical and moral legitimacy of an action is determined by its popularity among the masses. Appeal to popularity is literally a principal accepted in logic and ethics!

That’s the reason why logicians and ethicists support monarchism: because it is based on nepotism and nepotism is literally everywhere!

I mean, literally every person has settled that murder and rape are ethically and morally-acceptable because of how their societal prevalence!

If we have settled that, why can’t we listen to the experts and settle that monarchism is not only acceptable but also good for our political establishments?

*takes off the mask*

 

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The real American power…

… Is actually soft.

I am referring to the concept of “soft power”, by the way. And no, I am not sorry for that shitty introduction.

I keep seeing and hearing comments made by zealously patriotic Americans about how their beloved country is respected by the world because of its hard power.

It is true to a certain extent. If you are one of those non-Americans who easily fall for American exceptionalism and who love jerking off to images of real life violence which America is responsible for while simultaneously getting unprotected, rough butt sex from America, you would drool over its hard power.

But, most non-Americans aren’t like that. When their governments do bow down to the US, they do so out of not wanting to get screwed on the world stage and NOT out of genuine respect.

Basically, projections of hard power, more of than not, are a form of bullying. Bullying with dire global consequences.

But, do you know what people all over the world love? American culture.

Experts of international relations have been arguing how affinity to foreign cultures will lead us to have more positive views of their countries of origin.

And because of my own life experiences (which I have to assert as entirely mine), this is something I am not surprised about.

Despite their constant criticism (bashing) of the USA, many of my fellow non-Americans (in this case, they are mostly Indonesians) can’t get themselves to wish literal death upon the country.

And they all have one thing in common: they openly enjoy American culture.

Apart from buying foods from American fast food restaurants and cafes, they go to cinemas mostly for Hollywood flicks, pay for cable TV to Hollywood TV shows and pay to attend concerts of American musicians.

How about the propaganda present in Hollywood films?

From what I notice, even some of the most dimwitted folks I know can easily acknowledge the propagandistic content of their sources of entertainment.

They know that they don’t easily fall for the infamously shameless American propaganda and they also feel Americans can entertain the world like no others. That’s why they are relatively unperturbed about it.

Me personally? A bulk of my favourite entertainers and artists are Americans; without them, I would have nothing but contempt for the United States of America.

Oh, and I should say ordinary Americans also contribute to their country’s positive image.

The last time I was surrounded by Americans, it was almost two decades ago when I visited the US as a young boy. I don’t remember interacting much with the locals.

But, if one sees the anecdotes posted by many non-Americans online, they frequently perceive the Americans as friendly, easy-going, open-minded, educated and charitable people and often seen as the antitheses of the US government (somewhat debatable).

The more negative anecdotes are often the results of interacting with the stereotypically jingoistic, war-mongering, fear-mongering, bubble-dwelling and proudly anti-intellectual Americans.

You know, Americans like Donald “Make America Great Again” Trump.

Americans who think their Godawful, alpha-wannabe attitudes will gain them genuine respect from the world.

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I support colonialism…..

*puts on mask*

… because I am insecure little bitch of a citizen who needs extreme empowerment.

There is nothing more gratifying than the country I unwillingly was born into invade foreign territories and pretend they are destined by the universe to be ours.

It is even more gratifying that colonialism can also destroy the cultures and economies of the colonies. That way, they can suffer from extreme cultural and economic dependence on the motherlands, giving them even greater power projection on the world stage.

And I hate how my beloved country of Indonesia is not harsh enough in its colonisation of the Papuans.

The problem is Indonesia’s official motto is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. Unity in diversity. It forces us to wear a pluralistic mask, hiding the real face of our country.

Why can’t we be just like the Americans, the English, the French and the Japanese in the old days? If they keep doing what they were doing, so-called “languages” like Hawaiian, Gaelic, Basque and Ainu would cease to exist and the world would be a better place.

If it were my call, I would do my best to annihilate those savage Papuan “cultures” by punishing anyone who dare to embrace them and force the embrace of Javanese culture, which is inherently noble, wonderfully anti-egalitarian and is definitely a real, proper culture.

Not only that, I would also encourage skin bleaching and plastic surgery to the Papuans who have the dignity of not wanting to be monkeys.

Seriously, if people call you monkeys, it’s your fault for looking like ones.

I also hate how the Papuan provinces are given political autonomy. Literally the only provinces that deserve it are the ones who embrace Javanese supremacy!

If anything, not only I oppose the transfer of power, I also believe the Papuans should be stripped of their power to vote!

As they are subhumans, they are unable to make any good decisions. Therefore, they should not be allowed to vote for the presidents and MPs!

Heck, I even believe they should not choose their own mayors! Everything has to be entirely up to Jakarta!

Of course, I have to be fair as well.

Despite my criticism, I also have to praise my country for making Papuans too economically dependent on western Indonesia, to the point they have to survive the high living cost with their pathetically meagre incomes.

Finally and most importantly, I also love how the government has successfully bred a morally-corrupt, violent and historically-illiterate citizenry.

When Papuans committed riots after a racist incident, it did not take much time for many Indonesians to condemned them for rioting and not spending a single second on condemning the racists.

Basically, they thought the Papuans were rioting for no good reasons. Hopefully, many probably still do.

If I think about it, the pluralistic official motto is a great tool for Indonesia’s colonialism of western Papua.

Most of us believe the official motto is the reflection of reality instead of a mere guidance. As a result, we see our country as the most tolerant and peaceful in the world despite its glaring bouts of sectarian violence.

Not only that, we also fool ourselves into believing the falsehood about how Papuans prayed to be rescued by the peaceful and tolerant Indonesians from the colonialist and racist Dutch monsters, even though annexation can be executed without the people’s consent and is a common method used by colonial and imperial powers.

We greatly mistreat the Papuans and then we gaslight them into believing that the mistreatments are societal well-being. Well-being they supposedly would have never enjoyed if they remain as Dutch subjects.

While I hate how we are too soft on them, I have to acknowledge that we have been giving them the deserving fingers for decades.

Now, it is time for us to give even more fingers.

*takes off the mask*

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“Youtube’s not good enough!”

Disregard of privacy. Hatred of change. Entitled attitude. Immaturity.

Those are the dark traits that people familiar with Youtube cultures associate with Youtube fandoms. They are common knowledges.

But, I am surprised most people (seemingly) have yet to notice another frustrating trait about the fandoms: obsession with giant corporate media networks.

On some occasions, you can see fans wondering why their beloved idols are not signing up to those corporations.

And that irks me every time.

One thing for sure is they don’t know how the media works. They probably think those giant entities provide creators with not only big platforms and big funding, but also complete creative freedom.

You know, a make-believe.

They don’t know how creators are also responsible to the network executives. If they deem the creations unprofitable or ideologically “deviant”, those creations would not even survive the pre-production stage.

As bad as Youtube can be, its content creators have freedom that many of theirs counterparts in other platforms can only dream of.

Your videos can be taken down for violating guidelines (or falsely and/or unfairly accused of doing so). But, they can never be taken down solely for low viewerships or ideological deviance.

In fact, Youtube is full of creators who espouse controversial opinions regarding humanity and who scathingly condemn the establishments. Not to mention there is an abundance of creators like Filthy Frank whose style described by Nerd City as “post-ironic” (Click and go straight to 16:45).

But, this is not even the most frustrating about the fandoms’ wish. Their elitist attitude is.

Why is Youtube not good enough?

Of course, if a more stable source of income is the argument, then I am all for it. Youtubers have been struggling gaining profits from their videos in recent years.

But, that’s not what fans want; from all of the ones who have expressed such desire, I only encountered one that mentioned income. One.

In fact, not only it is the only clearly-elucidated reason that I encountered, fans also know Youtubers can either get direct sponsorships, donations through Patreon, or both. Seemingly, they don’t have any reasons to make such demand.

While I cannot have make any concrete (and objective) conclusions, I can tell you about the mentality of Youtube fandoms.

They suffer from inferiority complex.

I am not talking about how their idols are talentless or something; just like fans of traditional idols, many Youtube fans certainly see theirs as talented. I am talking about how they see Youtube as a career: for them, it is not a real job.

Admittedly, it is extremely rare for me to see those comments. But, I do have encountered fans who genuinely believe the jobs of their idols are not “real jobs”. In fact, they seem happy if their idols have jobs other than making Youtube videos.

What are “real jobs”, anyway?

  • If a job gives us complete or near independence, is considered a novelty and disregarded by the establishment, and/or does not offer a stable source of income, then it would not be considered as “real”.
  • I reach to such conclusion because, from what I observe, the jobs labelled as “not real” often possess some or all of those characteristics. I have never heard people calling blue collar jobs and most white ones as “not real”.

    From this observation, I already have a clear imagination of what some Youtube fans are thinking:

    Yes, we know our favourite Youtubers are creators who rise to the top despite the independence from the old-age establishment. And that what makes them unique.

    But, because of that same reason, we fans feel insecure about ourselves because there is no prestige in admiring those who are not parts of the establishment.

    Therefore, it would be selfish of our idols to stay independent and refuse to become corporate slaves.

    Yes, I know my assumption is plagued with meanness and exaggeration… and also dishonesty considering how Youtube also has its own (younger and less powerful) establishments which are divided into different linguistic and/or national categories.

    But, whether those fans are aware of how the media works or not, you have to admit the feeling of inferiority is there.

    If it isn’t, why would they be aroused by the prospect of their favourite Youtubers branching out to the more conventional yet not-always-rewarding realms?

    If it isn’t, why aren’t they content about idolising those who make a living solely out of Youtube?

    I am on the opinion that believes Youtubers need to mature in order to bring their communities forward.

    But, I believe the fandoms’ lack of self-assurance is also a major hindrance to the progress as they refuse to uncover the platform’s fullest potentials.

    It is not far-fetched to say the collective feeling of insecurity is one of Youtube’s biggest enemies.

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    How to ‘feel’ powerful?

    *puts on a mask*

    Yes, I said ‘feel’. Let’s face it, you know you are not powerful and will never be so! You will always be a pathetic bottom dweller that the upper dwellers will feast on! That’s a sad fact you have to accept!

    But, that doesn’t mean you cannot ‘feel’ powerful. You can induce the feeling by fooling others and yourself about your make-believe power. Of course, I am talking about being a bully.

    Before becoming one, you have to choose your victims. It always depend on where you are.

    When at schools, you can pick on students who are poor, physically unfit or just plain different. When you see yourself as a member of society at large, you can pick on the ones who belong to marginalised groups like women, the poor, racial minorities, religious minorities, gender and sexual minorities and refugees. Basically, choose ones who most likely will not be protected by the authorities.

    After you have determined your potential victims, you can start bullying them. Immediately, you will feel like a much more powerful! And trust me, you would not be the only one who senses your actually-non-existing power.

    Indifferent bystanders, bullying apologists and even your victims will acknowledge its existence. In fact, the more your victims’ powerlessness intensifies, the more they will acknowledge it!

    Oh, and apologists are your best friends! Not only they will defend your right to bully because they don’t see anything wrong with the bullying, they will also condemn or even punish your victims for having the dignity to fight back! Trust me, those apologists tend to be influential wherever they are. Their words are often taken for granted.

    But, even if you don’t have apologists to back you up, rhetoric can be your weapon. You can defend yourself by slandering your victims.

    Tell everyone that the weird kids in school will grow up as serial killers!

    Tell everyone that the gender and sexual minorities are perverts who want to molest our children and/ recruit them to their perverted lifestyles!

    Tell everyone that the poor are the ones who hold the economies down because they are greedy animals who oppress the rich!

    Tell everyone that empowering women and members of the minorities will lead to men and members of the majority becoming second-class citizens!

    Tell everyone that refugees are nothing but a bunch of cowardly rapists and ISIS, MS13 Trojan horses!

    Tell everyone that your victims, NOT you, are the ones who commit atrocious acts of inhumanity against their fellow human beings!

    Trust me, there will be people who take your words for granted.

    And yes, it is that easy to feel powerful.

    *takes off the mask*

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