Politics and Burning Man don't mix

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.

Politics and Burning Man don't mix

Postby Ancient » Sat May 22, 2004 9:12 pm

Having seen a number of political discussions in this group, I felt I should post my concerns about them. I certainly don't want to discourage people talking freely about these things, so don't get me wrong, but I don't believe eplaya is an appropriate arena. Perhaps cosmetically the discussions have attempted to appear diplomatic and allowing for free trade of ideas, but beneath that translucent veil the type of discussion is too divisive. It's bitter, and fueled by emotions or instincts that are only conducive to applying selective reasons to justify what's otherwise an irrational, personal, and emotional inclination to feel a certain way. There are conservative, liberal, 'other' burners here, and I hate to see such animosity where our solidarity shouldn't allow for political concerns.
I know that many of you will go out and express your political ideals at the burn, and I don't mind (I might do the same thing), I want to see people talking. But please, above all else, do not make associations between politics and burning man!!! Politics are very bitter and divisive recently, but we all get along at burning man without care for what our beliefs are. But should ever burning man appear to favor a certain social or political leaning, then it will alienate many burners, reduce the population, and become something foul. Eplaya is beginning to reek somewhat of this.
Please keep burning man and politics separate!
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Make Burning Man Fascist Free!

Postby Apollonaris Zeus » Sat May 22, 2004 10:42 pm

You got to hear the truth somewhere cuz you ain't gonna hear it from the ultra-conservative (read ultra-fascist) Radio and TV waves!

In another 4 years Ashcroft would have found a way to stop BM!

Down With this Fascist Bush Regime!

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Postby cowboyangel » Sat May 22, 2004 11:44 pm

Dear Ancient, Politics is very much a part of our lives now...it is simply everywhere and in everything we do......as America launches pre-emptive and devastating military strikes all over the globe now, the stamp of "America" goes with it and it's on all of us to respond in some way.....we as Americans (if you are one, BM is global) have an awesome worldwide focus on us right now that is calling us to speak out whereever and whenever we feel we must...this is what free speech is all about. If you want to pretend that these issues don't dog us everywhere...go ahead. the Burners I know are more than folks out to have a good time....the social-political-cultural-creative awareness at BM is inspiring and growing and transformative... dealing with politics is part of the mix.
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Postby Badger » Sun May 23, 2004 12:47 am

I agree that politics like the inevitable discussions on religion, sex, money threads that crop up ARE appropriate arens for discussion - unless specifically stated in the guidelines of this (or any other board.)

Having said that i'm wondering if anyone else gets a small bit of hackle raising from the suggestion that an overt attempt at voter registration playa take place by some some ambitious folks as mentioned over in another thread?
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Postby Ancient » Sun May 23, 2004 2:42 am

If anyone feels it's some sort of righteous 'duty' to try and 'voice the truth,' or 'convert the ignorant,' then there are plenty of other platforms to preach from. If you want to get together with others who agree with you and talk about how correct your position is, or how damned important all of this is for everyone else to hear, then all the power to you. But try to do it from a platform built for it. Such platitudes as 'this is very important right now,' and 'where else will you hear the truth,' are bullshit. It probably wont make a difference in the long run, and if you're on a soap box at burning man with a loudspeaker most people would ignore you, some who were of a similar mind might stop and listen, and so much sound and fury would fade away on Sunday..... but if more people stood on that soap box, if enough people tried to preach that they affected the theme, the atmosphere of Burning Man, then they're harming the community. If Burning Man were a political discussion group, or a center for political activism, it would fucking suck ass! The many people who avoid such platforms, and those who simply felt alienated, would stop attending. I would. Burning Man is Burning Man, an event people attend for fun. Politics sap the fun right out of things unless you're the type of person who gets off asserting their correctness of opinion over such divisive subjects, and enjoy knowledge of how 'wrong' and 'evil' the other sides are.
Talk all you want, talk about anything you want, talk to whomever you want, but please don’t use Burning Man as your soap box.
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Postby DVD Burner » Sun May 23, 2004 3:09 am

That's it!
I've stayed off this thread as long as I could. (Did you think I wouldn’t?)

Let me guess, are you asking that politics should not be discussed on eplaya? If so then why? Have your feelings been hurt because you read an opinion you did not agree with? Did you discover on an eplaya political thread a little known fact that made you suddenly realize your disillusion? Did what you read on eplaya something that made you think about the choices you've made in life might not have been the wisest? (everyone has done that at one time or another.)

Hey, here's another fact you may not be aware of.......It's a message board. Get over it.

Ms. TP,

PLEASE MAY WE HAVE THE PLONKER FOR THIS WONDERFUL BURNER SO THAT THEY MAY NOT READ WHAT THOSE OF US THAT DISCUSS POLITICS DONT OFFEND THE VIRGIN EYES OF THOSES THAT READ WHAT WE WRITE AND PERFER TO STAY UNINFORMED?
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Postby DVD Burner » Sun May 23, 2004 3:11 am

I dont know why but that looked a whole lot diffrent in preview than it does now. :lol:
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Postby Alpha » Sun May 23, 2004 8:17 am

If you're looking for a platform for having a rave in the desert, go somewhere else. I would welcome the reduction in headcount. Burning Man is about freedom of expression. Many of us feel the need to express ourselves in the current political environment.
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Postby Bob » Sun May 23, 2004 8:59 am

Ancient wrote:Having seen a number of political discussions in this group, I felt I should post my concerns about them. I certainly don't want to discourage people talking freely about these things, so don't get me wrong, but I don't believe eplaya is an appropriate arena. ....
<snip shock/awe/dismay>


You're new here, apparently. Politics and society have long been acceptable as subjects, and the General Discussion topic area is designed to contain such banter. The entire rest of the board is for Burning Man and related discussion, which may in fact include how political issues may affect the event.

If you were expecting group-think, try another event/culture/nation/whatever.
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Postby Bob » Sun May 23, 2004 9:22 am

The corolarry would be: avoid General Discussion if you want to avoid political dust storms.
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Postby Badger » Sun May 23, 2004 10:17 am

Burning Man is Burning Man, an event people attend for fun.


Oh, is THAT what it's about.

Thanks for defining it for the rest of us poor schlubs.
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Postby cowboyangel » Sun May 23, 2004 10:36 am

I'm not going to diss you Ancient, just ponder the old labor addage
"..an injury to one is an injury to all"

BM is about connections, feeling united in purpose with one another and sharing who we are...that means "everything" is on the burner. I've never felt that politics or any one type of thing dominates at BM
"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believe is false."- William Casey, CIA Director 1981
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Postby Apollonaris Zeus » Sun May 23, 2004 10:50 am

Ancient wrote: If you want to get together with others who agree with you and talk about how correct your position is, or how damned important all of this is for everyone else to hear, then all the power to you.

A II Z- Why would I need to educate those that already know the truth?

It probably wont make a difference in the long run, and if you're on a soap box at burning man with a loudspeaker most people would ignore you, some who were of a similar mind might stop and listen, and so much sound and fury would fade away on Sunday..... but if more people stood on that soap box, if enough people tried to preach that they affected the theme, the atmosphere of Burning Man, then they're harming the community. If Burning Man were a political discussion group, or a center for political activism, it would fucking suck ass!

A II Z- Most people including me don't even bring the descussions written here to the playa. There's no need to do so!

The many people who avoid such platforms, and those who simply felt alienated, would stop attending. I would. Burning Man is Burning Man, an event people attend for fun.

A II Z- There are many spoofs on any themes from politics to social it all a part of personal expression. This is what BM has always been.


Talk all you want, talk about anything you want, talk to whomever you want, but please don’t use Burning Man as your soap box.


A II Z- Sorry Ancient but the political environment is very important issue to BM. As I stated above, There are Nazis in this government that would stop BM as fast as you have decided that we can not speak what we wish!

A II Z

PS- the animated GIF is not about YOU!
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Postby DVD Burner » Sun May 23, 2004 11:22 am

I bet Ancient and many others really don’t believe that the Bush clan and its KKK buddies are truly Nazis.
It’s true you know. There’s plenty of proof.
:lol:

Its best that these things be spoken about now while something can be done about it.
Ancient,
You can ignore the way the world is if you like and wait till it's too late to do anything about your right to have Burningman.
This reminds me of another BM list that didn’t want politics spoken there either. There was this individual that had the ordacity to claim they knew all there was to know about the Israeli Palestinian conflict because they studied it for 30 years, yet they didn’t know when Israel was created.

Ancient, can’t you look at this all as a learning experience? Also, what part of the country are you from?
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Postby DVD Burner » Sun May 23, 2004 12:12 pm

I should have said born and raised. that's what I really mean.
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Postby technopatra » Sun May 23, 2004 1:47 pm

Thanks for starting this discussion, Ancient. It touches upon several conversations I've had with myself and others about what the Burning Man and the eplaya can, should and will be.

What I used to expect, and what I have since learned about the eplaya

When I first took over admin duties here, I will admit to having some fantasies about this being nothing but a happy, warm, supportive place. I was very dismayed by much of the more biting or provocative conversations. I didn't come here to get in arguments or have to defend myself - I wanted to recreate my on-playa experience, where people give me yummy snacks and make me laugh and spray me with lavender water when I'm hot.

So we put some technologies and the guidelines in place, tried to help encourage positive conversation and ignore negativity, and I became a part of the community rather than an overseer of it. This did improve the overall tone of the boards, and also my impression of them.

One main fact that finally became clear to me is that the eplaya is comprised of a huge variety of people, and they are, on the whole, a very intelligent, inquisitive bunch who love a good row. This will not change. And given the political climate in the US - which undeniably affects a goodly portion of the rest of the world - there is simply too much fodder to resist.

Contrary to the beliefs of many, the Burning Man world is not apolitical.

Burners are more politically oriented than the average American

We polled participants after last year's event, and in the coming-soon 2003 AfterBurn Report, you will see that the average Burner is more politically active and votes more frequestly that the average American. This would indicate there is a wide base for political interest, and therefore discussion.

I believe we would be remiss if we did not provide a venue for political expression on the eplaya.

The community does not share one singular political viewpoint, and each individual should have the opportunity to communicate their beliefs, on or off playa, with the rest of their community.

In the old eplaya structure, we had a "political" folder, but no one used it. All political discussion ended up in in Experiences or General Discussion. Since we have changed "experiences" to be wholly Burning Man-related, General Discussion is the natural place for political discussion now.

The eplaya is here to support community, and you can not, imo, have effective community bulding that is consciously devoid of political interest.

Artists and art communities need to develop stronger representation in their governments to ensure their own survival.

While a single community can choose to be apolitical, the Burning Man world is comprised of so many communities that it would be unrealistic to expect all of them to eschew politics.

While the Burning Man Project does not endorse any particular political party, nor have they been involved in electioneering, they have been involved in local Nevada politics for years.

Without their proactive involvement in the local Nevada government, the event would have died out years ago. You can read about the history of Burning Man's government relations in the 2001 AfterBurn report.

All that said, I do feel your pain about being exposed to unhappy things in a happy place.

I remember being in the Cafe last year when, on the spoken word stage, a couple presented a long, intricately detailed illustrated banner. It chronicled the US's corporate and military interest in Colombia. It was a striking, amazing complex piece of art.

The discussion the artists encouraged as they took us through the piece, interpreting each overt and covert symbol, depressed me so terribly that I wanted to walk away. So I did. In that moment I was mad at them for spoiling my good mood.

But I did not presume I could tell them not to present art that killed my warm & fuzzy Burning Man buzz. I had to take responsibility for my own experience and not infringe on the rights of others to express themselves.

I appreciate the desire to escape politics, and understand that you come here for a positive experience. However, I will not advocate a gag-order, self-imposed or otherwise, on political discussion here.

Future solution
We will be instituting an "ignore thread" feature so that you can specific threads you do not want to see, and plonker to ignore users that get your goat. But until then, I ask you to simply ignore them on your own.
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Postby technopatra » Sun May 23, 2004 1:54 pm

oh also to speak to your point about too many folks on the soapbox ruining Burning Man:

I counted about 8 political discussions happening. That's a very small percentage of the boards, and could be easily ignored. Just shift your attention to a thread you like.

And as interested in politics as folks might be here, they are still more interested in planning for Burning Man, sharing more experienceia observations, and teasing each other. There is no chance that the boards could ever be more than temporarily subsumed by political discussions.

No need to worry.
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Postby technopatra » Sun May 23, 2004 1:59 pm

ok rereading this entire thread, it's clear that this should be in "Nature of Burnign Man" so I'm moving it now.

Then I'm getting away from this damn computer and going the Flambe Lounge! Woohoo!
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Postby samtzu » Sun May 23, 2004 4:30 pm

Technotropia wrote:
Burners are more politically oriented than the average American
We polled participants after last year's event, and in the coming-soon 2003 AfterBurn Report, you will see that the average Burner is more politically active and votes more frequestly that the average American.

I actually voted three times in the last election, which was, indeed, more frequently than the average voter voted... unless, of course, they were from Chicago or Florida... but I made sure that I was well paid every time!!
She also wrote:
The eplaya is here to support community, and you can not, imo, have effective community bulding that is consciously devoid of political interest.

A community of primates, such as ours, is constantly engaged in a struggle for understanding. My viewpoint may be so important that I am willing to make it very uncomfortable for others to read what I have to say. That struggle for understanding, and agreement is a struggle for power. And, in my book of definitions, Politics is the struggle for power... which, as some Asian gentleman tried to posit years ago,(and has become more viable and true lately) "grows out of the barrel of a gun." I prefer talking to shooting.
She finally said:
ok rereading this entire thread, it's clear that this should be in "Nature of Burnign Man" so I'm moving it now.
Which just goes to show that, all politics aside, Burning Man is a community of expression... even if that expression is marred by such things as disagreements and Spelling errors that aren't corrected!! Burnign Man???? Waht the heel is that??? Jesus H. Christ!! Why can't we get a spell check feature here??!! HUH?! Is that too much to ask?! Those of us with speeling disabilities have rights, too, you know!! EDITING... SAY IT SLOW... E-D-O-T-I-N-G!!! When willll our voiceS be heard??!! Shit!

Sam
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Postby cowboyangel » Sun May 23, 2004 5:09 pm

Thanks for your clarity and intelligence and thoughfulness Technopatra, on
defining the nature of political discussions on eplaya. I hope that puts that one to rest for awhile....now to serious matters...where's the flambe lounge?
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Postby Bob » Sun May 23, 2004 5:17 pm

cowboyangel wrote:...where's the flambe lounge?...


Follow the winos. It's right near the soup kitchen.
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Postby cowboyangel » Sun May 23, 2004 6:58 pm

which soup kitchen? the one in the Haight? SOM? Glide?
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Postby Bob » Mon May 24, 2004 8:11 am

I think it's clear this thread should be filed under "eplaya feedback". It has little to do with the "Nature of Burning Man" and less to do with "Black Rock City".
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Postby Ancient » Mon May 24, 2004 11:29 am

Woah, this thing really grew while I was out...o_O. Well, to address it, I understand that this is a message board, I don't want any gag order on anything either, and guess that I was wanting to speak out against something. So hey, sorry, do whatever with the board. I completely advocate changing the channel. I was reacting as a long time burner who has just recently joined e-playa. I imagined newbies to the board who haven’t gone to the event reading through it, as I had, and thinking “is this what it’s about?” and perhaps leading to “that $300 sure is sounding more expensive....” Because frankly, after reading through the political threads I was left with the aftertaste of hate speech. It seems so virulent, so blusterously self important, and so erroneous that I couldn’t see it breeding properly out of something related to Burning Man. However I’ve come to realize that those arenas in which people bash each other around with political subjects are quite appropriately best when virtual. I suppose when fitting such expression into the schedule of your real life, that sitting down in front of a computer, or in front of letter paper, and writing out such things is a pretty good way to go about it. Most people, I hope, are mindful of their own intents and audiences when publicly expressing political concerns.
I also rather appreciated Technopatra expressing the “buzz kill” aspect very nicely. Going into my 8th burn I’ve seen more and more such moments pop up, and my biggest concern in starting this thread was to try and sway people away from aligning the nastiness that stood out in those political threads with the actual Burning Man experience. I know it’s inevitable for there to be those moments at BM, but while I’d rather just see fewer in general, I think that those planning to bring politics to Burning Man could do well to be more thoughtful in their planning to prevent such buzz kills. Such as to invite people to hear you, rather than invite yourself to speak to a prostrate (or too comfortable to move) group, or simply getting into the vibe or the mood of a group and allowing yourself to move with it instead of trampling on it. This statement may seem somewhat erroneous as well, but I hope someone might be impressed upon by it.
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Postby Ancient » Mon May 24, 2004 11:35 am

Ah, in response to Dvd Burner I was born and raised in Nevada in various towns, but mostly in Fernley. I'm not sure what you could get from that, though, as a region's stereotypes or generalities should not necessarily inform you about myself as an individual. Not everyone in Nevada is redneck in the same way that not everyone in San Francisco is a bohemian. I've also been to 19 countries in my short life. Nevada is great though.
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Postby Simply Joel » Mon May 24, 2004 11:45 am

sheesh.
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Postby stuart » Mon May 24, 2004 11:47 am

i'm wondering if anyone else gets a small bit of hackle raising from the suggestion that an overt attempt at voter registration playa take place by some some ambitious folks


stop wondering, the answer is yes.
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Postby Simply Joel » Mon May 24, 2004 12:04 pm

BRC has a post office... why not voter's registration... and maybe selective service applications too...

aint it great growing up in america?
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Postby Apollonaris Zeus » Mon May 24, 2004 12:07 pm

DVD Burner wrote:I bet Ancient and many others really don’t believe that the Bush clan and its KKK buddies are truly Nazis.
It’s true you know. There’s plenty of proof.


From the NY Times:

"Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, sent a letter
yesterday to Attorney General John Ashcroft questioning what he
described as the "checkered record when it comes to prisoners' rights"
of John J. Armstrong, a former commissioner of corrections in Connecticut. ...

...But his most difficult time came when he sent more than 200 Connecticut
inmates to Wallens Ridge, a supermaximum security prison in Big Stone
Gap, Va.

One inmate, Lawrence Frazier, the diabetic, died after being hit with an
electric charge. Another, David Tracy, who had been diagnosed with
mental illness, jumped off his bunk with a makeshift rope around his
neck in plain sight of a guard who did nothing to come to his aid, said
David Fathi, a senior staff counsel for the A.C.L.U.'s National Prison
Project.

Mr. Fathi, who oversaw a lawsuit against Connecticut and Mr. Armstrong,
said the state had deprived the prisoners at Wallens Ridge of their
constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment.

Inmates at Wallens Ridge were frequently strapped down in four point
restraint, meaning their arms and legs were fastened down, and were then
hit by stun guns "for trivial things," Mr. Fathi said. The guards, who
were all white, often used racial slurs in talking to the prisoners, he
said.

Mr. Lawlor, who visited Wallens Ridge, said the warden's office had been
decorated with photographs of Confederate generals and Confederate
battle flags....

Yes, the fascist are trying to make a comeback through this Idiot Bush. They seems to do so a 50 year cycles after a new generation has grown up without hearing the abuses and are open to their idiotic views. Sad how they destroyed all the advances of Blacks in the 20's to 40's of the last century.

A II Z
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Postby Ranger Genius » Mon May 24, 2004 12:12 pm

samtzu wrote:I actually voted three times in the last election, which was, indeed, more frequently than the average voter voted... unless, of course, they were from Chicago or Florida... but I made sure that I was well paid every time!!


Remember...vote early, vote often!
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