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edhopper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:46 AM
Original message
"Non-Believers" A great phrase
There has been an ongoing discussion in the Atheist community as to what to call ourselves. Atheist does carry certain negative attachments in the general population. There is a group who use the term "Brights" but for the most part, that has not caught on.
"Non-Believer" is a great phrase. It only speaks the faith aspect of atheism. I think in a casual discussion saying "I am a non-believer" would have much less negative impact then "I am an atheist". You can say, "You know like President Obama mentioned."
To quote Sonny in "I Robot";
"It seems, less heartless."
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:50 AM
Response to Original message
1. It is still a negative term
And it implies that belief is the default position.

In fact, non-belief is the default position and belief is the learned behavior.

We are all born atheists, and everyone is an atheist to some degree.
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Auggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:57 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. Perfectly said
Thanks




:applause:
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ZombieHorde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
25. Sometimes, when people ask me the religion question...
I say; "I'm just a guy." That is my version of, "In fact, non-belief is the default position and belief is the learned behavior."

Godless heathen has a nice ring to it as well.
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uberllama42 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:37 PM
Response to Reply #1
27. I take believer to be a negative term
i.e. a term with negative connotations. If someone tells me they are a believer, I take it to mean they are credulous or gullible. I've always thought of myself as a thinker, not a believer.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:55 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. But that's not the way it was used by President Obama n/t
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:50 AM
Response to Original message
2. I disagree, as I know many atheists who are devout believers
There is a fundamental difference between "I believe there is no God" and "I do not believe there is a God." The great many atheists who take the first, so-called "strong" position cannot really be described as non-believers.
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Burma Jones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:51 AM
Response to Original message
3. I prefer Freethinker
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moggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #3
19. "Freethinker" has a fine tradition
But, unfortunately, many people seem to think it means "free to believe anything unorthodox, without requiring evidence": pretty much the opposite of how the term is intended to be used. I've heard some of the most ridiculous woo defended as "freethought".
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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 10:06 AM
Response to Reply #3
31. Freethinker is my personal favorite, too. Although...
I am constantly told that it is an affront to
"believers", because it implies that they do
not have "free thought".

I really don't care what anyone thinks it
implies, I don't think that the Methodists
or the Protestants or the Congregationalists
implied that no other groups had methods,
or protested, or congregated.

In real life, I consistently use the term
"secular", as in "We are a secular family".

It drives the fundies crazy, because they
think the word secular means "satanist".

:eyes:
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Burma Jones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #31
34. I was raised Presbyterian and I married a Jew
People sometimes asked, "what religion will your kids follow?" My answer was "American Materialist" because, frankly, that's what damned near all of us REALLY are. It's just that some are more willing to see the Material Goods distributed more fairly......

Now, I did promise the Rabbi that married us that I would raise the kids Jewish, I figured it was good enough for Jesus......and we do send them to a highly secular Hebrew school.......

I like secular, I've used the term. I've also used the term Rationalist, that annoyed a Christian I know, a Christian with a PhD in Physics from Dartmouth.....
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Auggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:55 AM
Response to Original message
4. I don't care for it
It makes us sound "wrong", or perhaps, that we're operating outside the norm of an accepted principle.

I'm fine with Atheist.
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NJmaverick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:55 AM
Response to Original message
5. Is believing there is no god (or mystical beings), a belief?
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 06:26 PM
Response to Reply #5
26. No more than
being firmly convinced that there is no Santa Claus and no Easter Bunny is a belief.
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NJmaverick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 12:42 PM
Response to Reply #26
39. There are billions of people that believe in a God
to say that there isn't one, with no proof or evidence, is simply another belief. The Santa Claus and Easter Bunny examples are simply red herrings.
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edhopper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-09 09:08 AM
Response to Reply #39
41. You are asking for proof
that God does not exist? Sorry, the burden of proof rest with those who make the claim.
That millions believe something is not proof. Millions believe in astrology, millions believe in Bigfoot. At one point millions believed in Zeus and Baal and millions today believe in Vishnu and Ganesha.
I see no evidence for the existence of a God.
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ZombieHorde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #39
46. Why areSanta and the Easter Bunny red herrings? nt
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Schema Thing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:58 AM
Response to Original message
7. it was carefully chosen. "un" believer would have been
read as a pejorative by many believers.
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edhopper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:03 AM
Response to Original message
8. Well, for me
it fits nicely. I would never say "I believe there is no god." To me belief in this context means acceptance without proof. I don't believe in anything, not UFOs or ghost or God.(I believe in Democracy and Love and Equality, but this is a different set of beliefs)
Atheist are not a unified dogmatic group, so I no less expect all to agree with this than I would expect my cat to fetch. But I for one like this phrase and will use it. Perhaps others will join me, perhaps not.
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GoesTo11 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:04 AM
Response to Original message
9. How about "empiricists"
Who do not presuppose a theory but believe to the degree that evidence supports it.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:12 AM
Response to Original message
10. I much prefer the term "atheist."
It's simple, self-defining, and represents my lack of belief quite nicely. The other terms are euphemisms. Non-believer in what? Freethinker about what?

I do not believe that any deities or other supernatural entities exist. I am an atheist. It is so simple a word, and so precise in its definition. Why euphemize?
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Strong Atheist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:14 AM
Response to Original message
11. No. I am a strong ATHEIST.
x(
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:17 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Did not know that
:evilgrin:
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Strong Atheist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 09:19 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. .
:P
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moggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 10:02 AM
Response to Original message
14. Not sure why I should care about those "negative attachments"
Granted, it's not really relevant to me, not being American, but I have to ask: should atheists have to tiptoe around the eggshell sensibilities of those for whom the term carries "certain negative attachments"? If a simple, descriptive term like "atheist" causes some people to gasp and make the sign of the cross, that's their problem, not ours. Imagine if, say, lesbians were told that they should use a different word, one which would be less likely to inflame bigots and idiots.

Let's face it, the simple fact of not being religious is regarded highly negatively by a large number of people. They're going to react the same regardless of what label you use, unless you choose a label which they don't understand: and why should you do that?
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edhopper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. The thing is
do you want to be confrontation in all places? "Non-Believer" does not mask what you think, but it does not carry the connotations that Atheist does (many think it means your a Communist). My opinion is that is just denotes your beliefs on religion (or non-beliefs) without the added weight.
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edhopper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 10:03 AM
Response to Original message
15. I have no problem
with those who call themselves Atheist in all situations. But I find that in casual settings, when one is not having a deeper discussion about personal religious beliefs, it can add an unwelcome element to the conversation. I find the same of those whole proclaim they are "Born again in the love of their Lord, Jesus Christ" rather than a simple I'm Christian. It is a bit confrontational, which is fine if that's how you feel.
But many of us would like a way to say it without it stopping the conversation (it often does). I usually say "I don't follow any religion" and leave it at that.
I think "I'm a Non-Believer" might work. We'll see
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Strong Atheist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 10:30 AM
Response to Reply #15
17. Who was this a reply to?????
:shrug:
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edhopper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #17
21. #16
was a reply to #14. #15 was a general reply to those who disagreed with my OP.
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #15
20. If someone says, "I am a Christian" and someone else says, "I am a Wiccan"
Why should I not say "I am an atheist"? It is my theological position. It occupies a place in my life similar to Christianity or Wicca does in the lives of their adherents. Like others here, I refuse to define myself by what I am not.
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edhopper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:39 PM
Response to Reply #20
22. Good for you.
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cosmik debris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 10:58 AM
Response to Original message
18. I've decided I'm going with Non-Gullible
Just for the double negative effect.

:)
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Meshuga Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
23. The people who dislike Atheists are going to dislike you even...
...if you say you are a Non-Believer. Non-belief and different belief are simply not acceptable to some people.
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edhopper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 02:16 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Not the point
All of my friends accept me. But there are many times in public and what i would call "polite company" in which a less loaded phrase would be much more suitable. I think Non-Believer: is a good choice.
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Strong Atheist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 08:46 AM
Response to Reply #24
30. So, it is "bad" and "impolite" to be an atheist in
"polite company"?!?!?

I think not ...
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Silent3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 10:38 PM
Response to Original message
29. I just got used to calling myself atheist...
...instead of agnostic, once I saw how the two weren't mutually exclusive. Now it's "non-believer"?

Screw that. I believe I'll stick with atheist. :)
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Bragi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
32. The phrase is less important than the recognition
I don't have a particular problem with the phrase "non-believer" in the way in which it was used. I am very pleased that the President recognized this group, of which I am a member!

- B
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 11:13 AM
Response to Original message
33. I would take it to mean both atheists and agnostics
Since the dividing line between them is fuzzy, and more a matter of personal interpretation of definitions, a noun to mean both groups is quite a useful thing.
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Occam Bandage Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 11:45 AM
Response to Original message
35. I don't think people need to create new phrases just because accurate ones are stigmatized.
That only results in a cascading chain of euphemism. "Atheist" is fine.
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Strong Atheist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-22-09 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. Well said!
:yourock:
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Realityhack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
37. Hell Fucking NO
If someone wants to think less of me because I am an agnostic or atheist fine. But frankly I find the term 'non-believer' insulting.
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edhopper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-26-09 09:15 AM
Response to Reply #37
42. And I find the
arrogant lack of civility and in-your-face confrontationalism insulting.
If there are people here who don't care about the social context they find themselves in and wish to proclaim they are an Atheist, no matter the consequences to the tone or subject of a conversation or social gathering, that is there absolute right. I just happen to find myself in situtations where a more diplomatic way of stating my religious stance is preferable.
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immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-04-09 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #42
55. Theists are taught that atheists are the enemy.
While I usually use atheist, sometimes I don't want to, as you say, stop the conversation. Then I'll say I'm "not religious."

Did I just split an infinitive? Shit! :blush:

Oh well, other times I identify myself as a Jewish atheist. That confuses most people, except other Jews.

--imm
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frebrd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:42 PM
Response to Original message
38. I call myself an Atheist because:
The word appeals to me.

It describes me precisely.

I think it speaks well of my intelligence.

So if anyone regards it as a negative term that's their problem, not mine.

:)
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Fgiriun Donating Member (57 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-25-09 10:09 PM
Response to Original message
40. In a perfect world...
...without religion we would'nt have to bother with the word.

I consider myself an Atheist but I sometimes prefer to not note my "non-believer" status because the thought would only serve to encourage a division that only helps animate some stubborn theists(no disrespect).

A theist will always regard an atheist as a sort of "rebel" to the norm. Sometimes that belief rubs onto atheists, so consequently, the theists end up being the "self appointed default".
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Paul LaClair Donating Member (1 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 05:27 AM
Response to Original message
43. This is a horrible term!
This is a horrible term for any non-theist to use. Its
implicit assumption is that the only belief worth mentioning
is a belief in a supreme being. That's the theists' argument
against us; we are fools if we pin that label on ourselves.
It's like an African-American happily calling himself a
darkie. 

We non-theists have enough trouble gaining acceptance without
painting ourselves into a corner of categorical non-belief.
While I accept Obama's intentions as inclusive, this is a
term I will never use to describe myself and wish that no
non-theist ever did. 
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piratefish08 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 08:42 AM
Response to Original message
44. "Non-Believer" is a great phrase. It only speaks the faith aspect of atheism. wtf??
Atheism by defination is the ABSENCE of faith. There is no faith aspect to atheism.

People can call themselves whatever they wish, but don't label me "Non-believer" in an effort to be less offensive or negative. Atheist is just fine, thank you!

After being bowled over by faith in this country for the last 20 years, I am not worried in the least about offending the xtian right's tender sensibilitiies......
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rrneck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 10:52 AM
Response to Original message
45. I am me.
Edited on Sun May-03-09 11:35 AM by rrneck
I find it tedious to establish some label to determine my position as a member or non-member of some particular tribe. Why don't we all just adopt some sort of military regalia to establish our positions so nobody has to actually interact or get to know one another?

Don't get suckered. If somebody needs to know what you think, they should be able to ask the question in such a way as to require something more than a one word label pulled off the shelf. If they can't - fuck 'em. No point in getting in a discussion with a stupid person.

Edited for morning. It seems I can only type every third word today.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 10:59 AM
Response to Original message
47. Reminds me of the long-ago thread (don't have time to search for it)
in which various atheist DUers were lecturing us theists on what we were allowed to say about them. I already knew better than to refer to atheism as a religion, but apparently "belief," "philosophy," and "worldview" were taboo as well, according to that thread.
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Silent3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:21 AM
Response to Reply #47
48. You're "allowed" to say anything at all that you like.
Just like we're allowed to call bullshit when we hear it. Fair enough?

Your mileage may vary. Local posting rules apply. See the posting guidelines or a participating DU moderator for details.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:46 AM
Response to Reply #48
49. Sure, but that thread reminded me of my grandmother's Old Country proverb:
"If you want to beat a dog, you can always find a stick."

In other words, it felt as if the people on that thread kept moving the goalposts for acceptable ways to talk about atheists. And yet they felt free to say the most uninformed ("You believe that the earth was created in seven days") and insulting ("Religion is a mental illness") things about theists, and if we objected, we were "claiming persecution."

Manners and respect go both ways.

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Nosmanic Donating Member (9 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:59 PM
Response to Original message
50. I say "I'm not very religist" I'm interested in what you think of that
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Why Syzygy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-04-09 12:13 AM
Response to Reply #50
51. Welcome to DU, Nosmanic
:hi:
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rd_kent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-04-09 11:34 AM
Response to Original message
52. Instead of "non-believer", how about "Knower"?
Knower - noun - one who knows, based on reality and facts.
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Silent3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-04-09 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #52
56. I think that's counter to the typical atheist position.
Most atheists don't claim any special knowledge, they just doubt the veracity of special knowledge claimed by others. It's more about doubting than knowing (It often takes a good education, however, to properly appreciate how little we know, and a certain mental discipline to resist filling in the holes in our knowledge with our wishes and fears.)
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-04-09 11:47 AM
Response to Original message
53. How about "Enlightened?" nt
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Evoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-04-09 02:13 PM
Response to Original message
54. I prefer the term heathen.
It makes me feel special.
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