Prince Harry and all that – an outsider’s view

I posted this elsewhere a year or two ago. I offer it here as monarchy has been discussed on this blog and elsewhere … this is my view on the subject.

I watched the BBC Ten O’Clock News on Thursday, and found it bizarre that the first 15 minutes was wall-to-wall Prince Harry coverage (and this corporation is accused by many of having a liberal, left-wing agenda?).

My view of monarchy/royalty is that it is essentially ridiculous, therefore everything that flows from it … like the latest debacle … is bound to be ridiculous too. It is an institution fit for the eighteenth century somehow clinging on in the twenty-first.

The monarchical system, in these egalitarian, irreverent times, is trying to square a circle. Its members must simultaneously be seen as both ‘special’ and ‘ordinary’. So, Prince Harry in Afghanistan is presented as an ordinary bloke, saying ‘shit’ and talking about ‘the guys’ in his regiment. But hang on a second … if he’s an ordinary bloke, why is 15 minutes of the news devoted to the fact that he’s doing, as a soldier, what soldiers do? Well, because he’s special, of course.

The excuse for all of this is that the enemy – the Taliban – are aware of his ‘specialness’ and will try to use it for their own ends. The ever-increasing ripples of farce that flow from the concept of monarchy wash over a bunch of medieval fundamentalists thousands of miles away.

To defuse this, and end the farce, all that’s necessary is to dispense with the specialness and stick with the ordinariness. But a large part of the British public and media don’t seem willing or able to do this, possibly because since birth they’ve been steeped in the myth of royal specialness (which is now melding with the cult of celebrity to produce a strange hybrid).

It’s a conundrum that, to an outsider, seems weird. It’s like when you think you know someone quite well and then they suddenly do something that makes you think again.

The monarchy is not Britain, and Britain is not the monarchy. To be against the concept of royalty is not to be anti-British, though many would like to pretend that it is (The Bulletin, of this parish, is proof of the existence of republican, true-blue Englishmen). English and British history is littered with examples of decent, patriotic individuals and movements of essentially democratic, anti-monarchical bent.

One of these days, I hope, they’ll get the upper hand. Each successive self-contradictory farce brings the day closer.

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53 Comments

Filed under Philosophy of life

53 responses to “Prince Harry and all that – an outsider’s view

  1. Rainer the cabbie

    There are two parts to the Royals, in my view.
    First, the are the largest landholders in Britain, and the richest household in this country.
    To assume, for one moment, that these people don’t hold influence in political and economical organisations, is ridiculous.
    They rule the roost, have no doubt about it.

    The second, and more interesting, is the front they put up. Tabloid stuff, glossy pictures and good manors, anybody wants to be related to this lot.

    Deception at its best!

    But I like young Harry and his dope smoking antics, and fully understand why Fergie went alcoholic.

  2. Hi Rainer … good to see you; thanks for those thoughts. 🙂

    I added Claire to the list of authors for this blog. If you would like to blog here, I’d be more than happy to add you too.

  3. claire2

    Hey I missed this, Brendano.
    It is a flawless argument, rational and logical. Problem is that the connotations of the English monarchy are sentimental and emotional – for other countries perhaps even more so than the British themselves. So it would feel almost like a divorce I imagine. Logical, necessary perhaps, but utterly soul destroying and ruinous.
    Sorry not very logical today. But you get my drift.

  4. Rainer the cabbie

    Thank you for the offer Brendano.

    But I reckon this critic called Cymbeline will run me down, rob me of my ego and sent me into a self destructive alcoholic downward spiral!
    Still, if the muse will hit me, I shall get the spellcheck and thesaurus out and confuse a few readers.
    I reckon I have a good story on the boil, about a recovered alkoholic who makes the rounds apologising to all the people he did wrong to.
    He then goes back to Church, for he wronged God the most, and took part in the host, to wash his sins away.
    The red wine he drank awakened his addiction, and he went straight to the pub for lunch afterwards, giving me of cause, a sequel.
    Or the story of the sixty old architect, who lost his wife to cancer and was lost and destroyed. He took up tripping around Sydney Harbour, in memory of their hippie days. 😉
    All fascinating stuff, no poetry I’m afraid, but one day I shall write it and publish it on your blog.
    But who’s copyright that would be under, I wonder.
    I hope you are well Brendon, I am enjoying your site mate. 🙂

  5. Hi Claire … I’m not sure about soul-destroying and ruinous … that’s more the idea people have been sold, in my opinion.

    Liberating, perhaps. There has always been a republican current in the English stream … the Levellers?

    I watched a video on the EDL on the Guardian site that made me think that England may be in need of a new idea of itself. I can’t see that that’s compatible with monarchy. But that’s just me.

  6. Thanks, Rainer … I’m very well. 🙂 Good-sounding stories.

    I’ll add you to the authors anyway, and you can post a blog here if you ever feel like it. And I won’t steal it … your copyright, I’m sure. 🙂

  7. claire2

    EDL?! Aren’t they more far right than the BNP or summat?
    They came to Bolton a while back. There was a huge row about it on MyT which, predictably, I was smack bang in the middle of. BUbbles and I transformed the whole thing into one gigantic farce/cat fight, as I recall…
    Yes, the Levellers. Love em. ONly now do I actually realise what they were on about!
    When I was at uni, I rented a room above a load of Leveller loving, hippy/crusty/republican/ ravers. They offered to take me to Newbury for the bypass protests, but I tactfully declined seeing as it was mid winter and didn’t fancy going without lippy…
    I’m waffling. Not much sleep last night. Kids not well again.

  8. Sorry your kids aren’t well, Claire … nothing serious, I hope.

    Yes, Bubbles is an EDL devotee. Football hooligans with a cause.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/may/28/english-defence-league-guardian-investigation

  9. Rainer, I have added you to the list of authors for this blog … not sure why your avatar isn’t showing up under ‘Authors’ yet.

  10. claire2

    Thanks BRendano for asking. Just fever/cold, I think, Took them to the doctors and that’s what he said.
    I always think it’s every last illness on the planet; my other half says I’m way overprotective.

  11. claire2

    Just reading that link to the EDL article. Interesting; scary as well to think that there are people who feel so disillusioned with our society that this is the only resort.
    It says Bradford is a no go area for non Muslims. That’s not true, you know – people say that about Blackburn as well, although Blackburn is more of a sleepy hick town in the hills. Bradford is poor, but not in a chirpy way like Liverpool, or a cocky way, like Manchester. I once went to a night club in Bradford – not that that is some great insight in itself – but, being something of an expert in nightclubs at that time in my life (don’t ask), I was pretty frightened to be honest. The place was brimming with tension and violence; you felt like you might get punched if you looked at someone in the wrong way. I was looking over my shoulder the whole time.
    I did court reporting there as well for a while. Not an experience I’d like to repeat…

  12. Ron Broxted

    Farouk said “When I die there will only be 5 Kings left, Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades & England”.
    Carnegie “A monarch is an insult to all others in the realm”.
    Windsor? Saxe-Coburg-von Augustenburg-von Sonderburg.

  13. Thanks for that insight, Claire.

    Hello, RB. I think Carnegie was right.

  14. Hello Cymbeline. What I said about the EDL clip was that it made me think that England may be in need of a new idea of itself. I described the EDL as ‘football hooligans with a cause’; the clip reminded me very much of football hooligans … enraged this time by something other than the fact that fans of other football clubs exist.

    I’m not sure that the Guardian is displaying class prejudice, as you seem to be suggesting. I wouldn’t have thought so.

  15. Hello Cymbeline … difficult questions, and I of course am at a bit of a remove, in various ways. The video reminded me of football hooliganism. The enemy could be Aston Villa supporters, or it could be Muslims.

    Having said that, Birmingham City and Aston Villa supporters are from the same culture, so this is more complex. I think it’s a symptom of various things … perhaps a working class that hasn’t adapted to the loss of its traditional roles, perhaps a general poverty of culture and of education, certainly a bad job done by government in not facing up to the consequences of high immigration combined with ghettoization and ‘multiculturalism’, and the undoubted problem that Islam can present. The government should have been more open, more honest and less ideological all along, it seems to me.

    Years ago, the brother of a friend of mine, who lived in Leeds/Bradford, was cycling his bike when he had an altercation with a carload of Asian men – not his fault, I think – he was punched and afterwards resented the fact of a massive local Asian population, I think. And he was an intelligent, educated man. It’s not hard to see the potential for trouble, which the Nick Griffins of this world will try to fan.

  16. Thanks, Cymbeline.

    Things are a bit quiet around here today … seems to be just you and me.

    I’m off to another food fair tomorrow, which should be a bit of fun.

    http://bloominthepark.com/

  17. claire2

    Cymbeline: I do see individuality in the sparkly shoe under the burka, in spite of the obvious contradictions. That is because the burka to me is a symbol of female sexual oppression, whereas the sparkly shoe is a symbol of sexuality.
    Having said that, in a ridiculous piece from last week’s Times that I was reading which basically said it was necessary for women to spend £500 at the beauty salon in various plucking, exfoliating and preening procedures, I did wonder what the bloody difference was. Fundamentalist Muslim culture says its healthy, full blooded women must cover up; Western culture, in its most extreme form, says no, that’s terrible: our healthy, full blooded women must starve, spend, primp and preen and mutilate themselves and inject themselves with various forms of poison (Botox) in order to be fit for public view..
    BRendano; yes it has been quiet… I have had a huge bust up with MyT/DNMT’s resident troll because I’m sick of his abuse and hacking.

  18. Hi Claire … sorry to hear you’ve been having hassle.

    I see your point re Western and fundamentalist Muslim cultures … it’s best if women can say ‘no, I just want to be me’ in both cases, and I suppose a lot of them do. The penalties for nonconformity are presumably worse under an Islamist set-up.

    I hear a lot about the pressures women and girls are under, but many of them manage to be quite balanced all the same.

  19. I think that’s fair comment, Cymbeline. On MyT I always tried to argue against bigotry and was hence branded a ‘Muslim lover’, but clearly Islam can cause problems, depending on how assertive Muslims (or self-appointed advocates) wish to be. I would always argue for everyone to be treated with proper dignity.

    I think it varies from country to country. There is a sizeable Muslim population in parts of Ireland, and they seem to coexist well with their neighbours – collecting for flood relief, for example. We are much less ‘PC’ than the British and perhaps are not making the same mistakes, though I wouldn’t like to be complacent.

    There is massive goodwill in Ireland towards these twins.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/apr/07/conjoined-twins-separated-london

  20. I didn’t realize that he (or an impostor) had replied to you, Cymbeline.

  21. You certainly do have a good memory. It’s true that I generally try to reply to everyone.

  22. word press … small act of defiance in the space, Cymbeline.

    Like wine press or garlic press? It squeezes the juice out of words.

    I quite like it, I must say. MyT is using word press technology now, as you may know.

    This definitely isn’t a duplicate comment.

  23. Cymbeline … ‘I see that there is also the possibility of a tiered effect to individual comments.’

    Yes … a bit of a pain, I think, as one may have to look all over the blog for the comment.

  24. claire2

    Where do you get these ideas Cymbers?!

  25. Cymbeline, perhaps you could be a little less unfair to Claire? Jaime no longer visits my blog, and I wouldn’t like to lose Claire too.

  26. madeoforléans

    The problem Katie is that you mix up the justified right to limit immigration and the preservation of a way of life with xenophobia and racism. In my book the Guardianistas that want to flood the country with immigrants and the the BNP with their racism are equally bad. This is why sarko is so good, he defends the right of limiting immigration AND the right of all Frenchmen to respect and dignity.

  27. Rainer the cabbie

    Oh Katie, Katie, Katie….
    I fully respect the above comment and admire your guts in coming here to spill your beans.
    This is what democracy is all about and where debate takes on life.

    Therefore I am sure that Brendano won’t delete your comment, or report it.
    He’s that type of guy you know.

    “As you have ‘never’ been known to back down even when proven wrong & always have to have the last word”

    Katie, sorry to tell you this, but you are describing yourself here. That is my observation of your form on various forums that I have seen you on. Also you are very good at denial and turning a corner when challenged.
    For this it is my opinion that what you accuse Brendano of in the above is the tactic you employ on many a occasions.

    I am sure that immigration is a problem in Europe and assimilation, especially of recent Muslim arrivals, leaves a lot to be desired.

    But don’t forget that you are coming from one of the most xenophobic races that ever walked on planet earth.
    To broaden your horizons and learn how other country’s cope with migration, take a holiday to the USA or Australia and learn that there is a better way than the hatred you and others spew on a daily base.
    Maybe if that behaviour stops, migrants will actually try to get on with British society.

    Go in peace Katie 🙂

  28. madeoforléans

    Good comment rainer.

  29. Anyone asked why men pray in the streets of Paris? Perhaps it is because of French prejudice. It is as foolish to point out a few maniacs in the Umma (hospital beds to be turned to Mecca 5 times daily) as it is to hate all Jews/Gypsies/English/Irish/Yanks. But not police of course;)

  30. Hello folks … I just got back from a beautifully sun-soaked day in Dublin.

    Thank you, Rainer … I appreciate it.

  31. Yes, some of them are like that here, Cymbeline. We have a local one that’s pretty good, but the sauces tend to be heavy … cream in everything.

    The Kastoori in Tooting is remembered fondly. Top-class vegetarian … Gujarati, I think.

  32. Rainer the cabbie

    Cymbers
    No way am I giving anybody any lessons. Far too shy and humble for that, my dear.
    All I am doing is giving my opinion on things I have observed, that’s all.
    There is some good and bad in any country,or religion for that matter, as I have observed in my time on planet earth.

    Tell me Cymbers, being the learned person that you are, isn’t all of this blogging and opinion business totaly useless? Don’t we all live in our own little world and evaluate events according to our upbringing and experiences?
    Aren’t all of us rather quickly manipulated because of that? Push the right buttons and get a response.
    Therefore, can there be something like “The Truth”?

    I reckon that Jamie was saying something along those lines the other day, maybe not in so many words, and I really would like to hear your thoughts on that.

  33. Rainer the cabbie

    Oh not at all Cymbeline. No matter where you go, one will always find rednecks and xenophobes. Its part of human nature, unfortunately.
    But these two countries have shown what generations of migration can achieve.
    I get cheesed off myself with the first lot of migrants sometimes, being somebody that fully assimilated into Australian society and live my life by those standards.
    But meeting the first generations children, who grew up here and are Australian with a strong ethnic cultural background, is always a great pleasure.
    It takes time, this blending of cultures, and I do admit that the migration numbers in Britain are illogical and encourage enclaves and isolation.
    This must be addressed.
    But then also one must give peace and integration a chance, and that takes time.

  34. Rainer the cabbie

    So you are educated and humble.
    Nice combination.

  35. Sipu

    …and trivia means three ways. The Romans would post notice boards with bits of information at such junctions.

    • Welcome to my blog, Sipu. Language-related trivia are always welcome. 🙂

      Yes, trivia is plural of trivium (Latin for ‘place where three roads meet).

      I’m not sure that Cymbeline is correct in saying that ‘tier’ means a third – I don’t think it has anything to do with the number three. ‘Tierce’ does.

    • Sipu

      Thank you Brendano. You are a braver man than I am to take up cudgels with Cymbers on matters etymological, but you probably have the education for it.

  36. Sipu

    This post has wandered from its original track and has touched on the theme of Islam and some of its more extreme aspects, so I thought that I would offer this essay which was recently sent to me. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of its authorship, but it raises some interesting points.

    —————————–

    “This is by far the best explanation of the Muslim terrorist situation I have ever read. His references to past history are accurate and clear. Not long, easy to understand, and well worth the read. The author of this email is said to be Dr. Emanuel Tanay, a well known and well respected psychiatrist.

    A German’s View on Islam

    A man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism.

    ‘Very few people were true Nazis,’ he said, ‘but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.’

    We are told again and again by ‘experts’ and ‘talking heads’ that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectra of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.

    The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history:

    It is the fanatics who march.

    It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide.

    It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave.

    It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor-kill.

    It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque.

    It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals.

    It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.

    The hard quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the ‘silent majority,’ is cowed and extraneous.

    Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant.

    China’s huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.

    The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South-East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.

    And, who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were ‘peace loving’?

    History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our posers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points: Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.

    Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

    Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.

    As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

    • Rainer the cabbie

      Sipu
      I certainly cannot disagree with the logic that this article dispenses.

      What I have a problem with is that we, as seen on My T, call to arms against all Muslims, as opposed to the militant ones we should be fighting.
      The only way to counter violent and aggressive Islam is to fight it from within. What I have seen in recent years is an alienation of all Muslims, and I figure that this is a big mistake.
      Where was the education campaign teaching ordinary Germans that Hitler and his cronies were crazy maniacs? Nowhere to be found, the allies signed over Czechoslovakia and just kept quiet, before it was too late.
      Why can’t we change this tune, and try to form friendship with ordinary Muslims, like Shermeen, Metin and Levent, and communicate with them to avert a possible confrontation?
      Worth a try if you ask me.

    • vicious circle?
      Extremists demonize whole west. The west, at least the main stream media*, is taking the “muslim bunch” as a whole. The clash of civilisations etc. Both sides are trying to pull us “ordinary muslims” into the conflict. (Not to mention colonial past, devious politics on M.E. and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

      I wonder how would the people at west if the tables were turned. I think they can’t be as tolerable as us.

      You know what? I for one am sick of these. I’m sick to death of those arrogant people.

      Look at the recent Israel issue. By using the Holocaust jewsih people already made ordinary people scared from critsising Israel or jews.

      It’s quiet ordinary and normal when Israel kills Arabs. Look at the western pysche (from the main stream media), subconsiously sees Arabs as potential terrorists. And when Israel kills one, everyone at the first thought tends to thinks this one is terrorist. Israel is in self defence etc..
      So they managed to justify their actions. Noone questions them.
      I believe with the last attempt (if you look closely how they made the passengers ready by rubber bullets and gas and giving them time to prepare)Israel would be able to show killing Turks or other nationalities are pretty normal as Arabs. But it seems they have forgotten the second satellite link.

      • Oh. I was not going to involved in those again. Couldn’t help it. Ignore the comment.

      • lol. Rereading my comments, I wonder if you could understand what I’m talking about.

        Long ago I noticed there is no point in debating on Myt. I can learn without debating. “Chatting” with Larry and co sometimes is fun. I have noticed it’s making me think I’m too smart and putting too much negativity on me. Bearsy’s place was/is fine but…. So I decided keep some distance, altough I take a look in day time to the sites.

        I wish sometime we see each other for some tea and geniune chat.

  37. Thanks for that, Sipu. I think the piece is somewhat contradictory, illogical and tendentious. The author is saying that the fanatics in Islam are the problem and the other Muslims are irrelevant to it, which is much the same as ‘liberals’ might say, yet he seems to be set against the ‘liberal’ view.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that he wants to have his cake and eat it … to make us see Islam as ‘the enemy’ when that is not in fact the logic of his argument.

    The weak link is the prediction that peace-loving Muslims will suddenly switch from irrelevance to relevance in a particular and frightening fashion. In fact the example of China that he gives would suggest that peace-loving Muslims have more to fear from the fanatics than anyone else. Yet that is not what he wishes us to believe.

  38. Sipu

    Brendano, I certainly was not expecting you to agree with it, that is for sure. But I believe that the point that is being made is that normal peaceful people can be persuaded to turn nasty because of the fanatics. As an example I can tell you about my family. We grew up on a farm in what was then Rhodesia. My brother took it over when the country became Zimbabwe. For 20 years, he farmed successfully. He was liked and respected by his workers who were relatively well looked after. Many had lived all of their lives there. When the farm invasions began, these workers, spurred on by Mugabe’s fanatical pseudo war-vets, turned nasty and surrounded the homestead, banging their drums and beating the fence with sticks. My brother and his family were trapped inside for a couple of days. Eventually they loaded up the Land Cruiser and made a run for it, never to return. I went back two years later and was greeted by the same people with a great deal of warmth. They asked why we had left and when we were coming back as the new ‘owners’ were a disaster. None of us bear any resentment towards those workers. But they allowed themselves to be manipulated by the bad guys and in doing so dug their own financial graves, as well as ours.

    To get back to your comment, I do not think it is about making Islam the enemy, I really do not. Nobody gave a toss about Islam 20-30 years ago. For most people it was just another religion that they could take or leave. But it was the rise of fundamentalism that caused people to sit up and take notice and then the suicide attacks that lead people to think that there was something seriously wrong with it. Few people get very upset by the average Anglican vicar, but when the likes of Christian fundamentalists like Pat Robertson or Jimmy Swaggert come along, people can get very agitated. I have watched some of these people preach (Ray McCauley is the local master of that particular black art)and they are incredible the way they can whip normal, right-thinking people into a religious frenzy.

    This article is not about Islam, it is about the dangers of extremism and it is a warning to the people who most able to do so, the average Muslim, to put a stop to it now. Interference cannot come from outside, because then loyalties start to play a role. ‘I can criticise my culture, but don’t you dare do so.’

    That is why so many people are wary of allowing the BNP any publicity at all.

  39. Sipu, I wasn’t so much disagreeing with the article as pointing to flaws in it that make it difficult either to agree or to disagree, in my opinion.

    I see your point about manipulation and I agree with you re extremists, who in my opinion should be dealt with harshly. The question is the interface between extremists and the ordinary people, and whether many of the latter can be turned into the former.

    I think extremism begets opposed extremism (loyalist and republican paramilitaries in NI had a lot in common, and so do the BNP and Islamists in Britain, say). Also, in fairness, many Muslims (e.g. the Pakistani army) fight the jihadists.

    How does one best isolate and deal with extremists? Seeing and treating Muslims in general as sinister and dangerous may tend to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  40. Thank you, Rainer and Levent. I think what you both say makes a lot of sense.

    I think you make a good point, Levent, re the West’s sometime double standards regarding Arabs and Israelis. In the latest incident, we are supposed to believe that the killing of a doctor, a journalist and a photographer (non-Arabs, as it happens) is a normal, inevitable thing, given that rockets are fired into Israel. Those rockets supposedly justify everything – the placing of an entire country under siege, and an essentially abusive relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

  41. Thanks for that insight into Turkish thinking, Levent.

    Good article by Fisk.

  42. Cymbers, they usualy douse dishes (in curry houses) in Vindaloo sauce “for the gora”. Europeans (often) don’t have a delicate palate and just wany Hot.

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