Michael Vick Comes To Philly

Will Philadelphians make good on their love of animals? Or is the outrage a little too easy?

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 38 | Posted Aug. 14, 2009

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Next time Michael Vick steps on the Eagles' field, he'll be wearing the home team's uniform. But how will angry fans react?

Photo by Flickr user alexvalentine, used under a Creative Commons license.

When the Eagles announced that they signed a one-year-on plus one-year-option contract with convicted animal abuser Michael Vick, networking boards lit up like pinball machines. Within minutes thousands of people had Tweeted or Facebook-posted their thoughts and feelings on the signing -- most vocally against Vick and calling for protests against the Eagles. Minority pro-Vick sentiments fell into two main camps: some said the man did the time for his crime already, so let him move on. Others waxed more existential and asked, “Who gives a shit?”

Apparently, lots of people give a shit. The first smattering of posts certainly aren’t debating Vick’s potential contribution to the Eagles as an athlete. The anger isn’t sports fan anger. It’s symbolic. It appears animal lovers are outraged that Philadelphia Eagles, as so-called representatives of our city, condoned animal abuse by hiring Vick. The people in this camp say that Vick should be banned from the NFL and never throw a pigskin again. Darker hearts, kicking it Old Testament style, call for fight-trained pit bulls to be unleashed on a bacon-strapped Vick.

The online uproar is curious. Citizen promises to by-golly-do-something-about-this-atrocity are scudding across the Internet: to stop watching Eagles games, to sign an online petition, to click “No” on the Facebook quiz that asks “Does Michael Vick deserve to play again?” right next to the “Rush Limbaugh Asshole Poll.”

It will be fascinating to see if people put their money where their mouse is.

Philadelphia has a hard-earned terrible reputation when it comes to animal welfare. We are unquestionably one of the worst cities in the nation for homeless animals. It’s now an open secret: Philadelphia’s deplorable animal welfare conditions have been exposed the nepotism, cushy contracts, dirty politics and history of blatant corruption that all lead to unnecessary killing and then, cover-ups of said killings. And yet, local organizations are still desperate for volunteers.

Perhaps people who are aghast at the Eagles should take this opportunity to also become aghast at the failures of  real, live, actual representatives of the city—politicians who we pay with our taxes to actually mandate and enforce civilized animal welfare.

Perhaps animal lovers can call City Hall and ask about the “community board.” They can question the statistics, which PW discovered were fudged earlier in the year.  Volunteer to walk a dog or foster baby kittens. Learn about what’s going on in Philadelphia with animal welfare, really, now, in real life. What grows there isn’t pretty, but it thrives in the dark.

Garrett Elwood, vocal founder of Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia, commented on the Vick controversy: “The real tragedy is this takes the focus away from the thousands of animals being killed in Philadelphia shelters right now. Last month almost half of all dogs and three-quarters of cats were killed because the city doesn't have a lifesaving plan. The Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia plan to call for the mayor to intervene and convince the Eagles to reverse this terrible decision.”

Laptop activism is great if it stirs the juices and fires up the spirit. Perhaps not, if it’s a junk symbolic substitute for the real thing, making you feel like you accomplished something when you haven’t. (Maybe it works the way drinking diet soda makes you fat.) Truth: Vick’s dogs are already dead or out of his hands -- when the 31,000 dogs and cats pouring into our animal shelters are still alive, and are slipping right through our furiously typing hands.

A protest is planned at Michael Vick's introductory press conference, 11 am at the Novacare Complex.

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Comments 1 - 38 of 38
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1. Michael Alan Goldberg said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 12:12AM

“At least for some people, the outrage is borne from the fact that we already HAVE spent time and/or money trying to prevent animal abuse or help rehabilitate abused animals. That we HAVE looked into the eyes of an abused animal and seen the fear & pain, and felt the trembling of their injured and/or malnourished body, and understand exactly how heinous and utterly inhuman Michael Vick's actions were. And we're furious that the Eagles have essentially pooh-poohed the severity of those actions, all but condoning them, by signing Vick. Ideally all people would spend time & money to help animals, but I don't think that loudly boycotting Eagles games or not buying merch, and encouraging others to do the same, is necessarily a hollow gesture. Just as boycotting a corporation associated with sweatshops can lead to real change, one hopes that loudly voicing our disgust to the Eagles might cause them to reconsider the Vick signing. It's unlikely, but worth a shot.”

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2. Portia Scott Palko said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 05:45AM

“I'd like to second the above comment. Much better said than I could do.Those of us who have served our city's abandoned and abused animals in shelters, rescues or other ways are aghast at this betrayal. This move has turned a lifelong Eagles fan away from Eagles football in a way that no losing season ever could. Join the protest today at 11, at the Novacare Complex. Voicing our disgust can't take it back, but it can hopefully create more empty seats at the stadium, and hit the Eagles where it really hurts - not the knees, but in the wallet.”

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3. Luke Thomas said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 07:18AM

“I'm very disappointed that Michael VICK has been signed on with the NFL Eagles: Now America will cheer a DOG FIGHTER. The NFL might as well hire a few child molesters - makes good company with dog fighters. I recently made a MICHAEL VICK Voodoo doll. I prayed to the ancient gods for Justice that Vick breaks BOTH of his hips and has a stroke. And may the NFL be cursed for their cruelty in patronizing a DOG FIGHTER. Don't laugh-just about every voodoo doll I made had an amazing coincidence so it gives me hope.

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4. Sheila said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 07:31AM

“thanking God I have the good sense to have always been a Steelers fan. I just asked my husband last week what team will be desperate enough to hire him, I thought of the Eagles, then though, nah, not even them! not even as bad off as they are would they hire a convict, an animal killer capable of committing this crime again. people don't just kill then get over it, he made a living abusing animals to death. Vick is fubar and so is the team. sorry for all you Eagle fans, win or lose, this is shameful.

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5. Christians 4 gives said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 07:39AM

“God forgave you for your wrong doings and so should we forgive others! He who has no sin..cast the 1st stone......We're waiting!!!”

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6. Do You Really Have A Christian Heart said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 07:54AM

“I agree with the true christian comments made (post #5) that remembers that GOD forgave and continues to forgive our sins. And as Christians we are called to do the same. GOD is the ultimate authority that will judge our actions and it's not up to us to pass judgement on any man. Keep in mind that GOD considers all sins to be the same; there are no small sins or large sins; he views them all the same. So those of us who are so self righteous as to assume that our minor infractions are somehow better than what Mike Vick has done in his life are foolish. We all live in glass houses yet we continue to hurl boulders at one another.”

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7. Petra Kottsieper said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 07:58AM

“That you for this article and the important point you raised. Here are my thoughts : seriously that rather than JUST BOYCOTTING , instead PROTEST AND RAISE AWARENESS reg the plight of the animals in this city. We can only do this if he IS here, sadly, apparently otherwise hardly anyone gives a c****. If he does not get run out of town first, MAKE THE EAGLES AND HIM give a MAJOR COMMITMENT TO BULLY care in the city. As in MAJOR, that could be the best thing that has happened to the abysmal situation with Phila's pathetic animal control care EVER!
Develop community outreach programs for spay and neuter. Give us a bully program ALA BAD RAP. Hell, build us a new shelter!
Come and help us volunteer at ACCT, the animal control shelter operated by the PSPCA and see what it is like there for the dogs and cats. Not a happy place. People are dropping off their animals like flies. Healthy animals are being put down simply because there is just no room to house them. Please volunteer.”

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8. NIKKI said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 08:03AM


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9. Alanna said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 08:13AM

“When I heard the news, my initial reaction was shock - to those of us who volunteer and do all we can to save the animals in Philadelphia, it was like a slap in the face from the Eagles. Just one more person saying they don't care about animals - which is the attitude we're fighting against. "Who cares?" hurts more than anything, because we care. And maybe Vick can put his money and his time where his mouth is, and do something for the animals here in Philly instead of just saying he's sorry.

Either way, the Eagles should be ashamed of themselves for signing him, because it sends a horrible message that you can be convicted for abusing animals and still make millions of dollars throwing a ball, when those dogs will never live to have a ball thrown for them again.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 08:15AM

“I don't think it matters what Vick was indicted for. The fact is that he committed a crime, admitted guilt and served the time. In any regular job market this would raise a red flag to potential employers. Sure animal cruelty is sad, but I don't expect that he would have been treated any differently if he was convicted of abusing a human, admitted guilt and served time. Owners want to make money and that means they have to win games. Morality aside, Vick has been hired. Yet, 'John Smith', who shoplifted when he was 21 still has a hard time finding a reputable job in a regular market. Too bad 'John' isn't a great ball player.”

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11. Michelle said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 08:53AM

“the the poster #5 and #6- I am not a Chriatian. I am a Jew. Our motto is...Never forget!”

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12. Dat Dude said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 09:56AM

“this is a great way to show people can be given a 2nd chance. they call philly the city of brotherly love well they showe a brother some love. where are the heart of people in this world.. if that was your brother, uncle, dad, or cousin people will have a different outlook. listen mike vick never killed a animal, he wasnt involved they those incident, he is guilty of bankrolling it. PEOPLE FIND YOUR HEART! just like america when he start scoring touchdowns and philly reach the playoffs everybody is going to cheer for him. well cheer for him now support a person who is trying to deal with life now the way it should be. jump on the band wagon now! ** i want everyone one to reach in there pockets and read whats on the dollar bill** In God We Trust!** so america lets trust god! give this man a fair chance to show his change, the eagles did will you? GOD BLESS! dat dude from kc”

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13. Scott said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 10:09AM

“As social networking grows and people think they are making a difference clicking on polls on timewasting sites such as Facebook and posting on Twitter, it just makes people "feel" better about themselves....nothing gets done, no money is raised, and awareness blows away like a fart in the wind. "Social Networking" is a joke and a fabulous way to feed our narcissistic need to stroke our ego posting our latest thought, conquest, or travel, as we wait with bated breath for our "friends" to respond. Did anyone actually think a talent like Vick who people can make money off of would not get signed to a NFL team? Do not get outraged at the Eagles. The Eagles are making a business decision, get over it and move on. If you really want to do something, get involved to prevent the horrible things that Vick did from happening again.”

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14. Mia said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 10:11AM

“The question is not whether he should be forgiven--that is up to each individual. The question is whether he should represent our city's (or any city's) team, functioning as an example and role model whether we like it or not--and be paid millions of dollars for doing it?

If all the young men with Mr. Vick's passion for violence-- or with the lack of impulse control evidenced by his personally killing the dogs he deemed no longer valuable-- were going to be safely ensconced on the football field, where they can do the public little harm, we would all feel better, I am sure. But he is functioning as a role model for millions of young men who will never make it to the NFL, and who share our streets and our world with.

Shame on the Philadelphia Eagles, and shame on any fan who pays to see him play.”

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15. Eagles suck! said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 10:20AM


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16. BT said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 11:33AM

“Philadelphians can make good on their love of animals by cutting down on the cheesesteaks. Instead of villianizing some superhero sports player (the easy route), maybe this is an opportunity for us to look into the absurdity of protecting animals called "pets" while allowing the ones called "food" to be slaughtered by the billions (not as easy).”

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17. Anonymous said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 12:24PM

“I don't have an issue with forgiveness, but what is rather sickening is someone who had no issues torturing life after life in support of their laughter and entertainment, but now that he's released... he's kissing the nation's backside so he can earn his millions to laugh in everyone's face before he gets too old to play. I believe he's only "sorry" so he can do just that. Laugh outside the view at the camera at what he's done and how he's right back in the million dollar club. I totally disrespect him and the NFL for allowing him to return to football. He needs to retrain for a new career, and then let's witness his new found humility.”

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18. Good Reason News said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 01:43PM

“The NFL should known better than to give themselves this reputation and the Eagles should know better than to invite this controversy. What a disgrace.

http://goodreasonnews.blogspot. com/2009/08/why-i-can-never-root-for-my-hometeam.html”

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19. Sheila said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 01:49PM

“it's a matter of principle, there was a reason the Falcons didn't accept him back, wake up people! he is not healed, not cured, he has a violently criminal mind. are we forgetting the link of animal abusers and people who abuse humans? believe if you want that he is 'okay' now, the punk wanted to have his sentence reduced, doesn't sound to me like he was learning any valuable lesson.
Chrissy Hynde, PETA big mouth, stated that he may now do more good than he ever did harm...
huh??? you can't undo the horrific suffering of those defenseless animals, nothing he does will ever make this go away. he preyed on the defenseless as does any criminal. yeah, he paid the fines, did the time. big deal. he lived well for years on blood money.

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20. Anonymous said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 02:16PM

“Disgraceful, distasteful, slimy, scummy and deplorable that vick could get any kind of job from anyone. He needs the same treatment he gave his dogs. What a dispicable person, not fit to be called human. The NFL is at fault to even let him be able to play.UGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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21. Charlie said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 02:44PM

“Hey #5 Christians Forgive ,

Stop hiding behind the pulpit and get out and volunteer and look into these abused dogs eyes and then make that idiotic comment”

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22. Shawnah said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 03:51PM

“Thank you Eagles for proving my hatred for you! Such a disgrace to let that "thing" play again. It gets old hearing people on other sites saying that if it were an attorney that did it.. he would be let back at his job. I DONT THINK SO! At any job.. criminal past makes a difference... Well, except the NFL where it is obviously welcomed! Thank god im a Cowboys fan cause they made it clear Vick wasnt welcomed there.. Dumb ass Eagles. I hope your fans stand outside the stadium with pickett signs and all your games are blacked out ya damn morons!”

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23. Sheila said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 03:57PM

“well put, Charlie, ty.
forgiveness is earned, what has Vick done to show his repentance? where has he shown concern for the abused dogs rescued from his property? has he volunteered for an animal hospital, shelter or rescue effort? how much has he spent on any rescue effort for that matter? I guess I missed those articles, please anyone who has a source, post it here so we can all read about the wonderful efforts of Mike Vick to save the abused and discarded. It takes more than just doing the time and paying fines.
yes, God forgives, but don't forget that you have to deserve that forgiveness, and dont' forget the animals ultimately belong to God. how would you feel if Vick did those horrible things to your dog?”

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24. Sherrie from New York City said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 10:44PM

“Hey Philly, you rock. -for speaking out against the horrible judgment of NFL/Eagles for hiring that sick sadist. There is nothing he can do to make up for what he did, unless he can revive the dead dogs and undo the unthinkable suffering.
Wish I could be there to protest every game, every practice;Instaed, my family,friends,etc, are boycotting sponsors, such as Best Buy, Pepsi, Dunkin, etc(look it up.)”

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25. Someone in L.A. said... on Aug 15, 2009 at 03:38AM

“Shame on the Philadelphia Eagles !
Some sins are unforgivable...This guy tortured dogs,now he is back to earn millions of dollars again ?

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26. Playboy23 said... on Aug 15, 2009 at 07:49AM

“First of all the goes out to all the CRY-BABIES that say they hate Philly and the facted that Vick is now playing for them, Who the f$ck do you people think ya'll are. That's what's wrong with people now these days, when someone makes a mistake and wants to move on with life, why can't he have a second chance? NOBODY" I said NOBODY in this world is perfected. Everyone is acting like they NEVER did nothing wrong in their life but yet they want to talk bad about other people who has. People love to talk sh$t when it's not their life, but if it was you then it would be a different story. Philly Is still going to have people going to their games because not everyone in this world are CRY BABIES. If you don't like it then watch tennis, nobody is begging you to watch football. Who cares if your not a Philly fan no more because of Vick, life goes on I'll watch football while the CRY BABIES sit in a room and CRY. How dare you let Vick come back" All I have to say is look at yourself and judge”

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27. j said... on Aug 15, 2009 at 09:52AM

“Pete Rose was banned from baseball. He committed no atrocious acts toward another living thing. No one remembers that.”

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28. Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D. said... on Aug 15, 2009 at 03:38PM

“I am appalled and saddened by the signing of Michael Vick with the Philadelphia Eagles. Michael Vick tortured and had dogs killed for sport. I do not believe that he has been psychologically healed
through psychotherapy or other interventions.The dogs that suffered and
died can never come back. This is a tragedy and a disservice to all of us, including Michael Vick. As a result of our narcississtic culture, the professional sports power elite have hired Michel Vick to increase their wealth and assure their winning. They are counting on the American people to agree and say: "Let's move on." Pathological narcissism is pervasive today. It is self entitled, greedy,lacking empathy, de-humanizing, manipulative, exploitve.We have an opportunity at this moment to choose differently and reject the contagion of Narcissism that surrounds us every day in politics,entertainment,professional sports,business,within our families.”

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29. Anonymous said... on Aug 15, 2009 at 09:07PM


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30. Playboy23 said... on Aug 15, 2009 at 09:41PM

“Go luck to u Michael Vick, it's a shame that people in this world care more for a f&cking dog than they do homeless mothers n kids. If people are concern about dogs than why don't you go to the dog pound and adopt some. Some of these comments are just plain stupid. Philly how dare u let a man who serviced his time in jail try to make something out himself." How dare you let this guy talk to kids and let then see it's ok for a HUMAN to make a mistake and fix it." What kind of world is this that everyone's soooooo perfect! LOOK AT YOURSELF PEOPLE BEFORE YOU JUDGE OTHERS!!! End of story Good luck Vick"!”

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31. slim said... on Aug 16, 2009 at 04:59AM

“This Anonymous jerk is just that, a Big Jerk.
I hope he gets to sleep with that bastard, Michael Vick.

The philly's and their owner, coach and advertizers should all be boy cotted. Really!
Oh, I almost forgot, the NFL commishiner needs his head crapped on by a thousand dogs. Every day!

I do wonder why the Falcons would not even consider taking Vick back?”

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32. Tania said... on Aug 17, 2009 at 09:23AM

“Sign my petition if you are Eagles fan against Michael Vick: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/eagles-fans-against-michael-vick

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33. LA Law said... on Aug 18, 2009 at 11:52PM

“What is truly disturbing about all of this is the fact that most of you have become distracted from reality. If you do not like the fact that Mike Vick was invoilved in dog fighting, fine. But, to say the man does not deserve a second chance is total garbage. Most of you tenderlings out there writing these post have never been to prison, so you do not know what the guy has been through or what was going through his head during his incarceration. I love all animals, but damn this whole PETA / animal rights hypocrisy. Mike Vick is a HUMAN BEING!!!! Whether or not you want to believe that or not. You people can keep wasting your time with the protest and the post, but don't bring it to the Linc, or you will catch HELL!!!”

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34. mamabear said... on Aug 18, 2009 at 11:57PM

“The almighty dollar rules.. Whether Vick treated animals or humans in the same deplorable manner he would have been hired by someone. How many of our so called star players have been convicted of rape, wife, girlfriend abuse, drug abuse, drunk driving etc., etc? Yet all get their jobs back, not because they have seen the light (since they got caught) but because the owners of these franchises see dollar signs and if they produce and win games we the fans forget very quickly. Shame on the owners, Shame on us.”

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35. Playboy23 said... on Aug 19, 2009 at 02:19AM

“Good point LA Law, mamabear I don't know what the hell your talking about.”

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36. malik said... on Sep 1, 2009 at 06:04PM

“callin mike vick not human is the same same as whites callin blacks the n-word.GO VICK!!!!!!!North Philly loves you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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37. malik said... on Sep 1, 2009 at 06:14PM

“mike vick deserves a second chance.i supported him going to jail.i was actually happy the judge sent him to jail.but he did his time.it's done.at least one thing will come from this.i can take my kid to an Eagles game without hearing the verbal abuse thrown around at the link.hopefully the ones that r mad at the Eagles won't EVER go again.should be peaceful.”

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38. Rescue Dogs & Eagle Fan said... on Sep 16, 2009 at 10:43PM

“How about saving a dog, volunteering, donating, organizing a group to better the lousy system around town? Perhaps the attention needs to be on saving a dog???? ....and not on attacking a team or a past offender? Ever even consider that this move might actually benefit a cause in the long run by changing a twisted sub-culture? Quit whining and act! Go save a dog or two! To those of you that have, awesome! Perhaps, he and the Eagles will bring money and attention to an otherwise over-looked cause?! Might we just simply focus on the positive potential here?”


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