I know, I know.  Just writing the name Anthony Weiner in this space is sure to unleash the furies.  But I can’t help it.  I’m fascinated.  And really, it’s not the (virtual) sex or the (weirdly creepy) chest photographs.

What fascinates me is the psychology of successful men who seem compelled to put their carefully-constructed lives at risk, often over peanuts.  (Phone sex?  Really?)

(Does it make all this any more topical if I point out that Weiner was a SUNY Plattsburgh grad, class of ’85?)

Over the years, I’ve collected a kind of mental gallery of these feet-of-clay figures, some of them very public and famous, others just average Joes who I’ve known in my private life.

Taken together they are interesting, intelligent, complex people.  They are talented and driven, and often motivated (at least in part) by the highest of virtues.

Most are good fathers and reasonably solid husbands, and they are inevitably married to incredibly cool, beautiful women.

But tucked away in a corner of their world is a black hole, a void.  They live on the edge of a precipice, and apparently wouldn’t have it any other way.  Naturally, they frequently fall.

It would have the quality of Greek tragedy — fatal flaws, Achilles’ heels and so on — if the foibles in question weren’t so often pathetic and sad.

(One almost thinks that successful men should be forced by their staffs to give up their digital cameras…)

In some cases, I suspect that these men are looking for a way out.  Their station in life forces them into such narrow pathways that they feel trapped, constrained.

Maybe sending that icky photograph feels like decadent freedom, a cry of rebellion.  They sound their barbaric yawps from the roofs of the world, or at least from their Twitter feeds.

Or perhaps they enter public life carrying their ticking-timebomb fetishes and neuroses.  After a while, they just can’t keep it under wraps any more.

And then of course there are the cases where married men really just seem to fall head-over-heels in love with someone other than their wife.  It happens.  And for these poor saps, that sordid business unfolds in the spotlight.

In the end, I do think some compassion is in order.

Yes, it’s annoying that in pursuing his pleasures Rep. Weiner let down his 700,000 constituents (not to mention his wife) and dropped the ball on the people’s business.

But this kind of self-immolating behavior seems to be part of the human condition — or to borrow the French phrase, of the human comedy.

Which means we might as well end with the words of Honore de Balzac.  “Love is a game,” he wrote, ” in which one always cheats. “

Tags: , ,

56 Comments on “Men!”

  1. PNElba says:

    He should resign.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  2. Jim Bullard says:

    What’s embarrassing is our (the media and the public that drives what gets covered) fascination with the sexual foibles of our politicians and celebrities. What’s even more embarrassing is the extent to which both are content to ignore matters of greater importance.

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  3. Mayflower says:

    I’m sure that opening my email to find Mr. Weiner in his underpants would not be the yuckiest thing that could happen to me. I just can’t, off hand, think what that yuckier thing would be. Well, maybe…….Eeeooo.

    I’m going back to give PNElba a thumbs up.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  4. Mervel says:

    I think compassion is in order.

    But he should resign, by not resigning he is showing his true colors, he doesn’t care about the issues, it’s all bull; he mainly cares about himself, his career his glory etc. Why did he finally admit to this? He admitted this because if he didn’t there would be much much worse photo’s released. He is not contrite at all if he was he would resign.

    It is the reason he thought he could get away with it in the first place and even more disgusting is that he tried one week ago to blame the people who were accusing him for hacking etc.

    I think each case is unique though and remember MOST male pol’s don’t do this sort of thing.

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  5. Peter Hahn says:

    He should resign and probably will. But it is weird risk-taking behavior. Somehow he didnt realize that he had crossed the line. They seem fool themselves into thinking that they wont get caught. Its so similar to the congressman from the Buffalo area with the shirtless photo. How could Weiner not have known what would happen? Its weird.

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  6. Brian says:

    I wish you’d flag these boring, dime a dozen blog entries of boring national non-stories so people who turn to NCPR and its website for REGIONAL issues can just skip it or go to one of the 15,359,144 websites with identical analyses.

    Weiner’s a bald faced liar and should resign, but ultimately he’s not my Congressman and thus I don’t particularly care.

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  7. Brian says:

    Sorry Jim Bullard, it would only let me ‘like’ your comment once.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. Brian says:

    Stuff like this shows the hypocrisy of political junkies and their self-ascribed moral and intellectual superiority. They love to view themselves as superior to estrogen driven soap operas or ‘white trash’ stuff like pro wrestling or Jerry Springer. But ultimately, it’s the same thing. Voyeuristic enjoyment of others taking a fall. Even more so than those other forms, this is quite literally navel gazing.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Peter Hahn says:

    I am reminded of the motorcycle thread. When I was young I had a motorcycle. I rode 13 miles (and a 2000 foot drop) to college on a mountain road every day. I went faster and faster until I hit some gravel going around a curve, the bike went out from under me. I knew it was dangerous (and now know it was stupid), but I did it anyway. It was exhilerating. We humans take dumb risks for thrills (maybe its just the hormone-driven males).

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  10. It's All Bush's Fault says:

    If not for his attempt at a cover-up, I wouldn’t want him to resign. Since he’s not a member of the party preaching family values, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business.

    The problem is the cover-up. Don’t lie and don’t blame it on someone else. He simply should have said, “It’s none of your business” when this came out.

    Another example of the right wing taking down one of the good guys.

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  11. Amaredelectare says:

    There’s a larger reality behind his obvious addiction to sex. That he systematically rejected the idea to be honest about his behavior shows the erroneous conclusion that he could project his mental illness onto others and free himself from guilt. Too much testosterone in today’s political world is more likely to end in criminal prosecution than in leadership.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  12. Pete Klein says:

    See if I get this right? According to the pure at heart, defenders of morality news media, a photo of someone wearing underwear is lewd. Does this mean all the adds modeling underwear on TV, newspapers and magazines are lewd photos? I guess it’s not lewd if they are making a buck from the lewdness.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. rockydog says:

    “Another example of the right wing taking down one of the good guys.”

    Are you serious? Please tell me you’re not.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  14. MrSandwich says:

    Vitter never resigned and actually got re-elected. Weiner will probably be re-elected and maybe even run for mayor and win. The media are/is the only people who care about this BS.

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  15. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    It’s called addiction for a reason….It’s that simple. He, like others who have engaged in similar behavior and suffer from the same addiction, just happens to be a public individual. If he were the average Joe Smoo down the street, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

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  16. Gary says:

    I’ve been out of town. Caught the blog, “Democrats and their dalliances”. I watched the liberal media eat him up this morning. Fellow democrats want nothing to do with him. Looks like many bloggers have egg on their face today!

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  17. scratchy says:

    I agree with Brian, too much attention is being paid to this.

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  18. PNElba says:

    I liked Weiner and will be sad to see him go. He is not in the same category as “family values” hypocrits such as Vitter, Ensign, Craig, Sanford, or Gingrich. But he lied, so he has to go.

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  19. Bret4207 says:

    I don’t much care for the guy, but “The Right” didn’t do this to him, he did it to himself.

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  20. Amaredelectare says:

    Perhaps a genetic predisposition, perhaps cultural, nonetheless, his unbridled sexual desires responsible for the repeated emailing of pictures showing his genitalia to young women, none of whom were his wife, seem like obstacles to freeing himself from his preoccupation with sexual matters and devoting the time to being a legislator as he was elected to be. He should resign, get help and later, if so moved, re-enter the field of public service. An obvious out-of-control fascination with his penis undoubtedly shows a mind losing control of reality, however slowly.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  21. Gary says:

    Compassion?? I have no compassion for someone who lies and tries to cover up his lies by attempting to destroy someone who is trying to bring the truth forward! I have compassion for his victims!

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  22. Bob S says:

    If this is of no consequence why was Bush’s DWI ticket sufficient to disqualify him from office? Just asking.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  23. JDM says:

    I love your reflective tone over the shortcoming of a liberal.

    It contrasts greatly over the attack tone of the shortcoming of a conservative.

    One would call it “bias”.

    Anyway, now that this Weiner thing has popped up, he should resign.

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  24. JDM: Bias indeed is in play here… but not of Brian Mann.

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  25. Mervel says:

    I think it brings up another kind of interesting issue, the electronic fingerprint that we all have, it is kind of creepy from that perspective. Is the internet one big government data gathering spot?

    This recent article from the New Yorker on a whistle blower at the NSA. One claim is that the NSA actually stores copies of every email sent in the US, ever single one with the ability to search on them later, which is really amazing and scary.

    “Few people have a precise knowledge of the size or scope of the N.S.A.’s domestic-surveillance powers. An agency spokesman declined to comment on how the agency “performs its mission,” but said that its activities are constitutional and subject to “comprehensive and rigorous” oversight. But Susan Landau, a former engineer at Sun Microsystems, and the author of a new book, “Surveillance or Security?,” notes that, in 2003, the government placed equipment capable of copying electronic communications at locations across America. These installations were made, she says, at “switching offices” that not only connect foreign and domestic communications but also handle purely domestic traffic. As a result, she surmises, the U.S. now has the capability to monitor domestic traffic on a huge scale. “Why was it done this way?” she asks. “One can come up with all sorts of nefarious reasons, but one doesn’t want to think that way about our government.”

    Binney, for his part, believes that the agency now stores copies of all e-mails transmitted in America, in case the government wants to retrieve the details later. In the past few years, the N.S.A. has built enormous electronic-storage facilities in Texas and Utah. Binney says that an N.S.A. e-mail database can be searched with “dictionary selection,” in the manner of Google. After 9/11, he says, “General Hayden reassured everyone that the N.S.A. didn’t put out dragnets, and that was true. It had no need—it was getting every fish in the sea.”

    Read more

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  26. Paul says:

    “psychology of successful men….” Brian please. He just appears to be your run of the mill idiot. Today’s technology just makes it easier for some people to act like idiots. The story I saw looked like he was shooting some photos from his office. His taxpayer funded office probably when he was supposed to be working for the people of NY. Step aside and let someone more deserving have a chance to do your job.

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  27. oa says:

    Bob S, I recall fondly when George W. Bush was disqualified from the presidency a result of his DUI. A great moment in history.
    I like these stories, because they make me feel like I’m a far better person than Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Arnold and George HW Bush.

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  28. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Doesn’t anyone watch nature programs anymore? The Alpha male baboon gets to mate with all the female baboons he wants.

    Or maybe mythology, Zeus had all the maidens he could get as long as he turned himself into a swan or a bull or something so that Hera wouldn’t find out. Of course once in a while she would find out and Zeus was in trouble so innocent humans were punished.

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  29. scratchy says:

    Bob S says:
    June 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    “If this is of no consequence why was Bush’s DWI ticket sufficient to disqualify him from office? Just asking.”

    Bush wasn’t disqualified; he won the election. Also, DWI puts other people in danger, what Weiner did doesn’t.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  30. Jim Bullard says:

    This should have been a case of “Move along. There’s nothing to see here.” Instead the media went tabloid over it (the press version of going postal back when) and it’s everywhere, everywhere like Chickenman.

    Back when the country was founded Ben Franklin carried on publicly with at least one French courtesan in Paris when he was in his dotage and his wife was holding the fort back in Philadelphia. Either Thomas Jefferson or a close relative had children by one of his female slaves (DNA tests have proven it) and there is reason to believe that George Washington at least “lusted in his heart” like Jimmy Carter (if not more) after a woman that was not his wife. And so on to the present day.

    Get over it people. Is the guy or gal doing a good job for the constituents? If yes, vote for them again. If no, vote for their opponent. All this chest beating uber-morality is the real BS.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  31. Paul says:

    Jim, believe it or not many people don’t behave this way (especially on the job). The question is not “is he doing a good job” but is “he doing the best he can”. If he is in his office texting some girl half his age a picture of his crotch maybe not?

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  32. Mervel says:

    But if he cared about the issues he supposedly cared about he would resign in that his actions have hurt those issues correct? But we know what he really cares about is himself and his actions have proved that. This is not about sex this is about elitism and pride. These guys don’t really care, that is the message that is being sent, they care about their own sorry ass and that is about it.

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  33. Mervel says:

    I mean would a guy who blamed someone for hacking his tweet last week and now admits he did it this week be the kind of guy that would die for his country in Iraq like our army hero’s or in Memphis like our cultural hero’s?

    We need to get back to real people as our leaders, maybe it is too late?

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  34. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    You raise an interesting point, Mervel. That being that we need to get back to electing real people as our leaders. Thing is, Weiner is a real person. A real person with flaws like the rest of us. What I suggest is we stop acting as if our leaders are and should be immune to things like addictions, stupid and risky behavior, arrogance, self-serving attributes, etc. that we all exhibit from time to time. In other words our expectations don’t jive with reality and we’d be far better off if we understood this quandary.

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  35. Bret4207 says:

    I’m sorry, but for all you defending this guy- if you found out your 17 YOA daughters teacher was emailing her pictures of his thing or if the cop that pulled you over exposed himself to you and your family, would that be “a non-story”??? I hope not. This is no different. Unless these women requested a pic of the guys privates then he’s a freakin’ PERVERT.

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  36. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:


    Your two examples are breaking the law and therefore illegal. Weiner’s actions were not as far as I know. A big difference in my opinion.

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  37. Paul says:

    “Your two examples are breaking the law and therefore illegal. Weiner’s actions were not as far as I know. A big difference in my opinion.”

    Agreed. But I wonder if they ought to be. These actions have probably wrecked this woman in Seattle’s life. Privacy is a hard thing to ever get back. All she had to do was get the slimy picture and when the media found out about it she was toast. She doesn’t seem to deserve this.

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  38. Bret4207 says:

    Last I knew it COULD be illegal if the pictures were unwanted. Like I said, if she requested them it’s one thing. Otherwise it’s the same as the examples I gave, unwanted exposure of a person for that persons sexual gratification is illegal.

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  39. Bret4207 says:

    And to be clear- eamiling the pics to a 17 yoa who wanted them would be legal as far as I recall. That’s why I said a 17 yoa, not a 15 yoa.

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  40. Mervel says:

    I don’t want to pound on the guy he is no worse than many others and probably better than many others.

    It just seems like all of these guys live in a different world of professional politicians and they think the rules don’t apply to them. It is probably a personal bias on my part just not liking that world that they live in and the people that inhabit it. It seems like what all those people are doing is mainly building their resume and ego, tying to get their face in the camera and make money, there seems to be a lack of honor. It does not seem like leadership, it seems like Jersey Shore or something. So now all of his Democratic buddies are mainly mad at him because they like his new wife who is also an insider who lives in this same world running around with Hillary.

    I am just getting older and so probably just becoming a grump and cynical which are not good traits either.

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  41. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:


    I believe it’s illegal (in New York anyway) for a school official to have explicit sexual contact with any student whether of legal age of consent or not. I believe it’s ground for dismissal of employment and of surrendering their certification if their position requires certification.

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  42. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    If your going to engage in such behavior you live with the consequences, but an Interesting story in yesterday’s NY Times about a conservative group who followed Weiner’s Twitter feed for weeks and uncovered his latest photo and sent it to Breibert seems to indicate there may have been someone behind Weiner’s downfall afterall:

    A Twitter Group Warned About Weiner
    Published: June 7, 2011

    Three months before Representative Anthony D. Weiner sent a photo from his Twitter account to a 21-year-old Washington State college student named Gennette Cordova, a small group of determined, self-described conservatives were warning young women on Twitter, including Ms. Cordova, to be wary of him.

    Calling themselves the #bornfreecrew on Twitter, members of the group closely monitored those whom Mr. Weiner was following, taking it upon themselves to contact young women they believed to be “schoolgirls,” and urging them publicly to stay away from him, according to an analysis of posts on Twitter’s public stream.

    By early May, members of the group were also speculating that Mr. Weiner would be caught in a sex scandal. The leader, a man who identified himself on Twitter as Dan Wolfe and used the handle @PatriotUSA76, is the same Twitter user who discovered the photograph that Mr. Weiner took of himself and sent to Ms. Cordova. He shared it with his followers and the conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who made it public the next day.

    As Democrats and Republicans embrace Twitter and other social media tools as a way to interact with their constituents and woo voters, many have discovered a downside to online communication: cyberstalkers, who track and criticize their every move.

    But even by the standards of modern politics, Dan Wolfe and other members of the #bornfreecrew watched Mr. Weiner’s account with particular ferocity, and a sharp focus on his interactions with women. In several instances the congressman dropped his online contact with women after they were identified by the crew, suggesting that Mr. Weiner might have been aware of its actions.

    There were at least two female high school students among the 191 people Mr. Weiner followed. There is no evidence that he engaged in private discussions with them, and he has said that to his knowledge he has not had any online sexual communications with under-age women.

    Mr. Wolfe, whose account vanished from Twitter last Friday, has been one of the more mysterious characters in the congressman’s saga, refusing to reveal his real name even to the other members of the #bornfreecrew. He joined Twitter on Jan. 6 and began posting multiple messages criticizing both Mr. Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    By March, Mr. Wolfe had more than 1,000 followers and was actively befriending fellow conservatives. Group members joined him in scrutinizing those whom Mr. Weiner was following and their Twitter profiles, and commenting if the person he followed was a young woman.

    On April 14, for example, Mr. Wolfe tweeted, “Weiner’s new follow is a high school girl. LMAO! Freak!”

    Michael Stack, 39, of New Jersey, who describes himself on his Twitter profile as a “Republican who believes in the principles that made this country great,” said he befriended Mr. Wolfe on Twitter (they never met in person or spoke on the phone). “Soon, Dan told me Weiner was following a bunch of girls,” Mr. Stack said. “I thought it was kind of weird.”

    Mr. Stack said that Mr. Wolfe had told him in a private message that Mr. Weiner had been following a porn star who was later identified as Ginger Lee. “He tweeted about it and then the porn star was gone,” Mr. Stack said. “He was paying attention,” he said, referring to Mr. Weiner.

    On May 5, Mr. Wolfe told him that he had a friend who knew Matt Drudge who had said that a scandal involving a member of Congress was coming soon. The same day that Meagan Broussard, 26, of Texas, said that she had received an e-mail from Mr. Weiner with a photo she had asked him to take, while holding up a white piece of paper that said “me.”

    At 6:35 p.m., Mr. Stack, using his Twitter handle, @goatsred, posted: “Rumor … a ‘bigtime’ Congressman caught with mistress. There are pix and a top 5 right-wing blogger has them. @RepWeiner is it you?”

    Throughout May, Mr. Wolfe and other members contacted other young women Mr. Weiner was following, including a 16-year-old from California who started a campaign on Twitter to get the congressman to be her prom date.

    The next day, Mr. Stack, posting on Twitter, sent her a message saying in part, “if you’re a minor and he’s following you, well, seems a little creepy if not in ny,” copying @RepWeiner on the post. The next day, on May 18, the girl posted: “Well @RepWeiner unfollowed me.”

    Michael Madden, 52, a retired Philadelphia firefighter and member of the group, said he had joined Mr. Wolfe in warning young women about Mr. Weiner.

    “It seems now that Dan may have had an agenda all along,” he said. “We don’t know yet what it is. But he never said to me, ‘I’m going to get this guy.’ What he said is that it was not right.”

    Jack Begg, Alain Delaquérière and Barbara Gray contributed reporting

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  43. PNElba says:

    Since Pelosi has called for an investigation of Weiner, I’m wondering how the investigation of Vitter is coming along.

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  44. oa says:

    Clapton, not to get all legalistic, but isn’t posting the whole story a violation of fair use?

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  45. Mervel says:

    Vitter didn’t marry a political insider who is Hillary Clinton’s longtime aid.

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  46. admin says:

    Hi Clapton–

    Please don’t post complete copyrighted articles from other sources in a comment at the In Box. Give enough of a taste to make your point, then provide the link to the full article at its source. This keeps the piracy police happy and doesn’t push everyone’s elses comments out of view down the page.

    Dale Hobson
    NCPR Online

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  47. PNElba says:

    No, all Vitter did was pay prostitutes for sex (a crime) and wear diapers (a fetish, not a crime). But he asked for god’s forgiveness, so all is good.

    BTW, I think the Fair use law protects Clapton and NCPR in the above instance. You could argue the posting was for a nonprofit educational purpose.

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  48. Fred Goss says:

    2 things. George Washington lusted after a woman who wasnt his wife before he was married…although she was at the time.

    Also, “non profit educational purpose” is not a defense for copyright infringement.

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  49. Bret4207 says:

    Clap, might be under the Education Law, but not under the Penal Law to the best of my (somewhat dated) knowledge. The point is emailing unwanted pictures of yer thang to someone is ALWAYS wrong.

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  50. Bret4207 says:

    Wow, I honestly hadn’t heard of Vitter before. Scum! He should go too.

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