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A Petticoat Parley: Women in Ripperology

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  • Originally posted by jmenges View Post

    The conclusion was reached when Warren roughly tabulated the numbers based on what his constables reported over a period of a few months.

    Letter sent by Commisioner Warren to the Home Office on Oct 25, 1888. ( Mepo file 3/141, ff. 158-9)

    'In reply to your letter of 22nd October there has been no return hitherto of the probable numbers of brothels in London, but during the last few months I have been tabulating the observations of Constables on their beats, and have come to the conclusion that there are 62 houses known to be brothels on the H or Whitechapel Divn and probably a great number of other houses which are more or less intermitently used for such purpose.

    The number of CLH's ( Common lodging houses) is 233, accomodating 8,530 persons. We have no means of ascertaining what women are prostitutes and who are not, but there is an impression that there are about 1200 prostitutes, mostly of a very low condition.

    ...Mr. Charrington has been very active in evicting the holders of brothels... the result however is not conductive to morality. The unfortunate women are driven to plying for hire among respectable people, or else execise their calling in the streets.

    The lower class of CLH's is naturally frequented by prostitutes, thieves and tramps as there is nowhere else for them to go, and no law to prevent their congregating there.

    I fear that in driving the brothel keepers away from certain neighbourhoods much is being done to demoralize London generally. It is impossible to stop the supply when the demand exists...

    I think that it is probable that a good number of people who are not married live together at the CLH's, but this also takes place in hotels in the West End.

    I do not think there is any reason whatever for supposing that the murderer of Whitechapel has necessarily any connection with the condition of Whitechapel (or) is one of the ordinary denizens of that place..."

    JM
    Something that may have been overlooked here is an extract from Sir Howard Vincents police code and might explain why these vicitims used different aliases and adds to the belife that they were engaged in prostitution either on a casual basis or a full time basis,

    A constable may arrest, without warrant, any person whom he sees committing one of these offences. It is, however, necessary to prove that the woman is a common prostitute, and therefore the usual practice is that she should be cautioned the first time she is seen committing the offence, a note being made of the fact of the caution having been given.

    Makes it difficult to enforce unless the same constable catches the same woman and having been cautioned if then arrested she is recorded on record as a common prostitute

    www.trevormarriott.co.uk
    Last edited by Trevor Marriott; 11-19-2021, 05:21 PM.

    Comment


    • "Seen committing the offense" is overly vague and changed meaning after the Cass case, as I noted earlier in the thread.
      A constable couldn't just assume a woman was a prostitute if she's seen loitering or speaking to a man.
      He needed an additional level of verification.

      Edit- which is also why I think the "1200 prostitutes" number as estimated by the incoming reports of the beat cops might need to be viewed as a very rough estimate.

      JM
      Last edited by jmenges; 11-19-2021, 05:46 PM.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by jmenges View Post
        "Seen committing the offense" is overly vague and changed meaning after the Cass case, as I noted earlier in the thread.
        A constable couldn't just assume a woman was a prostitute if she's seen loitering or speaking to a man.
        He needed an additional level of verification.

        Edit- which is also why I think the "1200 prostitutes" number as estimated by the incoming reports of the beat cops might need to be viewed as a very rough estimate.

        JM
        I think she had to be seen approaching more than one male that would have been grounds to take their details and record them on a police record.
        the women clearly knew this and that is why they used so many different names

        www.trevormarriott.co.uk

        Comment


        • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

          My instinct is to steer clear of this discussion. Some of these issues are well worth discussing...or even debating...just not in the context of Hallie Rubenhold.

          In the same way that it is well worth exercising...just not in a gym that is in the middle of a Covid-19 controversy.

          At least that's how I see it.

          If one really wanted to hit Hallie where it hurts, one would point out that her book is old hat.

          I've never seen anyone mention it, but some years ago there was a made for t.v. movie (in three parts) called Five Daughters.

          It told the story of the lives of five women whose only connection was that they were all victims of the Ipswich Strangler, Steven Wright.

          Sound familiar?

          It didn't whitewash their lives, however.

          But the harsh part is that one of the victim's father was outraged by the project. He didn't care for the gimmick.

          In the end, historians are voyeurs...including Hallie.

          There is no guarantee that the victims or their families would want us to have been poking around in their lives.

          In the case of Five Daughters, most did, but some didn't.
          I rather think that you're missing the point that HR's book has a following and that her theories are passing into mainstream history books and could start infecting school text books. Hardly any Ripper books do that. If one cares about the historical waters being muddied then one has to condemn the book and the uncritical way in which it accepted by people who really should know better. That'smy opinion anyway.

          Comment


          • Click image for larger version

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            Now maybe there are those that believe the above description best fit the the Ripper victims,and those other unfortunates of Whitechapel.
            I am aware of the numbers that have been handed down.What I find interesting,is that of the 8,000+ unfortunates to be found in Whitechapel each day,only 1200 were deemed to resort to prostitution to survive.Admitted those 8,000+ would include a large number of males,but the number of women exceeding the 1200 mentioned somehow got by.The victims will not be included in the latter group,they have,rightly or wrongly,and without being able to defend themselves,been labelled.

            Comment


            • We have enough info about that early morning and what the people they interacted with said, to say they were prostituting that early morning. Moralization by itself is not proof or a basis for deciding this.
              Clearly the first human laws (way older and already established) spawned organized religion's morality - from which it's writers only copied/stole,ex. you cannot kill,rob,steal (forced,it started civil society).
              M. Pacana

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Varqm View Post
                We have enough info about that early morning and what the people they interacted with said, to say they were prostituting that early morning. Moralization by itself is not proof or a basis for deciding this.
                Pearly Poll's "info" was so compelling that Inspector Reid put her under caution at the inquest.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by PaulB View Post

                  I rather think that you're missing the point that HR's book has a following and that her theories are passing into mainstream history books and could start infecting school text books. Hardly any Ripper books do that. If one cares about the historical waters being muddied then one has to condemn the book and the uncritical way in which it accepted by people who really should know better. That'smy opinion anyway.
                  Hi Paul. I don't think I'm missing the point; I just have a different point of view.

                  One deeply divisive issue is that Rubenhold or members of her clique insinuated (or outright stated, in some cases) that students of the Whitechapel Murders are perverted voyeurs who have been dead-set on portraying the victims as whores. And that the lives of the victims have been ignored.

                  This is deeply insulting, as well as psychologically inaccurate, and I can understand the ire.

                  With a few exceptions, this is clearly not true, but we should at least acknowledge that there is inherently something 'exploitive' about those who are peddling 'Jack the Ripper' candy bars and figurines, and that it is not uncommon to see a cloaked figure with a dripping knife on the cover of a 'Ripper' book, with an attractive female standing in the shadows.

                  The irony is that the dustcover of Rubenhold's own book toys with this same image in a way that is not readily recognizable as irony. And, further, that her own book could be open to the accusation of exploitation, in the same way that (at least a few) of the surviving family members thought of Five Daughters as exploitive, though it should be said that most didn't, and cooperated with the project.


                  It is not harmful to society to point out that victims are human beings, but there is something inherently harmful in portraying 'Jack the Ripper' as a criminal genius, which some have done. (And I hasten to add that you have never done this).

                  Ultimately, Rubenhold's clique have painted their fellow historians or would-be historians with a broader brush than was ever used on the victims. One simply has to look at Sugden's book, or at your 'Facts,' or Neil Sheldon's book, or at a number of websites, such as Howard Brown's, to see that the lives of the victims are explored in a sensitive and exhaustive manner, and I can fully understand why you would want to call her out on this, and why something like the above podcast was made. Kudos.

                  I also think that Gary Barnett hit the nail on the head when he speculated that Rubenhold herself once thought of the victims of Jack the Ripper as 'prostitutes' of the Moulin Rouge variety, and was shocked to learn that they were more akin to bag ladies. And when she made this realization, she thought she had discovered a Brave New World, and went out to share her discovery, even though it has been a recognized fact since 1888.

                  But Rubenhold's theories are ultimately self-defeating and I don't share your fear that her ideas will catch on, for the simple reason that hers is an extreme view in that she offers a black & white answer to a complex issue, and that any serious historian who looks at the case will see that there are no black & white answers. The truth is and always will be a shade of gray, and historians will always debate the nature of prostitution under the rule of Queen Victoria and her ministers, and social scientists will always debate the nature and meaning of 'prostitution.'

                  The point I was trying to make, perhaps poorly, is why would I wish to explore complex and sensitive issue under the umbrella of what has become a very bitter debate? I would dearly like to discuss some aspects of genetics and how they relate to evolution by natural selection or the theories of Lamarck, but I'm not going to do it during a debate between Richard Dawkins and a Christian fundamentalist, because everything becomes too black & white and too bitter. When discussing something with someone with an extreme view, we have a tendency to state things that we would not normally state, and to pretend that we have a monopoly on the truth, when, in fact, no one has a monopoly on the truth; we can only own a percentage of it.

                  Let me give you an example of something I think would be worth discussing. Dr. Phillips wrote that there was 'strong evidence' of prostitution in the case of the Pinchin Street victim.

                  Do you agree with this? What strong evidence? (And one only has to look at 'Lechmere' discussions to see people claiming outright that the unknown victim shared the 'victimology' of a prostitute).

                  This is daft. It's idiotic. Phillips did know the woman's identity, nor where she came from. She had no wedding band, had been murdered, and was sexually active.
                  That makes her a prostitute?

                  Had Phillips never heard of Henry Wainwright? The victim couldn't have been a servant from the suburbs, who was raped by her employer? The Foundling Hospital records are filled with such cases, at least as far as rapes.

                  So, there are cases of the Victorians police -- or a police surgeon, in Phillip's case-- painting with a broad brush, and one that could have been directly detrimental to a competent homicide investigation. There was no 'strong evidence' of prostitution, unless one is exceedingly na´ve. Unmarried Victorian women had sex, sometimes unwillingly.

                  But why am I foolish enough to bring this up on a 'Rubenhold' thread, where I will be accused of supporting her extreme views? As I say, these issues are worth discussing--just not in the middle of a fist-fight.

                  If you've read this far, cheers,

                  RP
                  Last edited by rjpalmer; 11-21-2021, 02:17 PM.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by PaulB View Post
                    Whilst nobody would deny that Victorian society was male orientated and that the poor and destitute of both sexes were treated appallingly, the book uses the victims to deliver a feminist polemic which is based on the premise that the victims were not prostitutes, but had been automatically labeled as such because they were homeless. Rubenhold goes on to make clear that this passed a moral judgement on these women, and made out that they were responsible for their deaths.
                    She also avoids exploring a grim and rather interesting reality: that there were East End women, quite a lot of them it seems, who betrayed other women by seducing them into prostitution, or by procuring 'girls' for the trade. The social problem of prostitution couldn't have been so widespread without the cooperation of many unethical women.

                    Thus, the 'battle of the sexes' theme is too simplistic. In exploring Victorian prostitution, we shouldn't ignore the Ghislaine Maxwells of the world, and only focus on the Epsteins and the punters.


                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

                      Pearly Poll's "info" was so compelling that Inspector Reid put her under caution at the inquest.
                      Sure focus on Pearly Poll to escape. Cheap way to argue. What about Emily Holland,Timothy Donovan,lLawende and Co's.,Liz Long,Polly Nichols husband. the women were Polly used to lodge with.What about the other victim's profile and location where their body was found. Keep on fantasizing that women do not have to resort to prostitution to survive, this is about "street sense" not morality\philosophy.
                      If there are no inquests and newspaper reports. we are starting from a blank slate, there is no info whatsoever about the woman and the women who were JTR's victims, then the fact that the overwhelming majority of women are not prostitutes is the starting point. But this is not the case here.
                      Last edited by Varqm; 11-21-2021, 05:54 PM.
                      Clearly the first human laws (way older and already established) spawned organized religion's morality - from which it's writers only copied/stole,ex. you cannot kill,rob,steal (forced,it started civil society).
                      M. Pacana

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post

                        Hi Paul. I don't think I'm missing the point; I just have a different point of view.

                        One deeply divisive issue is that Rubenhold or members of her clique insinuated (or outright stated, in some cases) that students of the Whitechapel Murders are perverted voyeurs who have been dead-set on portraying the victims as whores. And that the lives of the victims have been ignored.

                        This is deeply insulting, as well as psychologically inaccurate, and I can understand the ire.

                        With a few exceptions, this is clearly not true, but we should at least acknowledge that there is inherently something 'exploitive' about those who are peddling 'Jack the Ripper' candy bars and figurines, and that it is not uncommon to see a cloaked figure with a dripping knife on the cover of a 'Ripper' book, with an attractive female standing in the shadows.

                        The irony is that the dustcover of Rubenhold's own book toys with this same image in a way that is not readily recognizable as irony. And, further, that her own book could be open to the accusation of exploitation, in the same way that (at least a few) of the surviving family members thought of Five Daughters as exploitive, though it should be said that most didn't, and cooperated with the project.


                        It is not harmful to society to point out that victims are human beings, but there is something inherently harmful in portraying 'Jack the Ripper' as a criminal genius, which some have done. (And I hasten to add that you have never done this).

                        Ultimately, Rubenhold's clique have painted their fellow historians or would-be historians with a broader brush than was ever used on the victims. One simply has to look at Sugden's book, or at your 'Facts,' or Neil Sheldon's book, or at a number of websites, such as Howard Brown's, to see that the lives of the victims are explored in a sensitive and exhaustive manner, and I can fully understand why you would want to call her out on this, and why something like the above podcast was made. Kudos.

                        I also think that Gary Barnett hit the nail on the head when he speculated that Rubenhold herself once thought of the victims of Jack the Ripper as 'prostitutes' of the Moulin Rouge variety, and was shocked to learn that they were more akin to bag ladies. And when she made this realization, she thought she had discovered a Brave New World, and went out to share her discovery, even though it has been a recognized fact since 1888.

                        But Rubenhold's theories are ultimately self-defeating and I don't share your fear that her ideas will catch on, for the simple reason that hers is an extreme view in that she offers a black & white answer to a complex issue, and that any serious historian who looks at the case will see that there are no black & white answers. The truth is and always will be a shade of gray, and historians will always debate the nature of prostitution under the rule of Queen Victoria and her ministers, and social scientists will always debate the nature and meaning of 'prostitution.'

                        The point I was trying to make, perhaps poorly, is why would I wish to explore complex and sensitive issue under the umbrella of what has become a very bitter debate? I would dearly like to discuss some aspects of genetics and how they relate to evolution by natural selection or the theories of Lamarck, but I'm not going to do it during a debate between Richard Dawkins and a Christian fundamentalist, because everything becomes too black & white and too bitter. When discussing something with someone with an extreme view, we have a tendency to state things that we would not normally state, and to pretend that we have a monopoly on the truth, when, in fact, no one has a monopoly on the truth; we can only own a percentage of it.

                        Let me give you an example of something I think would be worth discussing. Dr. Phillips wrote that there was 'strong evidence' of prostitution in the case of the Pinchin Street victim.

                        Do you agree with this? What strong evidence? (And one only has to look at 'Lechmere' discussions to see people claiming outright that the unknown victim shared the 'victimology' of a prostitute).

                        This is daft. It's idiotic. Phillips did know the woman's identity, nor where she came from. She had no wedding band, had been murdered, and was sexually active.
                        That makes her a prostitute?

                        Had Phillips never heard of Henry Wainwright? The victim couldn't have been a servant from the suburbs, who was raped by her employer? The Foundling Hospital records are filled with such cases, at least as far as rapes.

                        So, there are cases of the Victorians police -- or a police surgeon, in Phillip's case-- painting with a broad brush, and one that could have been directly detrimental to a competent homicide investigation. There was no 'strong evidence' of prostitution, unless one is exceedingly na´ve. Unmarried Victorian women had sex, sometimes unwillingly.

                        But why am I foolish enough to bring this up on a 'Rubenhold' thread, where I will be accused of supporting her extreme views? As I say, these issues are worth discussing--just not in the middle of a fist-fight.

                        If you've read this far, cheers,

                        RP
                        Roger, I don't know whether historians will recognise that Rubenhold's theory is rubbish, but I am not seeing any significant signs of it. On the contrary, I see her book garnering a lot of praise from readers and history awards, and even a supportive Tweet from the Wolfson Award. I've also see an otherwise good biography of Sir Charles Warren taking note of her theories. I have also witnessed the way some theorising, such as Anderson being so anti-Semitic that it rendered valueless any comment he made about Jews, so we know how easy it is for this sort or thing to get into books, repetition making it true.

                        As for your other point, I'm not sure that we're in disagreement, but the argument isn't so much with whether the women were prostitutes or not, but Rubenhold's confident assertion that they were not and her complete omission of the evidence that they were.

                        And as a side issue, I have probably been bashing my head against a brick wall for thirty-odd years, but I have tried to give Ripper studies some small degree of credibility. But what Rubenhold has shown is that we have none. Those supporters of hers don't listen to us, they don't take us in the least bit seriously, whether it's pointing out DNA errors of nomenclature or calling Rubenhold's theories into question. I find that depressing. We're just talking among ourselves, not exactly preaching to the converted, but pretty close. We're standing up to the bully in the privacy of our own home, which isn't really standing up to it at all.

                        Paul







                        Comment



                        • +
                          Without some questioning of the term prostitute,history will judge the victims of the Ripper,by the manner in which the media of that time described them.I have posted just one of the many instances,in which newspapers,the main source from which information,then and now, was taken,and has been used.
                          They are just claims,those newspaper reports,in most cases with llittle or no evidence to support,and as there was no form of rebuttal,,the persons that read those papers,were given little chance to judge the information given.So historically,does one have to accept the Ripper victims as prostitutes?

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by harry View Post
                            +
                            Without some questioning of the term prostitute,history will judge the victims of the Ripper,by the manner in which the media of that time described them.I have posted just one of the many instances,in which newspapers,the main source from which information,then and now, was taken,and has been used.
                            They are just claims,those newspaper reports,in most cases with llittle or no evidence to support,and as there was no form of rebuttal,,the persons that read those papers,were given little chance to judge the information given.So historically,does one have to accept the Ripper victims as prostitutes?
                            Harry, this isn't a philosophical discussion about what was and is meant by 'prostitute'. Such niceties didn't matter the policeman in 1888 who were investigating the discovery of dead bodies in a lonely, dark back street or in the dark yard of a house. They had to decide what the woman had been doing there and pursue inquiries accordingly, and the list of probable things she’d been doing wouldn’t have been very long, and quite close to the top would have been selling sex for money. So the police made inquiries to see if anyone knew the victim, whether she lived locally or not, or had been seen in the area before. The police questioned the people in nearby lodging houses, pubs… you know, all the things policemen do when investigating a murder, and they will have narrowed down the number of possibilities. On top of that, we know in the case of Nichols that her husband said he'd stopped providing financial support when he learned his wife had become a prostitute, and we know that women who knew Nichols told the police that she earned her livelihood on the streets. The latter was reported in several newspapers, but the report conforms to known police procedure and doesn’t exaggerate, and we know the back story, so as we can tell there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the report. The body of circumstantial evidence is such that the conclusion that Nichols was engaging in prostitution when murdered is almost certain. And I say ‘almost’ because I am very cautious and acknowledge that I don’t and can’t possibly know with absolute certainty what she was doing when I wasn’t there to witness it. But I can’t really think of too many plausible reasons why Nichols was in Bucks Row, can you? If you can, I’d love to hear them. The one thing I do know is that Rubenhold’s explanation is about as plausible as a Nichols being dropped there by the U.S.S. Enterprise’s transporter beam.

                            So, I'd say that historically, yes, we have to accept that the Ripper's victims were prostitutes. There is testimony that that is what they were, that is the most probable explanation for them being where they were when they were found, and it's an explanation that fits other evidence such as their need for money and stated intention of getting some. If you have an alternative interpretation of the evidence, fine, but if not...

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by PaulB View Post

                              Roger, I don't know whether historians will recognise that Rubenhold's theory is rubbish, but I am not seeing any significant signs of it. On the contrary, I see her book garnering a lot of praise from readers and history awards, and even a supportive Tweet from the Wolfson Award. I've also see an otherwise good biography of Sir Charles Warren taking note of her theories. I have also witnessed the way some theorising, such as Anderson being so anti-Semitic that it rendered valueless any comment he made about Jews, so we know how easy it is for this sort or thing to get into books, repetition making it true.

                              As for your other point, I'm not sure that we're in disagreement, but the argument isn't so much with whether the women were prostitutes or not, but Rubenhold's confident assertion that they were not and her complete omission of the evidence that they were.

                              And as a side issue, I have probably been bashing my head against a brick wall for thirty-odd years, but I have tried to give Ripper studies some small degree of credibility. But what Rubenhold has shown is that we have none. Those supporters of hers don't listen to us, they don't take us in the least bit seriously, whether it's pointing out DNA errors of nomenclature or calling Rubenhold's theories into question. I find that depressing. We're just talking among ourselves, not exactly preaching to the converted, but pretty close. We're standing up to the bully in the privacy of our own home, which isn't really standing up to it at all.

                              Paul






                              Hi Paul,

                              I hope you don't mind my saying this, but it's kinda awful to hear you sounding so defeated and despondent about this.

                              Not a criticism, merely an observation.

                              I know that's easy for me to say as a mere amateur who pops up occasionally and pontificates about whatever takes my fancy, and who has categorically not invested three decades of blood, sweat and tears in the subject as you have!!!

                              Right now, HR is controlling the narrative, and since the release of the book the pendulum has been swinging very much in her favour.

                              Maybe I'm being blindly optimistic here, but I honestly don't believe that will always be the case.

                              Things like this brilliant podcast are at least a small step in the right direction.

                              I suspect that most (admittedly not all) of the plaudits are coming from people who have probably never read another book on the subject, or organisations who are blinded by the fact that a book on such a niche historical subject has made a massive splash in mainstream bookselling.

                              I do believe that the dust will settle and once all the excitement has died down and the book is considered in more depth, it will be looked at more critically.

                              There are people who read a book simply because it's on the Waterstones bestsellers list, but there are plenty of other people who respect historical accuracy over gimmicks.

                              I'd say we are standing up to the bully on her own doorstep. It's just that at the moment, she's hiding behind the door while her mum insists she's not coming out to play.

                              Don't give up!

                              It's a marathon, not a sprint etc etc...

                              Pep talk over!

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Ms Diddles View Post

                                Hi Paul,

                                I hope you don't mind my saying this, but it's kinda awful to hear you sounding so defeated and despondent about this.

                                Not a criticism, merely an observation.

                                I know that's easy for me to say as a mere amateur who pops up occasionally and pontificates about whatever takes my fancy, and who has categorically not invested three decades of blood, sweat and tears in the subject as you have!!!

                                Right now, HR is controlling the narrative, and since the release of the book the pendulum has been swinging very much in her favour.

                                Maybe I'm being blindly optimistic here, but I honestly don't believe that will always be the case.

                                Things like this brilliant podcast are at least a small step in the right direction.

                                I suspect that most (admittedly not all) of the plaudits are coming from people who have probably never read another book on the subject, or organisations who are blinded by the fact that a book on such a niche historical subject has made a massive splash in mainstream bookselling.

                                I do believe that the dust will settle and once all the excitement has died down and the book is considered in more depth, it will be looked at more critically.

                                There are people who read a book simply because it's on the Waterstones bestsellers list, but there are plenty of other people who respect historical accuracy over gimmicks.

                                I'd say we are standing up to the bully on her own doorstep. It's just that at the moment, she's hiding behind the door while her mum insists she's not coming out to play.

                                Don't give up!

                                It's a marathon, not a sprint etc etc...

                                Pep talk over!
                                Thank you for that. Sometimes we all need a pep talk. I'm not really that defeated and despondent, but in this day and age you'd think people would be especially careful to verify the facts, and with The Five that hasn't been the case. In fact, some of HR's followers have visited this site and then Tweeted that they thought we were all cretins (or words to that effect). Mind you, that person only stayed about 15-seconds, which, of course, is not enough time for anyone to form an accurate opinion, but not giving us a fair hearing perhaps shows the level of contempt in which we are held. It's easy to dismiss such nonsense, but I don't know if it's sensible to do so. I'm sure you are correct and people will start to question Rubenhold's arguments, but if we wait for a sea change and one doesn't come along, it might be too late to do anything about it. We all know how ingrained fake history can be.

                                I agree that this podcast was great and hopefully has done a lot of good. I think, too, that various posts on Twitter are alerting some people with a questioning mind to take a closer look at the facts.

                                Thanks for the pep talk.

                                Paul


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