No “gendered pronouns” please

posted at 2:31 pm on July 7, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

If you’re like me, (and aren’t you all?) I know you’ve been waiting impatiently with one question on your minds. When, oh when, will Harvard appoint a new permanent director of BGLTQ student life? (We’re going to circle back to that acronym which caught me by surprise in a few moments.) Fear not, readers, for your long wait is over. And the winner is

Vanidy M. Bailey will serve as director of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Queer (BGLTQ) student life beginning July 16, dean of Harvard College Evelynn M. Hammonds announced this week. Bailey, who will report to the assistant dean of student life, will oversee all initiatives that support BGLTQ undergraduates.

So… we’ve got that little chore out of the way. But wait! Steyn discovers that yet another grievous social injustice has taken place even in the midst of this happy occasion.

Alas, this long overdue shattering of the BGLTQ ceiling was marred by the Harvard Crimson’s grossly insensitive coverage:

An earlier version of this article used the pronoun “she” to refer to Vanidy “Van” Bailey, the newly appointed director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer student life. In fact, Bailey prefers not to be referred to by any gendered pronoun.

I’ll bet Elizabeth Warren is kicking herself for not thinking of that one.

Stop the merry-go-round, please. My head is spinning. Before I go out on the porch and begin yelling at random Harvard students to get off my lawn, let’s try to work through a couple items from this story which have once again left me alone and confused. And I would note that I only bring up these points in the interest of keeping the language in some semblance of order.

First of all, Mr.Ms. … um … “Van” doesn’t want to be referred to with a “gendered pronoun.” Not for nothing, but as wonderful as the English language is, we’re still working with a finite number of words here. Once you remove “he” and “she” from the mix, we’re pretty much left with “it.” And I’m fairly sure somebody is going to be offended by that. You’re sort of throwing a wet blanket on your future news coverage potential, pal.

Second, what’s up with this acronym BGLTQ? I’m leaving the full definition in the quoted text above because it certainly seems to come from a source which should know, but weren’t we supposed to not be using the “Q word” when referring to gay people? I thought that was pretty much verboten, at least for those not playing on that team. But now it’s part of the official public lexicon?

I only just found out this week that “oriental” is considered an offensive term. Of course, I was never entirely clear on what Oriental meant, other than a vague reference to people or things on the other side of the Pacific ocean. But apparently you’re not supposed to say that now either. I tell you, I simply can’t keep up. (By the way, are people from India “Asians?” Isn’t India in Asia?) Of course, I was recently informed that you’re not supposed to call people of the Muslim faith “Muslims” any more either, but that guy was selling pretzels on the sidewalk near my home and seemed somewhat confused, so I’m not sure how much of an authority he is. One can never be too careful, though.

But be that as it may, we’ll have to soldier on. Clearly we need an alternative to “he” and “she” for the modern era. Does it already exist? Any suggestions?


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So, what is IT (other than scary)?

Pork-Chop on July 7, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Clearly we need an alternative to “he” and “she” for the modern era.

Uh clearly we don’t.

CW on July 7, 2012 at 2:35 PM

An earlier version of this article used the pronoun “she” to refer to Vanidy “Van” Bailey, the newly appointed director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer student life. In fact, Bailey prefers not to be referred to by any gendered pronoun.

Okay, then. For such people, I’ll use the pronoun ‘it’.

Liam on July 7, 2012 at 2:35 PM

LOL– What I find the most hilarious is the same group that says you can’t choose your sexuality says you can choose your gender..

melle1228 on July 7, 2012 at 2:36 PM

This is a product of too much pleasure in life.

tom daschle concerned on July 7, 2012 at 2:36 PM

I’m going with “it.”

Sharke on July 7, 2012 at 2:37 PM

yes, Indians are “south asian”

tlynch001 on July 7, 2012 at 2:37 PM

If libs are offended by my use of the gender-neutral ‘it’, I can always use ‘she-it’.

Liam on July 7, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Quit sending your kids to these fluking dumba$$ schools. Send them to trade school to actually learn something. Our colleges have become laughing stocks.

msupertas on July 7, 2012 at 2:39 PM

“The one with penis envy”

SouthernGent on July 7, 2012 at 2:40 PM

I believe “zhe” is the proper gender neutral pronoun for a person. Or possibly “shi”. Or, then again, one could use “hu”.

We should be so thankful to members of the GLBTQQIA (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, questioning, queer, allied and asexual) Community for enriching our language with such attractive new pronouns!

Inkblots on July 7, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Call her Pat!

BacaDog on July 7, 2012 at 2:40 PM

First of all, Mr. … Ms. … um … “Van” doesn’t want to be referred to with a “gendered pronoun.”

I’m sticking with “IT” as well..

Tim Zank on July 7, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Oh Oooh Oooooh, /raises hand

I think I know why queer is used. If gay refers to men and lebsian refers to women, queer would refer to the non-gendered or whatever.

Shouldn’t we be offended that we are being asked to take so much care to use proper language as to not offend them?

jhffmn on July 7, 2012 at 2:41 PM

heshe and shim

Shim’s been around a long time. Heshe is new to me.

IrishEi on July 7, 2012 at 2:41 PM

A Director of Bacon, Guacamole, Lettuce, Tomato and Queso sounds like a tasty job.

Flange on July 7, 2012 at 2:42 PM

“IT” works for me….

Barred on July 7, 2012 at 2:42 PM

But Jazz, Jazz, this is all in keeping with the times! Come on, man, get with it! You’re a man, right? Anyway, this just goes along with the whole no-absolute-truth-no-defining-of-words-it’s-all-relative-let’s-own-the-language-by-keeping-you-confused thingy. I think this is all a good thing. After all, look at how well it worked out for The Artist formally known as Prince.

Pilgrimsarbour on July 7, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Our colleges have become laughing stocks.

msupertas on July 7, 2012 at 2:39 PM

Going to have to disagree with you there. A Harvard diploma still has a remarkable ability to open doors. Well, not if you’re a plumber. But if you’re something less respectable, like a management consultant or lawyer? Absolutely.

Inkblots on July 7, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Just call her Comrade. It’s going to get to that point eventually.

Rambotito on July 7, 2012 at 2:42 PM

The picture tells me everything I need to know.

BacaDog on July 7, 2012 at 2:43 PM

On second thought, a$$hole works.

IrishEi on July 7, 2012 at 2:43 PM

Just call her Comrade. It’s going to get to that point eventually.

Rambotito on July 7, 2012 at 2:42 PM

“I’m not your comrade, friend.”

Inkblots on July 7, 2012 at 2:43 PM

Look its easy. Quit catering to every person who thinks that the rules do not apply to them.

If you’re born with a penis…. You’re a He/Him

If you’re born with a vagina… You’re a She/Her

If you’re born with both and do not chose 1 (just one mind you)… You’re a HeShe/HimHer

If you’re born with none and do not chose 1 (just one mind you) you’re an It/Neuter.

What is so hard about this? Quit caving to people who do not like nature and society’s rules.

Brad on July 7, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Lets call it a RealityIsFalseOlogist.

Mord on July 7, 2012 at 2:44 PM

The ex, of Thai heritage, and her friends from that part of the world preferred “Oriental” as a descriptor. They considered “Asian” to be an insult.

novaculus on July 7, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Clearly, we are pretty-much-all going to be agreeing on ‘It’ being the only logical substitute in order to avoid use of gender specific pronouns in referencing members of the BGLTQ/LGBT community then. Right? I mean — heck — what else is there? We don’t even have any other choice.

So — It it is then — and I am totally okay with that.

FlatFoot on July 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

On the flip-side, how do such radical gays refer to people who are straight? I have yet to meet a straight woman who doesn’t want to be referred to as anything else than ‘a she’.

Liam on July 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

“I’m not your comrade, friend.”

Inkblots on July 7, 2012 at 2:43 PM

“I aint your friend, Pal”.

Mord on July 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

I only just found out this week that “oriental” is considered an offensive term.

It’s not offensive, just incorrect. The Orient is a geographical area; someone can be from the Orient. There is no Oriental race.

yubley on July 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

This is stupid. The 99% of non-BLT sandwhiches are going with she and he.

txhsmom on July 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

BGLTQ student life

I’m going with Bacon, Guacamole, Lettuce, and Tomato Quesadilla.

When’s lunch?

oh, and for the record, the correct amalgam of He and She is “hshe”. It’s pronounced “gigantic pain in the ass”.

trubble on July 7, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Hows about snoop doggette? Bow wow…arf….growl…. ;)

sicoit on July 7, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Why is anyone listening to these people? Because of all the good things LBGT (or whatever) folks have done for us? Or for anyone? Because of their sterling example of discretion and character? Because these people have so much to offer society and the future?

I’m a tolerant guy, but that’s as far as it goes. When your entire life is built around self-focused disregard of tradition, nature, community, and society, don’t ask me for any favors.

Kohath on July 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

The only question remaining:

It puts the lotion on its skin?

DarthBrooks on July 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

I’ll bet Elizabeth Warren is kicking herself itself for not thinking of that one.

Fixed it for Steyn.

bofh on July 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

1. “Queer” is becoming an acceptable term to refer to all people with alternative sexual lifestyles. Homosexuals alone aren’t a big enough group to market politicians and products to, you see.

2. If you don’t grasp BLGTQ, you’d better get up to speed on that and then LGBTQQIAAP to be a respectable journalist.

3. If that’s what she thinks, it’s a good thing all of us don’t speak Spanish.

Transpo on July 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

I like “shim”

Sekhmet on July 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

The ex, of Thai heritage, and her friends from that part of the world preferred “Oriental” as a descriptor. They considered “Asian” to be an insult.

novaculus on July 7, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Who cares if their are offended. If you’re born in Asia and your ancestors were born in Asia… You’re an Asian.

Brad on July 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

On the flip-side, how do such radical gays refer to people who are straight? I have yet to meet a straight woman who doesn’t want to be referred to as anything else than ‘a she’.

Liam on July 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

They are sneeringly referred to as “breeders”.

Mord on July 7, 2012 at 2:48 PM

And maybe the next politically correct term for sexual minorities should be OMGWTFBBQ

Sekhmet on July 7, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Oh, please.

TimBuk3 on July 7, 2012 at 2:49 PM

How much is she getting paid to be this dumb?

SouthernGent on July 7, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Wasn’t it until recently that calling a person ‘queer’ was offensive to them?

Liam on July 7, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen

A country tries to banish gender

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/04/hen_sweden_s_new_gender_neutral_pronoun_causes_controversy_.html

Resist We Much on July 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

“I aint your friend, Pal”.

Mord on July 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

He ain’t your pal, buddy.

Flange on July 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

They are sneeringly referred to as “breeders”.

Mord on July 7, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Oh, I know that.

I only tossed out the question for trolls to play with, if they dare.

Liam on July 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

I guess Cousin It from the Addams Family was ahead of it’s time.

Moose Drool on July 7, 2012 at 2:51 PM

It’s a Barnum & Bailey World . . .

Schadenfreude on July 7, 2012 at 2:51 PM

“Van” doesn’t want to be referred to with a “gendered pronoun.”

Van is a nice looking guy wymmon Post-Elton-Pre-Ellen-Gender-Neutral-Personage. Or, as Hoosiers colorfully called ‘em when I was a kid, Bull-Dagger.

:\

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on July 7, 2012 at 2:51 PM

In fact, Bailey prefers not to be referred to by any gendered pronoun.

If the picture is anything to go by then she/he/it has a good point.

sharrukin on July 7, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Actually had a hard time figuring out what it was. Good thing it does not insist on everyone to have to figure it out.

Do have to congratulate Harvard to be able to capture this coup, a gender neutral, sexually ambiguous, pigment correct specimen. Wonder whether it also is only one legged, has bipolar disorder, 1/128 from a tribe with high cheekbone, and is an adherent to the religion of Peace to boot (one, given it may only have one leg).

bayview on July 7, 2012 at 2:51 PM

It’s amazing how many people think that just because they have some personal delusions that the rest of society is supposed to join in.

Rocks on July 7, 2012 at 2:51 PM

I’m a tolerant guy, but that’s as far as it goes. When your entire life is built around self-focused disregard of tradition, nature, community, and society, don’t ask me for any favors.

Kohath on July 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

You pretty much summed up the opinion of a large majority of this country. The “sleeping giant” that does not show up in polls. Well said.

Mord on July 7, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Enjoy Rome…except in this round the demise won’t last so long.

Schadenfreude on July 7, 2012 at 2:52 PM

the brits used to be well known for their cranks. i’m sure that the US has had its share of cranks….but he difference is that cranks used to live in some obscurity….even, perhaps, looked at fondly by their community

but, sadly, we are now exposed daily to cranks that have increasingly large media footprints. Holdren, for example, is a crank that has too much power. cranks can be entertaining…up to a point…but we are way beyond that point.

r keller on July 7, 2012 at 2:52 PM

It sure is ugly.

bayview on July 7, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Never underestimate the grand power of someone who tells you how to think and act while telling you how not to tell them to think and act.

Limerick on July 7, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Ugly is it.

Schadenfreude on July 7, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Oh, I know that.

I only tossed out the question for trolls to play with, if they dare.

Liam on July 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

LOL! OK my bad :)

Mord on July 7, 2012 at 2:53 PM

One look at Michelle Obama – it qualifies to utter perfection.

Schadenfreude on July 7, 2012 at 2:54 PM

How about “it”. Lets completely de-personalize the human experience and truly start treating each other as property, much like the democrats really want the minorities to be their “property” when it comes to getting votes, we can just treat all people as if they were cement blocks that pay taxes (some pay anyway, not all).

Ok then.

It Vanidy M. Bailey. Sounds fine. It should be happy with that. Now, it’s pretty ugly, we should send it far away so we don’t have to look at it anymore.

That works.

Wolfmoon on July 7, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Never underestimate the grand power of someone who tells you how to think and act while telling you how not to tell them to think and act.

Limerick on July 7, 2012 at 2:53 PM

<<<<>>>>>>

sicoit on July 7, 2012 at 2:54 PM

And maybe the next politically correct term for sexual minorities should be OMGWTFBBQ

Sekhmet on July 7, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Heh. With the emphasis on “WTF”.

Moose Drool on July 7, 2012 at 2:54 PM

i’ve always wondered about that Peppermint Patty… what with bff Marcie calling her/him “Sir”…

” do you think you’ll become a shim or she? ”

http://youtu.be/YSeTjNxbmKE

mittens on July 7, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Hmmmmm, should have said T.H.I.S. not <<<<>>>>>

sicoit on July 7, 2012 at 2:55 PM

My 12 years of higher education qualifies me to say authoritatively that the correct gender neutral pronoun is “ze” or “zhe”. Sigh.

LockeFox on July 7, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Assuming that’s Vanidy’s image, “it” would work quite nicely.

bw222 on July 7, 2012 at 2:55 PM

‘Couture’

Schadenfreude on July 7, 2012 at 2:56 PM

Well….

“IT” should really see an Orthodontist…..

Tim Zank on July 7, 2012 at 2:56 PM

I’ll vote for “Pat”, i.e. the old Saturday Night Live Pat.

MikeA on July 7, 2012 at 2:58 PM

So, what is IT (other than scary)?

It’s Gary Coleman, of course. Where have you been?

JurysOut on July 7, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Beat me to it Mike!

angrycodgr on July 7, 2012 at 2:59 PM

It’s a Barnum & Bailey World . . .
Schadenfreude on July 7, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Don’t you mean a Barney & Barney World?

txhsmom on July 7, 2012 at 2:59 PM

In the Philippines, there are no gendered pronouns, and “he” and “she” are substituted by the neutral pronoun “sha.” It does create some confusion when they lapse into English in the course of a conversation, as they are inclined to do.

manwithblackhat on July 7, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Transpo on July 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

That’s what I was thinking about the “Q”. It covers all the rest of the perverted sexual practices that are not covered by “BLGT”.

It also seems to me that this is the clearest proof that with these people ANYTHING goes and is acceptable and in some cases preferable to normal heterosexual relations.

Jvette on July 7, 2012 at 3:00 PM

It is on its way to high political office.

GaltBlvnAtty on July 7, 2012 at 3:00 PM

You can’t seriously be upset about removing “Oriental” from official federal writings from now on. It is about as dated as “colored people”.

Marcus on July 7, 2012 at 3:01 PM

LOL! OK my bad :)

Mord on July 7, 2012 at 2:53 PM

No prob! Tweaking liblet noses is a hobby of mine.

I mean, in this case, gay men have a femininity about them for the most part.

Most lesbian women don’t want to be defined as men, though some are ‘butch’. The majority, in my experience, are ‘lipstick lesbians’–preferring girls but still feminine.

About transgender types: Is a pre-op male a guy until the operation? And, is it a he, a she, an it, or a she-it?

As for someone like Chastity Bono, who was born a girl but got ‘adjusted’, she was still born a girl. Whatever apparatus she-it might now have, it’s phoney.

What’s next–’transgender-neutral’ restrooms like in Brazil?

I can’t see how those on the ‘wild side’ can rationally explain all this.

Liam on July 7, 2012 at 3:02 PM

Orient(al) mean “East” in Latin….east of Italy, esp. Rome. So for the Roman in the classical period this would include Israel, Egypt, Persia, and any and all eastern points along the Silk Road & other classical trade routes.

Greece, by virtue of culture/history and Rome were the pinnacles of the West. The British picked up the term & expanded it as they expanded their own influence as another long standing and influential empire.

The reason the term is now deemed “offensive” has to do with more ethnic grousing and peevishness against all things remotely reminiscent of Roman influence in Europe & beyond…roads and plumbing.

Try as hard as they like…History will prevail as it has survived many dark age purges & Roman History is hard to bury or ignore.

Although Latin is no longer spoken…it is not and never has been a truly dead language. It survives.

workingclass artist on July 7, 2012 at 3:02 PM

Jazz, the “Q” stands for “questioning”, not “Queer”.

And yeah, genders are a part of the English language, Van. And I am going to refer to you as ‘she’ with my hatepenis gynoppressive language.

MunDane68 on July 7, 2012 at 3:02 PM

My high school English teacher always told us that “he” was the non-gendered pronoun.

Count to 10 on July 7, 2012 at 3:02 PM

We should be so thankful to members of the GLBTQQIA (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, questioning, queer, allied and asexual) Community for enriching our language with such attractive new pronouns!

Inkblots on July 7, 2012 at 2:40 PM

To say nothing of attractive new acronyms.

manwithblackhat on July 7, 2012 at 3:03 PM

It also appears Vanday is black and overweight. Now if, uh, it, also happens to be Jewish, Dyslexic, left handed, quadriplegic,retarded and vegetarian it might be a perfect replacement for the Bald Eagle as the new national symbol. I just hope it doesn’t run for President ’cause we have enough trouble there already.

MikeA on July 7, 2012 at 3:03 PM

If it hadn’t been for this article, I would never have known this thing existed, and I wouldn’t have been harmed in any way by that lack of knowledge. I would be willing to bet that there is nothing that anyone who is not a part of this things group can do that would please this thing. I hated the way feminists were such a$$holes about what they were called, and I have no more respect for these things. They go out of their way to make public spectacles of themselves over the stupidest things. They belittle themselves by being so petty.

Oh, and I am taking the word queer back. It has an actual meaning prior to being high-jacked and I no longer accept “their” meaning, nor the offense they take when the word is used correctly. I demand that my feelings about this over-ride what anyone else thinks because -shut up.

Night Owl on July 7, 2012 at 3:04 PM

I will treat it as equally as I do many of our trolls. It. On occasion I may go with the long version He/she/it. No, do not say bless you, I did not sneeze.

Bmore on July 7, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Isn’t the need for ‘Queer” a bit redundant?

Baked small circular cake, Hole in the middle, Round pastry, Donut.

Hening on July 7, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Well I’m not good with names or titles so I’ll just call it “Jackwagon”, which I feel is appropriate.

ghostwalker1 on July 7, 2012 at 3:05 PM

What a bunch of anti-intellectual weirdos. Harvard joins the ranks of the Joke Universities, where your attendance is only to be mocked, and not admired.

I only just found out this week that “oriental” is considered an offensive term. Of course, I was never entirely clear on what Oriental meant, other than a vague reference to people or things on the other side of the Pacific ocean.

Anyone else have this one?

It’s not offensive, just incorrect. The Orient is a geographical area; someone can be from the Orient. There is no Oriental race.

yubley on July 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Jaibones on July 7, 2012 at 3:07 PM

No prob! Tweaking liblet noses is a hobby of mine. Liam

another hobby besides making big lists of largely offensive stereotypes concerning individuals you clearly know nothing about?

mittens on July 7, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Sandra Fluke must be beside herself with grief that she did not think of it first.

ndanielson on July 7, 2012 at 3:07 PM

I only just found out this week that “oriental” is considered an offensive term.

It’s not offensive, just incorrect. The Orient is a geographical area; someone can be from the Orient. There is no Oriental race.

yubley on July 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

No, it isn’t incorrect. It’s just as valid to refer to people from the Orient as Orientals as it is to refer to people from America as Americans or to people from Europe as Europeans. Referring to people in this way has nothing to do with race even though people from a particular area often share common racial traits.

single stack on July 7, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Ya know, I think we should start a task force for people who find it offensive to be expected to live in fear of people who make a living being offended.

MikeA on July 7, 2012 at 3:09 PM

How about she-it and he-it?

skatz51 on July 7, 2012 at 3:10 PM

I like referring to it as “It”. Give ‘em its what they want.

…will eliminate the use of the term “Oriental” in reference to persons of Asian or Pacific Islander descent.

I was always taught “Oriental” referred to objects (i.e. Oriental rug, Oriental art, etc.) and Asian refers to people. Meh.

Fallon on July 7, 2012 at 3:10 PM

He ain’t your pal, buddy.

Flange on July 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

I’m not your buddy, guy.

(also…I was told objects were Oriental [like carpets] and people were Asian)

HawaiiLwyr on July 7, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Van seems to have a lovely warm smile and beautiful eyes but this is the kind of garbage that makes tuition prices go up. In what possible way can this person help with anything? Get an education, a useful on, and carry your hindquarters into life, it’s the best teacher.

Cindy Munford on July 7, 2012 at 3:11 PM

BGLTQ. So I guess Bi is the current top of the heap over G or L and Q is back in vogue but not as a slur.

oryguncon on July 7, 2012 at 3:11 PM

But be that as it may, we’ll have to soldier on. Clearly we need an alternative to “he” and “she” for the modern era. Does it already exist? Any suggestions?

It.

No, seriously. It should be a style book convention that a person who declares their independence from biology with regards to gender should be referred to as it.

There are no other singular English subject pronouns.

HitNRun on July 7, 2012 at 3:11 PM

By the way, are people from India “Asians?” Isn’t India in Asia?

Israelis are Asians too.

Mark1971 on July 7, 2012 at 3:11 PM

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