SIGHT+SOUND: a festival that expands beyond linear definitions of art

Dancing While Waiting (for the end of the world): an exhibit that makes you question the intermediate between one’s body and the inevitable apocalypse

The 12th edition of the digital art festival, SIGHT+SOUND, took place at the Eastern Bloc from Oct. 26 to 30, and performances will continue until Nov. 12.  It’s a festival that primarily aims to provide a platform for emerging artists.

The curators of SIGHT+SOUND are Sarah Ève Tousignant and Nathalie Bachand. 

After two years of moving to an online format during the pandemic, this edition of the festival comes in full force as people are able to interact with the artwork in-person once again. 

The Eastern Bloc was founded in 2007 and is an art center that brings together technology, art, and science. It provides a laboratory space, proposes workshops, and hosts exhibits. SIGHT+SOUND’s theme this year is Dancing While Waiting (for the end of the world). 

The festival is composed not only of an exhibition section but also of a series of dance performances and musical and audio works/installations. It plays between the grounds of definable and uncategorizable artwork. Venues are located all across Montreal. 

The main exhibit was packed into a small rectangular room. Upon entering, one was immediately drawn to a table on the right side of the room that was organized with a series of pillow computers and screens. 

Table at entrance of exhibit – ESTHER MORAND/THE CONCORDIAN

On the left, visitors could raise a tablet over hanging clothes, and view a green body shaped into a dress through the screen. 

Screens were installed at either end of the room, displaying videos of artists’ works. People could use headphones to listen, which created a sense of isolation from the rest of the exhibit as visitors’ eyes and ears were entirely fixated on the short video. Strange and almost human-like figures appeared on the screens. 

In the middle of the room, two large panels perpendicular to each other showed two video screenings simultaneously, while a TV lodged at an angle displayed a TV prompter. One video, tinted in red, showed a woman racing, while the other displayed dancing bodies — some drawn, and some in live-action. 


The sharp contrast of black words on the white screen offered a clear reflection of the seriousness of the statement. The text was set as a sort of conversation, discussing climate anxiety and the inability of humanity to focus on saving itself. 

The festival sought to retract individuals from their preconditioned lives surrounded by technology, and allow them to reflect on their states of servitude. It was intended to bring awareness to social spaces, and reappropriate what it means to be in contact with one another.


VIDEOS: International Women’s Day, Men’s Hockey Recap

Hundreds gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 12: Video Editor Anthony-James Armstrong covered it live

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Stingers’ recap: Men’s team showed promise through the season, cut short at quarterfinals

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Queering Montreal’s Map

Video Editor Marie Stow revisits spaces memorialized by Montrealers in the Queering The Map project

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Broken Promises, Closed Community Organizations

Quebec community organizations have gone on strike across the province this past week as a result of intense pressures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers say they lack the funding needed to deal with the massive growth in the need for their services to house, feed, and provide care for vulnerable populations.

Video Editor Anthony-James Armstrong spoke with community sector workers at a massive demonstration near downtown Montreal on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

Lily Alexandre believes in better online communities

Video Essayist Lily Alexandre makes videos to help mend our broken online conversations

Lily Alexandre started her YouTube channel almost 10 years ago and has been producing videos on and off ever since. After a brief break in her output, she decided to start her channel back up when she became concerned about her job opportunities, having left Dawson College before graduation. So, deciding to use YouTube as a way to show off her skills to possible employers, Alexandre put out her first video in the “video essay” format. To her surprise, the video went viral.

The video that sent her channel soaring was released in January of this year, titled “Millions of Dead Genders: A MOGAI Retrospective,” which details the mostly forgotten “MOGAI” (Marginalized Orientations, Gender Alignments, and Intersex) community of 2010s Tumblr. This community, Alexandre explains, was largely comprised of early-teenage kids aiming to navigate their queer identities and formulate new names to put on their often confusing feelings that they felt did not fit neatly into existing “LGBTQIA+” categories. While often ridiculed for their incessant “micro-labeling,” Alexandre approaches this community with a critical lens to discuss why queer youth gravitated towards this outlook despite how it may have been detrimental to the ongoing process of some people’s gender exploration. Alexandre didn’t realize that this video would strike a chord with audiences so quickly.

“I was at work one day, packing orders at a warehouse and my phone started suddenly blowing up,” Alexandre detailed. “It was super exciting but I also had no idea how to approach it because I had made hundreds of YouTube videos and never had an audience over a thousand people. So, suddenly there was a lot of expectation.”

Since then, Alexandre’s channel has grown to have nearly 20K subscribers, and has released four more videos this year averaging about 30 minutes each, mostly discussing issues in online gender discourse.

However, with this focus on controversial topics in queer identity, as well as her being a visible trans woman online, Alexandre has begun to feel the burden of representing her community, where marginalized creators often feel the need to be more perfect and controversy-free than their peers in order to escape backlash.

Youtuber Lily Alexandre

“I think in my case, and in the case of a lot of queer and trans creators, it’s specifically a thing where

people have seen that they can relate to what I have to say and very quickly have become super attached to me, and kind of assumed that they know who I am and what I stand for outside of these videos,” Alexandre explained. “So, if I say something that goes outside the bounds of their image of me, there can be a lot of backlash, because I feel that people have gotten attached to me as a person and the idea that I have to live up to their ideal.”

Much of Alexandre’s catalogue focuses on where online conversations go wrong, and how we can start to piece our conversations back together. In her most recent video, “Do ‘Binary Trans Women’ Even Exist? The Politics of Gender Conformity,” she details the false dichotomy between non-binary and binary trans people and how both sides claim they are the ones that are more oppressed. This whole argument, Alexandre argues in the video, is reductive to the core, as it places all trans people into one of two boats, erasing important nuances in personal experiences.

Alexandre’s videos show viewers how to be more generous with each other online. Alexandre jokes in her videos about simply “logging off” of toxic conversations online, but she believes that there is truth to this suggestion.

“I think just engaging with people face-to-face builds a lot more empathy than we have online. I’ve been trying to carry that empathy into my online interactions too,” she suggested. “If I see someone with a ‘take’ I think is bad […] that doesn’t make us enemies. This stuff is just a lot lower stakes than it feels online.”

When producing videos spanning difficult topics like gender identity and mental illness, Alexandre is still learning how to balance her work with her own mental wellbeing. She finds herself sometimes getting overwhelmed when putting together videos with such heavy content. However, over the past few months, she’s been learning how to deal with these uncertain moments.

“In those cases, it’s been helpful to remind myself why I’m writing the thing I am. It’s usually not just to talk about ‘Hey, this is really awful, let’s wallow in it.’ It’s usually directional, it’s usually for a purpose,” Alexandre explained. “Because I’ve talked mostly about things I feel do have stakes, and my takes might move the needle in the right direction.”

Looking to the future, Alexandre plans to step away from videos along the topic of gender identity to focus on other issues. Worried she may get pigeonholed, she plans on also creating videos about art, games, music, and other interests.

All in all, Alexandre wants her channel to be a place of discovery and empathy, no matter the topic of videos she puts out.

“I’m hoping there can be a space for talking about these big questions in a way that isn’t super partisan,” explained Alexandre. “And I hope it can be an empathetic place where people are interested in understanding each other more than they are about being correct or being superior.”


Photographs by Catherine Reynolds


MOMENTA Biennale de l’image explores our relationship to nature

This exhibition features 51 artists, each presenting work that examines the human connection to the natural world

MOMENTA Biennale de l’image is back for its 17th edition, taking over Montreal gallery spaces and outdoor sites to reflect on the relationship between nature and the senses. Going on until Oct. 24, the visual arts biennale features 15 exhibitions, including an outdoor garden, a virtual reality city tour and four performances.

Curator Stefanie Hessler proposed the main theme of the event: sensing nature. Along with curators Maude Johnson, Camille Georgeson-Usher and Himali Singh Soin, Hessler organized projects and exhibits related to their thoughts on this theme. One of MOMENTA’s projects this year is an urban outdoor garden created by artist T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss, and is situated on the corner of Berri and Ontario St.. Titled TEIONHENKWEN Supporters of Life, the work brings together a large variety of ancestral plants such as raspberry, corn, tobacco, and basil. They stand as a little herbal island in the middle of downtown Montreal’s cacophony, filling the air with smells of flowers and herbs.

Wyss has a practice of creating such gardens in places where urban life has taken over and plants do not grow easily anymore. The multidisciplinary artist and ethnobotanist chooses plants that would originally grow at the place where the garden will be situated. TEIONHENKWEN was created with a desire to showcase ancestral plants, and allow communities and animals to be in contact with them.

Another MOMENTA presentation is exhibited at the Fonderie Darling. Curated around the work of six artists, the art event is titled Worldmaking Tentacles. The curators imagined a post-apocalyptic world taking place in 2071. For Jessica Sofia Lopez, the cultural mediation and audience development coordinator at MOMENTA, this exhibition is particularly rich as it is “very political — it’s very charged and really it invites us to take agency of our own ignorance.”

When entering the space, Julien Creuzet’s three art pieces are the first to be seen. The French artist presents a hanging sculpture made of diverse materials collected over time, a printed collage, and a short film. The psychedelic video touches on the problem of Kepone pesticide found in banana plantations in Martinique and Guadeloupe. Jamilah Sabur’s Mnemonic Alphabet follows, and includes three brightly-coloured canvases. The artist creates a new language, putting forward the idea that languages might fail to represent the world accurately.

Tejal Shah’s Between the Waves speaks to the exhibition’s theme in video form. The artist created a world in which creatures wearing white plastic outfits with insects on them and ballet shoes live in two settings. On one screen, the audience can observe them exploring a dumping ground set amidst a town. On the other screen, the creatures move in a deserted landscape.

In Sandra Mujinga’s work, clothes are the central subject as the artist presents three laminated leather outfits, which are meant to invoke thoughts on the invisibility of marginalized communities. Mujinga also presents video experimentations with images coming together to create abstract creatures.

Tabita Rezaire’s INNER FIRE series is displayed at different places in the room. The five hanging works of art explore ideas of the “multiple identities related to archetypes of the Black woman,” as explained in the exhibition’s program. Rezaire layers images and references to the body, nature, and spirituality in appealing creations.

Charlotte Brathwaite’s video project completes the show with a reflection on past and future realities shown through video clips and excerpts from texts. Bringing together the thoughts, hopes and beliefs of 51 artists, this year’s MOMENTA exhibit presents a rich tapestry of programming that promises to remind each visitor of the strength of nature.


Photograph courtesy of Jamilah Sabur


Stéphane Crête showcases Jamais Seul

A video installation projecting intimacy, freedom and escape in relation to nature

Created by comedian and actor Stéphane Crête, in collaboration with his son, Philémon Crête, a cinematographer and producer, Jamais Seul (Never Alone) is a video installation exhibited at the Cinémathèque québécoise, located at 335 Boul. de Maisonneuve E.

Jamais Seul explores freedom and escape in different environments visited by Stéphane Crête. The artist aims to create a connection between the body and its environment.

The video installation is composed of three parts: Rouler (ride), Marcher (walk) and Contempler (contemplate). Each part portrays Crête engaging with his environment in a distinctive way.

Rouler consists of a video with three screens, each of which depicts a different aspect. The first screen shows Crête laying on a bed in different environments. Viewers can see Crête either awake or sleeping. He may be in a room or in a tent. Nonetheless, he is never in the same place.

The second screen is footage on the road that the artist filmed while driving. For instance, Crête may be driving on an empty road away from the city, on a bridge, or he may be driving on the highway near an urban area.

The third screen is another compilation of videos that Crête filmed where he shows his surroundings in different places. One can see the sun setting by the sea, a field on a sunny day, and many more locations that Crête has visited.

The second projection is Marcher, a video installation where the audience can observe Crête walking in different environments, sometimes fully clothed, half-clothed or naked. Crête doesn’t make eye contact with the camera; he simply walks in front of the lens. Most of the time, he has his back to the camera.

The artist walks in a variety of climates. Viewers can see Crête walking in cold or hot places. Crête can be seen walking on sand dunes, on a deserted road, or he can also be seen walking in a forest full of snow or even in a rainforest. There is a shot where he is sitting at the beach during sunset, contemplating the view while the waves crash on the shore.

The artist is never in the presence of another human. He is in the company of nature. This forms a bond between human life and non-human life that surrounds Crête.

The third installation of the collection is Contempler, small footage closeups of different textures of nature. The artist is in contact with his environment through touch. The videos show Crête touching moss, a bee on a flower petal and closeups of leaves, dirt and more. This is the way he engages with his environment to depict the deep connection his body has with it.

Jamais Seul gives spectators the opportunity to follow Crête’s path and see the many types of landscapes that exist. The audience can connect with what is being shown on the screen as some of these environments may be reminders of familiar places they have visited while travelling or simply by taking a walk near a field or in a forest. Still, they remain unknown places to spectators.

Like in a movie, Crête has created a relationship between the actor and the spectator. Crête’s solitude makes the audience desire to be this body wandering in the landscapes seen on the screen. This creates the longing of escaping in these places.

The artist is connecting with his environment. Nothing distracts him from the breathtaking sceneries in which he walks. While watching the video installation, one can realize how the world consists of beautiful places. With the current climate emergency, it may remind the audience of the importance of preserving the environment as it is being harmed due to human activities.

As mentioned in the exhibition’s description, the images projected in the exposition can also be interpreted as a dystopic representation of the end of the world. Crête may be presenting what the world would look like if there was only one human remaining on Earth.

Jamais Seul reminds its viewers of the way they are internally connected to nature as they also take part in the creationJamais Seul is on display at Cinémathèque québécoise until April 4. The space is open from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day.


The vicious cycle of publishing viral videos

Are we the generation that uses social media to both humiliate and help vulnerable people?

It is no secret that we are all consumed by social media. It can be a very positive outlet as much as a very negative one—again, most of us know that. As a society, we either celebrate one another or take each other down using these platforms. It has become very common for people to be ridiculed over situations that could have gone unnoticed.

However, as a generation, we have a conditioned reflex to record every little thing so it can be viewed by the entire world. Okay, maybe not the entire world, but when we choose to upload something, we are accepting the fact that there’s a possibility it might go viral––whether or not that was our intention.

Not too long ago, a video on social media depicting a Dunkin’ Donuts employee dumping a bucket of water on a homeless man went viral. The man was resting his head while charging his phone in the restaurant. The incident was recorded and posted online for the world to see. That man wasn’t bothering anyone and, homeless or not, didn’t deserve such hostile treatment. On top of it, this awful moment was captured on video, to be watched countless times by innumerable strangers.

As a member of our generation, I can’t help but ask: Are we hypocritical? Here we are using social media to ridicule the less fortunate because it amuses us, yet we also promote GoFundMe accounts and share videos that show these same vulnerable people being cared for and shown compassion. Do you see the hypocrisy?

Fortunately, the Dunkin’ Donuts employee and a few other workers involved in the accident have since been fired, according to The New York Times, and a crowdfunding campaign has raised over $13,000 for the homeless man. Here lies my next question: Why do we do it? Are we so self-absorbed that we record our acts of kindness solely to reap the compliments later? If not, why do we ridicule homeless people for our own amusement?

Just a few months ago, another viral video showed a homeless man shaving on a New York City metro. People posted horrible comments about him, calling him a “slob” and an “animal,” according to Global News. The man did not realize he was being filmed and was shocked to learn that the video received more than 2.4 million views online. Would it have been too much for someone to tap him on the shoulder and kindly inform him about the norm of not shaving on public transportation, instead of recording him and ridiculing him on social media?

There is no doubt that many people reading this article will blame the issue on millennials. It is important to note that this generation is not the only generation at fault. The people who comment on videos are people of all ages and are in the wrong just as much as the people who film these humiliating moments. We start these bullying campaigns and stress the importance of spreading awareness around it, yet we are the first to perpetuate this vicious cycle with our smartphones. Let us prove society wrong by using our morals instead of our camera phones.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin



We need to have a conversation about content

YouTuber Logan Paul’s controversial video sparks discussion about boundaries, consumer habits

If you’ve been anywhere with Internet since the beginning of 2018, you probably heard about the backlash against YouTuber Logan Paul for his video posted on Dec. 31, 2017. The video explicitly showed the hanging corpse of a suicide victim in the Aokigahara forest, infamously known as “the suicide forest,” which Paul filmed during his recent trip to Japan.

The criticism has been focused on Paul’s questionable decision to film, edit and post a video of a corpse, especially since his audience is largely under 12 years old, according to the American video game website Polygon. Many people have been condemning Paul for the video, from big-name YouTubers like Philip DeFranco, PewDiePie, Jenna Marbles and H3H3, to celebrities like Sophie Turner, Whoopi Goldberg and even Dr. Phil.

According to Variety, Paul himself was the one to take down the video on Jan. 2, and it took another 11 days for YouTube to formally respond to the controversy and cut ties with him. The website decided to remove him from their top ad platform service and ended production on all his YouTube Red series. This has been an appropriate but unacceptably slow response.

In my opinion, this slow reaction hints at YouTube’s willingness to turn a blind eye to Paul’s behaviour. After all, when Paul initially posted the video, it was reviewed and deemed acceptable by YouTube several times, not to mention hand-picked to be on the website’s trending page, according to Buzzfeed News.

This stings even more given that other creators on the platform are resorting to companies like Patreon and Twitch to get funding due to YouTube’s guideless algorithm. The algorithm—which didn’t stop Paul’s video from being accessible—has previously banned and de-monetized videos for mentioning things like the LGBTQ community, according to The Guardian.

As for Paul, his apology for the incident left a lot to be desired for those hoping for deeper self-reflection from the YouTuber. He has since been filmed by TMZ at an airport saying he is ready to continue producing content, and that he has learned a lot of lessons since the controversy. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Paul has had to worry about his financial situation, despite YouTube cancelling his Red series.

He’s right to not be concerned. Despite the loss of subscribers due to the scandal and outrage from the parents of many of his viewers, Paul’s channel is doing great. Whatever statement YouTube was trying to make with Paul’s punishment is falling flat, in my opinion. Subscriber increase has put him in the green since his controversy, according to Social Blade, a statistics website, and he is still promoting his ‘Maverick’ merchandise. Despite the incident, many of Paul’s fans have remained incredibly loyal and aggressively protective of him, calling his critics ‘haters.’

In November, YouTube had to crackdown on inappropriately violent content aimed towards young children, according to media network The Verge. It seems parents just aren’t looking at what their kids are doing online. The extremely graphic video created by Paul has been a long time coming. In his apology, Paul admitted he has made vlogs everyday for 465 days, and he constantly feels the need to push the envelope for his impressionable young audience.

As much as the blame should be put on Paul and YouTube for letting this disgusting content be published and trending, a larger issue hasn’t been highlighted. More open discussions need to happen between children and their parents about video content. I believe unchecked behaviour on the part of the viewer and the content producer is what allowed this video to be created. As much as Paul claims to have learned his lesson, we need to ask ourselves as consumers if we have to learn one too.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth 


Start your day with Breakfast Television

Aside from the modern studio and its new gadgets, the team officially became complete with the addition of three Concordia alumni: Catherine Verdon-Diamond, Laura Casella and Elias Makos. Photo by David Adelman.

David Adelman
It is no secret that the Montreal anglophone job market for television newscasters is quite limited and the competition to fill these positions is extremely demanding. However, some Concordia journalism graduates have found a home on City Montreal’s newest local morning show, Breakfast Television.
City’s Breakfast Television has had successful precedents in other Canadian cities, dominating morning television with its fast-paced, interactive segments. That’s why Rogers Media designed an exciting new studio inside its downtown Montreal headquarters built with state-of-the-art technology to broadcast new media. This will include an immense video wall that features nine flat-screen monitors and a 65-inch interactive touch-screen monitor that will give the audience a unique perspective to what’s happening worldwide through the lens of social media. To top it off, the live reporters on the team will be out in the field using a new broadcast technology called Dejero which relies on newer cellular systems and is more efficient when compared to older methods of transmission.
Aside from the modern studio and its new gadgets, the team officially became complete with the addition of three Concordia alumni: Catherine Verdon-Diamond, Laura Casella and Elias Makos. For the show’s executive producer and local content manager, Bob Babinski, this feels like “old home week”. A journalism professor at Concordia University for over 25 years, Babinski has worn many hats in the world of television, both on-camera and behind the scenes, which has led him to Breakfast Television alongside students he taught almost a decade ago.
“It just goes to show you how significant the Concordia journalism program has been in the city over the years, that any newsroom in the city is dotted with Concordia graduates. I’d like to think that it’s a tip of the cap to the success of the program,” said Babinski.
Montreal can be a tricky market because there are not always many opportunities in broadcasting, but for Makos, Breakfast Television’s new media producer and commentator, landing this position couldn’t have come at a better time. “You don’t get to work with this caliber of high-energy individuals all together very much in a career,” said Makos, who is more psyched about the team he’s working with than all the new gadgets he’ll get to play with. “My focus has always been around technology and everything new media, but one of the reasons why I am more excited to be here is this versatile team and fast-paced show… that will be unlike anything the Anglophone market in this city has seen,” said Makos, who can’t wait to operate the 65-inch monitor.

“For a long time I wanted to be on television, but I didn’t know how to go about it,” said Verdon-Diamond, who had originally planned on being an algebra teacher. Though she studied mathematics in university, she somehow found herself years later working behind-the-scenes at the CBC. “Then, all of a sudden this opportunity came up, my boss at the CBC suggested I try out reporting. I was doing weather for the 11 p.m. news and now I will be heading to work at 4 a.m. to prepare for this show,” laughs Verdon-Diamond, who will be Breakfast Television’s traffic and weather specialist.
For news reporter Casella, breaking into television has always been her dream. She started off in radio, but is delighted to have changed mediums. “I finally have visuals to work with!” She believes that for students who want to be broadcast journalists, learning to be confident enough in your ability takes a lot of time. She explains, “I laid out my path for myself, it was not easy and you have to strive for it, just because there are not as many jobs in this field as there are others.” When asked about Montreal’s media industry, Casella said, “I wouldn’t say the anglophone market is a struggle, but it’s something you really have to work hard for and chase …You know what? Just go for it, don’t be afraid to go for it … don’t give up.”
The morning show premiered Monday Aug. 26 and will continue to air from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily and is available to local service providers.


Freedom of speech vs. freedom of religion

Does killing innocent people, creating riots and destroying buildings really communicate the right message regarding a controversial Youtube video?

On Sept. 11 four American diplomats, including an ambassador, were killed in Libya following the release of a controversial anti-Muslim YouTube video. Afterwards, riots broke out in two dozen Middle Eastern countries. The protests against the video were largely violent and the New York Times reported that at least 28 people had died as a result of the reactionary demonstrations.

On Sept. 15, the FBI arrested 55-year-old suspect, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian-born American citizen, for allegedly taking part in the creation a short film portraying or rather parodying the Prophet Muhammad and Muslims as a war-mongering nation.

Shortly after the suspect’s arrest in California, federal probation officers interviewed him for half-an-hour and then released him. Nakoula’s release further angered Muslim communities around the world and some Muslim leaders demanded that American authorities arrest the suspect and execute him.

“The anti-Islam film hurt our religious sentiments and we cannot tolerate it,” spokesman for the Afghan militant group Hizb-i-Islami, Haroon Zarghoon, told The Associated Press. “There had been several young men who wanted to take revenge […] to tell the world we cannot ignore any anti-Islam attack.”

On Sept. 22 Pakistan’s Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour also had a lot to say about the video.

“I announce today that this blasphemer who has abused the holy prophet, if somebody will kill him, I will give that person a prize of $100,000,” he said.

Did Nakoula, a Coptic Christian, really commit a crime punishable by a prison sentence or even death? I believe he did not.

Although the creation and release of the video does violate moral and ethical conventions, it does not constitute a crime under U.S. law. The United States is a democratic society that values freedom of expression and the country should not be held accountable for the acts of one citizen.

In my opinion, the violence seen in many Muslim countries is unacceptable, especially the murder of innocent foreign diplomats. The reaction of the Muslim world is disproportionate to Nakoula’s acts. No country or group of people is allowed to demand the imprisonment of a citizen that would go against that country’s constitution.

I understand that in Islamic law, insulting the Prophet Mohammad is a crime punishable by death, but the Western world is not governed by religious laws or by threats. We are a democratic society bound by judicial law and try as we might not to offend the views of others, violence is never going to be the answer.

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