Jak Xenon

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IntelligentDemocracy: The right to vote based on intelligence, not age!

We all understand why societies need some form of discrimination to function. (meaning [Recognition and understanding of the difference between one person and another] not its other definition [The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, esp. on the grounds of race, age, or sex.])

I'm going to talk about discrimination in voting systems.
Most people agree (sadly not all people) that allowing the right to vote based on Race, Religion, Culture, and similar things is simply unethical and morally wrong. But what about discrimination by age?

What does 'too young' actually mean? We wouldn't discriminate against race if someone was too black or too white. Why do we discriminate against age if people are too young! I suppose there are physical differences with age but they are not the same for everyone and what if somebody was to not grow physically but still had the brain capacities of an average person, would they be denied the right to vote? Of course not!

There is the difference of knowledge. If I would suggest that ten year olds should be able to vote an obvious response would be 'ten year olds aren't smart enough to vote." So, it's intellect, not age!

When we set arbitrary age barriers for voting we are actually saying 'by X years old you should be knowledgeable enough to vote' so why do we discriminate by age as a way of discriminating by intelligence? It's more morally decent to say if you are not smart enough to vote you cannot vote. why not have a test in all schools (testing political knowledge) after which you gain the ability to vote? And you can take the test whenever you want to. No age boundaries.

This is just an idea (I don't know if it already exists) Im calling it IntelligentDemocracy

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    Oct 27 2011: I just think in a democratic society, this limits the ability of "the people" to accurately vote on an issue.
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      Oct 27 2011: 'the people' should not include those who are mentally unable to make rational decision.
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        Oct 28 2011: Would you suggest that we adopt the Canadian policy of closing all bars on election days to prevent 'the natives' from being seduced by alcohol or voting while under the influence? Would you breathalyse people at the door of the polling station? Drug test them? Check their recent emotional history to ensure they haven't been destabilised by recent life events?
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          Oct 28 2011: thats too far, not to mention expensive. just a one-off test.
  • Oct 27 2011: It's always easier to deny rights to someone based on some criteria when you're the one setting the criteria.
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      Oct 27 2011: well there will always be a criteria by which people can or can't vote. IntellegentDemocracy would make that criteria a case of proving your right to vote. i am not proposing taking away peoples right. just implementing a system (which would have to be introduced over a long period of time) whereby during your compulsory education you take a test proving your ability to make rational decisions and be aware of political systems and be educated to certain level of political understanding. the criteria would be very easy to meet. it would be no greater than compulsory high school education.
  • Nov 10 2011: Excellent idea! this will promote brain exercises et al
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    Nov 3 2011: the power will lie with the people who define intelligence... power corrupts.
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      Nov 4 2011: i think you lack faith in our political systems.
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        Nov 4 2011: which is a surprise, since our political systems work like a charm
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        Nov 4 2011: I lack faith in any institution of which you can lie and fail without admitting it, even when directly questioned and still have a job in the morning.
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    Nov 1 2011: .
    Not a good idea, because who's going to design this "test" and who's to decide what makes for an "intelligent" answer?

    I rather prefer a youngster with revolutionary ideas but who's dumb about current political Washingtonean dealings, than a status-quo loving teen who knows everything about the current political system.

    It's not a good idea, because "intelligence" can't be defined. So the basis of the idea is flawed.
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    Oct 31 2011: intelligent with an I Jak. So morality based on who's interpretation. Democracy is about the people. Jak - not the intelligent. By the people for the people. Not the intelligent people. Now if we are having intelligent voters i expect we must then certainly have intelligent politicians which of course may be the biggest hurdle of all. But you dont have to be intelligent to know you love the environment and want to vote Green.
    Hmmmm. The age limit is not placed there to discriminate against intelligence. Jak. The problem with your thinking Jak is that it is black and white. So much of life is shades of grey.
    So ok now we test them on morality and intelligence Geee. Jak we can almost turn out a political party to perfectly match your type of voter. your idea is doomed Jak. doooomed!!!!!!!!!!!
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      Oct 31 2011: you make the wrong assumption that absolute democracy is a good thing. in a world where everyone votes on everything we create societies where actions are based on mass opinion and not facts. a society run purely with a democratic system will not function or will function poorly. Intellegent democracy is for the people by the people who understand what it is they are voting for.

      the age limit is to discriminate who should and who should not vote. i believe age discrimination is wrong. and i am proposing an alternative. and any tests taken would not be based on opinion it would be a test of political understanding: understanding of how political systems work and how the political system of your country works. once you understand what voting actually means and how your vote makes a difference then you should be able to vote. not when you reach a certain age.
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        Nov 2 2011: Jak. we cant discriminate with intelligence. Freedom of choice is simply that. Your system determines a particular type of voter. You will create a rigid, elitist , system devoid of creativity. You will exclude all the creative artists i know that perhaps are not intelligent enough. but have a passion for what's right and fair. Now i will play your game for a minute, Howwill you assess the intelligence of every person when and as they meet your intelligence criteria. (which of course will need to be as broad as the policies if government .will they learn the test inevitably and then learn the correct answers according to whatever. This doesnt mean they are anymore intelligent. Remember you must administer these tests as well. Also you must test everyone regularly to make sure they havent fallen below the mark. Oh Joy! Let the ignorant vote i say Jak its usually only a two horse race, what does it matter? Your idea is too imperfect indeed more imperfect than the sytem you propose to change. Only the intelligent vote? intelligent politicians with social justice in their heart This is what we need. But then who am i to prescribe?
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          Nov 2 2011: you don't understand what i mean. you would need to reach an intelligence benchmark. it wouldn't be difficult for 90% of those who have finished high school. and if you pass you get to vote. similar to a driving test where after passing you gain the right to drive. and the test would test for political awareness not political view. it would not create a type of voter it would just make sure that people voting are aware of how their voting system actually works and what policies really mean.
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    Oct 31 2011: Oh I love this idea. Thankyou. And so for the ones never quite intelligent enough to vote - what happens to them. Year after year failing acceptance into the democracy. What happens these days with people with learning difficulties who might barely be physically ABLE TO PUT PENCIL TO PAPER LET ALONE intelligently choose their vote. Perhpas it would be the rich winding up getting the vote. Surely thwey are the intelligent ones? OH can you see the politcs now? Can you see the increase in poverty? Can you see the rich getting richer? Intelligence does not equate with morality. I'd prefer the moral vote rather than the intelligent one. I know some awfully awful rich people. Its ok how it is just leave it.
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      Oct 31 2011: the ones who are not intellegent enough to vote shouldnt! and like i've mentioned in other comments the test would not just be intellect based but also based on moral understanding too. i also strongly disagree that the rich are smarter. they are usually just smarter in a business sense.
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    Oct 30 2011: One of the landmark books I read in 2011, was "What Intelligence Tests Miss" by Keith Stanovich. One of his ideas, which I find very credible, is that if we found a drug that instantly raised everybody's IQ by 10 points, we would still be making most of the same mistakes tomorrow .... only we'd be making them a litle faster and a little more efficiently.

    That being said, you've got an interesting idea there. I recommend starting by figuring out what the test should be like, testing it out to see exactly who gets included and excluded. Or, you could set up a system where everybody's vote would be multiplied by their IQ points ... so that someone with an IQ of 50 would get 50 votes, and someone with an IQ of 150 would get 150 votes. I'm not sure the outcome of your election would improve enough to justify the extra expense and antagonism that the system would generate.....
  • Oct 29 2011: How many 10 year olds are actually smart enough to vote? They obviously are not adults yet.....
    In society we deem a certain age as being an adult and overnight able to choose and make decisions as an adult.
    We aren't born smart. For most of us we learn either via the world around us, via formal education and life lessons along the way. We all have varying capacity for learning and retaining what we have learned.
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    Oct 28 2011: Well how are we going to judge whether someone is smart enough to vote.
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      Oct 28 2011: it would be a test in schools.
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        Oct 28 2011: OK but what are you going to test. Critical thinking, history, economics, political knowledge. I agree that voters should be better informed I just don't know how it can be measured, and that the age 18 arbitrary , but it does make some sense in that it is for the most part when we as a culture gives you adult status. Also there are numerous other way youth can have political influence.
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          Oct 28 2011: it would be a whole host of things. the tests would be drawn up by people smarter and better informed than myself so i don't know exactly what they would be.
          and currently the age boundary is incredibly unfair.

          i am a 17 year old from the UK who pays taxes and has A level qualifications. i cannot vote.
          my mother works the same job as me and does less hours so pays less tax and has O Level education. she can vote.
          how is that fair?

          age discrimination is wrong, it is as wrong as racism and sexism. but discrimination through intelligence is justified, those who know more can do more as a result of knowing things. the more qualified get the jobs. also physical ability can (only rarely) be a form of discrimination. the wheelchair-bound for example, cannot fix roofs!

          we need to rid the world of age discrimination. and starting by allow the vote at an intellectual point not a random culture driven age mark will help to do this!
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        Oct 28 2011: Well it does differ in one way as it is temporary. 18 may be a bit long for some to wait, but would you have no age limits. Would an intelligent 5 year old voting be a good thing, or would that no matter how intelligent he is be just an extra vote for a legal guardian since they would have a huge influence over them. My other issue is although I think we need better informed voters, I think it would be all too easy to manipulate the test so people of whatever political persuasion would fail. Either that or they would be so broad as to allow anyone to pass and then all you have done is created another level of red tape between the voter and the booth. Now if you want to lower the voting age by a couple of years so you could vote. I would have no problem with that as if any 16 year old wants to vote they most likely have enough maturity to do so and at that age they have enough independence from there parents.
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          Oct 29 2011: im saying get rid of age boundaries all together. a ridiculously intelligent 5 year old may pass but a ridiculously dumb 20 year old may not. so it will average out! and if such a child existed they would likely be independent enough to make their own choice.

          the test would have to be monitored very closely i agree. it wont be a test of political opinion it would be a test of political awareness.

          i don't agree with lowering the voting age. age discrimination is wrong. just scrap the age boundary and set up an intelligence boundary.
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        Oct 29 2011: Well I really doubt any test that could stop people from voting would remain neutral in nature or would not be subjected to being tampered with. that said there are all sorts of age restrictions in society, so why are you picking this one act. You can't get married, buy a drink, join the military, or even see a R rated movie. There are many jobs you will not be hired for, and you still need a legal guardian to sign contracts. Do you feel there is any case to be made for age discrimination.
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    Oct 28 2011: The BBC has the remit to maintain a balance across political parties in its presentation but over the past few years there have been several occasions when it failed to meet that obligation and had to redress the balance in response to objections from members of the public.

    Basic knowledge of politics - this is a bit like basic knowledge of technology - the bureaucracy involved in setting exams mean that the material being tested tends to lag quite some way behind real life. And it's a feature of bureacracies that they tend to favour the status quo, so any bureaucratic tests favour conformity at theexpense of change.

    You just have to look at the type of questions in the UK citizenship test to see how a bureaucratic test focuses on things which have very little relevance. While it may be of academic interest, what is the everyday use of knowing why the Huguenots came to the UK, or who provides social housing in Ireland, or the statistics of historical immigration, or how long ago women were allowed to sue for divorce, how much it costs to visit Parliament, the reason Boxing Day got its name, the changing statistics of who does what in the home, whether media stories are 100% true.

    These are all questions in the citizenship test. The ability to regurgitate this sort of fact is no measure of anyone's ability to cope with everyday life in the UK. That's the reality of tests defined by bureaucrats - they are not meaningful. A test like this would do nothing to ensure effective involvement in the political process.
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      Oct 28 2011: it's not so much about involvement than it is about awareness.
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    Oct 28 2011: Having youth voice in the policy debate is a good thing. How to get it there is another question. During the Viet Nam War young men were drafted to fight and die for a country in which they were not permitted to vote.
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      Oct 28 2011: well im sure with publicity there would grow support for this system.
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    Oct 28 2011: ok lady! you have solid points regarding your idea. first this can be applied only in 100% literate society. 2nd what should be the criteria of casting vote i mean before any election certain kind of exam may be conducted in order to know who is eligible or whose not. i really appreciate in one case that through this process one may easily find good and relevant candidate s instead of weak one. in democracy persons are counting, not their brain. so many illiterate and ignorant men can bring one fool to lead them. and you can not raise any objection due to process of democracy. in certain time an intelligent even can not decide what is good or what is bed? i really support your objection regarding race , culture, religion, but definitely age is something else. certain biological changes reflects your haste decision. in my mother tongue (Pashtu widely spoken language in Pakistan and national language of Afghanistan, also in Iran India, and UAE) we have one motto which says that " intellect is in your brain not in your age" but the question also rises intellect, intelligence are important but what about age related experience.
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      Oct 28 2011: i get that wisdom and intellect are two very different things but i do believe that both can be quantified, at least, to some extent and the tests would be modelled to test ones maturity.
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    Oct 28 2011: QUOTE: "If I would suggest that ten year olds should be able to vote an obvious response would be 'ten year olds aren't smart enough to vote." So, it's intellect, not age! "

    That is not such an obvious response because many ten year olds are smarter than, for example, most of their teachers (they are "intellectually superior.") The issue is one of experience and understanding, not intelligence. It is unlikely a ten year old would have the experience or understanding required to cast a meaningful vote. Of course, the same could be said of many adults, but that's another story!

    Personally, I think it would be too complicated to administer and, when we get enough people voting, things tend to "balance out."
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    Oct 28 2011: Are we talking people with real mental disabilities or people who are just mentally unable to make rational decisions (we all know people like this).

    Because if the latter, then who is making that judgement?
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      Oct 28 2011: mentally unable to make rational decisions; that would be determined through a doctors and psychiatrist analysis.
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    Oct 28 2011: "IntelligentDemocracy" sounds like an oxymoron to me.

    But then, I would set the bar at about 140 IQ points, and really narrow things down.
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      Oct 28 2011: Today it does sound like an oxymoron but there is no real reason why it should always do so.
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        Oct 29 2011: Personally, I'd make the test a stress test and flunk anyone throwing a tantrum.

        I'd take maturity and rational decision making (something teens aren't particularly noted for) over straight intelligence.
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          Oct 29 2011: well the test would be a variety of things
  • Oct 28 2011: It´s like going back 2000 years.
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      Oct 28 2011: how so? (im no good with history)
  • Oct 28 2011: The test would be very difficult to create. Political knowledge does not imply knowledge of law, economics, culture, social realities, environmental needs, etc. etc. Political knowledge may be the least important knowledge in creating more healthy society, countries, and governments. Perhaps a very well designed test of emotional intelligence or even a certificate of citizenship competence (like driver's licensing) might be more helpful "tests" of the right to vote. However, if we expect people to pay for government and obey its laws, it seems strange to require any test. You earn the right to drive, but you don't "earn" the right to be a citizen - at least not in the modern sense of democracy.
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      Oct 28 2011: consider it proving your ability to vote like you have to prove your ability to drive. the base line set would be a test of emotional intelligent and awareness of decision making among other things. but i expect that people much smarter than me will be making the test.
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    Oct 27 2011: This might fly for non-Americans.

    But I am pretty sure this idea would be seen as discriminating in the eyes of the average American.

    Though I do agree, there are some rather silly voters out there, whom I wish didn't vote...
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      Oct 27 2011: this is the kind of system i could see Switzerland making. they are a very intellectually based people that value knowledge over all else! (except, perhaps watches)
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        Oct 28 2011: yeah haha, hopefully one day everyone can be considered intelligent enough to make a conscious vote.
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    Oct 27 2011: Is it intellect or is it capacity for responsibility? Can a ten year old take moral responsibility for the impact of their choices on the wider world when they haven't had the opportunity or the education to make a rational assessment of the impact?

    OK, there are some very mature youngsters and some very immature adults, but if we try going down the route of trying to assess capactity for responsibility, who does the assessing and how are they themselves assessed? The advantage of setting an age limit is that it is dispassionate.
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      Oct 27 2011: it would be a test of knowledge (intellect, reponsibility, awareness of actions and awareness of the impact of political views and what happens if political views are biased, fixed influenced unlawfully or taken away). it would not just be a case of sitting for a test. there will be education that accompanies the test and our levels of care and responsibility can be to some extent measure in a test. but a test, even one that measured responsibility a little would be better than assuming every 18year old is responsible.

      it would be operated in the same way that the BBC keeps itself unbiased. it would not favour one view over another and any political references will be balanced. it would be monitored by an external company much in the same way exams are monitored.

      a knowledge boundary would promote education and make people prove they deserve the right to vote, rather than handing it away to everyone and assuming they are intelligent and morally aware. it would also encourage people to be politically active rather than just agreeing with their peers.
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        Oct 27 2011: But that is a bureaucratic solution, and there is a lot of evidence to indicate that bureaucratic solutions rarely achieve the objective they are set up for - and it is regularly suggested that the BBC's system fails to keep it unbiased. Using external commercial firms to monitor standards tends to result in quality being measured by adherence to process rather than demonstrable effectiveness. It also results in the taxpayer paying for another layer of bureaucracy.

        You also raise a lot of questions. Would it be acceptable to have a system which downplayed the views of the less intelligent? Would you disenfranchise stroke victims who lost the ability to talk and write? Would you penalise those who are, at a point in time, satisfied with the status quo so see no need to be active? Would you disenfranchise those whose time is spent on earning a living / caring for dependents, because they do not have the time to be politically active? What does 'politically active' mean? Would there be a list of approved activities?
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          Oct 27 2011: the BBC has incredible unbias when it comes to politics. sometimes they mess up with bias views in wars. (the side the UK is against usually are portrayed negatively) but as far as political opinion goes no system rivals the unbias and constant over-watch the BBC has.

          this test would be relatively easy for 99% of people who can already vote. it would test basic knowledge (common sense) of politics and rational decision. also, like current exams it would facilitate those with physical disability. but what it tests for is a very basic mental capacity. perhaps politically active was the wrong word. politically aware is closer to what i mean.
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    Oct 27 2011: my take on the issue: children should have one vote from the day of birth. for infants, parents vote. at a certain point of time, the child gets the right to vote for him/herself. the only problem is how do decide that time.

    my proposition: the child decides. as soon as anyone shows up in the office, and registers hi/herself as a voter, the parents' voting rights are revoked, and the child can vote as (s)he pleases from that time. this is not reversible.

    and yes, if it happens ate age 6, because the kid gets angry at his mother for not getting ice cream, that is OK to me. it is not any different than uneducated idiots voting.
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      Oct 27 2011: 'children should have one vote from the day of birth. for infants, parents vote. at a certain point of time, the child gets the right to vote for him/herself. the only problem is how do decide that time.'

      rather than it being a arbitrary time figure. after they have proven, through the test i described in my idea, that they are smart enough to vote then their vote gets transferred to them from their parents.

      then you have no 'uneducated idiots voting. '

      also with you idea what about ophans or those in foster homes? who would vote on behalf of them?

      i would also argue that the political interest of a parent is not always the same as the best interests of a child. this would work if people would vote once in the best interest of themselves then again in the best interest of their child. but it is more likely that people would just vote twice (or more) for themselves.

      perhaps open a debate on this?
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      Oct 28 2011: How come you are so negative ?
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    Oct 27 2011: i have no idea how this could ever be implemented or even pitched to anyone?
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    Oct 27 2011: I agree! If IQ and EQ is used. Or maybe an exam to proof you know what the parties stand for. Nothing too difficult but at least it forces to show that can think about these things.
    Too many people vote for the same thing just because their peers / parents tell them it's the right thing to do and have no real feeling one why or another. Plus if it's made tough then maybe more people will vote because now you worked for that right.
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      Oct 27 2011: im thinking US 10th grade, B+ intellect but no age boundaries on when you take the test.

      it promotes political interest as you have to prove your right to vote rather than just being handed it.
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      Oct 28 2011: Mabe this should be a mandatory class to take in school but not with taking away the right to vote. Can you imagine the out cry if we did that ?
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        Oct 28 2011: Oh now it's getting scary. Who says a teachers won't dictate their point of view to the children. Unless it's all on eLearning and impartial.