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any cbange in tbe structure or function of our departments and of tbe Western Speedi Association itself furtber this end and tbese means ?

It is not my place to answer tbese questions. I am not a department chairman,

and I am only a powerless, democratic president of the WSA; but tbese questions must be answered, and tbey must be answered not from political or financial considerations but from a consideration of the needs of students! Tbe blueprints for curricula and for departmental and associational organization must pass inspec- tion just as tbe calibre of our teacbing and our professional activities must pass inspection. The inspection will come, and I believe that it will come soon. I have chosen as my subject tbe prime end of our profession and the means to readi this end. Wbat ends we cboose and what means we use cballenge the present and will dedde the future. This is a challenge more important tban any otber facing our Association, for it is a challenge to ourselves as individuals; and tbe WSA can be no greater tban we as individual teachers and learners can make it.

I bave chosen as my tbeme tbe construction of a symbolic tower dedicated

to articulate, communicative, and expressive man. Tbis tower is presently being constructed by teachers of speech, working at many levels and over many areas and possessing different skills and different temperaments, under the assumption that sudi a tower would be more effective tban a smaller one erected at fewer levels and over fewer areas by workers of similar skills and temperaments. The assumption may be wrong. Our blueprints may need to be revised to cut, add, or recombine levels, areas, and types of workers. I am not so much concerned about our design, however, as I am about our dedication. If our end is not false we will, I trust, see to it tbat our means are not faulty. Tbe question may now be put; when we liken the Western Speech Association to tbe Tower of Babel, may we truiy say tbat sudi is not tbe fact but only a fable ?

The Rhetoric of Demagoguery

CHARLES W .

LOMAS*

I N JUNE, 1876, a United States Congressman rose on tbe floor of tbe House to defend himself against cbarges of corruption. At tbe outset of his speedi, bis etbical standing was low. He bad been accused of profiting from the sale of securities to the Union Pacific Railroad, a company often affected by legislation originating in tbe House. James Mulligan, a clerk in tbe Boston business firm from wbicb tbe Congressman bad first secured the stock in question, reported to tbe committee investigating the affair tbat he bad in bis possession letters impli- cating tbe Congressman in dubious transactions. Tbe Congressman sought out

* Mr. Lomas is an Associate Professor of Speech at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Mulligan before he had presented the letters to the committee and obtained cus- tody of them overnight, promising to return them in the morning. Ignoring his pledged word, the Congressman appeared the next day on the floor of the House and denounced Mulligan for wrongful possession of the letters. He refused to return them. Instead, he dramatically read them to the House, interlarding them with his own comments to make them appear harmless. At the conclusion of his speech, he strode belligerently to the desk of the chairman of the investigating committee and charged the chairman with deliberately vifithholding a telegram favorable to him. As he went over to the offensive, the galleries forgot the serious nature of the evidence against him, and broke into a roar of applause.^ History has not vindicated James G. Blaine in the affair of the Mulligan let- ters in spite of his victory of the moment. Although Blaine is not usually thought of as a demagogue, few would deny that on this occasion he descended to dema- goguery. Certainly his speech was a masterpiece of deception and half-truth. To the rhetorical critic, therefore, the Mulligan affair poses a fundamental ques- tion in the ethics of rhetoric: How may we identify and combat demagoguery when it arises in respectable quartets? Indeed, how can we recognize it at all when it is practiced by supposedly responsible leaders with whose basic tenets we agree? "What is demagoguery ? The historical origins of the word are of little help, for to the Greeks a demagogue was simply a leader of the people in the popular assembly. In its earliest usage the word had little or no negative connotation. Nor is loose popular usage of mudi value, for in the heat of a political cam- paign demagoguery frequently means nothing more precise than an effective speech by a political opponent. Let us hazard a more exact definition. Dema- goguery may be described as the process by which skillful speakers and writers seek to influence public opinion by employing the traditional tools of rhetoric with complete indifference to truth. In addition, although demagoguery does not necessarily seek ends contrary to the public interest, its primary motivation is personal gain.^ In making this definition, we need not posit an absolute truth; by "truth" we mean rather the desire of the speaker to state and interpret facts objectively. The practitioner of demagoguery may be indifferent to truth because he is too ignorant to find it, because his prejudices prevent him from distinguish- ing between his own and the public interest, or because he maliciously distorts the truth to gain his own ends. To implement his disregard for truth, the practi- tioner of demagoguery unfortunately employs the same methods used by any other

1 Congressional Record, IV (June 5, 1876), 3602-3608. ^ A typical dictionary defines a demagogue as "One skilled in arousing the prejudices and passions of the populace by rhetoric, sensational charges, specious arguments, catchwords, cajol- ery, etc.; especially a political speaker or leader who seeks thus to make capital of sociai dis- cotitent and incite the populace usually in the name of some popular cause, in order to gain political influence or office." Webster's New International Dictionary oj the English Language, 2nd ed., (Springfield, 1955), p. 694. Our analysis is based in part on graduate papers submitted by Harry Ebeling, Martha Jean Ottina, and Paul Rosenthal.

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skillful speaker. Rather than inventing new demagogic techniques, he distorts rhetorical devices taught by rhetoricians, practiced by orators, and praised by rhetorical critics from ancient times to the present day. Hence if the rhetorician is to avoid being classed with the demagogue, he must learn to identify and con- demn demagoguery wherever it appears. In this analysis we have used the term "practitioner of demagoguery" rather than "demagogue." An intelligent observer does not need special advice to rec- ognize the habitual demagogue, for the twisting of truth is the demagogue's whole rhetorical method. There were plenty of easily recognizable demagogues in James G. Blaine's lifetime. Within two years after the Mulligan affair Dennis Kearney was terrorizing San Francisco with wildly irresponsible and inflammatory speeches to mobs of destitute workingmen.^ It was the demagogic speeches of Qiicago's Haymarket anarchists rather than proven murder which sent them to the gallows, for no evidence ever connected them with the bombing of which they were accused.* In the eighties the age of the Southern racist demagogues had begun, with wild speeches appealing to ignorance and fear.^ In the nineties the elements of demagoguery were easily recognizable in the speeches of "Bloody Bridles" Waite and Mary "Yellin" Lease." The damage done by these dema- gogues is easy to observe and isolate; and it, therefore, is easy to combat. None of these demagogues attained national power, and to some extent their speeches called attention to fundamental evils in the economic and social system to which wiser men soon turned their attention.'

Here, however, we are not interested in demagogues, but in demagoguery. Demagoguery of a more subtle kind may be practiced not by recognizable dema- gogues, but by men like Blaine who are generally regarded as responsible polit- ical leaders. The habitual demagogue may make distortion of truth by the twisting of acceptable rhetorical methods a way of life. With the occasional practitioner of demagoguery the distortion is less obvious. Because his methods resemble acceptable rhetorical modes and are intermingled with legitimate de- vices, they are often unrecognizable even to the discriminating listener. If the listener agrees with the speaker's stated views, the distortion is almost certain to escape unnoticed. It may be of value, therefore, to examine a selected group of rhetorical skills, and note how demagogues misuse them without regard to the truth of the assertions they make. From this basis we may observe how dema- goguery may appear in the speeches of more reputable leaders either by ignor-

3 Charles W. Lomas, "Dennis Kearney: Case Study in Demagoguery," QJS, XVI (Oct.

1955), 234-242. * Joseph R. Buchanan, The Story of a Labor Agitator (New York, 1903), pp. 373-426; Gerald W. Johnson, The Lunatic Fringe (New York, 1957), pp. 192-201.

' Reinhard Luthin, "Flowering of the Southern Demagogue," The American Scholar, XX

(April 1951), 185-195. ^ The standard work on the populist agitation is John D. Hicks, The Populist Revolt (Minneapolis, 1931).

' Charles W. Lomas, "The Agitator in American Politics," WS, XXIV (Spring 1960), 76-83.

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ance or design. Perhaps this will help the intelligent listener to recognize demagoguery even in the speeches of those with whom he agrees.

From the earliest days of rhetoric, a fundamental virtue of good speaking has been to express ideas clearly and simply. Say "just so much as will make matters plain," said Aristotle.* Whately echoed the same sentiment centuries

later: "Language which is not

purpose for which language is employed."* And Beecher told young preachers at Yale to use "vernacular words and home-bred idioms."" Simplicity and dear- ness are similarly praised in every contemporary textbook in public speaking. Indeed, at first glance it would seem that here is one rhetorical virtue which would hardly be suited to demagogic distortion; yet it is a favorite tool of demagoguety. The demagogue also believes in simplicity, but he carries it to absurdity; he oversimplifies and, as a result, his audiences understand him well. He seems to be stating merely the obvious, but in reality he is substituting prej- udice and half-truth for fact. It was easy for Dennis Kearney to attribute all the ills of San Francisco workingmen in the lS70's to the presence in California of wicked bankers and railroad barons who had displaced honest workingmen with hordes of coolies. To his listeners it was obviously true, for the Chinese were there and the tycoons were unmistakably rich. Tom Heflin in 1928 declared that the Catholic hierarchy of the entire world was engaged in a gigantic plot to put Al Smith in the White House in order to embroil the United States in a war with Mexico, and this would somehow restore Catholic domination of that country. It was a fantastic charge, but it was put together with such disarming simplicity that it was readily accepted in the hills of Alabama.'^^ In much the same way Huey Long could win votes by speaking in the homespun language of back country Louisiana and by proposing to "share the wealth" of the country among all of the people. In a gross oversimplification, he treated wealth as if it consisted of idle dollars in the bank, requiring only simple arithmetic to secure an equitable distribution.^^ It was clear to many of Joseph McCarthy's listeners that only the presence of Communist traitors in high places could explain the rapid technical progress of the ignorant Russians. The grain of truth iu a bushel of charges did not make the post hoc fallacy any less attractive to unthinking listeners. It is an unfortunate fact that one of the greatest weapons of the dem- agogue is that of finding a simple, plausible half-truth, of phrasing it in plain language, and of offering it as the perfect answer to perplexing problems which honest men are unable to solve.

Unfortunately for intelligent discussion of public issues the practice of oversim- plification is not limited to demagogues. It was hardly fair to blame all the ills of

clearly and readily intelligible fails

of the

^Lane Cooper, The Rhetoric of Aristotle

(New York, 1932), p. 229.

^Richard Whateley, Elements of Rhetoric (New York, 1869), p. 300. 10 H. W. Beecher, Yale Lectures on Preaching (New York, 1872), p. 230. ^'>-Congressiond Record, LXIX (1928), 1649-1665. ^^ Forrest Davis, Huey Long, A Candid Biography (New York, 1935), pp. 305-307.

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1948 on Congress, but Harr}' Truman made it stick with his oft-repeated phrase,

"that good-for-nothing Eightieth Congress." In the perspective of the years, Lincoln's charge that a conspiracy among Douglas, Buchanan, and Taney sought

to force slavery on Kansas seems greatly oversimplified.''^ It has not required so long a time to reveal the absurd oversimplification of Dwight Eisenhower's

1952 campaign promise to solve the problem of cofnmunism in the Far East by

"unleashing Chiang Kai Shek." There is hardly a political speaker who has not at some time carried simplicity and clarity into the demagogic device of over- simplification. Sometimes such a speaker is honestly self-deceived or grossly misinformed; at other times he may yield to the temptation to win unthinking support by indulging in demagoguery. In either case, truth is obscured and intel- ligent discussion is made difficult.

Every textbook in argumentation and every treatise on rhetoric has empha- sized that a speaker must learn to use factual material in support of generaliza-

tions. Although Aristotle deals with evidence (non-artistic proofs) only briefly,

a long line of textbooks in argumentation and generations of college debating

have made the use of objective data a primary test of good argumentative speak- ing. Examples, statistics, the testimony of witnesses, and other factual materials are the foiindation for logical sttucture in an honest and effective argumentative

speech. Yet, as every debater knows, "Eigures don't lie, but liars do figure." The citation of "facts" is no guarantee of either their accuracy or their interpre- tation. Knowing this, McCarthy used the irresponsible debater's trick of waving

a sheaf of papers before his audience, pointing to a fat briefcase, or holding up

a meaningless photograph as proof of a point. ^* In much the same way Aimee McPherson demonstrated that demagoguery could be used in a sermon as she cited her observation of fossils in the Grand Canyon as double proof of the reality of Noah's flood and the falsity of the theory of evolution." The dem- agogue makes facts an end in themselves and seeks to impress or even overwhelm his audience with a mass of data without bothering to show its accuracy, its relevance, or the validity of the inference drawn from it.

With McCarthy the misuse of facts was the primary rhetorical method, but more respectable speakers indulge in the same vice. In the Nixon-Kennedy debates, for example, who in the audience could tell which set of facts or which interpretation of the facts dealing with "gross national product" or "rate of economic growth" made sense? Certainly neither speaker gave any substantial aid to serious inquiry by members of the audience. Rather, both seemed to be trying to overwhelm the opposition and the audience with a mass of undigested

^^ Speech at Springfield, June 16, 1858, on his nomination to the Senate. Julian Hawthorne (ed.). Orations of American Orators (New York, 1900), v. 2, 217-224. ' * For a typical example see speech reported in the New York Times, Oct. 28, 1952. See also J. Anderson and R. W. May, MeCarthy: The Man, the Senator, the "Ism" (Boston, 1952), p. 207. ^^ Frotn a sermon, "The Rains Came," recorded during delivery at Angelus Temple, 1939.

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data. Similarly Blaine, in the matter of the Mulligan letters, had ample factual material and displayed it impressively, but in the process truth was obscured rather than revealed. Richard Nixon's famous "pink sheet," comparing the vot-

ing records of Vito Marcantonio and Helen Gahagan Douglas, was a telling mass of statistics, but what it told impaired rather than assisted intelligent judgment.

It is clear that in these cases demagoguery was not limited to the demagogue.

One of Aristotle s three modes of persuasion was pathetic appeal, the arousal of emotional reactions. A large part of the Rhetoric is devoted to advice on emotional persuasion, and this emphasis was echoed by Cicero and Quintilian. Bishop Whately, like Aristotle, devoted an entire section of his Elements of Rhetoric to "The Address to the Will." George Campbell declared, "To say,

that it is possible to persuade without speaking to the passions, is but, at best,

a kind of specious nonsense."^" While contemporary writers have tended to

minimize pathetic argument, no one denies that few men are persuaded without being made to feel as well as to think that a course of action is desirable. Con- temporary insistence on the unity of the persuasive process merely has made it apparent that logic and pathos are inseparable. The demagogue, however, tends

to emphasize emotional reactions at the expense of thought. Indeed, he not only

ignores, but deliberately tries to prevent rational consideration of ideas opposed

to his own. He plays upon traditional fears and utilizes words which evoke conditioned emotional responses. At best he engages in a pseudo-reasoning process designed to stir up fear and hate and prevent rational discussion at all cost. Since the 187O's the South has been afflicted by hundreds of such dem- agogues, determined to prevent intelligent examination of the race problem. In a similar way Kearney turned the fear of poverty stricken San Francisco workingmen into hatred for the Chinese, and James Curley turned Catholic fear of the Ku Klux Klan into a political asset in Irish Boston.^'i' It is perhaps the crowning absurdity that Big Bill Thompson was able to perpetuate a corrupt political machine in Chicago by belaboring King George in the 192O's, when not even the shadow of a real grievance existed.^*

As with other rhetorical devices, however, the substitution of emotional re- sponse for reasoning is not the sole province of the habitual demagogue. Perhaps some would class Bryan as a demagogue. If so, it was, no doubt, by ignorance rather than design, for Bryan's strong Puritan morality would not have allowed him to deceive intentionally. Yet his "Cross of Gold" speech contains little logical reasoning or factual evidence. Rather it is an emotional appeal to the fears and prejudices of rural Americans, who felt they were being oppressed by the great financial interests. Similarly Franklin Roosevelt, in his speech to the Teamsters' Union in 1944, largely sidetracked the use of reason in favor of appeal to the

10 George Campbell, Philosophy of Rhetoric, new ed. (New York, 1885), p. 99.

^^ Reinhard Luthin, American

'* Dixon Ryan Fox, "Mayor Thompson and the American Revolution," Contemporary Re-

Demagogues

(Boston,

1954), p. 29.

view, CXXXIV (Nov. 1928), 600-607.

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prejudices of his audience. In bis debates with Kennedy, Nixon commented on a profane remark by former President Truman with a highly colored appeal to the innocence of motbers and cbildren in tbe political audience. Tbe remarks bad notbing to do witb the relative merits of tbe two candidates for higb office and were largely irrelevant even to tbe question to wbicb they were responding. In eacb case it is evident tbat speakers of ethical repute were utilizing in at least portions of tbeir speeches tbe same methods wbicb cbaracterize tbe obvious demagogues. We could list many otber devices witb similar parallels. Tbe rbetorician praises •vivid and colorful language to bold the attention of audiences. The dem- agogue overloads bis speeches witb evocative words. Kearney on one occasion was reported to bave used tbirty-seven name-calling words in succession.^" Till- man derived bis nickname of "Pitchfork Ben" from a promise to go to Wash- ington and "stick a pitcbfork into Grover's old fat sides."'^^ Mary ""Vellin" Lease advised farmers to "raise less corn and more hell." Among more respon- sible speakers Charles Sumner used tbe word "swindle" eleven times in one paragrapb.2^ Truman bas been known to overload a phrase or two wben be was referring to his political opponents. And Republican orators in 1956 campaigned on tbe heavily loaded and misleading slogan, "Everytbing's booming but the guns." Rhetoricians bave long accepted bumor, satire, and irony as legitimate devices to sbarpen ideas developed logically. Demagogues substitute tbese devices for logical structure. Among responsible orators Roosevelt and Stevenson botb occasionally used humor witbout a logical base. And even so prosaic a speaker as Herbert Hoover was persuaded by bis ghost writers in 1936 to substitute bumor for logic in his attacks on tbe New Deal.^'^ Similarly negative etbical persuasion may become mere name calling, figurative analogies may become sub- stitutes for argument instead of mere clarifying devices, rbetorical syllogisms may become devices for concealing false premises, and meaningless quotations may become substitutes for legitimate argument from authority. Indeed, any of tbe devices of rbetoric may be misused in tbe interests of demagogic distortion of tbe truth.

Tbis unfortunate kinsbip of rbetoric and demagoguery inevitably subjects both public speakers and teachers of rbetoric to serious criticism. Tbe leaders of San Francisco's vigilance committee in 1856 were so convinced of the rascality of lawyers and public speakers tbat tbey barred attorneys from membersbip on tbe committee and forbade amateur counsel for tbe defendants before tbe com-

Francisco Call, Sept. 3, 1879. 2" Tillman constantly "aimed at the 'baser' emotions of fear, anger, contempt and hate.

Audiences were prodded with emotionally toned words, epithets and figures of speech." Lind- sey S. Perkins, "Th e Oratory of Benjamin Ryan Tillman," SM, XV (1948), 1-18.

21 S. B. Harding, Select Orations Illustrating American Political History (New York, 1930),

p. 297.

22 For a typical example see speech to Republican Women of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,

May 14, 1936. Vital Speeches. II (June I, 1936), 555-559.

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mittee to make speecbes in comment on the evidence.^^ Rbetoric bas been under fire from tbe bour of its inception. Tbe writings of Plato and tbe plays of tbe Greek poets bave fostered suspicion of tbe art tbat bas persisted tbrougbout his- tory. Rhetoricians take refuge in Aristotle's reply. Natural eloquence, be argued, is not enougbt to insure tbe victory of trutb and justice. Nevertbeless a just case skillfully presented will triumph, and those who lose to injustice bave only tbem- selves to blame for their neglect of the art of rhetoric. Moreover, "if it is urged tbat an abuse of tbe rbetorical faculty can work great miscbief, tbe same cbarge can be brougbt against all good tbings (save virtue itself), and especially against tbe most useful tbings, sucb as strengtb, bealtb, wealtb, and military skill. Rightly employed, tbey work the greatest blessings; and wrongly employed, tbey work tbe greatest barm."^* Aristotle's defense is comforting to the teacber of speecb, but it also bas important implications. If indeed the art of rhetoric is amoral, open to saints and rascals alike, does not tbe teacher of speech bave some obligation to encour- age its ethical use? Perbaps Plato's caricatured rbetoricians were presumptuous in considering tbemselves practical teacbets of trutb and justice, but is it too much to expect that within tbeir own realm of speecb making, teachers of speecb sbould demand rigid adberence to standards of logic and factual accuracy? Bri- gance has suggested tbat every student speech sbould contain accurate and sig- nificant information, significant and thought provoking ideas, and responsible assertions.2= Given tbese, there can be little objection to holding attention and stimulating feeling through judicious use of rbetorical devices. On tbe otber band if tbe speaker is indifferent to truth, skillful rhetoric is almost certain to degenerate into demagoguery. A second implication of Aristotle's defense of rbetoric is tbat students sbould learn to protect tbemselves against the misuse of rbetoric by speakers to wbom tbey listen. It is not enougb for students to sit quietly in class and listen to instructors commenting on speecbes. Active criticism of all aspects of speaking is an important part of speecb training. It is frivolous for an instructor to permit student comment to concentrate exclusively on posture, gesture, voice, or eye contact, important as tbese are in speaking skill. In addition there sbould be active and vigorous discussion of the adequacy of idea and support, of logic as well as of language. Moreover, sucb criticism should extend beyond tbe class- room. Political campaign years can be especially useful laboratories for tbe study of rhetoric and demagoguery. For example, tbe instructor may conduct a gen- eral discussion of tbe relationsbip between rbetorical skill and demagogic use of that skill, citing historical examples as we hive done. Students may then be

28 Charles W.

Lomas, "The Orator and tbe Vigilante in San Francisco, 1856," SM, XXI,

I, (1954), 46-58. 2* Cooper, op. cit., pp. 5-6.

2^ W. N. Brigance, "Demagogues, 'Good' People, and Teachers of Speech," ST. I (Sept.

1952),

157-162.

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asked to listen to political speeches and seek to identify the same types of dem- After a second class discussion in which most of the students will

agoguery. cite examples from the speeches of politicians whom they oppose, they may be assigned the task of finding examples exclusively in the speeches of their polit- ical favorites. Inevitably such an exercise invites thoughtful scrutiny of political speaking. It is clear, then, that demagoguery is an art practiced not only by recognized demagogues, but by other speakers as well. Its mark is a departure from fact and logic by the twisting of acceptable rhetorical devices so that truth is obscured. The kinship between rhetoric and demagoguery imposes obligations upon the teacher of speech to demand ethical use of facts to support intelligently conceived ideas. It also suggests that the teacher may make an important contribution to the education of his students by teaching them how to protect themselves against demagoguery even when it is practiced by those with whom they agree.

Rhetoric: A Pedagogic Definition

WALTER

FISHER*

E, ' NCYCLOPEDIC and philosophic definitions of rhetoric are inadequate, we believe, in at least two ways. First, they do not suggest the evolution and devel- opment of rhetoric in the field of speech since our separation from English De- partments in the early part of this century. And, second, they do not correspond

or relate rhetoric to speech curricula or to speech departmental organization. A

pedagogic view of rhetoric, however, would do these two things; and we propose

a definition of rhetoric in accord with this view. In so defining rhetoric an

attempt is made to utilize both its philosophic and its encyclopedic meanings and

to outline those things to which rhetoric refers or relates in the field of speech.

From this perspective, rhetoric has five general aspects. First, rhetoric refers to the practice and principles of oral and written dis- course. In this sense of rhetoric, beginning courses in speech and English are within its scope, and it is not uncommon to find basic courses in these areas titled "Rhetoric I." And, repugnant as it may be to some, tinder this classification fundamentals textbooks in speech are textbooks in rhetoric. Authors of English composition textbooks, too, often use the term in their titles, as Brooks and War- ren's Modern Rhetoric and Connolly's A Rhetoric Case Book. An interesting sidelight of this particular aspect is that writers of English textbooks use rhetoric in their titles because they understand rhetoric to mean the arts of language

• Mr. Fisher is an Assistant Professor of Speech at the Los Angeles State College.

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