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The difference between marijuana and rape

Every now and then this ridiculous argument shows up in some serious-sounding piece about legalization and it’s important that a stake be put through its heart before it breeds more stupidity. This time, it showed up in Mamon McKinnon’s Drug Legalization Chic, which I mentioned a few days ago.

“…If the war against drugs is lost, then so are the wars against theft, speeding, incest, fraud, rape, murder, arson, and illegal parking. Few, if any, such wars are winnable. So let us all do anything we choose…”

This is, certainly, nonsense of the most outrageous kind, and it takes a special kind of dementia to see any logic therein.

Of course, the glib sarcastic response is “If you don’t know the difference between marijuana and rape, you won’t get invited to any of the good parties.”

In comments, Old Soldier took a stab at setting people straight:

Rape has a victim. Smoking hemp doesn’t.

In the true sense of the meaning, absolutely right. But unfortunately, this argument gets us nowhere, because there’s always some git like David W who moronically replies:

Tell that to the children? In Dallas Police were called to an apartment. It was full of pot smoke, and there were little children in there. One woman who was smoking was holding her toddler in her arms. What kind of life does that child have to look forward to, even if they some how remain healthy?? How about the organization I belonged to that had it bank account wiped out because our treasurer was a “recovering” addict and stole the money to finance her habit? Or my uncle who abandoned his family (granted, he started on pot when young but had graduated to heroin when he abandoned his wife and two children). No victims my foot.

Completely sidetracked. Mention victimless “crimes” and you’ll always get someone who thinks that secondary victimization is the same thing. And we’ve completely moved away from the topic of legalization. Dave W’s pathetic stories have nothing to do with drug legalization. In fact, they all apparently happened under criminalization. No value to the discussion at hand in any way.

Fact is, the real difference between marijuana and rape (when it comes to the discussion of eliminating criminal penalties) is… economics. Supply and demand.

As long as there is a demand for drugs, there will be a supply. Putting people in jail for selling drugs doesn’t do any good at all, because there’s still a demand, so someone else will step right up and fill the vacancy. That’s why criminal drug laws are always failures, as are interdiction and all other supply-side efforts.

There is no demand for rape.

Whey you arrest and incarcerate a rapist, you take a rapist off the street and make the place safer. Nobody steps up to take their place. There’s no lucrative job opening as rapist to handle the non-existent demand from all the people out there wanting to be raped.

Marijuana and rape are different.

The failure to understand such basic economic principles is just one of the things that makes our legislative output so utterly mindbogglingly stupid.

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58 comments to The difference between marijuana and rape

  • Leon

    Very good argumentation.

    Off topic:
    Now in a local “news”paper I read that when cannabis had about 4% of thc it was a harmless drug, but now that, with additives, it is “even possible to reach a percentage beyond 50%”!sic! it is very harmful.
    Does that apply to alcohol from the point in time when denatured alcohol with approximately 98% (of alcohol) was available?
    I was just wondering.
    The print is “weser-kurier” by the way, the article didn`t make it to the internet site though.

    If you`re interested I`ll send it to you, its already scanned…

  • Some will at this point bring up stuff like explosives: for example, handling and detonating military-grade explosives on your own land is a victimless crime. Does that mean it’s wrong to criminalize possession and personal use of explosives? Should people be allowed to blow up their houses if they so wish, and as long as they don’t harm others?

    Or take weapons, for that matter. Only a small handful of tightly regulated firearms are allowed for civilian use; the rest of the weapons market is underground, controlled by criminal gangs raking in huge profits. Owning a grenade launcher, a flamethrower or a tank (or a neutron bomb, for that matter) is a victimless crime. Should it be legalised?

    Also, I understand that extreme self mutilation is made more dangerous by the fact that actual doctors are prohibited from performing operations such as cosmetic amputation of digits, insertion of subcutaneous objects and so on. The self-mutilators are forced by this situation to refrain from realising their “perverse” desires or doing it unsupervised, by themselves, which, naturally, escalates the risks involved. Should this departure from the norm be embraced by the rest of the society and doctors allowed to perform these bizarre surgeries, since the procedures harm no-one but the amputation-fetishist him-/herself?

    I’m not saying that I concur with these arguments (referencing apparently victimless crimes that the majority of society would not even want to consider), just that I’ve come across them and don’t exactly know how to counter them. I mean, if one were to point out that there’s a potential threat to the rest of the society inherent in allowing civilians to possess military grade weapons and explosives, it would invalidate the drug legalisation argument, since such a potential threat is also present in drug use.

    So, again — I’m not arguing, I am heartily for, not against, regulation and control of all drugs everywhere. I just don’t know how to articulate the economic argument so that I would not seem to also condone legalisation of substances more problematic than mind-altering drugs, for which demand certainly exists.

    • It has to do with the level of demand that economically requires the supply to be there. There is nowhere near the demand for high-end explosives to maintain much of a black-market, while, on the other hand, there is a high demand to maintain a market for fireworks. This affects the economic model.

      But you’re right. Things like guns and explosives are demand items and therefore, CAN be compared with drug laws. And then you can do a rational comparison based on other factors.

      Drugs and rape, however, are apples and oranges and CANNOT be compared with drug laws for a rational assessment of their validity.

      It’s important to remember that the economic argument listed here is not the only argument for legalizing drugs. It is, however, the reason that comparing drug laws with rape, murder, etc. laws, is baseless.

  • Yage Panther

    I do not like your argument, Peter: Though there is no demand by those being raped there is a “demand” by the rapists. But, while the “demand” for rape is always causing victims, the “demand” for cannabis not neccessarily does so.

    So those concerned about victims caused by crimes in correlation with smoked pot (or consumption of any other drug) should fight for stiffer penalties for these crimes in case they are committed in correlation with drug consumption.

    Adrenaline junkies use cars to kill people while speeding. How do you explain to the parents of a child run over by a speeding guy, that owning a car which can drive faster than speed limits is a victimless action, not even a crime?

    • Chris

      Speeding and marijuana are different in that one requires going on state-owned public roads and willfully breaking a law that puts others in the danger, and the other is using marijuana. I’ve seen this argument countless times before and everyone misses this point in an effort to paint speeding as a victimless crime, but it’s just as much a crime as driving intoxicated. Thanks for playing.

      • Yage Panther

        The KnowNothings consider using mj puts people into danger, too, and will come up with their stupid examples of abandoned children, addicts stealing money and the like.

        I wanted to make the point, that even if something is correlated with victims, like cars suitable for breaking speed limits are correlated with speeding victims, outlawing this something per se appears totally absurd in case of the something being a fast car, but totally sound to KnowNothings, in case the something being a drug.

    • Yage, this is exactly why I said that using the victim argument causes issues. Please read the post.

  • Peter (not Pete G.)

    Yage….by putting the rapist in jail the demand is reduced by one rapist. Putting a dealer in jail does nothing to the demand because someone else will start dealing to take up the new supply opportunity.

    • Yage Panther

      The KnowNothings will reply: “Putting potsmokers into jail or threatening to do so also reduces demand! And, as you correctly argue, since supply only exists because there is demand, this significantly reduces supply! That is why we think, that potsmokers are ultimately responsible for the cartels’ crimes”

      • And that’s why you don’t have rational discussions with “know nothings.”

        That gets into an entirely different argument than the one I’m discussing here.

        Get it straight. This post is not an end-all argument for legalization. This post is merely a clear and factual answer for why marijuana laws are different than rape laws. It is irrational for you to dislike it because a moron you’re talking to won’t understand the facts.

        Now, to address your question, if the “know nothings” say that eliminating demand will eliminate the supply, tell them that they’re right.

        There are two ways to stop the black market and cartels. One is to regulate drugs, which can be one with political will, and the other is to get people to stop using them entirely, which is impossible.

        Even the worst drug warriors tell us over and over again that we can’t arrest our way out of the problem. Even the countries that have the death penalty can’t stop drug use.

        You could end all sexually transmitted diseases if everybody just stopped having sex. That ain’t gonna happen either.

        That’s when you put the onus back on them and ask them how they plan to do it since nobody else has come up with a solution to stop drug demand.

        • thelbert

          i think you left a d out of “which can be one with political will”.

        • Yage Panther

          If you want to talk about the difference in economics of mj and rape, you have to compare demand side with demand side and supply side with supply side, imho. Due to comparison of rapists (“demand” side) with drug dealers (supply side), the argument is flawed.

          But once you compare “demand” with demand you see the difference: The one can only be satisfied with a resultant victim, the other can be perfectly satisfied without such victim.

          So from a prohibitionists point of view: You argue since there is “demand” for rape, we have to legalize trafficking in women?

          Further, the prohibitionist will surely argue, that the “demand” for mj is actually, like “demand” for rape, no real demand but result of mental illness, and therefore shouldn’t be promoted by providing supply.

        • You’re just redefining demand to meet your argument — those two kinds of demand have no connection in economics. The demand for rape isn’t even an economic function.

      • Peter (not Pete G.)

        Yage, you raise the suggestion that putting pot smokers in jail “significantly reduces the demand.” There are at least 25 million pot smokers in the US….what proportion would need to be in jail to have a significant effect on demand?

        • Yage Panther

          You sneaked “significantly” into the citation.

          I think the other way around makes an argument: The drug dealer wants to supply and all of a sudden his customer is in jail. So what will he do to satisfy his demand for money, to monetize his investment? Pushing! Addressing those most vulerable for such activities, the children! Thus jailing someone being already a drug user actually endangers the children! WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?

  • Francis

    I think my favorite part of that article is the opening sentence:

    Every so often, alas, the subject of drug legalization reappears.

    It’s such a silly attempt to seem confidently dismissive — as though there were some natural rhythmic cycle to the reform movement (we periodically show up, make some noise, and then fade away). But obviously us kooky, fringe “legalizers” won’t ever succeed in actually changing anything. That seems a little ahistorical, don’t you think? But hey, if it makes you feel better to tell yourself we’re just gonna go away, be my guest. Meanwhile, I’ve got some more demolition to do….chip, chip, chip.

  • Andres

    Well Pete, I think you are right. Good work pointing out the stupid stuff people say! Keep it up!

  • Francis

    Drug use isn’t a victimless crime? I’d say that drug prohibition isn’t a victimless policy. The logic of prohibition says that because an individual MIGHT use drugs in an irresponsible manner, thereby harming others, we should arrest him, lock him in a cage (thereby separating him from his family), give him a criminal record, permanently impairing his future employment prospects, and make him ineligible for various government benefits. Guess what? You’ve just created several DEFINITE victims. And those are just some of the ways in which the drug war victimizes individuals — it doesn’t include, for example, the gang violence that’s inevitably fueled by prohibition, the opportunity cost of trillions spent (both directly and in the form of foregone tax revenue) on a futile war, the massive official corruption that’s promoted by prohibition, the decline in respect for the law, the poisoning of police / community relations, and the undermining of our fundamental constitutional rights.

  • claygooding

    I don’t understand why everyone that uses the rape and marijuana crime comparison looks like the least likely rape victim around.

  • Maria

    The fact that I’ve had to use that economics argument (on top of the whole unwilling, directly impacted victim argument) in explaining why there is, in fact, a key difference in raping someone and smoking a joint makes me sick to my heart. But the effort was worth it. The conversation made the guy look like a complete and utter douche canoe in the eyes of his friends.

    The fact that this editorial douche canoe snidely lumps parking violations and speeding tickets in with murder and rape makes him look like a sociopath. No offense to sociopaths…

  • primus

    Drugs vs. rape is a very poor comparison; one is victimless and one is very definitely predatory. A much better comparison is between drugs and masturbation. Would the know-nothings argue for jailing masturbators?

    • Actually, from the standpoint of the comparison of laws, that is, while closer, still not properly comparable, since masturbation itself doesn’t involve transaction and black market.

      The better comparison would probably be pornography (obviously only the consensual kind). It’s a in-demand product that will always be supplied – and has been even when attempts have been made to ban it throughout history. We’ve learned, for the most part, that the better approach is to regulate it and control it to avoid direct victimization.

      • darkcycle

        …wouldn’t drugs and prostitution be a mre accurate comparison? (assuming the absence of a coersive pimp in the transaction?)

        • Maria

          Hrm… On a “self ownership” level I would think so. As in, the valid comparison is that in both cases, grown adults should have the right to decide what to do with their own self.

          On a wider scale I think pornography is more valid. Like cannabis or other drugs porn is an “inanimate” product that goes through separate stages of production, transport, and consumption involving distinct groups of people.

          It is a product that, like drugs, affects the psychology and physiology of the consumer while inciting moral panics and exiting hand wringing busy bodies into a froth.

          Who then go on to crusade using emotional, amorphous and ever changing criteria and benchmarks. And who gleefully bath in the blood of any and all victims of life and parade them as singular evidence of the product’s evils. Or something.

    • Maria

      At the risk of dragging politics into this Santorum and his ilk would.

      I figure if you’re dealing with someone of that mindset it’s best to just mock them. There is no rational dialogue that can occur. Unlike with your average Joe or Jane who are open to a conversation if common ground and concerns are established, protecting children, harm reduction, etc; with the moral extremists there just is no common ground.

      • remember… this whole online rebuttal process is rarely gonna convince the one you are debating. What will happen if we maintain a matter-of-fact presence and beat ’em up w/ the truth w/o insult (and of course mock, be snide and borderline rude, but w/ taste and subtle distinction…;) it’s likely that another reader will learn something and see the know-nothing as having the lesser argument.

        That was Linda’s value over at the Modesto Bee… she was so off-the-wall bitchy (queen harpie!) that she was the perfect person to lead the pitch against us.

        These online battles sometimes go beyond the wwwebpages. There was a teacher early on at the Modbee that was using our debates w/ Linda as teaching examples at the local JC…

        … and remember our buddy the ethicist? Jack Marshall? Well, his teenage son had read the thread we had going and said we were right. Dissidence can be a sweet sound…

        • Maria

          You’re right about that.

          Everything (almost) stays online. And as time progresses the truth accumulates; in each and every blog post, comment, link, picture, video. The record grows and is a witness to what is going on. That’s the potential wonder of this era and why the push to censor, regulate, and control access to communication (not just information) is becoming (has always been) such a critical issue.

          … like how good chunks of SOPA/PIPA (and even more control measures) are almost certain to to come back tacked onto H.R.1981 (If only it had been 1984. But that’s simply asking too much from the cosmic gods of irony.)

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      I’ve heard about those people who abuse their own naughty parts! What kind of society would we have if that were legal?!? There would be people doing that when they’re driving! Their cars would be like those hydraulic hot rods that are driven by our Country’s unregistered guests! I don’t want to see people playing with their particulars in public places either! Then we’d have to let people marry their hands for crying out loud! Ooooh, I’m so excited! I asked for my hand in marriage today and it said yes! It makes people go blind! ’nuff said!

      • and that’s why god loves Jocelyn Elders, as Surgeon General she recommended both masturbation and legalization.

        Well, they don’t mind that they drink alcohol, that they smoke cigarettes, both of which are much more harmful. Marijuana has been used for 5,000 years. It’s never been associated with a toxic death or death from marijuana, so I feel that it’s more of a medicine and we should use it, regulate it and tax it. And stop all of our fears and our myths that are going on.

        -snip-

        I think that masturbation never got anybody pregnant, does not make anybody go crazy, and what we’re about is preventing HIV in our bright young people. Nobody has to teach anybody how to masturbate, God taught us how.

        From the Nation, Dr. Joycelyn Elders: Marijuana, Masturbation and Medicine

  • damaged justice

    Generally, statist thugs don’t understand or want to understand the difference between aggressive coercion and defensive force. Being consistent in applying those principles would undermine their entire criminal enterprise.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    The difference between intelligent and brain dead…

    But I think you need to re-think using that supply and demand argument. I’d wager that if we try that one that it wouldn’t be too long before we hear about white slavery and people that rent their children to kiddie diddlers.

  • darkcycle

    Pete, I’m with you, as always. But it seems to me the difference isn’t the presence or the lack of a victim. As you pointed out, you can always identify hypothetical secondary victims, thereby providing an army of imaginary support. No. There’s a basic difference that everybody has failed to note so far.
    Rape is an act of VIOLENCE. That sets it apart, in tone, in the act it’self, and in the results. Nobody is beaten, threatened, attacked, had their body invaded or had to go to the hospital or clinic for a rape kit and a “proceedure” because of pot.

    • Francis

      Yeah, but many people have suffered those consequences as a result of pot prohibition. Hmmm, maybe there is a rape analogy to be made here after all.

    • darkcycle

      In the case of drugs, the violence is invariably the result of their prohibition, not the drugs themselves. This brings the ball nicely back to our court, because we can point out that simple fact, and the conversation has not been derailed. The reference to a ‘victim’ is a rhetorical trap.

    • thinking on this one a bit… here’s what I came up with.

      know-nothing“well if legalization makes crime go away, let’s just legalize rape then.”

      And my response…

      drugpolicyreformist“so you’re saying smoking a joint with yo mama and raping yo mama is the same? Yo mama might disagree!”

      It might be a bit rough but I’ll polish it up somehow…

      Hey! Did you hear about the Prohibitionist fish that died? yeah, it drown’d…

      Hey! Do you know why the suicide rate is so low among Prohibitionists? Ya ever try jumping out a basement window?

      • Duncan20903

        Q) How many prohibitionists does it take to change a lightbulb?
        A) None. Changing the bulb would be surrender.

        • Duncan20903

          .
          .
          Prohibitionist lightbulb joke 2.0:

          Q) How many prohibitionists does it take to change a lightbulb?

          A) None. Changing the bulb would be surrender. With enough effort we can make the old one work the way it’s supposed to.

        • Duncan20903

          .
          .

          You know, that format works with quite a few punchlines:

          A) None. We don’t have enough scientific studies to know whether or not we should change the lightbulb, or how we would go about doing it, or even if it’s possible to change one! No, we can’t risk giving the scientists any lightbulbs to use for the studies. They might get into the wrong hands!

          A) None. Lightbulbs just give people ideas.

          A) None. Lightbulbs cause people to stay up all night carousing. What kind of message does that send the children?

          A) None. If god had wanted people to stay up at night he wouldn’t have made the Sun revolve around the Earth.

          A) None. Lightbulbs cause people to get addicted to drugs because they can be used to smoke the hippie lettuce and hippie lettuce is a gateway drug.

          A) None. Aren’t the libtards always yapping about saving the environment, now they want us to burn more energy with lightbulbs? Isn’t that just like a liberal?

          A) None. We told you those things would fail and that we should stick with candles. But you wouldn’t listen to common sense and now look we’re you’ve gotten us!

          A) None. Lightbulbs cause perverted sex when they’re “turned on” during sex. We just don’t need any more perverts. We may as well just legalize rape if we go that route!

          Enough!

        • Dante

          I love those, here is one more:

          How many prohibitionists does it take to change a light bulb?

          None. Prohibitionists prefer to live in the dark.

        • Peter

          Prohibitionists changing light bulbs might not be a joke at all. Mcdonald’s in parts of central London in the 70s changed out the regular bulbs in the toilets for a curious dim red bulb which made it almost impossible to detect a vein. I.V. drug users went down the road to Burger King instead….

        • Duncan20903

          .
          .

          Dante you rat bastard! I spend all afternoon in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove to cook up some jokes for everyone to enjoy and you step in and steal the show! I’m voting for SOPA because of you! Internet piracy has to be stopped!

          Don’t for a second think that I’m going to forget this!

    • darkcycle

      …and here I thought that was one of my more insightful posts.

  • thelbert

    if we are going to investigate drug offenders before going after rapists then we are making rape de facto legal. los angeles is in a tizzy about dispensaries when they have a large backlog of rape kits to analyze. when is the los angeles county sheriff going grow a pair and get tough on rape and domestic violence? when will he protect the children from rapists? too much work, not enough glory. i hear the cops whine there’s too much paper work, not enough overtime. if cops go after the tough guys they might get hurt before the shift is over. better to find a cannabis store,looking in the local throwaway paper, and bust it. the more time they waste on pot suppression the less time they are risking their asses dealing with violent criminals.

  • thelbert

    i spoke too soon. it looks like los angeles has eliminated it’s backlog of rape kits. as of apr 2011

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      It was a public embarrassment and they had little choice. Where did the resources come from to deal with it? They sure didn’t pull the money out of their sunshine free magic money holes. I’ll bet dollars to dirt that there’s a replacement backlog for some other category. Perhaps they were smart enough to spread it over several different backlogs. A few burglaries left uninvestigated here, start taking car theft reports by mail unless the owner is connected over there, a few poor (read: colored) people’s murders left unsolved, like that. Oh, how about that statute of limitations? Once that expires, is the rape kit for the corresponding crime stricken from the backlog? Don’t laugh I read that there were several hundreds of those a couple of years ago when this issue was in the press. Remember, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

  • TINMA

    Lets see…

    I want to get stoned..
    I want to get raped…

    Yup , I can see how this could get confused :/

    …and the insanity called a drug war continues with the help of the insane.

  • Yage Panther

    Since I cannot reply to Pete’s post saying:

    “You’re just redefining demand to meet your argument — those two kinds of demand have no connection in economics. The demand for rape isn’t even an economic function.”

    I am not redefining the demand, those who demand something in context of rape are the rapists, those who demand something in context of drugs, are the consumers.

    There are demands creating markets, and there are demands for which almost no market exists, e.g. because those demanding cannot or do not want to pay. But demand is demand. and therefore your argument is flawed. You argue if any demand would exist in context of rape it would steem from those raped. you compare taking a rapist of the street with taking a durg dealer of the street. but the initial comparison which caused the twisted argument of David W you wanted to invalidate was between raping and SMOKING hemp.

  • Peter

    yage you are apparently missing the term “economic function”. there is no market for rape for the same reason there is no market for cancer or traffic accidents.

    • Yage Panther

      Yes there is no demand for getting raped as there is no demand for getting run over by a car. But while there is no demand for causing accidents there is a “demand” for raping, i.e. potential rapists are out there with a “demand” for sex independent of the woman’s consent. And I put demand always in quotes to make clear, that I consider this “demand” a pure perversion.

      I am sure that there are brothels in which the sex workers do not work because they decided to do so but because they are forced to, and I am also sure that some of the clients go to these places particularly because of that. These clients I call rapists, too, and they pay the pimps. There is your marketplace for raping (not for getting raped).

      Comparing victims of accidents and illnesses with victims of voluntarily committed violent acts is flawed, too.

      • Maria

        I had to reread that a few times but I think I get what you’re trying to say.

        It just that the vast majority of rapes committed are not part of a market equation and neither are the vast majority of rapists. Part of a power equation? Yeah, but that’s another topic. But even with the example you gave there is still no black market, essentially no market at all, that exists to provide rapists their “product/service.”

        What market there is, however, is a market for human beings and what you can do with them; like for example, rape them, or force them to work in a mine, as child soldiers, clean your house, work in your field, make clothes, etc. The market is a market for people not a market for raping. Slavery is very much a real market with real economic questions of supply and demand and real economic stake holders with losses and gains.

        But even then, the comparison between ‘Legalizing drugs’ and ‘Legalizing Slavery’ is apples/potatoes.

        (… Yeah. Ok. This planet sucks and I’m going to go drink now.)

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    Prohibitionists really love cherries. But who can blame them? They taste yum yum yummie! Here, try one and see if you don’t agree:

    One of the prohibitionists’ favorite stories is the 1990 Alaskan vote of 54.3-45.7 to implement an unconstitutional re-criminalization of petty possession and petty cultivation of cannabis in a person’s private home, which was subsequently struck down by the Alaska Court of Appeals in 2002.

    SAMHSA earliest published statistics were for 1992.

    In 1998 Alaskans passed a ballot initiative which extended protection from conviction for Alaskan who utilize medicinal cannabis.

    Between 1992 and 1998 the number of Alaskan youth in “treatment” for the fiction of merrywanna addiction skyrocketed by 184.895%.

    Between 1998 and 2010 the number of Alaskan youth in “treatment” for the fiction of merrywanna addiction fell off a cliff, plummeting 23.513%.

    Francis’ Law may be a force of nature indeed. But what about the children? Don’t children love cherries too? Don’t forget the topping of sweet, sweet hyperbole!

  • N.T. Greene

    To the “How many prohibitionists does it take to change a light bulb” bit:

    If they had it their way there would be NO LIGHTBULBS. As it stands, they expect us to just sit in the dark anyways.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      I covered that above NT, and I do agree with your assertion.

      A) None. We told you those things would fail and that we should stick with candles. But you wouldn’t listen to common sense and now look we’re you’ve gotten us!