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Author Topic: Tribe that's never heard of rape
domina
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Every once in a while, I've heard somebody claim that anthropologists found a tribe somewhere that's never heard of rape. When anthropologists explain the concept, they're shocked and say, "Oh no, nobody here ever does that." The people I've heard it from are feminists claiming that rape is caused by culture and is therefore eradicable, unlike a universally known crime like theft. I doubt that such a tribe exists though -- I've never heard any identifying details, and when I took anthro in college I never heard about any such tribe. Plus, some folks have been known to flat-out lie to anthropologists. Does anybody else know any more about this? (I apologize if the topic's been covered, but a search didn't turn up anything.)
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Esprise Me
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Is this what you were thinking of?
quote:
I can cite you the example of the Masuo tribe in Lugu Lake district of China again - a matriarchial society up to present time wherein there isn't any war, there isn't even a word for "war" as they haven't a concept of what that is. And the same goes for rape.

The only Google results for "masuo tribe" were the links to that same page; I think perhaps it's actually spelled "Mosuo," in which case, Action for Economic Reform agrees:
quote:
More than just a feminist fantasy, the survival of a culture with a seemingly impossible setup teaches us an important lesson: that an alternative social structure can exist. A world where no man rules, no man makes important decisions, no man inherits property, and no man works, is not just a myth.

Contrary to fears raised by those who hesitate to empower women, society need not fall apart when women have control. In fact, the female-dominated society of Mosuo exists in love and harmony – a stark contrast to male-dominated societies that exist in violence and hate. The Mosuo people have successfully averted many social problems. As a result, their language has no words for war, murder or rape.

Edited to fix link.

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Mr. Billion
The First USA Noel


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As to the argument that it's completely an unnatural, man-made thing that only exists because of human culture: Orangutans rape, too. (The link is a PDF). Unless they're going to argue that the orangutans are only doing it because of culture, as well.

There are some simple behaviors that most any animal is capable of to get what it wants, especially immorality or violence in the name of self-gratificaiton. Although really, I think in the end, almost everything we do is affected by culture.

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Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Adult male ermines usually rape female ermines. Sometimes they sneak into dens to rape newborn females.

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candycane from strangers
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Don't koalas rape as well?

Also, if there was a tribe in which women were just expected to let men have sex with them whenever they
wanted without objection the tribe wouldn't have a concept of rape. Not saying that's the case with what you're thinking of, domina, just a thought.

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Steve
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Margaret Mead denied that rape exists in Samoa, so that might be what you're thinking of, domina.

I think that Derek Freeman has convincingly shown that many of Mead's theories were wrong.

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magpie
Deck the Malls


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My rabbit once tried to rape my cat.

But I think the point is that it's not nessesarily society that tells people to rape. It's that some societies would be set up so that it's members would be less likely to rape. I guess it's the same concept that makes people in Japanese culture less likely to kill each other, but more likely to commit suicide. The social hierarchy, social pressures, expectations, all these things lead people of certain cultures to be more or less likely to do certain things.

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Esprise Me
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This also reminds me of that oft-repeated "fact" about there being no word in Japanese for "hot flashes." The point, I suppose, is that eating like the Japanese do will head off some of the symptoms of menopause. At least this is what my mother told me when she started making everything with tofu. I had a vested interest in dispossessing her of this notion, as I was living at home at the time, and I hate tofu. My points were, in order:
1) Isn't this the sort of thing soybean farmers might make up to sell more of their product? It's not like you speak Japanese.
2) Even if we assume it's true, just because a culture doesn't have a word for something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Maybe Japanese women are just too modest to talk about menopause.
3) Um, last I checked, "hot flashes" was two words. So, technically, we don't have "a word" for it in English, either. That doesn't mean they don't have a way of talking about it.

Candy makes a good point; any culture in which women do not have the right to refuse sex would not have a word for rape. That doesn't mean that what we call rape doesn't happen.

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Spindely Fingers
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I've seen a couple of sources (Cherokee Proud by Dr. Tony MaClure is one that comes to mind) that claim the Cherokee tribe first passed rape laws in the 1820s, mainly to protect Cherokee women from the influx of white settlers, because rape was a culturally alien crime to the Cherokee people before widespread European contact. I'm not sure how legit the claim is; seems a bit optimistic to say there had never been rape in the tribe before then, but women have a major place of respect in that culture, so I'd imagine rape would be considered an especially heinous crime, and would not be ignored. Hmmm...

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I would believe that in a culture that doesn't recognize the action, there wouldn't be a word for it.

Kind of like the problems in today's world and those that say that Muslims shouldn't kill becuase there is a strict edict against murder. The problem is that they are correct - on one level. However, a "man" is the only thing that can be "murdered", and if you don't follow Allah, you aren't a "man" - therefore you can be killed without pause. Hence - Muslims can "murder" (almost) whoever they please. (please note that I am speaking of mostly fundy Islam here)

If the culture says if a man is sporting a woody, a woman is OBLIGED to take care of it for him - then there would be no rape.

Outside of that - I have nothing further to add.

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Communication Attempt
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Jason Threadslayer:
Adult male ermines usually rape female ermines. Sometimes they sneak into dens to rape newborn females.

Ermines are child molesters?!?Were they touched in naughty places by their uncles too?

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"I love God,he's so deliciously evil!" -Stewie,Family Guy

The fun thing about standards is that they come in so many varieties.

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Arriah
The First USA Noel


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I call Bullnfbsk on this one. I remember reading an article quite a while ago about mental health professionals having trouble treating Somali refugees/immigrants because they viewed people as either healthy or crazy with nothing in between.* I read an article (sorry, I can't find it again) about how there was no word/phrase for depression or ptsd which most of them undoubtedly had.

Just because a culture doesn't have a word for something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist in the culture.
*article for health care professionals on Somalis

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Joostik
The First USA Noel


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Perhaps it's such a taboo subject it is never mentioned?

Reading some of the articles it seems the tribe has no formal marriage but the women choose their lovers (whom they do not actually live with) for as long or short a period as they wish.

None of the men seem to mind being dismissed, even after a single night. Obviously they never fall in love with the wrong girl either. Jealousy is unknown.

This is a small tribe surrounded by other peoples with (radically) different traditions.

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ThistleSoftware
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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-The very definition of rape is not a universally agreed upon concept. Perhaps in some cultures the crime in which a man assaults a strange woman and forces sex upon her is totally unknown, but what about date rape, spousal rape, sex with someone too young to consent, et cetera.

-I am so tired of humans defending or attacking actions based on whether or not it is "natural." The word "natural" has almost no meaning as it's applied to human actions. Furthermore, as humans we are able to supercede whatever is left of nature in us and do what we feel is best. It shouldn't matter if there is rape in every single culture in the world- like murder, rape is wrong even if it is "natural," and it needs to be eradicated.

I'm not arguing against anyone in particular in this thread, just voicing my opinions of the OP.

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El Camino
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by ThistleS:
-The very definition of rape is not a universally agreed upon concept. Perhaps in some cultures the crime in which a man assaults a strange woman and forces sex upon her is totally unknown, but what about date rape, spousal rape, sex with someone too young to consent, et cetera.

-I am so tired of humans defending or attacking actions based on whether or not it is "natural." The word "natural" has almost no meaning as it's applied to human actions. Furthermore, as humans we are able to supercede whatever is left of nature in us and do what we feel is best. It shouldn't matter if there is rape in every single culture in the world- like murder, rape is wrong even if it is "natural," and it needs to be eradicated.

I'm not arguing against anyone in particular in this thread, just voicing my opinions of the OP.

As a matter of fact, a prominent school of classical Western thought (forgetting the name...) helds that the "state of nature" of man is an awful, despicable thing with much weeping and gnashing of teeth, and that it should be avoided at all cost. The state of nature was something to be overcome by civilization, not something to justify people's actions.
I don't really think I agree with this philosophy: maybe I'm just naive, but I tend to believe that most people are basically good, on some level. But it is (was, especially) a popular philosophy.

And I agree that in situations like this, what is "natural" has no basis on morals, and that what is natural and what is moral are independent lists. However, there are times when what is natural has some value in a discussion. But not on issues of strict morality.

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domina
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Thanks, all. It probably was the Mosuo I was hearing about. It would be interesting to know how closely they've actually been studied; a one-hour Discovery Channel episode seems to be the only original source mentioned.
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I'm Dreaming of a White Canvas
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by El Camino:
As a matter of fact, a prominent school of classical Western thought (forgetting the name...) helds that the "state of nature" of man is an awful, despicable thing with much weeping and gnashing of teeth, and that it should be avoided at all cost. The state of nature was something to be overcome by civilization, not something to justify people's actions.
I don't really think I agree with this philosophy: maybe I'm just naive, but I tend to believe that most people are basically good, on some level. But it is (was, especially) a popular philosophy.

And I agree that in situations like this, what is "natural" has no basis on morals, and that what is natural and what is moral are independent lists. However, there are times when what is natural has some value in a discussion. But not on issues of strict morality. [/QB]

"ROSE SAYER (Katharine Hepburn): "Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put into this world to rise above." THE AFRICAN QUEEN, United Artists, 1951 ..." [Wink]

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Jaime Vargas Sanchez
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Esprise Me:
2) Even if we assume it's true, just because a culture doesn't have a word for something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Exactly what I say whenever those "people who don't have a word for X" stupidities come up.

As I always say: the French don't have a word for "potato". That never prevented them from knowing (and eating) them.

Jaime

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Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by El Camino:
As a matter of fact, a prominent school of classical Western thought (forgetting the name...) helds that the "state of nature" of man is an awful, despicable thing with much weeping and gnashing of teeth, and that it should be avoided at all cost.

Thomas Hobbes, in Leviathan.

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The Fourth Man
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Jaime Vargas Sanchez:
As I always say: the French don't have a word for "potato".

Sure we do, it's "patate". Now, on the other hand, we don't have a word for "entrepreneur", sez Dubya... [Wink]

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If you keep trying, you'll eventually succeed. Therefore, the more you fail, the higher your chances of success.
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hudders
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by The Fourth Man:
quote:
Originally posted by Jaime Vargas Sanchez:
As I always say: the French don't have a word for "potato".

Sure we do, it's "patate". Now, on the other hand, we don't have a word for "entrepreneur", sez Dubya... [Wink]
It's toast which the French don't have a word for. "Pain grillé" is the best they can do.
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Drainfluid
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by Esprise Me:
More than just a feminist fantasy, the survival of a culture with a seemingly impossible setup teaches us an important lesson: that an alternative social structure can exist. A world where no man rules, no man makes important decisions, no man inherits property, and no man works, is not just a myth.

Contrary to fears raised by those who hesitate to empower women, society need not fall apart when women have control. In fact, the female-dominated society of Mosuo exists in love and harmony – a stark contrast to male-dominated societies that exist in violence and hate. The Mosuo people have successfully averted many social problems. As a result, their language has no words for war, murder or rape.

So a woman-dominated society that subjugates men is being touted as a viable alternative to ours? Whatever happened to striving for a society where no-one is subjugated?

And if women control all sexual relations in this society, they may not have a word for men raping women, but do they have one for women raping men?

Perhaps the anthropologists asked the wrong questions.

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Communication Attempt
Jingle Bell Hock


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There's a big difference between not having a word for rape and having no rape.Some ancient civilizations sacrificed a virgin to their god,but none of them thought of it as a murder.

We have a very broad statement with no other information to support it.

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"I love God,he's so deliciously evil!" -Stewie,Family Guy

The fun thing about standards is that they come in so many varieties.

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queen of the bah-caramels
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by hudders:
quote:
Originally posted by The Fourth Man:
quote:
Originally posted by Jaime Vargas Sanchez:
As I always say: the French don't have a word for "potato".

Sure we do, it's "patate". Now, on the other hand, we don't have a word for "entrepreneur", sez Dubya... [Wink]
It's toast which the French don't have a word for. "Pain grillé" is the best they can do.
I have noticed "patate" starting to be acceptable alongside "pomme de terre" over the past year or so.
They tend to use "pain dore" for toast (lit golden bread).

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El Camino
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by Jason Threadslayer:
quote:
Originally posted by El Camino:
As a matter of fact, a prominent school of classical Western thought (forgetting the name...) helds that the "state of nature" of man is an awful, despicable thing with much weeping and gnashing of teeth, and that it should be avoided at all cost.

Thomas Hobbes, in Leviathan.
Ah, thanks. I knew that, somewhere in the back of my head. Ah well.
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The Fourth Man
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by queen of the ...ooh caramels:
I have noticed "patate" starting to be acceptable alongside "pomme de terre" over the past year or so.

Huh? I always used it and it was always acceptable. I sometimes use "pomme de terre" in written language, but never in spoken language, it's posh.

quote:
They tend to use "pain dore" for toast (lit golden bread).
Never heard this one on this side of the pond. Elegant, though. Is it a quebecism?

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domina
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I did a little poking around the Web about the Mosuo, and found this article giving a fairly thorough overview. I noticed this line: 'Ge Ze A Che is the leader of Luoshui, which has a population of more than 200 people, the majority of them Mosuo, with a few Han (China's majority ethnic group) and Pumi as well. He spoke proudly of this small settlement: "I have been the leader of the village for five years. There has been little theft, rape, or even argument here." Sounds like he's admitting a to little rape, in any case.
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Spindely Fingers
I Saw Three Shipments


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Just had a thought on this...maybe an event can occur in a culture that is not recogized (as has been suggested with rape) by the culture not because it is overly acceptable, but because it is in fact so rare and strange. Hypothetically, if rape were unheard of enough, and perhaps so out of line with a particular culture's ideals, it would not be viewed as a crime per se, but perhaps as some other event--demonic possesion on the rapists part, witch craft, etc. Thus, the tribe would not talk about rape as we do, but rather possesion and dark magic. Sorry, I know its poorly worded. I'm having a little trouble sorting out my thoughts tonight.

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And all music is. -Kurt Vonnegut

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Esprise Me
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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No, Spindely, that makes perfect sense. Once upon a time, people didn't have a word for epilepsy, but that didn't mean no one suffered from it; those who had the condition were labeled "possessed" or something similar.

Edited to fix spelling on "Spindely." Oops.

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Major D. Saster
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by hudders:
quote:
Originally posted by The Fourth Man:
quote:
Originally posted by Jaime Vargas Sanchez:
As I always say: the French don't have a word for "potato".

Sure we do, it's "patate". Now, on the other hand, we don't have a word for "entrepreneur", sez Dubya... [Wink]
It's toast which the French don't have a word for. "Pain grillé" is the best they can do.
Well, in the Middle-ages, the French had something known as the "tostée" - a grilled slice of bread dipped in wine. So, apparently, "toast" is of french origin. However, "tostée" is old French and no longer in use.

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Communication Attempt
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by queen of the ...ooh caramels:

They tend to use "pain dore" for toast (lit golden bread). [/QB]

Actually,Pain Dore is french for...well French Toast

In Quebec people simply use the word "toast".

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"I love God,he's so deliciously evil!" -Stewie,Family Guy

The fun thing about standards is that they come in so many varieties.

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Joostik
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by domina:
'Ge Ze A Che is the leader of Luoshui, which has a population of more than 200 people, the majority of them Mosuo, with a few Han (China's majority ethnic group) and Pumi as well. He spoke proudly of this small settlement

There goes your matriarchy...
Posts: 794 | From: Utrecht, Utrecht | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
queen of the bah-caramels
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Communication Attempt:
quote:
Originally posted by queen of the ...ooh caramels:

They tend to use "pain dore" for toast (lit golden bread).

Actually,Pain Dore is french for...well French Toast

In Quebec people simply use the word "toast". [/QB]

Around here pain dore is regular toast. But hey this IS Quebec [Confused]

A lot of things in Quebec baffle me .

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Focus On The Family- An opinion group who think more about Gay Sex than gay people do- Rick Mercer

Posts: 590 | From: Rawdon, Quebec | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
queen of the bah-caramels
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by The Fourth Man:
quote:
Originally posted by queen of the ...ooh caramels:
I have noticed "patate" starting to be acceptable alongside "pomme de terre" over the past year or so.

Huh? I always used it and it was always acceptable. I sometimes use "pomme de terre" in written language, but never in spoken language, it's posh.


Guess it's the potato/spud thing.
When DD1 first started school, I had to see her teacher about something.In my very bad BSK French I happened to memention patate to be snottily informed that it was pdt and nothing else.

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Focus On The Family- An opinion group who think more about Gay Sex than gay people do- Rick Mercer

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Bunion
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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This all relates back to the "Noble Savage" myth. Meaning that primitive cultures don't have crimes, murders, rapes etc. and live in harmony with the enviroment. It is modern man's technological advances and culture that have created these various problems.

Unfortunately research tends not to bear this out. In many primitive cultures anywhere from 50-80% of the male deaths are because another person killed them. If you take Europe in the 20th century which includes 2 world wars, the death rate from being killed by another person is less than 5%.

If you have small village of say 50 people and 2 of them get murdered in one year, that would be like having a city of 100,000 people with 4,000 murders.

Bunion

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You get more of what you want with a kind word and a gun then you do with a kind word alone.

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