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Sad News From MassResistance

Update: Someone has set up a support Claudia group on facebook. Friends are beginning to express their concern and support on the "wall" of the group. All are worried and reporting that phones, internet, etc. have been cut off.

Last week Claudia Contrada, the daughter of Amy Contrada, one of America's most actively anti-gay moms, chose to come out publicly as a lesbian on

At first I struggled with the decision to publish Claudia's brave interview because of her unfortunate situation at home.

Then I thought about what I was doing when I was seventeen. I was completing my senior year of high school at a college in Boston because my rural hometown and high school had become too unsafe due to anti-gay harassment. It was not long before I felt empowered enough to tell my story. Since my arrival in Boston I have met hundreds of teens who, like me, made it through difficult times by their own determination, the support of their friends, and the support of organizations like BAGLY, Boston GLASS, and PFLAG.

Knowing she had the appropriate support networks in place, I decided to post the interview out of respect for Claudia's wishes and for the thousands of queer youth around the world who would draw strength and inspiration from her resilience.

The story spread among LGBT and progressive blogs. And on November 2nd, Claudia went on to give a stellar performance in the sold-out Laramie Project play that depicts the brutal anti-gay murder of Mathew Shepard. Despite overwhelming support from the community, the play was protested by Fred Phelps thanks to the red carpet Claudia's mom rolled out for them by holding an anti-Laramie Project forum at the school a few weeks prior.

That should have been the end of this story.

But today things suddenly took a turn for the worse. The author of the MassResistance website*
, longtime anti-gay activist Brian Camenker, announced that Amy Contrada had pulled her daughter from school and the remaining performances of the play. As usual, his expose' also included lies and attacks on me,, and the Acton school system. The twisted material was also sent out via e-mail to his supporters and the Massachusetts legislators.

As I read his vicious rant my heart sank because Claudia's cherished role in the Laramie Project, and her support system of friends, teachers, and counselors had been robbed from her in order to maintain her mother's sick addiction to hate.

What kind of mother pulls her daughter from her school, supportive friends and teachers, and the play she is enthusiastically participating in during the final stretch of her senior year?

What kind of 50+ year old male computer programmer posts photos of a 17 year old girl's bedroom, personal e-mails and facebook details on his web site?

What credentials does this man have to judge who is a lesbian and who is not?

What constitutes psychological abuse?

Our thoughts and prayers (for those who pray) are with Claudia and the entire Contrada family. May they find compassion, acceptance and peace at once.

See Also:

*Brian Camenker writes the MassResistance web site content. Amy Contrada writes the MassResistance blog content.


Vanessa said...

I commend Claudia for coming it in the face of such adversity. Reading the Mass Resistance site is almost as entertaining as watching Fox news. Both make me want to vomit in my mouth a little bit but it's a trainwreck I can't stop looking at.

I would just like to point out a couple of things.

1. Do the boys on the posters in Claudia's room look a little effeminate to anyone else? That of course makes me love them more. Just look at their pretty faces and flowing long blonde hair.


2. I once had posters on all of my bedroom walls when I was in high school of many many boys and for anyone who knows me I turned out to be a huge butch dyke.

Claudia, own it girl. Times may be tough now but I'll let you in on a little secret...the lifestyle only gets more and more fabulous.

John Howard said...

Posters of boys have always been effeminate. Remember the Beatles and their girly long hair? All boy bands look gay, it's been an essential part of selling to teen girls for decades. And no doubt it is confusing for kids to have pin-up pop idols, whether it is boys looking at Robert Plant's golden locks (and package) or girls doing it. It is designed to screw people up, to make kids more susceptible to more of it. Alienated confused kids buy more records.

Rieux said...

This is very disturbing, no? We have no way to know what is being done to Claudia away from public eyes.

Does anyone know when Claudia's birthday is? I.e., when she will be 18 and legally empowered to escape her mother's aggression?

wannatakethisoutside said...

I hope Claudia is safe. I know that she is strong and can take care of herself, but it must be very hard to be pulled away from her support networks at this time.

She is in my thoughts and prayers.

Rieux said...

A thought occurred to me as I was reading "Ryan's Take" on this news: there are still two performances left of "The Laramie Project" at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School. Despite the fact that a cast member has been spirited away by a virulently homophobic parent, presumably the show must go on tonight and tomorrow night, November 9 and 10.

Call me melodramatic, but it seems to me that recent events make these last two AB performances of "Laramie" among the most important productions of that play that have ever been mounted--anywhere and by anyone. There's a fundamental congruence between the events that led to the creation of the play and the events that have just occurred in a home in Acton; obviously the brutality of Matthew Shepard's death is unparalleled (and I expect Claudia Contrada will come through this stronger than ever)--but it sure appears to me that both incidents originated in the same kind of hatred.

So I wish I could attend AB's performance of "Laramie" tonight. A play that was created to document and contemplate the aftermath of an outrageous act of homophobia... now has to go up in the aftermath of an outrageous act of homophobia. I think there's something profound and (forgive me) potentially awe-inspiring about that.

I would certainly understand if the cast and production staff of AB's "Laramie" chose simply to find ways to cover Claudia's parts and not invoke her name, with the intention of protecting her privacy. I'm sure they're thinking about her constantly regardless.

Still, I wish I weren't forced to be hundreds of miles away from Acton tonight. Would, er, a certain blogger have time to head over there and let the rest of us know how it goes?

Ryan Charisma said...

Now can I call Amy a bitch?

Trevor said...

Someone needs to call DSS.

What mother, would let some creep let Brian into their teenagers bedroom?

Mark D. Snyder said...

I feel very sad and concerned for Claudia's safety and wellbeing.

I am just trying to focus on sending positive vibes her way so that she can find the strength to make come out of this stronger than ever.

I hope after receiving this recent post/email from them the legislators see how icky Brian and his group are now.

I will be attending the play November 10th.

Kaitlin said...

jeez this story just gets worse and worse. I am worried for all youth who come out to parents who see their child's sexuality as something to be pathologized and connected to "emotional issues". Every major psychological institution discredits the idea of being "gay" as a pyschological condition. I worry about what kind of mental health "professionals" the Contrada's are getting advice from and how this will be used to further Claudia's already bad situation. Figuring out your sexuality is really tough when there are so many pressures. I hope that Claudia's parents will find it in their hearts to give Claudia room to be who she is, whatever that means, and to let her go through that process without publically declaring that she has "emotional issues". I would like to point out that the Massresistance website has shared so many private details of this young woman's life apparently without her consent or say! Claudia does not deserve to have her business aired like this especially by her own parents. my thoughts and prayers are with Claudia and her family.

Chris Mason said...

This is so sad. Amy and Brian are sinking to a new low...and that has got to be pretty damn low from where they were already.

Hopefully Claudia can just hang on until she is 18 and then get out of there.

If Claudia or anyone that has contact with her is reading this, please let her know about The Point Foundation.

They help young LGBT people, like Claudia, who have been marginalized by society or their families to attend school. They give full scholarships to college.

Claudia will be able go to college, live in the dorms, and be free from Amy's financial control.

I am sure they would be interested in Claudia. She has shown great courage coming from an exceptionally hate filled, anti-LGBT home.

(The Point Foundation put Alan Key's daughter, a lesbian, through school.)

This is from The Point Foundation's mission statement:

"The Point Foundation recognizes that individuals may be socially marginalized or even abandoned by family, friends and society because of their sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity. Yet these lives should not be further disadvantaged as they prepare for the future.

The Point Foundation attempts to identify students who are physically, intellectually and morally capable of leadership to play an influential part in the betterment of society."

Good luck Claudia.

To Amy (who we all know reads these comments): WE ARE ALL WATCHING.

Anonymous said...

Trackback: Defending Westboro Baptist Church

"Amy then posts some of Claudia’s fan mail, which had resulted from the publication of those afore-mentioned interviews. Most of this was pretty innocuous – stuff along the lines of, “keep up the good fight” and other such platitudes. (One writer called Amy a bitch, forsooth.)"

John Nuyen said...

Our thoughts are with you, Amy.

I just hope she can get out of the house and still get in contact with her supportive friends and teachers...

Holly Kim said...

We should help Claudia any way we can. Has anyone heard from her?

The best spin in this is she is 17. She has only a year or less until she is able to get out on her own.

Rin said...

I'm here from the Mass Resistance article. This is so incredibly sad. I tried to search for Claudia on facebook to message her directly with support, but it looks like her account has been deleted. Hang in there, Claudia.

Lets said...

Claudia - If you can read this, then please know I am sending good thoughts to you all the way from New Jersey. I was forwarded your story by someone who reads your mom's hate blog.

What saddened me the most is that she is calling you handicapped and mentally disabled now and posting it for everyone to see! Are you? Do any of her friends know if she is? I would love to know if this true or a lie.

It sounds like your mother is so ashamed of you that she needs to blame your being gay on the schools, being adopted, and anyone else she can.

Know this Claudia....There is something dreadfully wrong with your mother!!!!Not You!!!! I wish I could come to that play tonight just to show my support for you and your school.

The karma being given back to your mother is unbelievable. Alan Keyes who is also completely against gays also was given the same Karma. Both of the haters got lesbian daughters. The only good news is that he does not blame it on insanity. Then again, his daughter is strong enough to defend herself against. By the way, he disowned his daughter so do not be surprised if your mother does this, or threatens you with it.

If you ever need money, or anything, just get that post out to someone who has a blog and I will be the first to send a check to you.

Remember this is not love from your adopted mother and this is not about you. This is all about her and her world coming crumbling down on her. That is why she pulled you out of school and the play. Her shame..not yours.

Please be strong and know that many are sending you good positive energy and prayers.

You are a hero to me and thousands of others who are hearing this story. God bless!

Scott said...

Amy will get hers when she's a shriveled old hag (whoops, too late for that), with nobody to care for her - because she spent her life acting a lunatic. Hopefully when Claudia leaves the house, she'll never look back.

Teresa said...

I'm disgusted by this, and I am really very concerned for this kid's safety - not just emotionally, but physically.

Paul Jamieson said...

What is wrong with a queer activist like Mark Snyder and the Boston Globe stalking Amy? They found out where she went to school, and sought her out to damage her mother.

Snyder and the rest of this freakshow ought to be in jail for going after Amy Contrada

What kind of mother pulls her kid away from a freak who dreams of sodomizing Jesus Christ? and who makes a mockery out of religion and spreads hate with his viscious lies?

The right kind of mother.

Anonymous said...

Paul: What kind of a mother meets the threat of a stalker by revealing yet more personal details about her daughter’s life and mental health? What kind of a mother lets her kid participate in a showing of the Laramie Project only to act surprised when homosexuals are amused by irony? What kind of mother attempts to control the damage to her own reputation by throwing her daughter to the wolves? What kind of mother spins ridiculous conspiracy theories about how everyone, from Snyder to officials at her daughter’s high school, is out to get her?

Mark D. Snyder said...

I just returned home from the play a little bit ago. The students di d an amazing job. The play itself is very emotional, and felt so current given evverything that is going on with claudia and given the phelps protest at both Shepards funeral, and the acton play.

In the beginning of the play there is a boy who talks about how his mother refused to watch him play a gay character for an audition.

I couldn't help but think about where I was and what I was doing when Shepard died, and also think about the hatred directed towards me and my friends, and then the guy who was beaten into a coma in my hometown the year I left for college.

It is all too real. You would like to separate the play, and just watch it like it is in the past, but as MassResistance shows us - the seeds of hate are all around.

No one has heard from Claudia. All are concerned for her well-being and safety.

It was sad to see her photo on the wall of the school, and her name in the program.

I hope that for the next few days we can all find the strength within ourselves to ignore the attacks on me and the school and instead of directing anger towards MassResistance/Camenker/Contrada, focus on sending your support and hopeful energy towards Claudia during this sad and difficult time.

Paul Jamieson said...

Matthew Shepard was killed over drugs

The Laramie Project is about as legitamate as "An Inconvienient Truth"

Both are scams

John Nuyen said...

ah, somehow I expected him to resort to denying global warming as well...

Paul Jamieson said...

I don't deny Global Warming

I deny that it is caused by humans

Global warming and cooling are natural occurances

Matthew Shepard was used by homosexual terrorists as a weapon against anyone who doesn't approve of homosexuality

It is you who are USING people

The Contrada family is only yet another in a long line of people who are used by you to further your agenda

Johnny Burnham said...

I just wish that Amy would finally realize that the person in her family who needs psychological treatment is herself and not her daughter.

I pray for Amy that she may come to find the compassion in her heart to make things right for her daughter and return her to the social support system that is so important to every teenager.

John Nuyen said...

Indeed. No matter what Jamieson might say about "the homosexual agenda," it is not in a child's best interest to have her parents strip her of her peers and friends because of her activism and sexuality.

Can you defend that, Paul?

icarus said...

i was also just about to post about the Point Foundation. i'm positive that they would jump at the chance to support someone like Claudia.

has anyone seriously considered calling DSS? does anyone know if the school is involved in checking on her wellbeing?

my heart goes out to her. as someone who had a basically painless coming-out, i am so grieved that another queer woman, by chance, is having a painful, shattering one.

icarus said...

also, her facebook account seems to have disappeared (although there is a group to support her), which is disturbing.

Mark D. Snyder said...

DSS accepts anonymous tips that people can submit if you are concerned that a child might be a victim of abuse or neglect. There is link in the post under "psychological abuse" if you are interested.

I think it would be a good idea for a professional to visit the home to ensure that Claudia is safe and healthy.

2 words: Waltham House!

Anonymous said...

Jamieson, you ignorant slut! It doesn’t matter if the Laramie Project is accurate or not. What matters is that the play is about a gay man who was beaten to death for his orientation – and Amy Contrada allowed her daughter to participate in the production. She then went on to bitch and moan because “activists” took pains to highlight the irony.

And now, she has "disappeared" her own daughter.

Mark D. Snyder said...

While I totally agree with your sentiments, as always, I have to ask that you do not use sexist language (calling people sluts, bitches, etc.) on QueerToday.

A.L. said...

I have followed all this very closely, as an interested party who is generally on the side of queertoday. I am a committed leftist, a proud queer, and an advocate for marginalized communities struggling for liberation throughout the world.

But I found the decision to use Claudia as a symbol for your cause troubling, and I have been extremely concerned for her (as well as angry at queertoday's myopic parading of Claudia). It struck me as incredibly irresponsible for you to put an at-risk child in further danger. I am not in the least surprised Amy took her out of school; I also think you should have been able to predict this would happen. Did you ask a queer social worker about what this would mean before posting the article?

Though the massresistance expose by Brian Camenker is absoutely devastating -- the violations of her privacy in reproducing emails, etc. was atrocious, and his repeated note that she is "adopted," Korean, and "special needs," as those that were relevant was also troubling -- one thing that is clearly troubling about the report is the willingness of everyone to set up this girl as a sacrificial lamb. I cannot believe how many organizations had no conscience about using Claudia. And I am quite confident that the reason everyone was so pleased about her coming out had less to do with actually appreciating her courage, and more to do with the satisfying taste of revenge that it exacted on Amy Contrada.

We are supposed to be concerned with protecting queer youth. Why have we failed this girl? I think it is because no one took into account the realities of what it means to be queer in a hostile family into account. I've been there. It's horrible.

This child was exploited by you, by BAGLY, by Bay Windows, and by everyone else who treated her like a pawn in the political game. The sooner you can recognize this, the sooner you will be able to refine your mission to prevent anything like this from every happening again.

This entry should be less about sunken hearts and more about the apologies owed for a miscalculation of the situation. It is awful.

Mark D. Snyder said...

Thank you for your post.

Ultimately, I trusted that Claudia, who is a 17 year old senior (not a small child) deserves to decide for herself when and how she wishes to come out. And she would know more than anyone how her mother would react. None of us can predict Amy Contrada's actions.

It was not until after she had completed two performances of the play that all the sudden she was removed. I also have to add that it was clear that an understudy knew Claudia's part in the play quite well, and clear that Amy Contrada was upset and fighting with the school for years. It seems likely that everyone saw this coming way before the interview.

If I had thought this would be the outcome of the interview, I would not have posted it. And I certainly feel horrible and conflicted about this situation. (Just what MassResistance wants!)

You are absolutely right that it felt good to point out the irony and cruelty of MassResistance, but wrong to imply that most of us do not genuinely feel moved by Claudia's bravery and resilience or that we are not concerned for her safety.

If my decision to post the interview really was the catalyst that caused any harm (like MassResistance will want everyone to believe), then I am deeply deeply sorry for that.

FYI: BAGLY is a support group, and played no part in this situation.

Kasey H. said...

A.L., it seems that you believe that Claudia is not equipped to make her own decisions, but has been manipulated by others. "Using" someone and requesting an interview with them for your blog are two very different things. Mark also warned her that there would be a significant, even life-changing response from the interview, and she WANTED to go ahead with it anyway. She is 17, not helpless, and well aware of her mother's views on queers, and I would appreciate that you not blame her allies for the consequences of Claudia's decisions.

A.L. said...

Hi Kasey H...

There is nothing at all in my comment suggesting in any way that I do not believe that Claudia is capable of making her own decisions regarding her sexuality. I suggested that the hostile climate of her family might have alerted queertoday that providing a forum for her could lead to disastrous consequences -- which, evidently, is what has happened. Whether or not Claudia wished to assume that risk is irrelevant; queertoday had a responsibility to decide if they agreed with her decision to publicly make such statements.

I do believe that a distinction needs to be drawn between providing safe spaces for coming out and turning a very contentious coming out process into a spectacle. And I am not convinced that a young adult who is still a minor and living with a parent who is well-known as a loose cannon should be used as political fodder. I am not saying she cannot own her sexual identity, but I do think an organization has a responsibility to decide whether the impact of the decision is worth the price. In this case, knowing what we all know about Amy Contrada, and given the outcome, I think it is worth considering the possibility that these organizations were far more driven by the implicit drama in the narrative of a homophobic hater having a queer kid than any desire to accomodate the sensitivity of Claudia's position.

I don't know if that means I'm blaming the organizations. I certainly do think that political organizations should be held accountable and take responsibility for their actions. while I recognize that the organizations are "allies" to queer kids, this doesn't mean they don't overstep their bounds from time to time. Hell, massequality is an "ally" to gay people, but they also inflict a lot of damage (as does Barney Frank, etc.). In this case, it seems to me that the desire to continue struggling against the hatemongering of massresistance obfuscated the dangerous consequences for a girl living under the roof of some very angry, hateful people. I think it is fair to voice such an opinion in the comment section of a blog entry on the subject in a civil manner, as I did.

Mark D. Snyder said...

AI & Kasey,

I appreciate and welcome anyone to debate my decision to post the interview (in a respectful way.) I also want to say I personally think it is okay to "think outloud" and even change your mind in the comments section as well. Let's just try our best to be mindful of "tone." :)

To clarify, no organization or group decision was made in this process. The interview and decision to post it all falls on myself. After that, there were certainly blogs and news organizations that did choose to report on it.

I think what happened is probably not only a consequence of this one interview - there is really no credible evidence that it was this interview or this interview alone that is the reason Claudia was pulled from school - and there is plenty of evidence that the situation was difficult from the beginning and Claudia wished to speak out about it publicly.

As Claudia said, she had been fighting with her mom about this since 8th grade, and her mom had been fighting with the school (and making threats against the school) about it since then too. If this incident escalated her home situation temporarily, it seems to me Claudia was able to make that decision and weigh the risks of that on her own. And it is not my place to make the decision for her if she chooses to come out publicly or act in a political way. (I would not say that if she was in 8th grade, but she is a senior soon to be 18)

It is my belief that Claudia did this to be an activist and speak out. Her other publications/online writings (facebook/livejournal) certainly indicated she had that desire (activism) in the past.

Her mother was angry and yelling about the school and the play for months. The school published her name on their drama club web site, and Amy was the one drawing all the attention to the play in the very beginning by organizing a protest of the play. I think one could argue Amy was unraveling about this, and Claudia was pushing forward, all along regardless of the interview.

Just some things to think about...

A.L. said...

Thanks for your latest comment, Mark. I should note that I was mistaken when I singled out BAGLY, who were not involved... the organization I meant was the Massachusetts Youth Pride Committee.

I agree that it is possible that Amy had this up her sleeve for a long time. It certainly made for a nice piece of massresistance propaganda. It is actually surprising how long they have taken to pull out the kids... but then again, they are as invested in politicizing their kids as anyone, and they are far more useful to have access to the Acton school system's "sick stuff."

I also accept that I could be wrong in believing the interview was exploitative. But I think we do a disservice to the nature of political organizations by simply defending intentional actions as mere reactions to real circumstances. I do not believe that any of the media outlets or organizations who sought Claudia would have actively sought out random, anonymous at-risk youth in hostile home environments -- though there are plenty of them -- and encouraged them to come out publicly and into a maelstrum of publicity. Had they done this, they would surely have been taken to task as exploitative and irresponsible. The particular interest here was in outing Amy Contrada's kid.

That is why I am uncomfortable with the defensiveness about her "choice" or her "decision." No matter what she herself chooses or decides, the interest in Claudia derives from her relation to her mother, the public figure.

This is equally true of the ethics in this situation: the interview was seen as defensible chiefly because of its impact on massresistance. I would further note that though I recognize that you are serious about appreciating her courage, I would also assume you appreciate the courage of all kids who come out in such environments, yet wouldn't necessarily think it advisable to provide a forum for them to put themselves at risk.

Basically, my concern about this decision stems from my sense that this girl is being applauded for standing up to her mother, which is part of a political tactic targetting Amy Contrada. Though the justifications might claim that this is really about Claudia's choice, I think the decision to publicize the interview would have been far more difficult if it were just another kid with homophobic, vindictive parents. What this indicates to me is that the act of publicizing Claudia's lesbian identity was conceived as valuable for precisely the reasons why it was unethical: because the context of homophobic backlash -- in which Amy Contrada, as the legal parent, held every card -- was both the cause and the consequence of the decision.

Lorelei said...

hi mark,

thank you so much for linking to the group on facebook. i figured that after she got thru this, it would make her feel at least a little better to see people standing behind her.

SO PLEASE GUYS, POST YOUR MESSAGES. i know that if it were me (as i'm sure it would be for anyone!), i would feel alone and in the wrong in this situation... hopefully, she'll know that this isn't true!

icarus said...

According to the facebook group, she was sent to a boarding school. Does anyone know where? Is she OK?

Also, I sort of have to say that I agree with A.L. a little bit. I obviously don't know the whole story, but I do think that there might have been a better way for Claudia to speak out publicly - perhaps on a blog that isn't already dedicated to feuding with her mother and MassResistance. There are a lot of queer-supportive blogs and publications out there that are a little more youth-friendly, and where the people running them don't already have personal conflicts and animosity towards her mother. I'm not trying to blame you guys, but I do think that QueerToday was perhaps not the best venue for *Claudia's* well-being (although it may have provided some exposure).

Mark D. Snyder said...

Thanks Icarus,

As far as I know there are no credible or firm reports of Claudia's location or safety so far. I hope anyone with information on her safety/wellbeing (which is all the matters) will come forward.

On your other points...
I think it is only fair to assume Claudia knew who queertoday was, what we did, and what the possible consequences of an interview would be considering her age, and her awareness (as seen on her livejournal and facebook pages) of all of the LGBT and anti-LGBT organizations.

The fact that her mom had targeted us personally in the past, and we had exposed her mom in the past, may have angered Amy Contrada a little more than usual - but again, Claudia was aware of all of this. She read her mom's site, and she read (and posted on) queertoday. I think it is important to remain supportive and empowering for her, and not act like all these "adults" were making decisions for her and had the responsibility of protecting her from her mother's wrath.

I also think it is fair to assume that this unfortunate turn of events was a long time coming. Her mom had been fighting with the pro-lgbt supportive school for years, and threatening them, etc. as you can see in her writings on her blog/massresistance web site.

Even if Claudia had been interviewed by a different site, we would have reported on it on QueerToday - so I'm not sure it would have made much difference.

I'm feeling convinced at this point, that even if Claudia never did an interview at all her mom probably would have removed her from the Acton school system because Claudia was more and more open about her sexuality and the school was more and more supportive. Meanwhile Amy's attacks on the school and the Laramie project were getting worse and worse.

Also, as a sidenote: QueerToday is not a youth support site, but I would say we are rather youth friendly considering many of the bloggers have worked with youth or still do. That said, I think we would all be super open to suggestions from youth and others on how to make queertoday even more welcoming for youth.

I hope I don't sound too defensive Icarus, but I worry people will reduce this situation down to "amy sent claudia away because mark snyder of queertoday interviewed her," when there are sooo many other factors involved.

Jack said...

Claudia being taken out of school only confirms we need to be able to override the rights of parents when the parents are homophobic bigots.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know why the Facebook group got deleted? I know there was some debate as to the group's purpose, but the comments were mostly constructive...