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Legal Questions

REP

I have two legal questions.

Scenario:

A writer living at Location A creates a story containing language and circumstances that are not considered polite and proper by the local society. However, according to the laws and socially accepted standards for language of Location A, there is nothing in the story that would warrant the writer being charged with a crime.

The writer posts his story to a story site that is at Location B. According to the laws and socially accepted standards for language of Location B, there is nothing in the story that would warrant the writer being charged with a crime.

A reader at Location C downloads the story from the Location B website and reads the writer's story. The story violates one or more of the laws and socially accepted standards for language of Location C.

Question 1: Who broke the law, the writer, the story site, the reader, or some combination of the three?

Now consider the case against Frank McCoy in which he emailed a story to someone who requested that he provide them with a copy of the story. I didn't follow the case and don't know the details of the case. However, assume for the moment the writer at Location A received a similar request from a person residing at Location C, and the requester did not identify their location and failed to indicate the story violated the laws at Location C.

Question 2: Who broke the law, the writer, the reader, or both?

John Demille

@REP

Question 1: Who broke the law, the writer, the story site, the reader, or some combination of the three?


Answer 1: The person whom the prosecution choose as the law breaker.

Answer 2: The person who can be be brought under the prosecution's jurisdiction when the prosecution doesn't like said person or the prosecution has some political ambitions.

I know the law is supposed to be rigid and specific, but unfortunately, laws are rarely phrased in a way that leaves no wiggle room for wider interpretation. So it's at the discretion of the prosecution to prosecute any one of the three categories you mentioned. Unfortunately, the legal system can be used as punishment regardless of actual guilt. If the prosecutor is willing enough, they can make sure that the defendant goes broke defending themselves, making the act of prosecution the punishment regardless of the final outcome (Redrose settled out of court because she was agoraphobe).

Crumbly Writer

That's a thorny legal issue, as different locations (Countries, States, Provinces, etc.) all have different legal definitions, not only of the basic laws involved, but also of who's responsible for the posted story.

The basic rule of thumb is: obey the laws of your home country and the laws applicable to where you're posting (i.e. if you reside in either Australia or Canada do NOT post kiddie porn to ASSTR! Someone is likely to come after you if you do, and the way their laws are written, they can crucify you.

The whole point about the McCoy case was that the legal authorities in one state, chosen because of their more conservative obscenity laws, went out of their way to get a select author to 'transmit' the story to their state, and then afterwards, to trick him into traveling to their state so they could physically arrest him for the cameras.

The key (to their efforts) was that the case NEVER came to trial, which was their plan all along, as the case would NEVER have held up in a protracted trial. The entire case was about ginning up support for the local prosecutor hoping to win a local election. In short, he really didn't happen to the case, once he won the first initial conviction, even if it was likely to be overturned later. The fact the author was too broke to contest it was immaterial to the entire case.

Replies:   StarFleetCarl
ustourist

@REP

In some locations possession is the offense, in others it is creation or distribution.
Some locations have laws that are able to backtrack to include the creation or distribution in another location when the offenses didn't technically occur until it was possessed in their jurisdiction.
The basis of law varies due to location, so there isn't a simple answer.

Dominions Son

@REP

Who broke the law, the writer, the story site, the reader, or some combination of the three?


It depends on the law in question. The answer is potentially all three.

On the Frank McCoy case:

Since it was a Federal obscenity case, the law is the same at all three locations. However, the legal standard that the courts have created for what is obscene is highly subjective. There is a good chance that location C was selected to get the most prudish jury possible.

The Frank McCoy stories are rather far beyond not being polite and proper. The stories dealt with the violent rape, torture and murder of prepubescent children.

Under US law, only images (still or video) involving real children can be deemed child pornography. This is why it was an obscenity prosecution not a child pornography prosecution.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@REP

A reader at Location C downloads the story from the Location B website and reads the writer's story. The story violates one or more of the laws and socially accepted standards for language of Location C.


It gets messy quick here. IANL, but my understand of things would be that in the case of a person from Location C(where such things are illegal) is the initial violation. Party B can be brought up on applicable accessory and/or distribution charges since they were "party to" the transfer of "illegal goods or services" into the jurisdiction of Location C. ("Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.") Albeit, in many cases, obtaining the relevant jurisdiction and enforcement capabilities to do anything about it may be another matter.

Now in regards to Question 1, where Party A @Location A then subsequently e-mails said illegal content to Location C for either party C or D(the LEO investigating the offense), they're then likewise subject to violating the relevant local laws, whether they were aware of it being illegal to do so or not. Further complicating the case for Frank McCoy is that I understand he was hosting his stories on his own website. Which means he was ostensibly "Party B @ Location B" as well, even if you can argue that his Internet Service Provider may or may not have likewise been implicated.

So your answer to Question 2 becomes the reader is the initial violator, the writer becomes guilty by association and more specifically by facilitating the illegal activity.

So this is where it gets weird, because your counter-example where the writer would have a legal case to stand on is if Person C @ Location C went to Location D where the material is legal, and obtained it there. Then in that case, the only person in violation would be Person C as they legally obtained it, then transported it into the jurisdiction where such materials are illegal and thus where the violation and violator is clear.

Case law in that instance is already well established in this respect, you need look no further than "Dry" vs "Wet" jurisdictions in regards to Alcohol in the United States. The grey area is if the retailer "knows" the product is going to be transported somewhere it is illegal, but so long as the seller doesn't ask any questions and the buyer doesn't say anything....

Sadly with respect to digital goods and services, things are much less clear cut, and if anything, are far more byzantine and bizarre. About the only thing that has been clearly established is that ISP's and phone companies have been legally granted the ability to claim ignorance and are generally immune from prosecution.

Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

Since it was a Federal obscenity case, the law is the same at all three locations. However, the legal standard that the courts have created for what is obscene is highly subjective.


Uh, this confuses but also clarifies the matter if true at the same time.

1) Local (city/county/state) Prosecutors cannot press charges based on Federal Laws. You need a member of the US Attorney's Office to do that, and while those are often closely linked to political appointees, they aren't elected.

2) Many(but not all) Federal laws, and prosecutions as a result, tend to either require direct involvement of the US Government as a party involved, or need to involve the crossing of state(or national) lines so that "it becomes a federal matter(involving multiple states)" rather than an "internal matter" for a single state to address.

So in this specific case, getting Frank to physically enter another state may have been tied to enabling the Feds to freely and clearly claim jurisdiction over the case rather than leaving it to the home state government of Frank McCoy.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

Local (city/county/state) Prosecutors cannot press charges based on Federal Laws. You need a member of the US Attorney's Office to do that


Correct.

and while those are often closely linked to political appointees, they aren't elected.


Also correct. It should also be noted that while they aren't elected to their current position a high percentage of AUSAs (Assistant US Attorneys, the federal line prosecutors) have political ambitions, either for elected office or appointed positions.

AUSAs aren't even appointed, they are civil service positions and are hired like like any other employee.

So in this specific case, getting Frank to physically enter another state may have been tied to enabling the Feds to freely and clearly claim jurisdiction over the case rather than leaving it to the home state government of Frank McCoy.


No, not quite. The Feds claim and the courts have allowed them much broader jurisdiction.

1. Everything on the internet travels across state lines.
2. The Feds can claim jurisdiction if a criminal uses tools that traveled in interstate commerce. (try and buy a computer that was locally manufactured from raw materials). Basically, at this point if the Feds want to take jurisdiction in a case they can.

However, the federal courts are divided into several layers, the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) is the final court of appeals with full national jurisdiction.

The nation is divided by territory into 11 (or is it 12) Circuits. The Circuit courts are the first line of appeal in Federal cases.

Each Circuit is divided into a number of districts, and the District courts are the trial courts of the Federal court system.

By Federal law, Federal cases must be tried in a district court who's geographic jurisdiction has a nexus to the crime.

Now, there are state and federal laws prohibiting obscenity. These laws are old and obscenity is not well defined. Because of this, and to balance it against 1st Amendment free speech rights, SCOTUS created a multi part test for obscenity that applies to both federal and state laws. That test is highly subjective and is a matter for a jury to decide within limits.

Federal juries are selected from the District court's geographic jurisdiction.

More often than not there will be more than one District in which a federal case can be prosecuted.

Federal prosecutors are known for gaming this, trying cases in the district that is:

1. Most likely to produce a jury favorable to the prosecution.
2. Least convenient for the defendant.

Back to Obscenity cases. Federal obscenity cases are rare, because they are notoriously difficult to win.

They tricked McCoy into going to Georgia, not because they needed him to cross state lines in order to bring federal charges, but because they wanted a jury that would be more likely to convict on an obscenity case.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Dominions Son

They tricked McCoy into going to Georgia, not because they needed him to cross state lines in order to bring federal charges, but because they wanted a jury that would be more likely to convict on an obscenity case.


From what I've read, I think some of it may have been internal politics within the Federal Side. Basically a Federal Agent probably based out of the Atlanta office was the lead investigator on the case(as they started out investigating a pedophile in their area, it was the discovery of Frank's stories on the pedo's computer that lead to their pursuit of Frank), as were any other investigators involved. They discovered Frank was outside the borders of their specific jurisdiction, so they had to decide if they wanted to refer it to the field office local to where Frank was(and possibly risk that office not bothering with the case), or lure Frank into the boundaries where their office holds jurisdiction. Guess which option they chose?

Yes, Federal Jurisdiction crosses state lines, and spans the country. However, the Jurisdiction an individual federal agent has may be subject to other limits. "Professional courtesies" notwithstanding.

Likewise, an investigating agent, who may be called to testify, is likely to attempt to make the prosecution of their case as convenient to them(the investigator) as possible.

StarFleetCarl
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


The key (to their efforts) was that the case NEVER came to trial, which was their plan all along, as the case would NEVER have held up in a protracted trial.


According to a few minutes of google searching, the case DID go to trial, albeit a bench trial, and then was appealed.

Link to appelate court verdict

The problem is that according to the second arrest earlier this year, "a U.S. Probation officer observed large numbers of computers and related equipment in MCCOY's home in Minnesota. A search of the computer equipment revealed dozens of videos of child exploitation. Though MCCOY had installed forensic wiping software, intended to destroy any evidence of child exploitation images on his computers, the majority of those files had been written onto a portable video player device just before the seizure of the devices."

In other words, he wasn't just writing kiddie exploitation porn, he was viewing it and had it. And he got 10 years for it.

In reading about what happened, it appears thusly: The DOJ in Georgia, operating under Project Safe Child, found someone who basically had kiddie porn on his computer. Doing the forensic analysis of the computer, they determined that the person they had arrested had stories by McCoy, and McCoy was writing things that described kiddie porn (and also, it should be noted, kiddie snuff porn as well). This being a federal investigation, and since they were trying to make a stronger case against the original guy in Georgia, they got McCoy to come to Georgia somehow. Thing is, the government actually wanted to charge McCoy on 18 counts, and he ended up only getting one. And the other detail is they determined there was "no literary value within the murk of rape, incest, abuse, molestation, and vivid descriptions of the violations of children as composed within [McCoy's] work." His appeal was based upon Miller v California, and in judging his work as a whole, the appelate court found the stories judged were representative of his work as a whole, and were obscene.

So he was convicted, appealed, lost his conviction, and was on parole. (In other words, Frank, don't do this again, and we're going to check on you to make sure you don't.) And he did it again.

It's not that they specifically went after him in the first place. It's that he was caught in the net of one criminal prosecution, and was an ancillary arrest. It'd be like arresting John Doe for possessing large amounts of cocaine, and in the process they also find out who his marijuana supplier was and get him as well.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@StarFleetCarl

It's not that they specifically went after him in the first place. It's that he was caught in the net of one criminal prosecution, and was an ancillary arrest. It'd be like arresting John Doe for possessing large amounts of cocaine, and in the process they also find out who his marijuana supplier was and get him as well.


But this gets into the grey area for writers, or any other creative type, and plays into something of a chicken and the egg problem.

Recurring themes, which I've had LEO's I know affirm from their personal experience: If they have a case involving rape, when they invade the perp's home, they invariably find "significant" amounts of pornography. (I didn't ask as to which kinds) Which is one of those correlation things that may or may not be tied to causation depending on the person involved. They have comparable correlations that to happen with shooters and collections of violent movies, video games, and sometimes even music that expresses "violent views."

So it is hardly surprising that somebody who is into real Child Pornography and collects or otherwise aggresively pursues it is also very likely to be into fictional accounts of pornographic encounters involving children(the reverse may not apply).

Frank McCoy demonstrates just that, they found a pedophile in Georgia. They then found a collection of works by McCoy involving that subject(sexual exploitation of children), and then went after McCoy as well. Turns out that it seems McCoy himself was a pedophile, but his stories were what initially got him.

So any person who is creative that creates a fictional portrayal of (young) children being sexually exploited has to be aware that regardless of whether or not they, or many of their patrons, are pedophiles themselves. Their work is likely to be snapped up by pedophiles as soon as they become aware of it. Which then starts a clock as to how long it will be before a pedophile with their work gets caught, and discovering how aggressive the investigators and prosecutors want to be in regards to their work specifically.

Personally, I doubt McCoy's stories were the only ones investigators found which involved minors. The other Authors probably either were unable to be found(they didn't send return emails to the investigators), were unable to be identified and snagged through Interpol(They often cooperate in regards to Child Porn in particular. Multi-national busts are not unheard of for this topic), or weren't deemed to be "obscene enough" to warrant prosecution. (Or likely to be able to convict with)

Although if they did manage to identify the author, there may be a decent chance some quiet warrants went out and their internet activity was monitored for a while.

In the case of a multi-national effort, I wouldn't be surprised if some "Extra-judicial" stuff may have gone on. For example having a foreign government(Government B) attempt to hack or otherwise monitor their own (suspected) citizens(in Government A), but that's completely conjecture and fully unsubstantiated at present, even if it couldn't be used in court for prosecution.

Which ultimately takes us back to Frank ultimately demonstrating himself to be a Pedophile. They may very well have known more than what they prosecuted him for, but the rules of evidence and other factors kept them from doing so. Which meant they went after him for what they could get him for, which was the stories up until his parole violation.

Replies:   StarFleetCarl
StarFleetCarl

@Not_a_ID

Recurring themes, which I've had LEO's I know affirm from their personal experience: If they have a case involving rape, when they invade the perp's home, they invariably find "significant" amounts of pornography. (I didn't ask as to which kinds)


Typically they tend to have violent or domination type pornography. Sometimes it's of women punishing men in standard BSDM format, so when they go out and rape, they're punishing those women in return (not really, but that's how they think).

It's funny the backgrounds of your instructors and things you study when you get a degree in Criminology. There's probably not many of us on here that can truthfully say they've personally walked and talked with prisoners sitting on death row in Federal Prison. I wish I couldn't say that - but I can. We had to study psychology, interviewing techniques, law, law enforcement, corrections, the judiciary, all sorts of stuff (I think the semester on deviant and criminal sexual practices was ... yeah.)

But this gets into the grey area for writers, or any other creative type, and plays into something of a chicken and the egg problem.


Yes and no. As noted, apparently Mr. McCoy either was a pedophile, or he at least had pornography involving underage children. There's not a lot of people with real world experience in magic that write stories involving that. I would like to hope that those stories involving women with spears shoved through them and then roasted over an open fire and later eaten aren't from a real world experience of the author. And I certainly haven't noticed any alien invasions or zombie apocalypses lately, even if lately I'm beginning to wish something like that might happen. (Which I know is also a psychological condition regarding end of world issues, but that's a different topic for discussion elsewhere.)

So anyway, that's where I disagree with you. He had kiddie porn, he was writing about it, they got him on his writing, then on the parole violation by having the kiddie porn. It really wasn't a chicken / egg thing. One thing I've learned is that nearly all the time when someone is simply passively downloading things, they NEVER get caught. It's when they decide to share something, or have it on their phone, or (honest to god truth) send it in to the Geek Squad for removal of viruses and the Best Buy techs see it (been there, done that - we had to call the cops a few times) that they get caught.

Replies:   ustourist  Not_a_ID
ustourist

@StarFleetCarl

One thing I've learned is that nearly all the time when someone is simply passively downloading things, they NEVER get caught.

That may apply in the USA, but I seem to recall the Brits taking down some pay-sites then - using credit card details - tracing back and prosecuting members who downloaded items. Since they are willing to share all details of this nature with other countries, I don't think the passive downloaders are that safe.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@ustourist


One thing I've learned is that nearly all the time when someone is simply passively downloading things, they NEVER get caught.



That may apply in the USA, but I seem to recall the Brits taking down some pay-sites then - using credit card details - tracing back and prosecuting members who downloaded items.


It's not true in the US either, at least not with child pornography.

There's a big news item going on right now if you are reading the right sites.

The FBI took down a Child pornography website called Playpen late 2014. The seized the physical servers and everything.

Then the kept the servers on-line for nearly a year after installing a trojan that would be automatically downloaded by users of the site and would send there true IP addresses back to the FBI even if they were using an anonymous proxy such as TOR.

TOR has been working on changing their code to try and block what the FBI did to deanonymize the Playpen users and there are 3 or 4 cases running through the circuit courts where various users are challenging the warrant that the FBI was working under to identify the Playpen users.

Not_a_ID

@StarFleetCarl

So anyway, that's where I disagree with you. He had kiddie porn, he was writing about it, they got him on his writing, then on the parole violation by having the kiddie porn. It really wasn't a chicken / egg thing.


The train of thought involving the chicken and the egg derailed and didn't get properly addressed. That was going to be a digression into the whole "_____ type content makes people behave ______ way." (and ergo ____ content should be banned or restricted) Rather than "people predisposed to _____ tend to seek out _____ content."

Of course, there are some studies out there now which apparently are finding some correlation between violent video game use in children and an increase in violent tendencies. Although I think some of that may be socialization depending on which games we're talking about. As well as the matter of the subjects being children. Now if they were seeing correlation in adults with respect to violent content making them more violent....

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

Of course, there are some studies out there now which apparently are finding some correlation between violent video game use in children and an increase in violent tendencies.


Nearly all psychology/sociology studies have serious flaws. There simply aren't any good methods for empirically testing human behavior.

The interesting point is that there are studies that go beyond mere correlation, they are divided as to the direction of the causal relationship.

StarFleetCarl

@Not_a_ID

there are some studies out there now which apparently are finding some correlation between violent video game use in children and an increase in violent tendencies. Although I think some of that may be socialization depending on which games we're talking about. As well as the matter of the subjects being children. Now if they were seeing correlation in adults with respect to violent content making them more violent....


While this is completely off the original topic, it also brings up a subject that is worthy of discussion - if for no other reason than to get a good laugh at it. All of these studies are nothing more than a rebranding of labeling theory in a pretty new box, with no original content.

The problem is simple - human nature doesn't fit into a pretty and neat little box. For the history of recorded civilization, we've always had deviant behavior. (Deviant being defined as something far enough from the societal norms as to be noticeable, and if extreme enough, to be considered criminal.) And, of course, there are different human societies as well - which merely indicates that society can and does override base genetics at times - but also means that deviant behavior in one society is considered acceptable in another. Especially when some societies evolve, while others don't.

Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

there are some studies out there now which apparently are finding some correlation between violent video game use in children and an increase in violent tendencies


It's funny how they do have such studies and correlations between the other games and tv shows and behaviours people don't complain about on religious grounds.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Ernest Bywater

It's funny how they do have such studies and correlations between the other games and tv shows and behaviours people don't complain about on religious grounds.


The Mormons do, and have done so for decades. Erm, well, at least their leadership has done so. Of course, they also have doctrines on the books where violence does remain as an acceptable option for them as well.

They're one of the few major faith groups that still supports the death penalty, and doesn't condemn warfare outright.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

They're one of the few major faith groups that still supports the death penalty, and doesn't condemn warfare outright.


The Mormons have a lot of doctrinal differences to most of the other Christian sects because they go with what's in the Bible for most of their doctrine, and ignore all the stuff past popes introduced to help give the Holy Catholic Church more power over the people.

You'd be surprised how many laws in place today were written by religious zealots following church doctrine that isn't supported by Biblical scriptures, many laws actually defy what's in the Bible. But that's another large kettle of fish we best leave as is.

Replies:   Not_a_ID  sejintenej
Not_a_ID

@Ernest Bywater

The Mormons have a lot of doctrinal differences to most of the other Christian sects because they go with what's in the Bible for most of their doctrine, and ignore all the stuff past popes introduced to help give the Holy Catholic Church more power over the people.


Not just the Popes, the Council's too. I know the Evangelical crowd don't tend to view Mormons as even being Christian because they don't hold to the Trinitarian view of the Godhead. For the Mormons, The Father(God), The Son(Christ), and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct personages. While the Trinitarian concept of the Godhead claims they're the same, yet separate? Almost like God is schizophrenic.

But then, I'm coming from that infamous "cultural Mormon" perspective.

You'd be surprised how many laws in place today were written by religious zealots following church doctrine that isn't supported by Biblical scriptures, many laws actually defy what's in the Bible. But that's another large kettle of fish we best leave as is.


Oh, believe me, I'm not. Even though the Mormons didn't inherit many of the doctrines that went with that stuff, they inherited much of the culture and dogma that came with it. But they're working through very slowly purging most of that stuff now, although they have "other issues" as well at present which has them working at cross-purposes with themselves right now.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

For the Mormons, The Father(God), The Son(Christ), and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct personages.


They see it that way, because that's what the Bible says. The 3 in 1 aspect was introduced by the church leadership when it was still the Holy Catholic Church, and for reasons never adequately explained. A quick way to see much of what was introduced rubbish is to compare the doctrines of the major Christian sects with that of the Orthodox Churches, because they split off before a lot of it was introduced.

Yes, they did inherit a lot of crap doctrine, simply because they had to in order to keep the abuse from the rest down.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Yes, they did inherit a lot of crap doctrine, simply because they had to in order to keep the abuse from the rest down.


It didn't help much.

They were violently driven out of every state in the Union before they settled in what is now Utah.

When Utah became a state, they weren't allowed to name it what they wanted.

The Mormon church was required to formally denounce polygamy before Utah was granted statehood.

They were forced to give up territory to other states, nearly a third of their original territory, the surrendered areas all had/have significant mineral wealth.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

They were violently driven out of every state in the Union before they settled in what is now Utah.


...and when they initially settled there it was part of Mexico. Which also leads us into the "Mormon Battalion" which had its own sordid tales to tell in regards to their "doing their part"(as a group largely compromised of immigrants from Europe) helping the United States claim that land by force of arms.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

"doing their part"(as a group largely compromised of immigrants from Europe) helping the United States claim that land by force of arms.


Well except for the fact that when they did it, they were fleeing from the United states, chased all the way to Salt Lake by a private militia that they barely managed to repel. It was a bloody battle against US based private militias all the way there.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Well except for the fact that when they did it, they were fleeing from the United states, chased all the way to Salt Lake by a private militia that they barely managed to repel. It was a bloody battle against US based private militias all the way there.


? First I've heard of that. They had obvious problems in Missouri(legal to kill Mormons until the 1970's), and they had issues in the Commerce(Nauvoo), IL area. But otherwise their only issues in Iowa was the weather. The rest of "The Mormon Trail" was fairly uneventful aside from the "request" that formed The Mormon Battalion. A few tense encounters with people on the Oregon Trail from time to time, but that's why they generally took a slightly different route, to reduce the frequency of such encounters.

I definitely don't recall reports of pursuit by armed groups across the plains, the only "locals" around to give chase were the Native Americans(who weren't normally a problem). The militias generally stopped at either county or state lines, only rarely venturing across them.

Edit to add: That isn't to say they didn't have the U.S. Army sent after them on multiple occasions after getting to Utah.

sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

The Mormons have a lot of doctrinal differences to most of the other Christian sects because they go with what's in the Bible for most of their doctrine, and ignore all the stuff past popes introduced to help give the Holy Catholic Church more power over the people.

They are lucky; when the Christian Cathars belief was based on the Acts of the Apostles the pope (Innocent III) had them wiped out to a man unless they acknowledged him as supreme head of Christianity - and then he had them killed. That was when Guzman started the Inquisition

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