Filmmaker Michael Moore is in hot water over comments he made during Tuesday night’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann. In discussing rape allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Moore appeared to dismiss the accusations as “hooey” (although he was actually referring to what he views as the use of the allegations as a pretext to silence Assange), and repeated the false claim that Assange is only accused of having a condom break during consensual sex.
The website Tigerbeatdown.com has started a Twitter campaign to get Moore to set the record straight, and perhaps find a better way to spend his $20,000.
Jezebel’s headline highlights the “hooey” remark, but in context, Moore is clearly referring to Assange’s arrest, not the allegations themselves. However, both he and Olbermann cover the topic as an afterthought (Olbermann sounds almost apologetic that he has to bring it up), and repeat the “broken condom” trope: (from MSNBC)
While Moore is correct that Assange is entitled to the presumption of innocence, the alleged victims in this case are also due the presumption that they’re not just lying crybaby sluts. In addition to the generally dismissive attitude that he and Olbermann display, the idea that Assange is only accused of condom breakage is patently false:
According to accounts the women gave to the police and friends, they each had consensual sexual encounters with Mr. Assange that became nonconsensual. One woman said that Mr. Assange had ignored her appeals to stop after a condom broke. The other woman said that she and Mr. Assange had begun a sexual encounter using a condom, but that Mr. Assange did not comply with her appeals to stop when it was no longer in use. Mr. Assange has questioned the veracity of those accounts.
Tigerbeatdown takes the full measure of Moore’s misstatement with some revolting statistics about the rate at which rapes are reported, and successfully punished, while condemning Moore for contributing to an environment already hostile to rape victims. They have created a Twitter hashtag, #MooreAndMe, devoted to delivering this message to the documentarian, and getting him to find a better use for his money.
Moore’s outrage at Assange’s arrest as pretext is probably accurate, but misplaced. As Feministe’s Jill Filipovic points out (regarding Naomi Wolf, not Moore), the problem isn’t that Interpol is pursuing Assange, but that they’re not pursuing more accused rapists:
Now, I don’t doubt that Interpol’s response to the sexual assault allegations against Assange were politically motivated (does anyone really doubt that?). No reasonable person is under the impression that Interpol regularly scours the continent for every man who is accused of assault — Interpol can hardly be bothered to track down big-time human traffickers who sell women and girls to men who pay to rape them, so it’s not like they got their act together because Assange’s alleged predatory behavior was so horrible that they had to act swiftly and thoroughly.
She goes on to say that “we can chew gum and walk at the same time,” that it is possible to view Assange’s arrest as a ruse to punish him for Wikileaks, while also the result of serious allegations that deserve to be answered.
It’s entirely possible that Michael Moore has been gulled by the pervasive “broken condom” lie that has permeated discussion of Assange’s arrest. If that’s the case, he ought to set the record straight, and adjust his financial support as he sees fit.
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