Michael Moore, Where Art Thou?

I’ve been participating in the #Mooreandme shitstorm (pardon my French) on Twitter, where feminists and other people concerned about the smearing of rape victims have been coming down on Michael Moore’s head, trying to get him to reconsider and apologize.

This is the video that started the whole mess, from Keith Olbermann’s program. Moore’s offending comments, including calling the accusations a bunch of “hooey,” are towards the end.

Now, I don’t know what happened that night (or nights) and neither does anyone else. However, I am not automatically assuming the accusers are telling lies because they are part of a government conspiracy to put Julian Assange away, which the apologists on the Twitter feed are saying. Frankly, I don’t give a crap about Wikileaks. It will go on if Assange drops dead tomorrow.

I am concerned about the women involved, and seeing to it their accusations are taken seriously.

This is what “rape apologism” means. Assuming without evidence the rape didn’t happen, because all women are vindictive bitches (or in this case, politically motivated bitches).  Assuming the men involved are always lily-white saints without a misogynist bone in their bodies who would never do such a thing. No matter the evidence showing false reports of rape are around 5%, the same as for various other crimes.

I have three of Michael Moore’s films. I have counted myself a fan of his work (although that assessment is growing thinner by the minute). I’ve watched him many times on Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann’s programs, and he is the sort of prominent progressive we need. Having said that, he is dead wrong about this, and he should apologize. Most of us can hold more than two thoughts in our heads at the same time; “Wikileaks is a good and necessary thing,” “Julian Assange’s prosecution is almost certainly politically motivated,” and “Julian Assange could still be a rapist” are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Michael, come off your high horse and listen to your fans. You make a point in your films of “standing up for the little guy.” Can’t you also stand up for women?

Other great posts on this subject: Fugitivus, The Hathor Legacy, Tiger Beatdown, Pandagon.

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10 thoughts on “Michael Moore, Where Art Thou?

  1. Pingback: World Spinner

  2. In this country, and most civilized countries, we consider people innocent until proven guilty in a court of law… with the exception of rape accusations where many people rush to believe the woman making the accusation of rape.

    In a perfect world, nobody would lie about being raped. However, in a perfect world nobody would be raped either.

    Are false accusations rare? Why does that matter. One human being falsely accusing another human being of sexual violence is just as wrong as if it happened to millions.

    To demand that accused rapists are innocent until proven guilty does not make one a rape apologist. Rapists are evil scum who should be convicted and sent away for a very long time. The same should happen to people who are proven to have made false accusations of rape. And actual victims of rape should feel empowered by society to do what is necessary for both her physical health and for the safety of herself and others by seeking medical attention, getting a rape kit done, and talking to the police ASAP. Unfortunately, our society does a piss poor job of giving rape victims such a support system.

    • “In this country, and most civilized countries, we consider people innocent until proven guilty in a court of law… with the exception of rape accusations where many people rush to believe the woman making the accusation of rape.”

      See, now that’s where you’re wrong. I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, Daniel, I really did, but then you go and make such a ridiculous statement? Are you aware that only 40% of rapes ever get reported to police, and that of those 40% few even go to court, or that of those that go to court, few end in convictions, or that of those that end in convictions, few receive full sentence? Why don’t you tell those women, including myself (my stepfather was given five years probation and wasn’t even put on the sex offender’s registry), that “many people rush to believe” us?

      You got it wrong. Your quote should have read “In this country, and most civilized countries, we consider people innocent until proven guilty in a court of law… with the exception of rape accusations where many people rush to believe [that] the woman making the accusation of rape [is guilty until proven innocent of lying].”

      • Alex: I guess you neglected to read the last part of my post. I will repost it for you just in case you need to read it again:

        “And actual victims of rape should feel empowered by society to do what is necessary for both her physical health and for the safety of herself and others by seeking medical attention, getting a rape kit done, and talking to the police ASAP. Unfortunately, our society does a piss poor job of giving rape victims such a support system.” -Me

        I am well aware that most rape victims do not get rape kits done, do not get the emergency prophylactic medication that could help them if their rapist was HIV positive, and do not go to the police to report the crime. Our society should be doing a much better job in extending a hand out to victims of rape and giving them the much needed support system after their assault.

        What I was referring to was cases that get reported in the media. That once the charges are filed and the case makes it into the media, my perception is that in most circumstances the accuser is automatically assumed to be telling the truth and that means the person who is accused MUST be guilty. This is what I have a problem with, that we do not embrace the presumption of innocence that we should be embracing for all those accused of crimes. I am sorry that I was not more clear.

        Embracing the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty does not mean that we are embracing the idea that the accuser is lying. What it means is that we should be putting the burden of proof on the State to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that a crime took place as we do with every other crime. Does that mean that some guilty people walk in our system? Absolutely. However, requiring people to prove they are innocent is not the way to go in any crime, as you are requiring to prove a negative.

  3. Good going, Alex.

    Also deserving of mention: I am not a lawyer, I am not in a courtroom, and as such I don’t have to consider anyone innocent until proven guilty.

    Indeed, given the statistics you quoted, I tend to consider that most women accusing someone of rape are telling the truth, whether it is proven in a court of law or not. Very few women will put themselves through the hell of a rape accusation unless it actually happened.

  4. “Your quote should have read “In this country, and most civilized countries, we consider people innocent until proven guilty in a court of law… with the exception of rape accusations where many people rush to believe [that] the woman making the accusation of rape [is guilty until proven innocent of lying].””
    No, that’s not an exception. The term “guilty” applies to the defendant. When a purported rapist is on trial, they are assumed innocent until proven guilty. Once that is done with, if there is then a case for filing a false police report on a claimed victim, she is, for the purposes of THAT trial, innocent until proven guilty.

  5. “Indeed, given the statistics you quoted, I tend to consider that most women accusing someone of rape are telling the truth, whether it is proven in a court of law or not”
    And this attitude is a good way to guarantee that the percentage of false reports goes up. Considering how lawyers and jurors are recruited from the general populace, it doesn’t have a good outlook for innocent defendants either.

    Also note the fallacy in those statistics– the “low percentage of false reports” is the low percentage of demonstrably false reports. What’s the percentage of demonstrably true reports? Certainly, for the purposes of a case of filing a false police report, she should be assumed not to be lying, but for any other purpose…

  6. My goodness, I didn’t realize my piddly little opinion had such influence over people. Just because I tend to believe rape victims more often than not, now women are going to be falling over themselves rushing to accuse anonymous strangers of rape?

    Also, are you deliberately being obtuse? Only about one in four rapes are reported to begin with. Source There is an automatic “lying” bias towards victims, and you see it every day, especially when the alleged rapist is a famous person. For instance, Ben Roethlisberger’s recent accuser withdrew her complaint because she didn’t want to put herself through the hellish media coverage of a trial–and whether you believe this particular case or not, it’s revealing that the media immediately jumped all over the victim, never bothering to consider the possibility that she might be telling the truth. Oh no, our football hero wouldn’t dothat. Except that this is the third time he’s been accused. Remember the old adage? Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

    Given the fact that it’s an uphill battle to get a conviction to begin with, I don’t believe women who file charges are doing it for the shits and giggles.

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