Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Open Letter to Michael Moore Regarding Wikileaks

Dear Michael Moore,

I heard on the radio this morning that you posted bail for Julian Assange. I wanted to believe it wasn't true, because a lot of the time I like what you do. So I got online and read your letter explaining why you did it. Most of the letter would be great if it were relevant to anything having to do with why Assange is in jail. Unfortunately, it's NOT relevant. Assange is not actually being prosecuted for anything related to Wikileaks. He's being held on sexual assault charges.

Let's take a minute to examine the most problematic part of your letter.

For those of you who think it's wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he's being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please -- never, ever believe the "official story." And regardless of Assange's guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself. I have joined with filmmakers Ken Loach and John Pilger and writer Jemima Khan in putting up the bail money -- and we hope the judge will accept this and grant his release today.

I love that your very first line of reasoning on this issue is, "all I ask is that you not be naive... Please -- never, ever believe the 'official story.'"

Unfortunately, as ridiculous as you think the charges against Assange are, some of these charges - if true - are clearly assault, no matter how you want to look at it. Sticking your penis into a sleeping woman is rape.

What's naive about wanting to investigate rape allegations?

Seriously. What's naive about wanting to investigate rape allegations? Or is Julian Assange exempt from rape laws just because he does Wikileaks?

It's awful to think that these charges might be false. But how much more awful would it be if these charges are true? How much more awful would you feel as a human being after posting a blog about how these women are clearly just making it all up, as pawns of the American government, working through the Swedish government, to recruit two women who have already previously had sex with Assange, to bring up false rape charges and have their names sullied across the globe as sluts who are just mad they let themselves get f*cked without using a condom?

Why are you so quick to assume these women might be lying? Could it be because they are accusing a powerful man of sexually assaulting them? The way you've handled this issue is no different from how the press handles pretty much any woman who alleges that a powerful man assaulted or harassed her. We know the incidence of false rape reports is similar to most other crimes. It's low. On top of that fact, we also know that SO MANY rapes are never reported. Why do you think that is? Could it be because of - dare I say it - the way that people like you view women who DO have the courage to speak out? These women could be lying. Statistically it's actually much more likely that they are not.

But we can't know for sure, and it's not up to any of us. At this point, it's up to the courts. The ultimate point of this letter is that this is between no one but the plaintiffs, the defendant, and the Swedish courts. Assange has the right to bail and such if it's within his rights in Swedish courts. Assange also ought to have the right to a just trial. But so do the women he allegedly assaulted.

Follow the power in this situation. The U.S. government is powerful, and so are the UK and Swedish ones also, I'm sure. But Assange has power as well. He's not helpless. He is a hero to millions. He did something internationally renowned. He'll make it after this just fine. And until someone else brings a case against him, Sweden can't hold him in jail for any other charges besides the assault ones on which he's been brought up.

Are you comfortable with the fact that you might just have bailed out a rapist just because he did something awesome? Or should you maybe think about the whole picture next time before you act? Nothing you've done here is atypical of any other victim-blamer. For that, you and every other person who mindlessly defends Assange should be ashamed.

There are many things that make liberals different from conservatives and progressives from neocons. One of those things is liberals' recognition of our duty to the victimized, to the poor, to those who are not in power. Today you have stepped away from those important moral values. Our right to government transparency must be defended, but we will never truly be free if that right comes at the potential expense of survivors.

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