The danger of posting links without comment.

So a few days ago I tweeted (and plurked, and facebooked, and whatever elsed) the link to Sady Doyle’s #MooreandMe protest because, in the ongoing Wikileaks coverage fiasco, I found it interesting. I posted it without comment. On Plurk, a friend of mine disagreed with some of the points contained in the post, and our ensuing discussion made me realize that I have more to say about this than 140 characters at a time will allow.

First of all, the trouble — okay, one of the troubles — with using Twitter, Tumblr, Plurk, Facebook, etc. instead of a long-form site like this one is that people like me have the tendency to make the mistake of posting links without comment. This is dangerous, because the assumption has become “I agree with everything contained in this post” as opposed to “huh, I found this interesting enough to think about and tell others about”. I am firmly in the latter camp unless I state otherwise, but I understand that this is not the norm. Now that I am clear on this, I will try very hard not to post links without comment on sensitive topics like the #MooreandMe protest. (I will still continue to post links without comment on topics like photos of my cats, because comments like “my cats are the best cats in the universe” get old even faster than photos of cats do.)

To be clear, I have not participated in the protest. I am still doing my own research, and so far I do not completely agree with any post written so far. I do agree with this quote, wholeheartedly and unapologetically:

We require — not ask, not prefer, absolutely require — progressive media and public figures to stand against rape in every case. Again, this is not negotiable. This is mandatory. This is a requirement: If you don’t stand against rape, and make that stand a crucial and central part of your platform, we do not accept you either as a real “progressive” or as someone who is in any way qualified for authority or a leadership position. We will not buy your merchandise; we will not support you; we will speak out against you. Because a progressive movement that doesn’t stand against rape isn’t a progressive movement. It’s just The Man, it’s just the oppressor, it’s just oppression, in a baseball hat, holding a camcorder. – Tiger Beatdown, 12/15/10

And now, some links with comments:

  • Why I’m On Board With #mooreandme, by Kate Harding. Harding, as eloquent as ever, articulates the problem I have with Michael Moore’s dissemination of misinformation.
  • Open Letter to Mr. Michael Moore, by Mårten Schultz. This is a response from a Swedish lawyer to Michael Moore’s “Dear Government of Sweden” post which included some rape statistics. Schultz states:
  • When you quote statistics on the ratio between reported rape and legal proceedings, you seem to be getting it quite wrong, I am afraid. A reported crime is not the same as a crime and it is something completely different from a provable crime. Many reports of rape has its background in events that have happened behind the closed doors of a home. In these cases it can often be difficult to prove what has happened. And when sufficient evidence cannot be produced we have this peculiar principle in Swedish law called the presumption of innocence. You might have heard of it. It means that if the prosecutor cannot prove her case the law will consider the accused person as innocent. The downside of this is that possibly guilty men and women will go free. Yes, we would even let ”thousands of Swedish rapists roam free” if needed to uphold a Rechtsstaat.

  • WE HAVE SOME POINTS, by Silvana and Gayle. Although I think that some of their statements are unnecessarily hyperbolic, it is worth a read, if only for this: “We can protest, and question, the politically motivated treatment of Assange as a target for extradition without suggesting that the accusers are liars. Nuance, people. Come on.”
  • If You’ll Pardon the Presumption, by Aaron Bady. By far the best post I have read so far on the subject, Bady writes these sentences I wish I had written: “Sady Doyle has not convinced me that Assange is actually a rapist, but she is absolutely right that Moore, Pilger, and Wolf are acting irresponsibly at best. We need better leftists than that.”

I understand that Doyle calling Moore a “rape apologist” is incredibly incendiary, as I believe it was meant to be. I went looking for the widely-held definition of rape apologism, and this is where I had to stop for the evening because it appears to be a rabbit-hole I do not have the mental resources to follow right now. In my mind, “rape apologism” parses out to “the ideology of apologizing for the idea of rape” which I am assuming means not taking claims of rape seriously. Moore appears to not take these allegations seriously because he states that it is all about a condom breaking during consensual sex, which to him (and to the law) isn’t considered rape. From Moore’s point of view, he is not a rape apologist. From the point of view of Doyle and others who believe the truth of the allegations against Assange — which include unlawful coercion — he is.

2 thoughts on “The danger of posting links without comment.

  1. David

    Michael Moore is, in my opinion, so much of an egotistical self-righteous arrogant douche bag that I almost automatically disagree with any opinion he expresses. If he announced that he thinks the sun rises in the east and the sky is blue, I'd distrust it until a source I considered reliable confirmed it. The fact that we share the same last name (and my middle name is "Michael", so I can't win there either) makes me want to change mine.

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  2. Lette

    I've been following the plurk conversation and I'm glad you brought the topic here.

    What is chilling to me about Moore's piece is that he goes on and on about what a threat to various big-S Systems Assange is but says almost nothing about the alleged rapes and even less (i.e., zero) about the alleged victims. Because rape is not a concept that easily fits into his perception of how power operates in the world, he simply ignores it. The women become invisible. It stops mattering whether anything happened to them or not; what matters to Moore is that the idea that Assange might be a rapist is being held against him. Gee whiz.

    I know a lot has been said since then, but this seems to be the post that generated discussion. When there's a Big Guy-Little Guy thing going on, as Moore's post paints this to be, the easiest way to understand the involvement of a couple of Gals in the picture is as tools of the former. Not as women who might have experienced physical and emotional trauma and who have the legal right to justice if the claims are judged true, but as the excuse the Big Guy uses to try to shut the Little Guy up. The Case of the Vanishing Women.

    The larger context is more complex than that, of course. This is just my impression of the original Moore piece. I don't know if it qualifies as rape apologism. But minimization, willful ignorance, I'm not sure they're any better.

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