Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sense Arrows and Sensitivity Shots

Sometimes it seems to me people spit their preconceptions on others the way Brundlefly did with his acidic saliva in David Cronenberg's The Fly--just to make the target more digestible. Shitstorms happen when people are breaking down others into easily definable concepts. It's annoying, and often destructive, but I also see it as a way of coping with reality. On some level, the spurned lover knows their former object of affection isn't a total monster, but keeping a complicated reality in mind can turn one cross-eyed and delay progress. One might not get anything done if one contemplates the likelihood of doom. Sometimes people are quite conscious of the good things they might trample in the course of saving or acquiring something they see as more important.

Reading some tweets in the Twitter hashtag #mooreandme to-day, I'm seeing a lot of examples of things like;

Maddow is having Michael Moore on tonight, probably to thank him for raping women. Olbermann on vacay pursuing his hobby: rape.

I seriously love the men who are joining #mooreandme but also am disappointed I am cheering on dudes simply bc they consider women humans.

When you trivialize rape victims, you trivialize the crime itself. NOT OKAY, Michael Moore.

Love that @KeithOlbermann feels Republicans should be held accountable for their words but hides from Twitter when its his turn

Keith Olbermann hasn't shied away from replying to some of the thousands of #mooreandme tweets, and at twitlonger he posted;

And lastly, #mooreandme: Here, so we don't go through that again, is EXACTLY and ALL I said about the accusations in the Moore Interview, which strike me as challenging Michael's decision to post bail even IF Assange was being railroaded: "All right. One, one complicating issue here. Address the charges against Assange in Sweden. Are they, are they a ruse? Are they, are they a front for something else? And even if they are indeed something nefarious against HIM, you are still, in essence, participating in bailing out a man who has been charged with criminal sexual charges, or will be charged, under these circumstances. Address that."

This quote comes from this appearance by Michael Moore on Countdown with Keith Olbermann where they discuss Moore bailing out Julian Assange and Moore's belief that the kind of information transparency WikiLeaks provides will save lives.

One side argues that Moore tramples on the idea of respecting victims of rape in order to support the cause of WikiLeaks, while the other side might say people like the posters on #mooreandme are producing slander in the interest of promoting the security of anyone who might need to report that they've been raped.

It's my opinion that the accusations against Assange are likely fraudulent. If major credit card companies are complicit in punishing WikiLeaks for something that isn't actually illegal, it seems to me probable that two woman can be coerced by powerful entities into making character assassinating accusations.

But in some respects, that's a separate issue. Olbermann had retweeted a link from Bianca Jagger, one of the people who contributed to Assange's bail, that apparently gave information about the identities of the two women accusing Assange. Olbermann issued this apology;

Rape has touched my family, directly and savagely, and if anybody thinks I have addressed it without full sensitivity, then that assessment is the one that counts, and I apologize. But these accusations that I "revealed" an accuser's identity by retweeting Bianca Jagger’s link, or that I 'shamed' an accuser by asking a question about the prosecution of a man governments are trying to bury, or that I do not 'understand' charges that have yet to be presented in their final form, reflect exactly the kind of rushing to judgment of which I'm accused, and merit the same kind of apology I have just given.

A lot of people have contended that this is as insincere apology, the charge of insincerity levelled at length in this blog post, which refrains from quoting Olbermann's apology in its entirety and contends it's the use of the word "if" that renders the apology meaningless.

I would say that insensitivity is all that Olbermann can apologise for when he still believes his view of the facts are correct. His use of the word "if", in this circumstance, isn't to suggest that it's possible that people really don't consider him insensitive. It's to acknowledge that the legitimate perspective on the issue of insensitivity is that of those who were offended, not his. Because, after all, he's insensitive, and therefore was probably not sensitive to his insensitivity. It's not a statement addressing an unproved possibility, it's a statement of what he considers to be an invariable fact based on his experience with the issue; if there are people who feel he was insensitive (and obviously there are), then they are right, and he apologises.

The more fundamental issue, in my mind--Does the contention that government entities are coercing these two women into accusing a guy of rape create an environment where rape victims are less likely to come forward? Maybe, but it seems incredibly unlikely.

Does creating the impression that a man is a rapist cast doubts on the ethics of his organisation and possibly put him in danger? Yes.

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