Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm Disappointed, Michael Moore

Michael Moore, the well-known documentary film maker has stated publicly on his blog why he is posting bail money for Julian Assange. So far I'm with him, Wikileaks have done a great many good things and to want to post bail money for the front figure of the organisation is in no way a statement on being against rape and sexual assault accusations or saying that they do not deserve to be heard. I can understand why a lot of people think that Assange deserves to come out on bail and move about freely while extradition negotiations are underway as long as he does not try to escape the UK. It makes sense, people do not think he should be incarcerated before a crime has been proven. Swedish authorities have appealed this decision, according to Gemma Lindfield, representative of the Swedish authorities, because they believe there is a real possibility Assange might attempt to leave the country. A valid concern, I think, but perhaps not strong enough to keep this man locked up while the extradition is negotiated, a process that has been said could take weeks.

So when Swedish authorities appealed this decision to let Assange out on bail, Michael Moore tweeted the following:

I will be lying if I didn't say I expected better from this man, perhaps naïvely. Michael Moore has bought into these theories of a joint Swedish government/feminist and CIA co operation conspiracy. As a man who have produced documentaries that I have enjoyed immensely because of their capability of revealing things that have not been seen when looking at issues superficially, I would have expected him to do a little bit more critical thinking than that. Instead, it seems, that his hatred of the American government(s) and their power plays has made him automatically assume that this cannot be anything but a great puppet show with the US apparatus pulling the strings. I am disappointed.

I have said before and I feel forced to reiterate: serious accusations deserve to be heard and considered in an appropriate manner. Accusations of sex crimes, including rape, are serious, and therefore deserve to be heard. They do not automatically deserve to be believed without any critical thinking, but neither do they deserve to be dismissed as another one of America's great schemes in the plot to take over the world.

I can understand the willingness to defend Wikileaks and post bail for a man that has not been sentenced to any crime yet, but I cannot understand how a world renowned investigative journalist dismissed these accusations through such narrow thinking.


  1. Sorry to disagree, Linnéa, but I think MM is factually right in this his assessment (or criticism). The question of Julian Assange's guilt or innocence is one that shall be decided by the courts, not by us or any media pundits. And it is also true that the strange Common Law "bail" system (characteristic of legally underdeveloped countries) should seem quaint if not offensive to Swedish (and many continental) jurists. But in his assessment of the role and behaviour of the Swedish prosecution service in *this* case, I think he is plainly right.

  2. I don't have a problem with MM contributing towards the bail, I have a problem with him dismissing the entire case on the belief that the Swedish authorities are USA's lapdogs. Is that the assessment you agree with him on?

  3. I absolutely agree as much as the direction level of the prosecution service is concerned. Yes. I will not blame the two initial prosecutors who followed up the case as they each thought proper, even though their opinions diverged (as is not uncommon, and actually a good sign). But as to Marianne Ny, and as to the *present* PERsecution (no longer an orderly and indeed required PROsecution): absolutely YES.
    You can find a parallel in Wikileaks now, where you see how heavy-handed, in old-time Soviet style, the USA influenced a comparable legal case successfully, against the law, and that one even in Europe's most powerful country. :-(

  4. Well, if his assessment would have been just that the Swedish prosecution was out of order, fine. Through tweeting that (above) tweet, however, he is dismissing the entire case as a co operation between the Swedish authorities and the US authorities with the sole purpose of dragging Wikileaks through the mud. Wikileaks is not Julian Assange, leaking cables is not a sex crime, and I would think that there would have been a better way to try to frame Assange than through sex crime accusations, especially in the Swedish system which doesn't exactly have statistics known for their conviction rate of accused sex criminals. That's not to say that the accusations are undoubtedly true or that USA is not using these allegations to fit their own agenda (I think they're definitely doing so). But that the US is using these allegations to manipulate and achieve another goal doesn't mean that the entire case is bollocks or a US scheme from beginning to end. That's a difference MM should be able to make.

  5. It is a good differentiation that *you* have made now, in your last two (three) sentences, and I agree with it. :-)

  6. Moore doesn't mention the allegations in his tweet. I think his frustration is more a consequence of the actions of the Swedish prosecutors, which (on the issue of bail at least) seems to be mostly about harassing Assange.

  7. Danton,
    they may be, but he nevertheless spoke about it in a very clumsy way. He said to 'never, ever' believe the official story, and the official story in this case are the allegations made by these women that Assange sexually assaulted them in various ways (rape, molestation, sexual coercion). By saying that it is stupid to believe in this particular official story, he is dismissing this entire case as a sham, invalidating the accusations these women have made. He doesn't have to presume JA guilty, and he can point out that something is 'fishy', but to claim that the entire situation is orchestrated by America and its lapdogs is to trivialise rape accusations and feeding into one of the oldest rape myths - that a well-known and well-liked man who has done a lot of good cannot commit sexual crimes.

  8. It's possible that Moore has said things dismissive of the accusations, but the context of that tweet is pretty clearly with reference to Assange's bail application.

    In any case, you might be interested in the following news update: according to this report Sweden didn't oppose bail for Assange, the U.K. did! If that's true, then apologies are in order to the Swedish prosecutors (on this issue). On the other hand, this latest twist also strongly suggests a political dimension to the way the legal process is playing out - regardless of the validity of the original accusations.

  9. But even if the tweet was in context to the bail, it still suggests that Sweden is doing all this to please the US, which is the same thing as saying that the case is a sham or silly. The thing is that the US is after Assange for espionage, which is related to Julian Assange but mainly to Wikileaks the organisations. Sweden is after Assange for accusations of crimes of a sexual nature, which is related to Assange the private person and not at all to Wikileaks.

    I've seen that, and thanks for pointing it out! Does anyone know how it all was, because I saw Assange's lawyers later in the day on Sky News saying that Sweden was unsuccessful in their attempts to repeal the decision to post bail, so either they are ignorant too, blatantly deceiving people or Sweden was a part of it.

    I don't doubt there are political motivations involved, but I don't think they necessarily reflect on the validity of the case. It might just be UK/US seizing the opportunity to ensure they have Assange where they know where he is, and the accusations might be separate from that.