Michael Moore in Hot Water for Suggesting Rape Allegations Against Assange Are "Hooey"
On Tuesday, Michael Moore announced that he had put up $20,000 of his own money to bail out WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who's being detained in the UK as he faces allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion (though he has not yet been formally charged with anything). Most progressives were rightly ecstatic that Moore, a high-profile guy if there ever was one, would come out in support of WikiLeaks.
The only problem, as has been pointed out repeatedly in the feminist blogosphere, is that while Moore is supporting WikiLeaks, he's also gone out of his way to belittle the women who brought the rape allegations against Assange, referring to the "strange nature" of the charges and repeating the untrue trope that Assange is charged with having sex without a condom. Last night, Moore appeared on Countdown With Keith Olbermann, where he repeated the false claim about condom use and called the allegations "hooey."
As Jessica Valenti pointed out last week in the Washington Post, the Assange rape case is confusing and difficult to understand (not to mention poorly reported on), but that doesn't make it ok to play down rape allegations:
Sweden does not have a "broken condom" law. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was not arrested because his contraception failed mid-coitus. Nor is he charged with "sex by surprise."
The details of Assange's arrest last week are being sorted out in a bizarre game of Internet telephone in which misinformation reigns. Facts about the alleged assaults are hard to come by and are confused by contradicting media reports, translation issues, political bias and cultural disdain for rape victims....Now, we don't know if Assange is guilty or innocent - but we do know that the accusations against him have been badly reported, misconstrued and generally pooh-poohed. In the same way that Assange's document dump held a mirror to U.S. diplomacy, the accusations against him and the subsequent fallout reflect our country's overly narrow understanding of sexual assault, and just how far we are from Sweden's legal standard.
Meanwhile, Sady Doyle at Tiger Beatdown has called on Twitter users to put the pressure on Moore:
Please tweet @MMFlint, using the hashtag #Mooreandme, until we have an explanation from Michael Moore, and preferably an apology, and preferably $20,000, donated to an anti-sexual-assault organization of his choice.