Michael Moore has donated $20,000 to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s bail fund, claiming that the rape allegations against him are part of a “vicious attack” on Wikileaks orchestrated by “the powerful and the corrupt.” In announcing this donation, he gave little attention to the specifics of the allegations themselves, though he did characterize them as “strange.”
I’ve written before that there’s nothing particularly strange about the claims made against Assange, and that the public perception to the contrary is largely a result of misrepresentations proffered by Assange’s lawyers, combined with some deeply problematic reporting.
Today Sady Doyle of the website Tiger Beatdown has launched a Twitter campaign calling Moore out for his dismissive attitude toward the allegations. Some have claimed that Doyle is misrepresenting Moore’s position, and the passage in his blogpost is at least arguably ambiguous, but Moore has said more in other venues about the charges, and those statements demonstrate that Doyle’s analysis is on target.
Here’s what Moore said on BBC yesterday:
Interviewer: Everybody knows you are a very strong advocate of freedom of speech. But you’ve offered $20,000 to help bail him on sex charges, and you’re not in favor of sex crimes, obviously. So … that has got nothing to do with what he’s done in Wikileaks, has it? These allegations of sex crimes?
Michael Moore: Yeah, I’m sure it has absolutely nothing to do with anything. [laughs] Are you kidding me? I mean really. What? I mean, we’ve lived long enough, through enough of this kind of deception, these kinds of dirty tricks that governments and corporations play. And the issue here is that if he were any other just normal Brit, with this so-called “crime” that he’s been accused of — which I understand isn’t, wouldn’t actually be a crime if it was committed in Britain, a condom broke I believe is the “evidence.” He hasn’t even been charged with a crime. He hasn’t been charged with anything. And what is he doing sitting in a jail tonight? I think that’s just absurd, and it looks bad on Britain, frankly, to your court system somehow be played by another government, which is probably in cahoots with my government, perhaps your government. We don’t really know, but we will someday, because it’ll all come out on Wikileaks on the internet.
Moore is just wrong. The accusations against Assange aren’t “strange.” What he’s accused of would be a criminal act in the United States, or Britain. The claims have nothing to do with criminalizing the accidental breakage of a condom.
Moore is wrong. He should retract and apologize.