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Back December 22nd, 2010 Forward
My thoughts on #MooreandMe

I started out participating in this because I was irritated. Irritated with the whole shemozzle surrounding Julian Assagne (who, quite frankly, sounds more and more like a creep the more I hear of him or from him), irritated by the whole business of who said what, irritated by the whole dismissive tone of the arguments of Assagne's supporters. I was even more irritated with the similarity of the whole mess to the Polanski and Gibson accusations and the consequent media furore.

It seems there's a particular little syllogism which operates for many people regarding creative/progressive/liberal/left-wing people - particularly the men. It runs like this:

1) Being creative/progressive/liberal/left-wing is a positive and good thing.

2) A person who does positive and good things would never commit a crime against a person, like assault, mugging, rape or murder. Crimes against property (including intellectual property) are okay, because after all, all property is theft.

So, when a person who presents as creative/progressive/liberal/left-wing is accused of a crime against a person, there's a logical disconnect. Either the person has committed a crime against a person, in which case they cannot possibly be a person who does good and positive things (and thus cannot be creative/progressive/liberal/left-wing) or they're a creative/liberal/progressive/left-wing person, and therefore the accuser cannot possibly be correct. In these situations, it all comes down to a combination of who the accuser is and what proof they have. The best possible accuser is someone who is also creative/liberal/progressive/left-wing, preferably male, preferably white, preferably heterosexual, preferably Christian, and preferably of an equal or higher social class to the accused - in other words, someone who has a greater level of inbuilt societal privilege. The best proof is video footage, preferably from multiple sources, and preferably with a clear shot of the face of the offender.

If, however, you have a situation where, for example, a white, middle-upper class male person is being accused of a crime against a person by a non-white or female accuser, without absolutely unchallengeable proof (such as a copy of the video footage signed by God) you're going to have a situation where the accuser is going to be strongly dissuaded from laying charges in the first place. The argument is that the accuser is just trying to gain attention; just trying to bring down the person they're accusing; part of a conspiracy against them; that what happened to the accuser never happened; that the accuser is outright lying; that the accuser isn't behaving like someone who's had a crime committed against them; that the accuser provoked the crime in the first place; that the accused would never do something like that; that the accused is a good person; and finally, that the accused is creative/liberal/progressive/left-wing.

This is precisely what happened when Michael Moore went on Keith Olbermann's show to speak about why Michael Moore decided to contribute to the bail for Julian Assagne. Two ostensibly liberal, progressive journalists repeated incorrect information in front of cameras. They spread lies. Neither of them has apologised for their actions in a manner which is even half as public as the actions themselves. Keith Olbermann re-tweeted a link which named the accusers in this case; said accusers have been receiving death-threats, rape threats, and are generally being harassed something horrible, because they've had the temerity to accuse a man who is publicly perceived as being creative/progressive/liberal/left-wing of a number of crimes against persons, rather than crimes against property.

Now, rape is one of those weird little crimes - rape as we know it today wasn't prosecuted even a century ago, much less two. That's because rape as we know it today is regarded as a crime against a person. A century ago, it was regarded as a crime against property. If a woman was raped, the person who was offended against was her husband, or her father if she wasn't married, and if the prosecution went ahead, the restitution was made to either the husband or the father. Over the past century or so, progressive persons around the world have been working to alter this viewpoint, so that women have altered from being regarded as property to being regarded as persons.

Unfortunately, as the Assagne case is showing, this change hasn't really sunk in to bone-deep levels yet. Instead, when a woman tries to raise rape as a crime against a person where the perpetrator is on the creative/liberal/progressive/left-wing spectrum, it gets the same reaction as a crime against property - affronted rage that someone could possibly accuse their darling of having committed a crime at all.

Now, my own opinion is if the accusations against Julian Assagne are correct, the man stands accused of crimes against persons, crimes against property, and definitely crimes against hospitality. I don't know about anyone else, but one of the things I was raised to believe is if you're a guest in someone's home (particularly if they're offering you free accommodation), you're on your very best behaviour at all times, and you work hard to avoid causing problems. Which rather rules out assault as being on the list of acceptable guest behaviours. Of course, I was also raised to believe if someone said no to something while they were awake, they meant no to it while they were asleep as well. I also hold the apparently unreasonable belief that if your sexual partner wishes you to take an STD test, you should take one, if only to set their mind at rest. But, as I said above, the more I hear about and from Julian Assagne, the more convinced I become that whatever else he may be, the man is an utter creep.

I'm still participating in #MooreandMe because I want to change attitudes. I want crimes like rape to be regarded as crimes against people, right down to the bone, rather than "excusable peccadillo" crimes against property for the creative/progressive/left-wing/liberal type. I want enthusiastic consent to become the rule, rather than the exception. I want to reduce the lifetime risk of rape from 1 in 6 for women and 1 in 33 for men (even if it's just to 1 in 7 for women and 1 in 34 for men, it's a start). I want more.

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Back December 22nd, 2010 Forward