How #MooreandMe Worked

I’ve been riveted by the #MooreandMe campaign (for the uninitiated, #MooreandMe is a Twitter-based campaign initiated by Sady Doyle in response to Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann’s mischaracterizations and outright dismissals of the allegations against Assange. Sady Doyle supplies a timeline of the events (with quotes) here. Matthew Elliot has a smart post covering the protest here. Kate Harding explains why she joined here, Jessica Valenti has a good roundup of relevant links here, other links are available at the bottom of this post).

I’m not interested in talking about Julian Assange, or the rape allegations, or Keith Olbermann, or Michael Moore. People have done that elsewhere much better than I could—a substantial list of links is available below. My interests are more instrumental: what can we learn about Twitter’s usefulness as a site for activism, having watched #MooreandMe in operation?

That said, this post will not be legible without some basic background information. So…

You should really go read Kate Harding’s “Some Shit I’m Sick of Hearing About Regarding Rape and Assange,” which will put the vast majority of misinformation about #Mooreandme to rest. And then come back.

Trigger warning: This post includes detailed information on the Julian Assange rape allegations and reproduces Tweets from known trolls.

Despite the derision that Twitter-based campaigns tend to attract (chiefly as a lazy and ineffective form of activism), #MooreandMe has been a remarkably effective and steadfast protest (thanks largely to the dogged persistence of Sady Doyle and Kate Harding, whose prolific Twitterfeeds will quickly dispense with any and all accusations of laziness). It’s been an astoundingly efficient recruitment tool, it has raised funds, it has been covered everywhere from Salon to Mediaite to The Atlantic, and it has succeeded (as of this writing) in getting at least partial acknowledgment from Keith Olbermann.

Why?

Well, Twitter is, quite possibly, the best available medium for this particular kind of protest. The format has a number of features that level a playing field that tends to push women into the outfield.

The first advantage? Disembodiment.

Audio

Because there’s no audio component to Twitter, women’s voices are harder to dismiss as “shrill” or “annoying.” Because there’s no audio component, Keith Olbermann’s words can’t benefit from his baritone gravitas. The subconscious processes that incline us to hear a man’s voice (and a lower voice) as more judicious or reasonable or authoritative than a woman’s are harder to trigger on Twitter. Like  song lyrics in the absence of the song, both sets of words have to stand alone. This is an amazingly democratizing side effect.

Olbermann, as we all know, has a long record of deploying his tone, and I mean that literally—often by shouting. On Twitter, it’s been harder for him to figure out how to control that other kind of “tone,” the kind English teachers kept trying to teach us and that seems so ineffable and hard to pin down until you see something like this:

I might actually use this to teach “tone” to undergraduates. One short Tweet from Keith Olbermann and “tone” makes all the sense in the world. By eliminating some auditory channels that would normally distract us and make an absurd question like the above sound sensible and germane, we hear more clearly the real tone underpinning that rhetoric. Twitter, for all its frivolity, lets us hear some things more clearly.

Image

Which brings me to the second advantage Twitter affords women: comparative invisibility. In the example above, Keith Olbermann demonstrates a kneejerk (and often quite effective) response to a female opponent—scour her image for something to criticize. Olbermann did his best, but he didn’t have much to work with. Twitter actually offers precious little fodder to those who, if provided with a physical image, would immediately criticize their weight, size, demeanor, etc.

Despite the abundance of determined trolls (as well as legitimate critics) using the #Mooreandme hashtag, you’ll find comparatively few references to the appearances of the women concerned. If you’ve spent any time anywhere else on the internet, you’ll know how unprecedented this is.

Trolls, Usefulness Of

Plenty of what’s happening at #Mooreandme has ample precedent. Trolls like Twitter. But! In this case, the trolls have actually done the #Mooreandme campaign an enormous service. Twitter might be the only format where, if you search for #Mooreandme, you’ll see not only the activists (who, like all activists, will sound earnest and monotonous and defensive to an uninitiated audience), but also the abusive responses they receive. It’s awful to watch, and it’s certainly taken its toll on Sady Doyle, whose account of what she’s gone through is here, but at least that suffering is public. It’s hard to think of a better way to illustrate the kind of harassment and psychological abuse to which women (and rape victims) are frequently subject. And the trolls are doing all the work of a documentary/exposé themselves!

I want to talk about some of the trolls in some detail, because there’s a lot to be learned from what this kind of discourse does or can do—unwittingly—for protests in general.  The “transparency” of Twitter offers (like Wikileaks) a complete record that makes it hard for people genuinely interested in examining the movement to unsee the amount of misinformation and abuse there is, when it comes to rape and consent.

Let’s start with one of the uglier characters, GoldenScepter, who mainly sticks to questioning the protesters’ sexuality and calling the people involved c*nts. Here are some sample Tweets:

(As an aside, it’s worth noting that GoldenScepter (Paul Gaskin) ended up getting trolled by an impersonator, GoldenSceptRE, Paul Gasskin:.

He didn’t take it well:

As it happens, GoldenScepter was wrong on that score.)

Now, GoldenScepter (the original) is, as the above Tweets indicate, an admitted troll—someone being intentionally provocative and inflammatory, with no real investment in what s/he says. The art of trolling consist of posting to a group that believes in a certain principle, and posting in a way designed to attract predictable responses or flames. As eHow helpfully puts it: “As a good troll, your goal is to abuse the members psychologically and provoke negative reactions out of them.”

A troll is, in that sense, actually a pretty useful index; a good troll does his/her research and outlines and articulates the extreme position—the position likeliest to occasion the population protesting the most grief. What’s interesting about #Mooreandme as an exercise is that it demonstrates, with alarming clarity, that the line between trolls and self-proclaimed “genuine critics” of the Assange case is thin to nonexistent.

For example, here’s a Tweet from good ol’ GoldenScepter:

Here’s a Tweet from a new account with no followers:

And then there’s this:

Now: tell the trolls apart from the non-trolls genuinely interested in having a conversation about rape.

Tough, right?

Now, defenders of trolldom will say that this is the point: a troll is a gifted imitator of an agenda he disbelieves. But unlike conversations about, say, God, or porn, the conversation about rape—and whether a woman might stay the night with her rapist, or buy him breakfast, and whether penetrating someone without a condom when she asked him to wear one—these are, despite the troll’s best efforts, rather nuanced discussions about what constitutes consent. When you, as a lurker, find yourself lining up with a troll’s views, it’s hard not to conclude that you need to reexamine your position. Plenty of people who joined #Mooreandme have expressed some surprise at how badly they’d misunderstood the allegations and what does and doesn’t constitute sexual abuse.

This—drawing in and persuading outsiders—seems to me to be a fairly new phenomenon in internet activism. Sady Doyle has stumbled onto a form of protest that exposes people who don’t usually think about this stuff or encounter it to issues that deserve consideration. No matter what your pet issue or issues happen to be, chances are you self-select your web-browsing to reflect those interests. One of the worst consequences of the death of newspapers is the extent to which Americans have lost a shared platform. Where once people of different political persuasions read the same paper and shared a few basic tenets of what constitutes life in meatland, your average person these days gets their news from Fox or MSNBC and the websites of their choosing. The result is an ever-sharpening divide between the realities of Left and Right. Twitter makes possible—in a way nothing else really does—the reemergence of a truly public platform.

I don’t want to overstate this; I don’t think Twitter will save the world. But I’m deeply interested in the possibilities #Mooreandme has revealed. Whether Assange is guilty or innocent matters deeply. He deserves due process, as do his accusers, and I don’t mean to minimize either his situation or the important work WikiLeaks does. But looked at as an experiment in online activism, #Mooreandme isn’t really about him. It’s about a form of activism that allows people, women in particular, to skip over the stupid but daunting obstacles of voice and image that so often get in the way of the message being heard. And it offers an opportunity to actually reach the unengaged and uninformed and clarify, to crib from Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape.

That the conversation is happening publicly, in a space that can’t be limited to women’s-only interests, makes Twitter a kind of anti-ghetto. Even if you have no interest in women’s issues or #Mooreandme, if you follow anyone who’s talking about it, you’re getting some exposure, and it’s amazingly easy to get more.

Rape Apologism:

Now, the other thing #Mooreandme has demonstrated is how easily some will dismiss women’s concerns as tangential, irrelevant or trumped-up. Several of the critics of #Mooreandme don’t understand what the phrase “rape apologism” means. (It does not, as many seem to think, mean apologizing for a rapist.) Here are a couple of definitions that should put us all be more or less on the same page:

Rape Apologism, as defined by FinallyFeminism:

The simple answer is that a rape apology is any argument that boils down to the myth that rapists can be provoked into raping by what the victim does or does not do.

Such apologies feed off the old myth that rapists have no control over the sexual temptation they experience in response to the victim, therefore the victim could have avoided awakening the irresistible rape temptation by behaving differently. It’s classic victim-blaming.

Most people who make such arguments are not consciously intending to defend rapists. They are simply repeating arguments they have heard before and haven’t fully examined.

Another definition, from gethenblog:

Rape apologism is when someone says that rape isn’t really rape, or that rape is not really that bad, or makes an unfounded claim that allegations of rape are untrue, or claims that rape allegations in general are often untrue and should not be taken seriously. In reality the rape of false rape allegations is around 1-2%, the same as for other crimes.

#Mooreandme has attracted not only legitimate criticisms but also the usual arguments that come up whenever rape allegations surface. In short, variations on rape apologism. This happens often, and it’s difficult to address on (for example) comment boards, where people rarely sustain a discussion for long.

Rather than play Whackamole at a distance (from a blog, say), Twitter allows people to respond to those old chestnuts directly AND it allows lurkers to see those exchanges.

Straw Men and Other ManHaters

It’s clear, at this point, that there are lots of critics of #Mooreandme who just plain haven’t done their homework. Again–if you’re new, read Kate Harding’s post. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’ll give you a sense of what #Mooreandme ISN’T about.

Twitter has many perks, but ease of documentation isn’t one of them. This cuts two ways. On the one hand, it gives both sides of the conversation a certain fluidity and lets new people join in. On the other, it makes that same conversation repeat, sometimes in less than useful ways. (People tend to harden and get more extreme as they rehearse and rehash a position—Twitter demonstrates this beautifully.) I’ve collected some of the main trends via specific Tweets.

Straw man #1: #MooreandMe blame Julian Assange for daring to defend himself. He should be convicted without a trial. He shouldn’t get bail. Period.

Response

Straw Man 2: MooreandMe takes the accusers’ account to be unadulterated Truth and thinks we should eliminate due process and presume all accused rapists (and Julian Assange in particular) guilty:

Straw Man 3: #MooreandMe wants men to be perfect mind-readers. (Despite the fact that, according to details published in The Guardian, the women said, explicitly, that their boundaries included wearing a condom.)

Straw Man 4: Guiding view seems to be that protesting and/or holding journalists and commentators accountable for reporting facts is just as bad as rape.  Corollary: accusing a man of rape is as bad or worse than being raped.

Response: 

Straw Man 5: #MooreandMe irrationally objects to Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann pointing out the true fact that the rape allegations coincided with Julian Assange’s political persecution. 

Response:

Straw Man 5.5: If you are a man, your reason for supporting MooreandMe is clearly sex:

Straw Man 6: MooreandMe are trying to strip men of their rights by saying sex without a condom is rape!

and the corollary, that you’ve consented to sex if you’re in bed with someone:

(That’s from the official California Fire News Twitterfeed. Weird. [Correction: No, it's not---it's a fan.])

Response:

Straw Man 7: MooreandMe was started by the CIA. The participants have probably been “bamboozled” into participating.

Straw Man 8: MooreandMe is unfairly representing the character of the opposition it faces.

Since woodenshow seems to see himself as more representative, here’s what his objections looks like:

Straw Man 9: MooreandMe is doing Feminism (and Michael Moore) wrong, because it is furthering capitalism.

Straw Man 10: #Mooreandme will never ever be happy. They want Keith Olbermann to beg for mercy.

Response:


Straw Man 11: MooreandMe is guilty of missing the really important thing, which is not women, but something else:

For Will Shetterly, the unsubstantiated charge of “neoliberalism” seems to negate the validity of #Mooreandme’s claims:

Will Shetterly, to put it another way, agrees with this guy:

Straw Man 12: Guiding View: MooreandMe is hell-bent on protecting Assange’s accusers; when they’ve sacrificed that right by leaking Assange’s. name.

Response:

I have to add here that women who have accused someone of rape or harassment are almost without exception dragged through a miserable process. Their pasts are intensely scrutinized, their motives are questioned, and their conduct is constantly evaluated and reevaluated. That’s the norm.

Look up the case of the gang rape in Richmond:

Morales’ attorney, Ernesto Castillo, acknowledged that his client had sexually assaulted the victim and urinated on her, but said the acts owed to childishness and foolishness.

Castillo said the victim – who was later found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.35, more than four times the legal driving limit – willingly “drank herself into a state of unconsciousness” by chugging brandy provided by the suspects.

Castillo said the girl had been beaten but not raped by force, because the blows were “not used to overcome her will. She’s incapacitated.”

See, she wasn’t beaten to overcome her will; she was already incapacitated. Anyway, she was drunk. It’s extremely lucky that the SFChronicle does not reveal the names of alleged rape victims (or minors), since this could ruin her life. For a more in-depth account of how women get blamed—and why it’s useful to protect their names—see this harrowing account of a woman who visited four hospitals after being drugged and raped but was unable to get a rape kit, because she had been drinking when she was drugged.

As to whether concealing the alleged vicitms’ names is acceptable journalistic practice, well, there’s a debate. This overview of common practice at JusticeJournalism is well worth a look. Nick Kristof justifies his decision to publish the names of 9-year-old victims at the New York Times here. (His argument, in part: “On the one hand, it’s impossible to get rape on the agenda when the victims are anonymous. Human beings just aren’t hard-wired to feel compassion for classes of victims, but for individuals.”)

It’s an interesting argument—and doesn’t hold water for a second. Here’s one account of what’s happening to Assange’s accusers. Not a whole lot of compassion out there.

As to why Sady Doyle and other #MooreandMe people objected to Keith Olbermann retweeting a link containing the victims’ names when they were already public, it’s worth knowing that most newspapers have a policy against doing this. As for #MooreandMe, here’s what they say:

The “Kill Yourself” Tweet Keith Olbermann Received:

Here it is:

Some have suggested that this is a reference to an e-mail Keith Olbermann wrote in response to someone taunting him, in which he says, “Hey, save the oxygen for somebody whose brain can use it. Kill yourself.” Olbermann later apologized.

The Kill Yourself Tweet was condemned by #Mooreandme people:


Moderate Objections:

Aubrey Clark has a two part statement of her objections to the MooreandMe campaign, delivered via Twitter here and here. ETA: It’s well worth reading them in their entirety. The problematic part of her argument (in my view) is here:

Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore, for reasons obvious to anyone who has followed the Wikileaks saga for the past year, support Julian Assange’s innocence. They did not have to choose a side, but in choosing chose that one, and (in the case of Moore) have defended it vociferously. …

and here:

“You must have done something.” The five words no rape survivor should ever hear. A tacit example of rape apology. Does Michael Moore believe that Julian Assange committed rape, but that the rape was somehow justified? Based on his own statements, that does not appear to be that case. After relying so heavily on heretofore trusted reporting from multiple sources, the certainty bias kicks in. Michael Moore is not a rape apologist, because he does not believe that Julian Assange committed rape, and therefore has nothing to defend. Language shapes our thinking. We must choose our words carefully, they have power over us.

Let’s start with the first part: it’s illogical to assert that Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore have the right to choose a side and “defend it vociferously” when you’re criticizing the opposition for doing the same thing, as if that were a bad thing. Clark may have a point, of course: there is something about a sports culture that encourages people to brainlessly choose “teams.” That the tendency exists is not a reason to accept it. Particularly when the people choosing “teams” (and slandering the other side) are trusted providers of news.

As to the second part, no one thinks Moore is knowingly defending a rapist. It is precisely the problem that Michael Moore has chosen to believe—on precious little evidence, and with real consequences to women who may have been raped—that Assange is innocent. The inevitable corrollary to that belief is that the accusers are liars. That’s a dangerous and damaging mindset because it perpetuates an environment where people can “believe” (as if this were something that happened in a vacuum!), at random, and in the absence of due process, that women who have been raped are liars, just because. As Clark says, “we must choose our words carefully.” Men in powerful media positions should be doubly careful.

How #MooreandMe Has Helped Change Discourse On Twitter and Elsewhere:

Case 1: Naomi Klein

Case 2: Andrew Sullivan.

Watch Andrew Sullivan (and his readers) learn a little about what does and doesn’t constitute consent. He started by posting this reader who “cut to the chase“. Here’s an excerpt:

It seems unlikely to me that anyone would include a situation that did not include an explicit ‘no’ under the category of rape, but then I’ve learned that feminists often believe things that I find impossible to imagine.

That reader wanted to know whether the words “no” or “stop” had ever been uttered. If they hadn’t, there was no way this could be considered rape. This reader is–I have no doubt–a rational, concerned citizen. It’s just that s/he hasn’t given this any thought.

Andrew Sullivan followed that up with two other comments from readers. One is a litany of excuses:

It’s possible she said stop and he didn’t hear it (how quiet is your sexual activity?). It’s possible he heard a “no” but confused them with all the other “no’s” that were of a very different sort. [Editor's note: WHAT?!!] It’s also possible that no one was aware that the condom was broke until afterwards (although from what I’ve heard, that’s not true). Of course, it’s also possible he heard her say no, understand what she meant, ignored her, and continued to have intercourse against her will.

The other clarifies why this conversation needs to be had–and why the reader who “cut to the chase” missed the chase by a mile:

I’m a longtime reader, but this is my first time writing in to respond to a post. The reader you quoted saying that “It seems unlikely to me that anyone would include a situation that did not include an explicit ‘no’ under the category of rape, but then I’ve learned that feminists often believe things that I find impo`ssible to imagine” hasn’t cut to any chase at all, unless you count a crabby and ill-defined crusade against feminism. Any serious consideration of rape shows that he’s way off-base. I’m a law student, and I can tell you that American rape case law includes plenty of examples of rape without an explicit “no,” including but not limited to victims who are minors, mentally incompetent, drunk, drugged, coerced, or, as in one of the actual charges against Assange, asleep.

Andrew Sullivan gets it, and Patrick Appel corrects the coverage. Read today’s post.

Case 3: Keith Olbermann

After considerable hostility, Keith Olbermann acknowledged that he shouldn’t have retweeted a link containing questionable information regarding one of the accusers. In fact, he remembered on December 21, 2010 that he had already Tweeted an apology on December 7, 2010.

Case 4: Michael Moore

It started here (link contains video of the Keith Obermann/Michael Moore interview on Julian Assange):

It ended here, on the Rachel Maddow show:

As you’ll see from this rushed clip — transcript’s coming — Moore said he’s concerned that there’s a “concerted attempt” to stop Wikileaks and others who are trying to tell the truth about what he calls America’s six wars. As for the charges against Assange, Moore noted that he helped start a rape-crisis center in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and said the charges against Assange should be fully examined.

“Every woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted or raped has to be, must be, taken seriously. Those charges have to be investigated to the fullest extent possible,” Moore said. “For too long, and too many women have been abused in our society , because they were not listened to, and they just got shoved aside. . . .So I think these two alleged victims have to be taken seriously and Mr. Assange has to answer the questions.”

This is what should be happening.

To conclude, this portion of John Humphrys’ BBC interview with Julian Assange:

Q: Does put up with you mean having you in their beds?

JA: Of course on occasion, I mean I’m an adult man, but women have been generous to me over many years.

Q: In what sense?

JA: You know, in a sense of assisting me with my work, caring for me, loving me and so on. That is what I am used to. So this particular episode in Sweden came as a great shock. The personal shock of having people you’re close to doing that, actually much harder to deal with, in a much greater feeling of betrayal than all of these political disputes I have with United States and being sued by banks and so on. Much harder to handle.

That feeling of betrayal is much harder to handle. It’s enlightening to think about how #Mooreandme dealt with it. Sady Doyle, my hat’s off to you.

Primary Sources:

The Guardian: 10 Days in Sweden: The full allegations against Julian Assange

BBC: Transcript: The Assange Interview

Naomi Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman Debate Assange Rape Case on Democracy Now

Keith Olbermann’s Apology

The Michael Moore Interview With Rachel Maddow, 12/21

Commentary:

Robert Stacy McCain: You Buy The Ticket, You Take the Ride.

Mediaite: Michael Moore’s Comments On Julian Assange Rape Allegations Spark Outrage.

Salon (Alex Pareene) Keith Olbermann “suspends” Twitter Account Over Assange Furor

Zunguzungu: If you’ll pardon the presumption…

Kate Harding: Some Shit I’m Sick of Hearing Regarding Rape and Assange

Mediaite: Keith Olbermann Refuses to Correct Treatment of Rape Allegations...

Behind the Blue Sky.

Scarleteen: Why We Don’t Always Know

Feministing: Keith Olbermann Responds ….

Andrew Sullivan: Sady Doyle gives Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann...

Hay Ladies: Who Will Rape Me?

Pandagon (Amanda Marcotte): Moore and Me Continues

WashingtonCityPaper: Test Case: You’re Not A Rape Victim Unless Police Say

Juridikbloggen: Open Letter To Mr. Michael Moore (from a Swedish lawyer)

Open Letter to Naomi Wolf (by silentkpants)

Fugitivus: Love for Sady, Love for Survivors

Freudian Slip: Rape Matters

StudentActivism: Naomi Wolf Misrepresents the Facts of the Julian Assange Rape Allegations. Again.

Spilt Milk: Who Hears You When You Speak About Rape

Wayne Myers: Assange and Wikileaks: The Best Way To Frame Someone Is For Something They Actually Did.

CrooksandLiars: Why Assange and WikiLeaks have won this round

StudentActivism: The Death of the CIA “Honeypot” Theory

Kate Harding: MooreandMe Day 7: Keith Olbermann’s Got Questions

BoingBoing: Julian Assange: “I’m Not a Player, I Just Crush A Lot.”

AnotherFeministBlog: You May Have Noticed…

AlterNet: The One Thing You Won’t Find in the Wikileaks Cables: Concern for Women

LeakingKettle: A Mother’s Plea: Julian Assange No Criminal

[Edited: As per Tao's correction in the comments, I've removed one of his Tweets.]

91 Responses to How #MooreandMe Worked

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How #MooreandMe Worked « Millicent and Carla Fran -- Topsy.com

  2. Godless Heathen says:

    I don’t think of #9 as a straw man. I was as supportive as I could possibly be of the #mooreandme hashtag, but in my locked time line I used Moore’s and Olbermann’s behavior to make broader points about capitalist media and it’s furtherance of the rape culture’s narrative. I can agree with wanting to hold media figures accountable, but I don’t see that as being at odds with the concept that their very legitimacy is a house of cards. I found the fact that ordinary people’s voices (primarily the voices of white middle class people) were finally being centered over the voices of corporate media figures to be an amazing revolution and a way to demonstrate to my few followers that the corporate media emperor really has no clothes, that if we turn off their voices we can find we have a narrative of our own to tell. Categorizing the desire to smash the legitimacy of the corporate media as a straw man does everyone a great disservice, in my completely unhumble opinion.

  3. taojoannes says:

    Hey, I’m in your article. Neat.

    I do want to clarify that you are using my tweets out of context.

    Taojoannes: @EAGSquared @jhameia anger is a rational response, but acting out of anger leads to irrational behavior

    Jahameia: @taojoannes Except not all of us in #mooreandme are acting from a place of anger. Nor are we acting irrationally.

    Taojoannes: @Jahemeia If you aren’t, then that statement doesn’t apply to you, does it?

    Jahameia: @taojoannes Scuse me for standing up for everyone in #mooreandme, I had no idea solidarity was a bad thing.

    Taojoannes: @jhameia if you aren’t guilty of an accusation, you can’t use your innocence to clear the accused. does that make sense? #mooreandme

    ——–

    The question of eliminating due process is part of a discussion concerning a victims behavior after her rape, and how that can impact a successful conviction.

    Many survivors behave in ways that undermine their case when it comes to court, destroying evidence and behaving in ways towards their attackers that seem very strange in the courtroom, such as in this case, throwing a party for the person, bragging about spending time with him, and allowing him to stay with her for another week, only bringing charges after finding out about another woman in his life.

    My point in that discussion was that, while there is no “normal” way to behave after rape, education prior to a rape occurring can help victims respond in ways that will strengthen their legal case.

    But since I ever voiced any disagreement with any part of feminist dogma, when I suggested this, I was labelled as a troll and a rape apologist, even though The Sexual Violence Center gives exactly this sort of advice.

    Reductio ad absurdum and ad hominem were very common responses to any attempt to engage #mooreandme supporters on any aspect of the specific case or the theory in general.

    I was told to kill myself, I was told that I was a rape apologist, I was called a dummy, ignorant, troll, etc. Even after identifying as a rape survivor, which I am. You can check replies to me to see this disgusting behavior, which I never degraded myself by sinking to.

    Beware groupthink, misrepresentation of facts, prepackaged belief systems, and prepackaged rhetoric. These are common characteristics of the cult-like mentality that strips individuals of their ability to think independently, a key aspect of human dignity.

    • Millicent says:

      Tao, it certainly wasn’t my intention to misrepresent you. I’ve removed that Tweet from the list above and posted the correction. (As you’ve no doubt noticed, Twitter makes context mighty hard to track down.)

      • Aubrey Clark says:

        I feel like I was taken out of context slightly as well. When you mentioned my tweet, you left out the part where I said:

        “Julian Assange has been accused of rape by two women. He is innocent until proven guilty, but that does not mean that his accusers are liars until proven otherwise. It can be difficult for most to grasp this concept, however, and in our team sports culture it is difficult not to choose sides.”

        You mentioned the sports culture part in your commentary, and said “The inevitable corrollary to that belief is that the accusers are liars.” without mentioning that I agreed with you.

      • taojoannes says:

        I appreciate your integrity.

        Peace and cooperation are the answer if we ever want to get any where.

        What would be interesting would be a round up of straw men, ad absurdum, ad hominem, and other fallacies being used by #mooreandme supporters.

        This may help others from resorting to such tactics in the future and help maintain civility in dialog, which serves the ultimate purpose of reducing the amount of harm sex crimes inflict in our society by helping foster cooperation.

      • Millicent says:

        Tao,

        “What would be interesting would be a round up of straw men, ad absurdum, ad hominem, and other fallacies being used by #mooreandme supporters.”

        I agree! It would be fascinating. (I hope you do one.)

  4. Brigid Keely says:

    I was linked via twitter. Thanks so much for writing and posting this, it’s really excellent.

  5. jon says:

    Excellent points about Twitter’s ability to level the playing field. Totally agree with how Twitter’s dynamic keeps somebody like Olbermann from using his voice and tone to dominate; similarly, the limit of 140 characters makes verbosity less useful as a dominance technique. And engaging as people helps get beyond the posturing to more meaningful dialogs. Great great post, thanks for taking the time to write it up in such detail.

  6. kpants says:

    I’m sorry – I removed the letter, feeling intimidated by both the trolls and the straw-men apologists who were attacking #mooreandme tweeters. I will re-up it again, in hope some of the heated attacks will have quieted. *I hope.* Here is the link to my reposted “Open letter to Naomi Wolf” – http://www.twitlonger.com/show/7kqdka

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  8. Unmana says:

    Wonderful, well-written post. It’s got all these comments just while I was reading it! Thanks for writing this.

  9. Aubrey Clark says:

    Decided to post this down here as well, where it probably belonged in the first place.

    I feel like I was taken out of context slightly as well. When you mentioned my tweet, you left out the part where I said:

    “Julian Assange has been accused of rape by two women. He is innocent until proven guilty, but that does not mean that his accusers are liars until proven otherwise. It can be difficult for most to grasp this concept, however, and in our team sports culture it is difficult not to choose sides.”

    You mentioned the sports culture part in your commentary, and said “The inevitable corrollary to that belief is that the accusers are liars.” without mentioning that I agreed with you. In fact, on a second reading, it feels like you were trying to imply either that I don’t agree or that I hadn’t considered that. Would you be willing to add more context?

    • Millicent says:

      Aubrey, I’m glad you posted this here. I’ve gone back and emphasized in the body of the post that the full text of your tweets (which I had already linked to prior to quoting) is well worth reading for a fuller representation of your position.

  10. Wednesday says:

    Thank you so much, so much for this. I’ve written about #MooreandMe here but you expand so wonderfully on all that I’ve said.

  11. Lefty says:

    FYI, “CalFireNews” is has no association with the State of California, and is not “official” anything. I’d hate for my tax dollars to be spent supporting someone like that, but it’s just a firefighter-fanboi.

  12. Chelsea Starr says:

    Excellent article, thanks for posting.

  13. Pingback: What #MooreandMe meant to moi | MKP-Hearts-NYC, Brooklyn Edition

  14. Nichole says:

    You also used my Twits out of context.

    You failed to allow your readers to understand my issues with, what I call “Grey Rape”.

    I am also a victim of rape, as well as a survivor. However, once reading the Guardian, and the article they did on the original police report of Miss A. and Miss W., you could understand how angry this makes me.

    Miss A. complains that she thinks, that Assange intentionally tore the condom during sex. Wouldn’t she have noticed that? I mean, come on. The condom boxes say that they are not 100% effective. Condoms break. To insinuate that he intentionally tore it, is disgusting.

    Miss A is a highly intelligent woman. She is very familiar with all laws about rape. She knew the right thing to say, when speaking to the police. She manipulated the entire situation to her liking, due to being pissed that Assange was also sleeping with another woman. If they were actually “raped”, they would have immediately gone to the police. Once they found out about each other, they conspired, and went in for “assistance” in STD testing. If you think that Miss A, a Feminist combatant, wouldn’t have gone balls to the walls, after this, you are wrong. This is her life calling.

    Miss W. even was quoted as not fearing him, nor wanting him charged with rape.

    They both “simply wanted guidance” from the police. They both conspired with each other to bring these charges against him. Why else, would they consider selling their story to a tabloid? To expose him, embarrass him, and seek “legal revenge”.

    I am a rape apologist, when it comes to women who use the laws to their advantage, out of anger, revenge and spite. Not anger from actually being raped. Anger due to finding out that a man they are sleeping with, is also sleeping with another woman.

    So, before you take snapshots of my twit status, you should have done so, not to twist/manipulate it for your article. Your credibility has gone out the door.

    • Millicent says:

      Nichole, thank you for this clarification of your position. I’m sure other readers will find that context helpful.

    • Messerschmitt says:

      @Nichole
      “If they were actually “raped”, they would have immediately gone to the police.”

      Yeah, because every rape-victim acts the same way!
      And if they act in a way you don’t think “actually raped” people would, they must be lying, obviously!

      Good to know. In that case I wasn’t actually raped but just acted out of petty revenge or something because I didn’t went to the police immediately. Gee, shouldn’t have been too hurt and confused that someone I trusted would ignore my “No”s then. How silly of me.
      Would you care to share the “how to behave like a proper raped person” advice? You know, just in case. Wouldn’t want to make the same mistake again.

      Well, but thank you for clearing up any doubts and that you confirmed that you are, in fact, a rape apologist!
      Your tweets did indeed seem a bit more ambigious.

      @Millicent
      Thank you for the informative article (:
      I will make sure to link it! Keep up the good work.

      • Nichole says:

        You are missing my point. Miss A’s goal in life, is to make sure that women are treated as an equal to men, which they should be. She is also very active with rape laws. Could she have been confused about going to the police? Sure. However, the next night, she tweets, that she is throwing a party for Assange, at her place, mind you.

        I know, that if I was just sexually assaulted, raped, molested, no condom after asked, or he took my clothes off too fast for my liking, I would not be throwing a party for the accused. Miss. A is a ball buster, which I like, since I am the same. She would not have waited, to “seek guidance” from the police. She would have taken care of the issue asap. I know this just from reading her wordpress blogs. She is all about setting a precedence, making sure rape laws are stiff for rapists, etc. So, you have to understand my view point.

        My above comment has nothing to do with rape victims as an entirety. Just the 2 women, who conspired with each other, to “seek guidance” knowing that the police would send it to the prosecutors office, and knowing who Assange is, they want to nail him.

        One more thing, why didn’t Miss A. go to the hospital for a rap kit, to secure the DNA left over from the broken condom? That would have been proof enough to have kept Assange in the country and rape charges may have stuck.

      • Miss A’s account is that they were not raped:

        “It is quite wrong that we were afraid of him. He is not violent and I do not feel threatened by him….In both cases, what started out as voluntary sex subsequently developed into an assault. The other woman wanted to report rape. [The] responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man who has a twisted attitude to women and a problem with taking ‘no’ for an answer.”

        There is a murky and unpleasant area between rape and assault that the law is not qualified to handle. Well, unless some feminists manage to end the presumption of innocence, as Jessica Valenti suggests:

        “Swedish rape laws … do go much further than U.S. laws do, and we should look to them as a potential model for our own legislation. In fact, some activists and legal experts in Sweden want to change the law there so that the burden of proof is on the accused; the alleged rapist would have to show that he got consent, instead of the victim having to prove that she didn’t give it.”

      • P.S. I should add that I completely agree that consent can be withdrawn at any time. But the leaked account at the Guardian says no one ever said no, and while I think Assange is an inconsiderate jerk in bed at the very least, it’s not unreasonable to assume consent until it’s withdrawn.

  15. Pingback: “a moment of intervention” « zunguzungu

  16. Coldtype says:

    Wow. One marvels at how the debate has shifted from the unconscionable actions of the US abroad to the Assange rape allegations. In my wildest imaginings I never thought it would really be this simple. The forces of reaction have it down to a science when dealing with the left which goes a long way towards explaining their near unbroken record of success.

    Lucy. Football. The Left. Fail.

    Works every time.

    • Millicent says:

      It’s possible (and necessary) for an ethical party to engage in multiple debates, just as you’re doing here. I’d offer that the “forces of reaction” win when the left sacrifices one of its guiding principles in pursuit of another, all for the sake of expediency.

      • Coldtype says:

        What expediency? The issue is the Wikileaks revelations. The rape allegations are another separate issue that has overwhelmed debate on the left and, quite conveniently, in the mainstream. The peculiar development and timing of the rape allegations immediately raise red flags which is not to say that the charges should not be investigated. What I find surreal is that mere ALLEGATIONS—against a major US target—have displaced actual facts of US duplicitousness that have not been disputed.

      • Millicent says:

        Coldtype,

        “The issue is the Wikileaks revelations. The rape allegations are another separate issue that has overwhelmed debate on the left and, quite conveniently, in the mainstream.”

        I’m genuinely curious, because internet metrics are interesting: how are you measuring this? And why must it be a zero-sum game? It seems to me the solution to the problem you’re describing (btw, I’m reading and planning to write on the cables, and I hope you are too) would be to demand MORE writing on the Wikileaks revelations, not *less* on the rape allegations, which, as you say, are important and need to be investigated.

  17. Erik R. says:

    Excellent post. What I love about technologies like Twitter is that no one who built it knows how it will ultimately be used.

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  19. Amanda Marcotte tweeted me this link. I’ll have to agree with the folks objecting to being taken out of context, and I would argue that you’re making a fine argument against twitivism, because you demonstrate that tweeting makes it easy to take sound bites and spin them to fit your assumptions.

    In this post, your use of “straw man” plays an intellectually dishonest trick: you dismiss a question before you address it, giving the reader your context before giving the information. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to spin info.

    To address them:

    Straw man 1:

    Sady Doyle admitted that she thinks Assange is guilty. All of her posts should be read with the awareness of her prejudice.

    I never saw kapuciyna’s tweet that you say is the response to me, but I’m amused that you chose it. I completely agree with it. People should not assume Assange or his accusers are lying.

    Kapuciyna’s response includes something that lies at the heart of the problem with #mooreandme: while complaining about misinformation, a great deal of misinformation was promoted:

    1. Moore never said a broken condom was the only charge or the full accusation. He said it was the only evidence of a crime. He may be wrong there, because I haven’t heard that the police even have the condom. So far as I know, if there’s any evidence, Moore is right. Even if he’s wrong and there’s no evidence, it’s wrong to say he was spreading misinformation when talking about the condom.

    2. Moore never said Assange was innocent or the accusers were lying, and he consistently used terms like “guilty or innocent” when speaking of the case.

    3. Neither Moore nor Olbermann are to be blamed for the names of the accusers being known; they were made public in August by the European press. When I pointed that out, one person tweeted me that she hadn’t known that, because #mooreandme kept repeating that Moore and Olbermann had outed the women.

    Straw man 2:

    TaoJoannes, as I read him, was asking questions to find the range of beliefs at mooreandme. The other two believed you were assuming guilt. Isn’t it proper to address misunderstandings rather than mock them or claim they’re straw men?

    Straw man 3:

    According to the Guardian, Miss W had consensual sex with Assange, went out, then got back into bed with him. When he initiated morning sex, she could not be bothered (the writer’s term, not mine) to say no. The question of rape should include the question of whether consent must be verbal. The line between “not bothering to say no” and consent strikes me as very, very narrow.

    Straw man 4:

    Sorry, but I can’t see a connection between your claim and your illustrations. No one there is saying that accusing a man of rape is worse than being raped. Has anyone ever said that?

    Straw man 5:

    Not a straw man. Moore’s “hooey” was about the timing, but mooreandme interpreted it as being about the charges.

    Straw man 5.5:

    Yeah, ParkyBill is a dick there.

    Straw man 6:

    The condom use continues to be at the heart of the charges, and is the reason for the concern about STDs.

    Straw man 7:

    Neither of your examples is claiming that the woman are fronts for the CIA. However, it’s right to ask questions. The CIA now has an official Wikileaks Task Force. They’re as involved as they can be. Any responsible journalist would notice that there is a line going from Miss A to Ladies In White to the NED and the CIA. I suspect it’s a coincidence, but it’s still legit to wonder, just as it’s legit to wonder about the timing of the allegations.

    Straw man 8:

    I dunno if that’s a big enough complaint to call a straw man. Seems like you’re padding your list.

    Straw man 9:

    I dunno if that’s a straw man, either. Mooreandme supporters seem awfully dismissive of other kinds of feminism.

    Straw man 10:

    Mooreandme in general seemed unhappy with Olbermann’s responses and wanted full capitulation from him.

    Straw man 11:

    You notice that my comment to Jay Smooth doesn’t have a #mooreandme tag? My use of the tag was inconsistent, I confess, but that tweet was intentionally a side discussion. I find middle-class activism fascinating, and I always wonder when activists who have the privilege of wealth ignore capitalism’s greatest privilege.

    As for my comment to JohnnyACE562, having “similar” opinions does not mean I have “equal” opinions. Really, words matter, and the equation you’ve created there is false. JohnnyACE562 said things about women that I disagree with. I was intentionally narrowing the group by saying “neoliberal women” rather than “all women” and “similar” rather than “identical”, and I was distancing myself further from him by saying “I suspect’ rather than “I agree” or “I believe.”

    So, really, you got that one all kinds of wrong.

    Straw man 12:

    A good example of Mooreandme’s misinformation. The names became common knowledge on the web in August. You continue with misinformation: some papers do it, but British papers avoid it because they have harsh libel laws.

    I fully agree with you that accusers should not be dragged through the mud. But anyone who makes any accusation has to expect to be questioned. I disagree with the decision to make the names public, but now that they are public, getting angry four months after the fact at Moore and Olbermann just seems silly.

    Well, this reply is probably too long already. I’ll end by repeating myself: I disagree with your tactics, but I agree with your goal of helping all victims of rape.

    • Millicent says:

      Will,

      “As for my comment to JohnnyACE562, having “similar” opinions does not mean I have “equal” opinions. Really, words matter, and the equation you’ve created there is false. JohnnyACE562 said things about women that I disagree with. I was intentionally narrowing the group by saying “neoliberal women” rather than “all women” and “similar” rather than “identical”, and I was distancing myself further from him by saying “I suspect’ rather than “I agree” or “I believe.”

      So, really, you got that one all kinds of wrong.”

      Never have I been more delighted to be wrong about anything. So pleased you made your distance from JohnnyAce a matter of public record here. Thanks.

      Since you’re parsing the difference between “similar” and “equal” opinions, and we’re both, I think, interested in accuracy, I have a request. In your Tweet, which I cited in the post, you ask whether Assange shouldn’t get due process or bail–the implication being that your interlocutor was asserting the contrary. Would you mind pointing me to any or all of the #Mooreandme tweets you came across that assert Assange is unequivocally guilty and doesn’t deserve due process or bail? It’s useful, in these kinds of discussions, to have sources.

      • Aubrey Clark says:

        “Would you mind pointing me to any or all of the #Mooreandme tweets you came across that assert Assange is unequivocally guilty and doesn’t deserve due process or bail? It’s useful, in these kinds of discussions, to have sources.”

        I’m uncertain if she meant to imply that Assange isn’t entitled to due process, but that’s how I interpreted these quotations attributed to Sady Doyle in a blog post by Matt Cornell:

        “I really, really, do tend to believe that he raped those girls.”

        “he (Assange) — in my opinion, probably, allegedly — happened to be a repeat rapist…”

        “Since statistics consistently report only 8% of rape allegations are unfounded, there’s a 92% chance.”

        (mattcornell.org/blog/2010/12/doyleandme)

        Ms. Doyle has the right, in my opinion, to believe that Assange is guilty until proven innocent due to the nature of the allegations against him. However, such opinions publicly expressed by the founder of this protest can confuse others about the motives participants have for being outraged at Moore and Olbermann. Is it that Moore publicly belittled the allegations, or is it that he posted bail for a rapist?

        Although I did not really question Sady Doyle’s motives in any of my tweets, I think the above quotes elucidate the trouble others are having with divorcing opinions of innocent and guilt with opinions about rape culture. They are not equivalent, but if you take the opinions of Ms Doyle as a representation of the whole Moore and me protest you might be understandably confused.

      • A great big ditto on Aubrey Clark’s reply.

        Also, this is another illustration of the problem with Twitter. Is there any easy way to find what my tweet was in response to? I think it was part of a conversation with kiplet that included him saying that Twitter is a blunt instrument. That conversation began when I retweeted this, I think:

        silvananaguib Silvana Naguib
        I am deeply uncomfortable with a feminist movement that suddenly trusts the state/criminal justice system when it comes to rape

        Doing a little googling to try to remember where this tangled conversation began, I came on something by a rightwinger that I hadn’t seen, but think is interesting:

        http://www.melaniephillips.com/articles-new/?p=787

        And here’s an example of men being guilty if they’re accused:

        http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101207145358AAEcoNv

        Frankly, every time someone brings up the statistics on rape when talking about Assange, they’re distracting us from the main issue: did he commit rape? Whether every rapist is convicted or none is is irrelevant to Assange’s case. Either he did it, or he didn’t. So when Sady uses statistics to convict him, she’s doing the same thing racists do when they point to the racial stats about the prison population: the stats says the system sucks, but they say nothing about a specific individual within it.

      • zunguzungu says:

        Aubrey,
        I had similar objections to the language that Matt C brought up, which I wrote about here, but I think you’re pushing way too hard; it was absolutely obvious to anyone that Doyle’s ire, for example, was “that Moore publicly belittled the allegations,” and a great many people on #mooreandme made it quite clear that his getting bail was not the problem at all, that he deserves due process, not a get-out-of-jail-free card.

        I also suspect that any hypothetical people who are getting hypothetically confused about the protest’s intentions have only themselves to blame for (mistakenly) believing that Sady Doyle simply shouted and everyone started moving; SD was certainly the primary organizer and motivating spirit, but lots of people participated for different and sometimes slightly conflicting reasons. Certainly it would be wrong to conflate your perspective with some of the more vicious trolls that also criticized SD; the same courtesy has to be extended to the people criticizing MM, KO, NW, etc.

      • zunguzungu says:

        Will,
        My take on the statistics thing is that Moore/Olbermann/Wolf,etc were all arguing that it’s completely obvious that the allegations are the baseless workings of a conspiratorial “dark force,” it’s completely relevant to point out that, actually, no, it’s quite plausible that he did exactly what he was accused of doing. The point of a profile is not to convict, but to argue that he plausibly might have done it, which is all I ever saw #mooreandme people saying. People weren’t angry that he got bail, but they were angry that the possibility of his being guilty was being categorically dismissed. And so, pointing out the ways that he resembles many other rapists is a way of dismissing the dismissal, of arguing against people saying that it’s obvious he didn’t do it by saying, no, in fact, it’s *not* obvious that he didn’t do it. Of saying, let’s look at the evidence instead of dismissing the charges before they even get looked at. That looks to me like a defense of due process, not an argument against it.

        I note, by the way, that you haven’t come up with any examples of #mooreandme people arguing that he shouldn’t get bail, as Millicent requested.

      • “Moore/Olbermann/Wolf,etc were all arguing that it’s completely obvious that the allegations are the baseless workings of a conspiratorial “dark force,”

        Really? Please quote an example.

        As for #mooreandme, I dunno if I’ll wade back in there for an example, but you shouldn’t pretend the conversation began there. It’s all over the web, so people like Sady came thinking Assange is guilty and people like me came thinking everyone should be considered innocent and people like goldenscepter (I think–correct me if I’m mixing him up with someone) came thinking Assange’s accusers are lying, The problem with twitter is it makes context so very hard to see.

      • Millicent says:

        Will, I’m a great believer in records, and happy to help you navigate the Twitter archives and recreate your conversation. Here’s a link to all your exchanges with that Tweeter, kiplet: http://twitter.com/#!/search/kiplet%20willshetterly .

        (For context, readers should know that @kiplet initially Tweeted Will because he retweeted this, dated Dec. 17, from silvananaguib: “I am deeply uncomfortable with a feminist movement that suddenly trusts the state/criminal justice system when it comes to rape.”)

        In chronological order, here’s how that exchange went:

        kiplet: @willshetterly As we all know, Twitter’s a blunt instrument. —That retweet was insulting in and of itself, and ghastly considering history.”

        Will: @kiplet Total agreement about the blunt instrument. Total disagreement with the idea that no one dare question those who charge rape.

        Will again: @kiplet Do you think “innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t apply in rape charges, and accused rapists shouldn’t get bail?

        It would be useful, for this discussion to proceed, and for the questions you’re asking to be relevant, if you could point out where @kiplet, or anyone else on Twitter, suggested any of those things. Given the evidence in this exchange, you seem to be (to put it mildly) mischaracterizing and distorting what people said to you.

      • Millicent says:

        Will, in response to your request for an example:

        ‘“Moore/Olbermann/Wolf,etc were all arguing that it’s completely obvious that the allegations are the baseless workings of a conspiratorial “dark force,”

        Really? Please quote an example.’

        Mark Stephens, Assange’s lawyer: Mr Assange’s British lawyer, Mark Stephens, has repeatedly suggested that the affair is politically motivated and said: ‘The honeytrap has been sprung. ‘Dark forces are at work. After what we’ve seen so far you can reasonably conclude this is part of a greater plan.’

        Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1337132/WilkiLeaks-Julian-Assange-rape-case-politically-motivated-says-lawyer.html#ixzz18s5q54zd

      • Aubrey Clark says:

        zunguzungu-

        Matt Cornell also quotes Sady Doyle as saying to Michael Moore “God damn, dude. You pledged bail to help a dude avoid a sexual assault investigation. YOUR PROGRESSIVISM HAS BEEN INVALIDATED.”

        I believe that it is reasonable to conclude that the comments made by Sady Doyle presuming Assange’s guilt influenced at least some people, who then repeated similar sentiments on Twitter and elsewhere. It is then understandable that some who objected to the Mooreandme campaign focused on the issue of maintaining the accused ‘innocent until proven guilty, rather than the issue of rape apology or rape culture. In turn, it is understandable that many Mooreandme supporters assumed detractors to be trolls and/or rape apologists (including myself) because of the actions of a few persistent individuals.

        Making assumptions and generalizations is not the best, least of all the most efficient, way of going about things, so then why do we bother? Behavioral neurologist Antonio Damasio and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker have both (among others) suggested that it’s simply the most expedient way for our brains to make quick decisions about incoming data. This is similar to what I asserted in my post about the certainty bias. Saying that something is human nature is not the same thing as saying that it is acceptable behavior, more that it is understandable behavior.

    • Milicent, thanks for the twitter help! I think what’s going on in that example is that I was testing kiplet’s position in order to proceed with the discussion. His earlier tweet about “bands of roving vigilantes dispensing justice that’s too too often denied” confused me.

      But, as for my request, I’m specifically interested in quotes from Moore or Olbermann where they say Assange is innocent or the women are lying.

      I should also add that I think there’s a third possibility that I’ve seen mentioned somewhere: the women only wanted to know if there was a way to make Assange get an STD test, and the police decided to move on rape charges: It could be that both the women and Assange are telling the truth.

      • Millicent says:

        Will,

        It strikes me as ungenerous to assert that you have the right to “test” people’s positions in order to proceed with the discussion when you’re proceeding from an assumption of bad faith. I’d suggest that you’re demanding (in your comments here and elsewhere) to be read with a generosity and attention you’re singularly unwilling to extend to others.

        As to the first point, #Mooreandme have exhaustively documented their objections to the Moore/Olbermann conversation. Whether you interpret their laughter and dismissal of the not-yet-charges as “hooey” as a dismissal of the legitimacy of the rape allegations is (of course) up to you. From a logical standpoint, however, it’s difficult to maintain both that the charges *are* “hooey” and that the women *aren’t* liars—the first premise presupposes the second. (For your reference, the video is linked to in the post.)

        As to the possibility you mention–it certainly exists! However, it’s not really germane to this debate, since the police are pressing charges with the women’s cooperation. All that’s being argued by #Mooreandme is the folllowing: given that the rape allegations *are* (at this point) rape allegations, and not an STD test, they deserve to be investigated, not dismissed.

      • Will Shetterly says:

        People test positions, which is to say, restate them, all the time. You did that with a number of folks in this post–I’ll gladly point to your reinterpretations of my tweets that you cherrypicked.

        And it is easy to imagine that the timing of the charges is hooey and the women are telling the truth. Swedish law is different than Australian. and even in Sweden, the charges were dismissed and only reintroduced when a lawyer with an uncommon interpretation of sexual relations (see his Wikipedia entry) refiled–yet another aspect of this business that’s extremely atypical. The women may well believe their charges, and yet the condom may have torn by accident in one case, and in the other, the morning sex may’ve begun with both people sufficiently drowsy that Assange simply forgot the condom–remember that she says she could not be bothered to tell him no at the time, and for no to mean no, it must be said or somehow implied after consent has been given.

        You refer to charges. What are the specific charges? My understanding is that for five weeks, he stayed in Sweden so he could be questioned, he was told he could go, and now they would like to question him some more, which he’s said he would happily do by phone.

        And, no, that was not all that was being argued by #mooreandme. They were arguing that Moore and Obermann were deliberately lying. They were arguing that Moore and Obermann chose to out the women. They were arguing that the men’s amusement was over the charges, not over the timing of the charges.

        Well. We’ll have to agree to disagree now.

      • Millicent says:

        “Well. We’ll have to agree to disagree now.”

        Yes.

    • jon says:

      > Well, this reply is probably too long already.

      Email and blogs both reward verbosity and people who have a lot of time to invest: long posts have more weight, and demand more effort to respond to. So Twitter’s limitation to 140 characters per tweet is another way it levels the playing field and undercuts a traditional male dominance technique.

      • Jon, full agreement on your first sentence, but if you’ve ever spent any time with academics, you should notice that women and folks of color are every bit as good at using their language skills for power. Ultimately, it’s a class thing.

        And it doesn’t address the fact that there’s no room for complexity in twittering. It’s somewhere between bumper stickers and post cards as a tool for examining ideas.

      • Aubrey Clark says:

        Yeah, I’m with Will on this, I don’t see how being allowed greater verbosity inherently benefits males or poses a disadvantage for females. Fluency in a particular language, as Will stated, is a class thing more than a gender thing, at least in developed nations with equal access to public education. Your statement might then be taken as an implication that men are somehow better at making formal, written arguments than women which, as a former member of a champion debate team, I can assure you is not the case.

      • Millicent says:

        Jon,

        I share Will and Aubrey’s confusion with one caveat: if you’re making a meta point about length and masculine power structures in the comments section of a long post on a female-authored blog, all I can say is: well-played.

    • Jeff McCarthy says:

      And Marcotte’s history is relevant here no? A rather large number of young men, I seem to remember, were accused of a pack rape (footballers – they must have done it).

      When people who saw it as a dodgy story tried to find out the truth? You can’t investigate the woman’s background argued Marcotte..

      And I quote: “rapist apologising scum” were the words she used on her blog.

      As it happened the woman was mentally disturbed, the accusations which were pursued with zeal by the State and led to charges, were discovered to be pure fabrication.

      This history is relevant when weighing what Marcotte’s political agenda is.

      And I would argue that the fact that the prime mover in all this – A***** is a member of the same political faction of the Swedish SD and has a political history in common with Borgstrom & Ny of using the legal process to redfine the rape laws is somewhat relevant. We wouldn’t know this of course had her name not come out -after she gave an interview to a major newspaper immediately the first accusations were made naming Mr Assange herself.

      It is also highly relevant that she charged a male student in one of her lectures with sexual harrassment because he looked at his notes and not her. Forced him to apologise in fear for his future and then charged him again because his apology was part of a ‘male strategy’ to not take her seriously.

      Sorry – the onus is on those pursuing the witchhunt to convince that what is before our eyes is a mirage.

  20. Pingback: links for 2010-12-22 « Embololalia

  21. Pingback: Seen: An Excellent Analysis of #MooreandMe « The Gambol

  22. Wayne Myers says:

    Excellent round-up and thank you for including my blogpost in the list of links at the end.

    Very minor nitpick – you mistyped the title of my post. It should be ‘Assange and Wikileaks: The Best Way To Frame Someone Is For Something They Actually Did’.

    Cheers once again.

  23. Kimi Wei says:

    This is a very important topic. Unfortunately, your argument is a bit hard to follow . . . and your post is verrry long.

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  27. ryang says:

    This is an amazingly comprehensive rundown of the #mooreandme protest, with really intriguing insights into its larger significance for protest movements in general. It also looks like your post is having the ancillary benefit of forcing the rape apologists and trolls tweeting under the #mooreandme hashtag to look themselves in the mirror, and based on their comments here they don’t like what they see.

    Like you, I was really bowled over by the protest, and by those such as Sady who put their emotional well-being on the line to make it such a success. And I completely agree with the point you make about how the trolls and rape apologists on the thread really helped draw the curtain back on the extent to which we DO live in a rape culture. I’m a dude, and I already knew it on an intellectual level, but reading the soul-crushing comment threads on articles about the protest made it real on a visceral level. I wonder if that’s yet another way the anonymous nature of Twitter worked to #mooreandme’s advantage–behind a wall of anonymity, people are more likely to express terrible (albeit culturally pervasive) beliefs they wouldn’t feel comfortable expressing in polite company.

    I would add one more argument that was commonly used to delegitimize #mooreandme supporters (I don’t have a Twitter account but was doing my best to beat back the comments on the aforementioned comment threads). I saw a lot of people saying that the people involved, particularly Sady, were just using Keith Olbermann to get famous, or comparing her to a stalker–which of course is a pretty common way to delegitimize any woman speaking out in a public forum.

    Again, thank you for the great rundown! I was a huge admirer of #mooreandme before, and am an even bigger one now.

    • Aubrey Clark says:

      “Saw a lot of people saying that the people involved, particularly Sady, were just using Keith Olbermann to get famous, or comparing her to a stalker–which of course is a pretty common way to delegitimize any woman speaking out in a public forum.”

      I would argue that alluding to avarice is pretty common way to delegitimize anybody regardless of their gender.

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  32. Jeff McCarthy says:

    Witchunting feminist moralisers politically prostituting themselves to the State Department.

    Their career exploitation of ‘rape’ as something to hang their self-righteous moral posturing on – and frequently as a form of psychological blackmail into the bargain – represents the final demise of new-left feminism into dead-end liberal reaction.

    Calling a frame-up a frame-up is not to apologise for rape; it is to take rape seriously enough to know that in any witchhunt there will always be professionally vicious actors who take advantage of the hysteria (and for once I really DO enjoy the Greek roots of that word) of those driven into paroxysms of fear.

    Salem in the salons of New York’s of yesterday’s girls.

    You guys have so made my year.

    Jeff McCarthy, Khancoban NSW, Australia 26/12/2010

    • Anne Smith says:

      It’s interesting in every single case in which a famous man is accused of rape, the first thing that’s widely asserted is that it’s a frame-up. Michael Jackson, Roman Rolanski, Ren Roethlisberger, Kobe Bryant, R. Kelly,, Lawrence Taylor…

      Every. Time.

      • Jeff McCarthy says:

        I am only familiar with the Jackson and Polanski cases in any depth – and I don’t think this blog is the place to re-hash them ad nauseam.

        Every time? Lets take an example just from last week shall we. The president of Israel. Accused, c

        And in Jackson’s case there is obviously not just a frame-up but a frame-up based on attempted blackmail, government witchhunting, feminist ‘child-sex’ hysteria and outright racist outrage at this man’s spectacular success.

        Polanski is a simple case of blackmail over consensual sex that the government used to jack up the heat on youth sexuality. The age-of-consent laws have nothing to do with protecting youth – it’s about sexual repression of youth and terrifying the rest of the population.

        13 years olds have been screwing since we’ve been on the planet and will do it till we’re extinct as a species. Only the cultural context changes.

        The line is simple in principle and complex in many individual cases: Effective Mutual Consent.

        But why is it that every time there’s political capital or street- cred to be made we get the same bunch of twisted Dworkinites exploiting the real pain on the part of rape vicitims for what is clearly personal self aggrandisment or to score points in their drippy feuds with other liberals/radicals etc.?

        These people have no shame. And yes, sometimes there are frame-ups and sometimes people lie – including people with XX chromosomes.

  33. Jeff McCarthy says:

    THERE WAS NO RAPE.

    In the witchhunt atmosphere in the US we have feminist elements jumping up and down about the ‘poor little vicitms’. Assange is the victim here – of a monstrous frame-up. And they don’t care.

    And what part of frame-up don’t these people get? It’s not popular right now to stand up to the witchhunters especially when you can make personal/political street-cred capital out of it.

    Ergo. These people don’t give a damn about rape – it’s just an ‘issue’ they can use to intimidate people.

    The Moore&me campaign is part of a bullying attack to silence people as ‘rape apologists’ because we are exposing the frame-up.

    • Millicent says:

      Jeff,

      I’m deleting the portion of your comment that names the alleged victims; I have no intention of endangering them further. However:

      “THERE WAS NO RAPE.”

      Out of curiosity, what persuades you that you (as opposed to a court) have the authority or ethical standing to make this determination?

      • Jeff McCarthy says:

        Firstly, since you actually asked I will explain. But first on names:

        At least one of the alleged accusers plus someone in the Swedish State deliberately placed Assange’s name in the press in August. To argue for ‘protecting’ the names of these people so they are not subjected to scrutiny is more than foul play it is to play their game. These are some of the same people. mind you, who have placed very carefully scripted and very well-coached partial prosectutor material in the press.

        If it is legitimate for every journalist on the planet to rake through Mr Assange’s past it is just as legitimate to look at the past – especially the political past -of his accusers. And yes, the sexual past of the accuser can often be relevant: it was crucial in the 1931 Scottsboro case for example- which as an American I’m assuming you’re familiar with. And without names in either of these cases how would anyone even know about the destruction of evidence?

        I do not believe in any criminal investigation that people making the accusations should be protected from scrutiny – especially when the accuser is the State. Specifically in rape cases, to argue that the women must be protected is to believe that the State is some sort of neutral party – it is not it protects the interest of state; nothing more. In this specific case it is a grotesque piece of vicious jobbery.

        As to whether the the Swedish state has the ethical/moral/ or any other ‘authority’ to deal with this case -that much one hopes is understood to be laughable. Certainly the legal community wordwide is gobsmacked at everything from the incommunicado detention provisions to the secret trials to the selection of individual ‘panelists’ (not jurors) by the political parties etc. that has been written into Swedish law by the very same people in the very same faction of the SD party in Sweden bringing the accusations. And I mean Individuals bringing the accusations. Claes Borgstrom; Marianne Ny and Ms -lets just call her -#1 shall we? And that’s just to start with.

        As for my authority? Why do you ask? I certainly don’t think it’s relevant – much better people than me have exposed what Claes Borgstrom is doing in print and on film. The lies told by the women are part of the public record – as is their attempt to evade prosecution under the ‘false complaint’ laws. Their entire behaviour condemns them. Only those with another political agenda -in this case intimidating those of us defensding Assange- by slandering us as ‘rape apologists’ as part of the witchhunt atmosphere against ‘liberals’ in ther US – oh yeah, and more than a little personal score-settling and personal grandstanding as well – seem to pretending that. that there’s any chance of ‘justice’ for Assange here.

        Who appointed these people as ‘rape experts’ anyway? Themselves.

        For the record, not that it’s particularly relevant, I choose to tell you my political history in Communist and Gay Liberation groups going back to 1973. I have seen the way ‘rape’ has been used by radical feminists to exploit rape victims for both political end and for personal self-gratification. This is part of the public record down here. I am not a Wikileaks supporter or a particular fan of Mr Assange – I certainly don’t share his politics.

        The elephant in the room for those of you asking for these accusations to be taken seriously is to explain away a frame-up where the scaffolding is still on the lynch mob courtroom and the smell of pitch is smeared all over the accusers.

        The length and delay of this reply can best best explained by the time difference and my duties elsewhere.

        The onus is on those crying ‘fair play, fair play’ while they slander and try to intimidate those of us who can see a frame-up and say so to hand over their bone fides.

        Ms #1 and Ms#2 have right to change their story. Everyone else has the right and even the duty to ask – were you lying then or are you lying now – or are you just serial liars?

  34. Will Shetterly says:

    Excuse me for interrupting, but your decision to edit Jeff’s comment reminded me of something #mooreandme missed: the New York Times has been using the alleged victims’ names since late August. For better or worse, they’re in the public record, and if anyone should be attacked for that, it’s the NY Times.

    Of course, your blog, your rules. I’m of mixed feelings regarding naming names. On the one hand, it’s kind to protect rape victims from being called liars or sluts, and especially so for women who say being named would be traumatic. On the other, shielding names adds to the sense that rape is so taboo that victims should not speak out unless they can do it anonymously–creating a double standard for victims of other crimes and victims of rape ends up reinforcing rape culture. So I’m currently on the side of thinking that unless a court decides there are reasons to shield a name, it’s okay to name an adult who may have been raped, but wrong to name a minor.

    The debate on this issue on the internet is fascinating, and I may change my position. I completely accept that sometimes, adults should not be named. This doesn’t seem to be one of those times.

    Uh, apologies for the interruption.

    • Millicent says:

      Will,

      The debate is fascinating—while this does seem to me to be one of those times, we can agree to disagree. You may find the links I posted in the body of the post interesting (at JusticeJournalism and the NYT) in that regard–I certainly did.

      • Jeff McCarthy says:

        Yes Will and it is very nice for a change to be able to exchange opinions with people without it descending into just silly name-calling . I’d like to say thank-you to all concerned for that.

        And also to wish everyone, but especially Bradley Manning, a safe – and free -new year. :-)

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  40. RachelB says:

    A belated brava to you on this solid and comprehensive analysis, Millicent– I’ve been away from my computer for a while and missed this post when it ran– very glad to catch it now!

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  42. T____ O__ says:

    I agree with RachelB.

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  49. Anon says:

    Good thing I also read the comments – clearly proved #MooreandMe failed to be more than an occasion to vent off for all sides.

    Informations and facts were rapidly distorted by all kind of opinions to “support” their point-of-view, reductio ad absurdum, ad hominem and straw man were flying left and right, nothing constructive happened.

    With the 140 characters limitation, there goes the context, there goes the accurate description of an intent/argument – we’re left with exciting yellow press headlines. Sure it makes debates much more “alive”, heated, but it never reach any depth.

    Nothing achieved on:
    - due process
    - e-lynching
    - express (or silent) consent
    - laws in Sweden
    - assault and rape
    - “grey” rape and the role played by the victim (refusing to acknowledge this prevents thousands of “grey” rape victims from reporting such thing and bringing it to the courts, because “it’s not a ‘real’ violent-dark-alley rape” – refusing to acknowledge this, to favor an ideology, over the well-being and protection of victims, is morally wrong imo)
    - exploitation of rape by intelligence agencies for political purposes (done many many times by the FSB/mafia clans, using adolescent (16/17 yo) prostitutes (happily provided by the prostitution branches of the mafia) to “peacefully” neutralize an opponent by making a sextape – not even with the actual target (with a look-alike instead) if that person isn’t into prostitutes)
    - exploitation, by vengeful, greedy or insane people, of the tremendous power given to rape accusation, and how we should deal with these few but greatly damaging false accusations
    - is refusing to wear a condom a crime, especially with the risk of STDs like AIDS (if yes, how should it punished ? – is express consent necessary for non-protected sexual intercourse, or silent agreement is valid ? – at which conditions should we legally force a person to go through STDs tests ?)
    - is the risk of extradition from Sweden to the US, where death penalty exist in several states, would justify that the investigation, for its initial part, would take place in the UK or inside an embassy ?

    All we got was thousands of “feminists” reciting old stats (often out of context) and arguments about rape, thousands of pro-WikiLeaks and/or pro-JulianAssange “defending” WL/JA with whistleblowing stuff having nothing to do with the current case, a few conspiracy nuts saying the accusers are CIA employees (when it seems it’s just a few swedish cops, and a few higher-ups in the judicial system, being told by their superiors and the gov, to ‘cooperate’ with their american colleagues, to not cause diplomatic troubles, and boost/protect their careers), a few feminazis trying to build the entire society around a rape-by-males terror, a few sexist morons saying “it’s not rape because [insert dumb argument]“, and a small, tiny, little pinch of people (with various pov/opinions/arguments) trying to actually build something, but getting lost in the flow of crap flying around.

    For Twitter, it was Tuesday.

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