Posted by: Jim | July 30, 2004

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The Moore Debate

UPDATE: Since writing the below post, I read this: http://www.davekopel.org/Terror/Fiftysix-Deceits-in-Fahrenheit-911.htm. It puts a bit of perspective into Moore’s journalistic accuracy.

_________

OK, since I finally saw F911 I thought I’d chime on the subject.

First, I DO think Moore takes cheap shots. Example, asking senators to send their sons to Iraq. If I had been one of those senators I would have said, “My son is old enough to make his own decisions. You’ll have to ask him.” Another example, showing Brittney Spears saying we should just believe the president. There were tons of examples of cheap shots in the movie. Moore does this partly because he falls into the same trap that us bloggers fall into. We think wouldn’t it be fun to just say ________?. This is a trap that I am learning to avoid. Cheap shots make ones argument less credible because they are “fighting words” and really don’t lead to mature dialog. However, Moore also takes cheap shots because they are funny and he wants his documentary (a form of media that historically NEVER makes money) to sell. After all, people don’t usually pay to see documentaries. Still, Moore does condescend to his audience. He ALWAYS has. He thinks we won’t see his huge leaps in logic but many of us do.

I didn’t agree with Moore in “Roger & Me”. I didn’t agree with Moore in “Bowling for Columbine.” However, I agree with him 100% with “Farenheit 911.” I think Bush had an agenda to go into Iraq and was just itching for an excuse. I think the WTC bombing had as much to do with Iraq as fish have to do with bicycles. But can I prove this? No. Can we prove that Iraq didn’t have WMDs? No. You can’t prove a universal negative. All you can do is quote people who say they haven’t found a connection or haven’t found WMDs.

Still, I see people attacking Moore using an ad hominem fallacy. They attack his character instead of his words. They say “He’s un-American.” Or, “He’s a pig.” Or “He’s a “fat un-American pig.” Those are easy attacks, and all it says is that you don’t like what he said. It’s harder to actually attack his arguments and back it up with facts that contradict. If some other news organization backs Moore up, people attack the character of the news organization. It’s not a very good argument.

For those people who say that criticizing an administration is equal to being un-American or unpatriotic, I ask this: if we had a president that you were vehemently opposed to, would you just grit your teeth and “Stand by the president”? I hope not. I hope that you would dissent.

America was BORN because we are dissenters. We told the English to shove their unrepresented taxes and in a fit of drunken logic, dressed up like indians and threw tea into a harbor. To the people who call Michael Moore un-American I say he is the quintessential American because America is characterized by people who *won’t* just sit and take it if they don’t agree with their government.

I don’t think peaceful dissent is only good when you agree with it. Peaceful dissent is either always good or always bad. Saddam Hussein wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes as president of the United States. He would have been tossed out by pissed-off Americans. If the Iraqis were a little more like Americans they would have tossed him out their way–but peaceful dissent is not a part of their national character like it is ours. That’s really a shame, because peaceful dissent is good. (I added “peaceful” because I don’t call insurgents “dissenters” I call them terrorists.)

If we turn peaceful dissent into a bad thing in the U.S., then when someone like Saddam Hussein is President, you non-dissenters can all “stand by your president.” Me? I’m going to dissent. We deserve the government we get if we don’t dissent.

In Michael Moore’s case, he’s dissenting against a president that a lot of people like! That takes guts. Furthermore, when the president’s supporters call Moore “un-American” or “a hater of America,” or whatever other names, it has a chilling effect on those of us who agree with Moore. If we speak up in his defense, then we are putting ourselves in the “Un-American pig” box that he is in. Well screw that. While I don’t agree with Moore’s cheap shots, I do agree with his message and I’m not afraid to say it!

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