June 13, 2004

Just To Be Fair...

I thought I should include this page, where Michael Moore attempts to defuse the criticisms about his films. Unfortunately, a critical reading of the page should illustrate that he a) makes a few more 'misstatements' and b) doesn't really address the specifics of the claims at all. For example:

Moore tries to explain 'the truth' about the bank scene
I walked into that bank in northern Michigan for the first time ever on that day in June 2001, and, with cameras rolling, gave the bank teller $1,000 – and opened up a 20-year CD account.

He even links to an article on the bank from the Chicago Sun-Times. No need to wonder why he didn't link to an AP article by John Flesher (printed here by the Traverse City Record-Eagle). It seems to contradict his story:
When an order is placed, the bank ships the gun to a registered dealer, who runs a background check on the customer before handing over the weapon.

Indeed, most accounts seem to contradict his story. Moore admits that he called ahead of time before walking into the bank "for the first time." Cleverly, that last little phrase also implies that was his first contact with the bank. According to an interview with a bank worker, Moore set the whole thing up ahead of time. The phone call perhaps? The 'vault' talked about is not on the bank premises, and the bank claims that the guns on the wall are models that are not to be given away. One last thought...I know criminals can occasionally be stupid, but stupid enough to fill out a bunch of paperwork and spend $1000 for a rifle priced at $779? Moore can do all the verbal tapdancing he wants to try and make the whole incident sound like an illustration of how bad people can get a gun as easily as going through a revolving door, but in reality it's no easier to get a gun at the bank than it is to get one at a gun shop. Look at it this way...if it were easier, why aren't we constantly reading about criminals who travel from miles around to open up a CD at one of these branches so they can go do bad things?

He also tries to justify including the Charlton Heston "cold dead hands" clip out of sequence:
I have merely re-broadcast an image supplied to us by a Denver TV station, an image which the NRA has itself crafted for the media....Are they now embarrassed by this sick, repulsive image and the words that accompany it?

Moore needs to take responsibility for the context of the clip. For example, I could show a clip of Gerhard Schroeder speaking to the public saying "Long live the German people!" and follow it with images from Dachau and Auschwitz. But if I did, I certainly wouldn't remain true to the spirit and intention of the original speech, would I? I think most would agree that the finished product would be much less 'truthful' than the original.

(By the way, this is called a post hoc fallacy. It comes from the phrase Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, which means "after this, therefore because of this." Essentially, what it does is imply that when one incident follows another, there is a causal relationship there. For example, if I follow a clip of a guy at a strip club with a clip of the same guy getting slapped by his wife, I've created the impression that the second event happened because of the first, despite the fact that I have included absolutely no evidence to support that impression.)

That's Moore's one spot of brilliance--that he is a master at saying anything without actually saying it. He obfuscates, he omits, he plays games with semantics, he plays to expectations...in other words, he's an accomplished liar.

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