Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When It Comes To Rape, Keith Olbermann Can't Hear You

I have been following the #MooreandMe protest very closely, though I have not written about it until now.  There is a part of me that is not completely surprised by Moore's position, because his movies have largely concerned the downtrodden White male and not a universal look at the way that class really effects the U.S. population.  There has never been anything inherently feminist or pro woman about the man. I did however feel differently about Keith Olbermann until recently.

It seems that Olbermann retweeted a link from Bianca Jagger, that incorrectly claimed that "the term 'rape' in Sweden includes consensual sex without a condom," and that named Assange's accuser.  The naming of a rape victim opens her to threats of violence, which indeed is what happened. This is hardly the act of a responsible journalist. The response was immediate and swift, but Olbermann responded by throwing a fit, and banning people.  When he realized that this was not simply going to go away, he took a twitter vacation -- the online equivalent of taking one's ball and running home. The pull of social media dragged him back yesterday and he tweeted.
I endorse, sympathize with, and empathize with, the rape consciousness goals of #mooreandme, and have already apologized accordingly. But I cannot defend and will not accept their tactics which mirror so many of the attitudes and threats they fight. I do not know of what Julian Assange is guilty, if anything, and neither does anybody else. But given the extraordinary efforts by Sweden to extradite him, to say he is benefiting from some form of rape apologism is not fact-based. It is also unfair to condemn as anti-feminist those who merely address the juxtaposition of this prosecution to the fact that Assange threatens the secret and nefarious activities of dozens of governments.
Instead of admitting that he plain and simple fucked up, according to salon he finished up with:
"And I will not engage those who suggest that those who do not prioritize one issue to the exclusion of all others should succumb to forced financial contributions, or should 'kill themselves.'" He followed up by retweeting one of the messages in question, which read in part, "Seriously, kill yourself." Then he retweeted a call for him to donate $20,000 to the anti-rape organization RAINN as atonement. His antagonists have been quick to point out that he cherry-picked the "kill yourself" tweet, which is an exception in the thread, and that the call for "financial contributions" is simply in the interest of rape victims. One user wrote, "we WILL NOT be satisfied UNTIL you retract the false information you publicized re: Assange allegations." Olbermann responded, "you'll have to accept a block instead."
Hmmm, Kill yourself instead -- that sure is a pretty good example of the typical hatred that happens on the internet and I refuse to believe it is representative of the kinds of comments he received.  I don't have the social profile of Olbermann and this kind of comment is common place for me.  I think the truth of the matter is, that dear old Keith has backed himself into a corner and is coming out swinging. When he isn't banning people, he is denying the legitimacy of the protest. I honestly believe that he was surprised when he returned to twitter to find that the protest had not burned itself out.  I further believe that traditional media  representatives still have issues reconciling the power of the internet.  There was a time when anchors like Keith had a large role in what the public discourse was, but today that is no longer the truth. The internet in many ways has been the great equalizer and the populace no longer accepts the spoon fed, ism based, nonsense without question.  Flouncing off of twitter did not advance Keith's position, it simply made him look like yet another bitter White man who is unwilling to confront his various privileges.

We are all human and that means that we are going to make mistakes, but a true ally and a decent human being, acknowledges when these mistakes occur, instead of digging in their heels and clapping their hands over their ears chanting nah nah nah I can't hear you like a spoiled toddler.  Olbermann has said that rape has touched his family and therefore, he should know that listening to the voices of survivors is one of the best things we can do to stem the tide of violence against women.  Olbermann may believe that the timing of the charges is suspicious, but if Assagne deserves the benefit of the doubt, why do his accusers deserve less?