The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, yesterday published a lovely editorial about the role of Michael Moore in contemporary political discourse. And I’m thrilled that they did, particularly for their closing paragraph:
Nothing would horrify Moore’s critics more than the suggestion that he might well be the best upholder of the revolutionary spirit in the current day — and thus the greatest patriot. But, then, Moore’s critics tend to confuse patriotism with blind obedience. And if Jefferson and Madison teach us anything, it is that the true patriot must always stand against King George.
As I’ve said before, in this forum, on the radio, and in class, I don’t think Moore is above criticism; his films are clearly manipulative and often hit below the belt. But that’s okay with me: he’s a polemicist; it’s his job.
What I can’t bear is the hypocrisy that gives nutbars like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter unlimited license to say whatever they want while holding Moore to higher ethical standards. Yes, I understand that we on the left aspire to be “better than them,” that we seek the moral high ground, but when the battles are actually taking place down in the trenches, I’m glad we’ve got somebody in there fighting for our side.
What’s prompted this post today is the announcement over the weekend that Moore’s election-eve cable special has been dropped by iN DEMAND (a New York-based company jointly owned by Time-Warner, Cox, and Comcast cable companies), who cited “legitimate business and legal concerns” in making the decision. Now, lest it be suggested that this case is just like that of Sinclair Broadcasting, and thus that I’m being hypocritical in suggesting that Sinclair is wrong to air the anti-Kerry propaganda but iN DEMAND is wrong not to air the anti-Bush propaganda, let me point out the one key difference: Sinclair is forcing its affiliates to air “Stolen Honor”; Moore’s special is pay-per-view, meaning that it won’t even appear on your television set unless you specifically request it.
Moore is, needless to say, threatening a breach-of-contract lawsuit. But iN DEMAND doesn’t seem worried. So what are the “legitmate business and legal concerns” that iN DEMAND obliquely refers to? And why is this story getting so much more play outside the U.S. than inside?