In a March blog post headlined “America,You Must Not Look Away (How to Finish Off the NRA),” Michael Moore urged the release of crime scene photos depicting the shattered, perforated bodies of the schoolchildren slaughtered last December in the Newtown massacre.
Confronting the eye-opening details of the gore, the leftist filmmaker argued in his Huffington Post essay, was a moral imperative — expiation for America’s ongoing tacit moral complicity in mass shootings and a goad to brisk and decisive action expanding gun control and driving a stake through the heart of the NRA.
“We’ve done nothing to revise or repeal [the Second Amendment] — and that makes us responsible,” wrote the activist filmmaker, “and that is why we must look at the pictures of the 20 dead children laying with what’s left of their bodies on the classroom floor in Newtown, Connecticut.”
On Monday, amid rising public solidarity with an effort by a group of parents of the victims to prevent release of the graphic images, Mr. Moore flatly denied having advocated their tactical dissemination — and blamed any misconceptions to the contrary on an opportunistic Fox reporter trying to turn Newtown parents against him.
Parents of three of the children slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School had recently launched an online petition at change.org urging state legislators in Connecticut to pass a bill that would “keep sensitive information, including photos and audio, about this tragic day private and out of the hands of people who’d like to misuse it for political gain.”
Citing “Michael Moore and the hoaxers” who “want to publish this gruesome information,” the parents’ petition went on to declare, “For the sake of the surviving children and families, it’s important to keep this information private.”
Apparently stung by the popular backing for the petition (it had amassed more than 107,000 signatures at the social activism website by Wednesday afternoon), Mr. Moore on Monday voiced support for the Connecticut bill, HB 6424, telling the Hollywood Reporter, “I’m opposed to anybody releasing any photos without the parents’ permission.”
But instead of renouncing his earlier demand for the mass dissemination of the Newtown photos as a clinching consciousness-raising tool in the battle against the NRA and the Second Amendment — the muckraking director made a surprising blanket denial of having urged such action in the first place.
In an interview with THR, Mr. Moore was asked: “So when they said you were advocating or launching a campaign to release these photos, that was incorrect?”
Mr. Moore replied: “That is absolutely incorrect. What I said is that when and if they do come out in this day of Internet and social media, the likelihood of that happening is reasonable. So what to do when it happens? I was just saying that that’s what will happen, and I ask that Americans not turn away from it.”
Actually, according to my search, Mr. Moore never mentioned the Internet or social media in his Huffington Post article. Nor, for that matter, did he ever mention “new media” or “web” — but I’m running out of relevant search terms. Any suggestions?
What he did do was cite with approval a litany of historical cases when the public release of graphic images of violence shocked a morally complacent America into sudden, overdue social and political change.
He went on there to demand repeatedly and explicitly — “we are responsible, and that is why we must look at the 20 dead children” — the release of photos of the Sandy Hook carnage as a national moral corrective and advocacy tool in the political stuggle against the NRA.
Questioned by the Hollywood Reporter’s Seth Abramovitch, Mr. Moore refused even to cop to the lesser offense of having inadvertently mislead readers in his earlier blog post. “Do you think,” THR asked, “perhaps your wording could have been interpreted as having been intended to incite the leaking of the pictures?”
But instead of owning up to his words and repudiating them, Mr. Moore changed the subject to “Bowling for Columbine,” his Oscar-winning documentary about an earlier school massacre, then fell back on his story scapegoating an unidentified journalistic mischief-maker working for … who else?
“I know that when I first posted this, Fox News got one person up in Newtown to go on the record, and that person, with Fox News, tried to stir the pot and create a news story that didn’t exist,” said Mr. Moore. “It’s sick. My guess is that somebody up there at some point decided that they could get away with doing this.”
Amazing, isn’t it, the things somebody can get away with doing?