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Filmmaker claims of being censored are unfounded

Michael Moore

As a filmmaker, Michael Moore makes full use of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. In fact, his type of in-your-face movies possibly rely more on those protections than, say, Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Moore has made a career of tweaking the noses of people in high places. And now it seems his freewheeling style is coming back to haunt him.

His latest effort, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” is critical of President Bush’s actions before and after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The problem he’s running into is the movie’s original distributor, Miramax Films, is being blocked from releasing it by its parent company, The Walt Disney Company.

Moore objects to this treatment and is fighting back. He wrote on his Web site that he “would have hoped by now that I would be able to put my work out to the public without having to experience the profound censorship obstacles I often seem to encounter.”

Moore’s words would be troubling ... if they were true.

No one is preventing Moore from releasing his movie. Disney spokeswoman Zenia Mucha said Moore is free to find another distributor or to distribute the movie himself. So his claims of censorship ring a bit hollow.

Moore should be more careful with the words he uses. He should know censorship refers to government actions to stifle the free exchange of ideas. Most likely he does, but sometimes we wonder.

In a letter to readers posted on his Web site on May 7, Moore wrote, “We are Americans. There are a lot of screwed up things about us right now, but one thing that most of us have in common is that we don’t like someone telling us we can’t see something. We despise censors, and the worst censors are those who would dare to limit thoughts and ideas and silence dissent. THAT is un-American.”

He’s right on all counts, but as we noted before, that’s not happening.

Moore is welcome to his political opinions and we defend his right to them as well as his right to express them publicly. We take issue with his misuse of a word to further his agenda. In a language as rich as ours, surely Moore can find one besides “censorship” to describe his situation. His choice indicates he’s either intellectually lazy or disingenuous. Or both.