In his speech, “It Only Hurts When I Laugh” Michael Moore opened by saying “We’re living in a very strange time, politically, and in many other ways.”
On Wednesday, April 6, Moore spoke at Miller Auditorium in a kickoff to the Lewis Walker Institute’s 2016 Moore has directed 10 documentaries and written eight books about various social issues in America. His most recent film is “Where to Invade Next,” which follows him through visits to different countries in Europe and Africa, highlighting different ideas the U.S. could steal from those countries.
He warned the audience about the outcome of the upcoming election. “Let me tell you, the Canadians have very strict immigration laws when it comes to americans. They are not gonna take us in, we are gonna have to deal with this. Hopefully, in November, not after November.”
A native of Flint, Moore expressed strong opinions on the Flint Water Crisis, saying “Flint Michigan is not suffering through a water crisis. Water is really just the weapon. This was a race crime. I did an interview with the New York Times about three weeks ago. I said that to her, and she said ‘oh geez, how can you say that?’ How can I say it? Well, let’s look at the cities in Michigan and the school districts where the governor has replaced the duly elected officials, and tell me the skin color of these cities, and tell me honestly. This reporter, she was based in Chicago, so she knows Michigan. Would governor snyder have done this to Bloomfield Hills? Would he have done this to Ann Arbor? Would he have done this to Traverse City? No.”
He went on to explain why he believes this happened specifically in Flint. “Once you answer that question, we don’t need to have much more of a discussion as to the reasons why he thought he could get away with doing this, because he knew that the people of Flint, a majority black city A city that officially has 40% of it’s people living below the official poverty level, you know that means it’s a lot more. It’s a majority poor city, it’s a majority black city. And that means it’s a city that doesn’t have lobbyists, doesn’t make campaign contributions, doesn’t have anybody to stick up for it, and can be ignored. And they were ignored. From day one, people were complaining about what was coming out of their taps, and nobody did nothing. The local media did nothing.”
“The governor made this decision, and this is why this is not a water crisis. The governor said to his quote emergency manager, which that title should be changed really. Master would work. Overlord would work. He said to him ‘Hey, we just gave the rich in Michigan a billion dollar tax cut. Now, we’re going to have a billion less dollars coming into the state treasury. So we gotta cut back, I want you to find some ways to cut back. So he got together with the governor’s people and they had a little meeting about this, and they said ‘Oh, good idea. We could unplug Flint from Lake Huron and make them drink water out of the Flint River.’ ‘Genius idea, how much would we save?’ ‘15 million dollars.’”
“And then somebody, we know this from the emails, said ‘Well, shouldn’t we treat the water, because somebody said something about if we run the Flint river water through there, the Corrosive nature of the water will remove the lead in the pipes and possible the lead will get in the water.’ ‘How much will that cost?’ ‘$3/day’ ‘Naah, too much money.’ That’s all it would cost. Not $3 per home. So they went ahead and did this.”
Moore went on to rally support for Bernie Sanders while maintaining that Hillary Clinton is a candidate who has a history of supporting the type of social change that Moore supports.
Near the beginning of his speech, Moore remarked that the last time he was in southwest Michigan, he was visiting the sisters of St. Joseph, who taught him in elementary and middle school, sharing his latest film with them. As he was finished speaking, one of the nuns who taught him in middle school surprised him on stage. He seemed excited to see her, and they reminisced about a class she taught.
After Moore gave his speech, a few community members gathered on stage for a discussion. One member of the conversation asked about Moore’s use of humor to deal with issues of moral outrage. He said “By the time I was an adult, it was clear to me that the funniest people were the angriest people. Our best comedians were the angriest.”