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Q Why are you here? What does this mean?
JM I'm here because I think it's a great cause, really. These are the kind of people who, if we can't say they move society forward, at least keep it from sliding backwards too much. And they often do that at enormous personal risk and for no personal gain whatsoever, in the most dire circumstances, often for years and years at a time. For me to give a day or two is quite easy in the big picture.

Q Have you ever met any of these human rights defenders?
JM Yes, one or two, but not the ones who are here tonight. I don't think I'd ever met any of them.

Q What will you take away from this 24 hours?
JM Well, I just take away how petty I am, but I knew that already, so...

Q Were you part of determining who was reading what?
JM Oh no. I don't think any of the actors were particularly involved in those kind of editorial or directorial decisions.

Q You said you felt this was a good cause. Over and over, in the last two days I've heard people talk about complacency and indifference as the real enemy. How does one crack through that instinct to turn the channel. What does it matter to us what's happening in East Timor? Or to Harry Wu in China? Or to any of these people?
JM Well, that's a difficult question. It's a big world and I suppose it doesn't matter what happens in East Timor if you live in Tulsa or Baton Rouge, my home town, I suppose. But, it is quite rapidly, quite progressively becoming a very small world, and human rights, in a strange way, is one of the last frontiers of a global world. It is quite strange to have very intimate contact with other countries and cultures and to have great trade with them and not share any of the same values. Because the world is getting so much smaller and the values that Western societies or Western democracies reject, hold sway in other countries; we may learn something from them and vice versa. Why should people care? Because these are extremely human stores about topics very important, almost to a man or woman, topics that in fact aren't that distant from our lives.

Q Is there one amazing anecdote in particular? Is there anything that touched you particularly?
JM In particular I would just say it's their general kind of truculence. It's their seeming inability to let go, to give up, to give into the complacency and lack of interest and boredom and mockery—and fear—that must accompany most every moment of their waking lives. As a totality, as an entire group, that's an amazing attribute

Q Have you ever done anything like this?
JM I did something similar for Havel, when he was in prison about ten or fifteen years ago for Amnesty International, but I don't do many things that could even be construed as political.

Q And did this happen because you know Kerry?
JM I've only just met and spoken to Kerry recently. I know Nan Richardson very well, so that's really more how I got involved.


Interview by OFFLINE ENTERTAINMENT GROUP


Arts & Human Rights I Telling Stories to Effect Change
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