The hackers who brought totalitarian censorship to the United States gave Sony Pictures a little pat on the head for submitting to their demands, calling the decision to pull “The Interview” from theaters “very wise” and issuing a new series of demands to ensure no one ever sees the film, as reported by CNN:
The hacker message is effectively a victory lap, telling the studio, “Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy.”
The message also says, “And we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately.”
It warns the studio executives that “we still have your private and sensitive data” and claims that they will “ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble.”
Well, that should put the whole “we only pulled the movie because we were worried about the physical threat against theater patrons” line to the test. Supposedly what pushed Sony over the edge was the “Guardians of Peace” escalating to threats of 9/11-style carnage at theaters which dared to screen “The Interview.” It has been noted by some Hollywood business people – including actor George Clooney, who was strongly critical of entertainment industry power players to sign a petition of support for Sony – that if a terrorist attack on theaters did occur, the company could be held liable for recklessly endangering patrons.
None of that would hold true in the case of online or DVD releases; the North Koreans aren’t going to credibly threaten to bomb every house that slips a copy of “The Interview” into their Blu-Ray players. If Sony obeys the new orders from Kim Jong Un and his most enthusiastic online fans, we’ll know it’s not because of any concern about liability for mayhem at theaters.
The North Koreans aren’t the only shady characters who have gained control over the motion picture industry in this new age of limited free speech. Al Sharpton’s got a piece of the action too, as the New York Post reports, thanks to the racist jokes Sony executives were tossing around in those purloined emails:
Coming to a theater near you: Al Sharpton.???
Hollywood ???came to the Rev. Al Thursday as embattledSony exec Amy Pascal ???met ???privately with the ???black leader for 90 minutes ???in a bid to fix the fallout from the ???cyberhacking ???leak of embarrassing, racially charged emails.
Pascal agreed to let Sharpton have a say in how Sony makes motion pictures, in an effort to combat what he called ???inflexible and immovable racial exclusion in Hollywood.???
???We have agreed to having a working group deal with the racial bias and lack of diversity in Hollywood,??? said Sharpton.
He said Sony would work closely with his National Action Network, ???the ???National Urban League, ???the ???NAACP and the Black Women???s Round Table to ???see if we can come up with an immediate plan to deal with it.???
What could go wrong?
Not only are U.S. government investigators officially convinced that the attack was the work of the North Korean regime, they also think there’s a Chinese connection, involving either “collaboration with Chinese actors or by using Chinese servers to mask the origination of the hack,” according to an official quoted by Reuters. If that’s true, the Chinese might have pitched in to get their cyber-warriors a little target practice before moving on to bigger things.
Efforts to ease the sting of shame for capitulation continue, with a little boomlet of commentators repeating the very same arguments they made after President Obama blamed a YouTube video for causing the Benghazi attack, and his loyal followers obediently began hammering out screeds on the dangers of shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater, which we all know is where free speech rights must necessarily end. This theory holds that since Muslims (and now North Koreans) have a tendency to react violently against speech they dislike, such speech isn’t fully protected by the First Amendment.
That’s essentially an official endorsement of the Hecker’s Veto, and it’s not going to lead anywhere good. As was noted during the “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube video controversy, it’s an explicit argument in favor of unruly behavior by those who would control speech – if you want to be taken seriously, you need to do some damage. That ideal fits more comfortably under the principles of anarchy than civilization, but it’s what we’re reduced to when people try to rationalize capitulation to thuggery, redesigning social principles to make themselves look less cowardly for giving in.
As Jim Geraghty of National Review observes, this is tantamount to punishing speakers for not being clairvoyant enough to anticipate strenuous attempts to censor them. The only smart play under such denuded principles of free expression is to shut up.
President Obama made some remarks on the Sony situation that singularly failed to address why he hasn’t made any remarks until now, even as a hostile foreign power wages a terror campaign against American citizens and the corporation they work for. With the armchair quarterbacking skills for which he is famed, Obama declared Sony’s decision to be wrong, and chastised them for not consulting with him first – as though free-market companies need to submit their business decisions to the White House for approval. Maybe Obama’s been spending too much time with the Castros.
It’s hypocritical of Obama to criticize Sony for knuckling under, because they’re just doing what Obama told the world to do in the speech he gave to the United Nations after Benghazi – you know, back when he was still pretending it was an act of movie criticism gone awry. That’s the speech where he declared, “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Well, in North Korean, Kim Jong Un is the Prophet, and their religion stipulates that nobody can slander him. Why shouldn’t they expect equal deference under this shriveled notion of free expression? You can’t set Kim Jong Un on fire in a crowded theater, because the foreign powers that don’t want Americans laughing at such an image have demonstrated they really mean business.