Forgive me for not jumping up and down and screaming “First Amendment rights” as some of the jubilant folks did who managed to secure a ticket for the first showing of “The Interview” on Christmas Day.
Sony versus (apparently) North Korea is not a pure case of good against evil as it is being framed by many.
That’s not to dismiss the serious crime of hacking.
But let’s get a grip.
How would our government responded if there was any type of video production specifically naming a sitting president and promoting a plot to kill him or her? You might want to see how the Secret Service responds if you post such a threat on the Internet as a form of art or — as Sony did — to get laughs.
Yes, Hollywood has been known to make movies about presidential assassinations either those that have occurred or some fictitious leader of the free world. You can’t name one movie about a mythical plot — comedy or otherwise — to take out a sitting U.S. president.
Free speech has restraints. While this isn’t as clear cut as yelling fire in a crowded theater where there is no blaze, it is far from blame free.
Whether you think Kim Jong Un is a tyrant or a bozo, he is still the leader of a legitimate country. You notice that Sony didn’t roll out a comedy based on an attempt to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Speaking of Sony Pictures you do know they are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Japanese firm by the same name, Sony Corporation.
One would think they might have been a bit more cautious when it comes to poking fun via a comedy assassination plot of one of Japan’s leading antagonists.
It also begs the question why the United States government should retaliate for a hacking attack they say was orchestrated by North Korea essentially against a foreign owned company. Shouldn’t Tokyo be the indignant national capital and not Washington?
And what if the tables were turned and North Korea had produced a comedy paralleling “The Interview” where the equivalent modern-day Beevis and Butthead were enlisted in a plot to assassinate President Obama? How would Washington have responded? Would they have let it pass?
Or would hundreds if not thousands of people who flocked to Christmas Day showings of such a North Korea film in theaters across the United States been clutching ticket stubs and shouting “free speech.”
If advocating the assassination of a foreign sitting leader is free speech in terms of art then advocating the assassination of a sitting domestic leader would also have to qualify as protected art under the First Amendment.
Sometimes we as Americans can be so self-righteous we don’t see double standards at work or even complete stupidity.
Why would any American visiting North Korea smuggle in a Bible and not expect to be jailed if caught? We may view repression of free speech, religion, and individual freedom as repulsive but North Korea is not the 51st state.
It is no different than American hikers wandering near a hot spot in the Middle East and being detained for years as spies. They are not on their home turf yet they expect to have full rights as Americans even if they inadvertently wander into Iran because they were curious.
And give this some thought: Is it possible Sonny Pictures may have been pressured by Sony Corporation to yank the film from prearranged release screenings once it was clear it angered North Korea’s leadership?
And why is Washington so eager to retaliate on a hit against Hollywood when it hasn’t been when endless cases of credit card hacking has been traced back to individuals in Russia and Eastern Europe? It makes no sense given that millions of Americans’ personal finances were compromised as compared to that of one gigantic Hollywood studio that has a lot of political connections.
We may never know whether our government was behind the recent major disruption of North Korea’s Internet. But if that is their idea of retaliation, get real.
They should take some real bombs such as Sony’s “After Earth” movie fiasco of last summer, dub it in Korean and flood North Korea with it.
On second thought, that might violate Americans’ sense of justice in that it would constitute a cruel and unusual punishment.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.