Fear is what kills freedom, as companies and even nation states do the bidding of tyrants and fundamentalists. Under President Obama the U.S. is no longer feared nor respected, as the wolves of Putin, ISIS and Kim Jong Un come to chase the sheep we have become. They are ready to feast on what remains of the Liberty we abandon in our stampede for peace and security.
The Art of Cyberwar – first demoralise and sow confusion against your opponent with hacks to emails – has delivered by relying on a cheap threat of bloodshed to any cinema goer or neighbourhood that might host a showing of “The Interview.” One by one, movie theatres refused to show the film in the US.
Without a shot being fired, without any physical harm to anyone, Sony pulled the film from general release. Victory was accomplished by “the Guardians of Peace” without having to leave their keyboards.
Backbones are absent when you compare this situation to “The Satanic Verses” where people were killed and personally threatened. If North Korea and their cyber Bureau 121 unit are behind this, we have just given Kim Jong Un the assurance that his unpredictability and willingness to talk up war truly does get results. Stamping his feet, demanding concessions during negotiations, knowing he can use fear to strike at the heart of American life. Without using a long range missile.
Threaten violence, by calling to mind 9/11, and free enterprise that made the US the economic superpower will fold to the whims of a dictator. The hope that the antics of the Guardians of Peace might increase box office attendance as a big all American fuck you to tyranny, has instead been replaced by a whimper of please do not hurt us. We will do as you want.
Benjamin Franklin would have understood the dangerous situation:
But our great security lies, I think, in our growing strength, both in numbers and wealth; that creates an increasing ability of assisting this nation in its wars, which will make us more respectable, our friendship more valued, and our enmity feared; thence it will soon be thought proper to treat us not with justice only, but with kindness, and thence we may expect in a few years a total change of measures with regard to us; unless, by a neglect of military discipline, we should lose all martial spirit, and our western people become as tame as those in the eastern dominions of Britain, when we may expect the same oppressions; for there is much truth in the Italian saying, Make yourselves sheep, and the wolves will eat you.
Thus we lose our freedom, first to make our own choice whether to watch a movie. Next we lose our freedom to make the movies we want because of potential threats. Then we lose our ability to articulate our opinions in case we become victims for expressing ourselves.
Finally those expressing their opinions become the enemies of the state they live in, for daring to incite threats by rogue states and fundamentalists. Do not rock the boat less we all drown. Far better to throw you overboard. You cannot stop the threats, but you can stop people being controversial.
This is the situation we are approaching in Britain, which Nick Cohen writes in Standpoint:
True liberals always held that people should be free to speak their minds as long as they did not incite violence. Now the Home Office wants laws that will force us to be nice citizens, who never say anything the thin-skinned might consider “hateful” or “inappropriate”. Secularists fear that atheists will be locked up for being beastly about religion. Christians fear that evangelicals will be jailed for being beastly about gays. We will live in a country where we cannot utter a controversial opinion.
We have to stand for our freedoms against those that would rob us of them. The problem is the enemies of freedom are foreign and domestic. Even our own governments.
Those liberal freedoms we hold dear need us to be lions even if we are led by lambs. Those wolves will not go away by themselves, as they savour the meal to come.
More on the story of “The Interview” being pulled can be read here.
Update 23 December:
Some cinemas will now show as part of a limited release, and rumours are it will be on demand. Pity more cinemas not prepared to stand up to the threats [see more from BBC]
Update 24 December:
You can indeed watch the film on the internet via this link here.
Some reports if the story tried to claim this was capitalism covering their backs (and profits) rather than caving in to terror. However appealing it might be to show business has no values other than monetary for some, this ignored the threats meant a denial of our liberties for supposed security.
I am reminded therefore of another quote by Franklin.
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
As to Sony manipulating events to gain maximum publicity for their film. No, the fall out and stress from the hacking and impact of terror on business makes that too cynical as this story spun itself without Sony having any control beyond deciding to stream film or not. Which would have taken sometime to organise and get approval within the organisation.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog