Sony Submits to North Korean Hackers
But the coup de grâce came when the hackers threatened to harm movie goers by saying "the world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001". Since then Sony has cried uncle, and decided to shelve the "The Interview" in its entirety. They've canceled their Christmas Release of the film, and have no plans to stream it or release it on DVD.
But is that really necessary? Is it even a good idea? It certainly sets a bad precedent for any state sponsored hackers in the future. Now anyone who disagrees with an American movie or song, can hack the distributors computers and threaten their customers, and they will expect to be taken seriously. In reality they shouldn't be given any respect at all.
First of all, we don't even know for sure if these hackers are acting on the behalf of the North Korean government. So best case scenario, Sony just lost millions of dollars, and their pride, to a bunch of wannabe terrorists hiding in their basements. Worst case scenario, they've just submitted to North Korea; a backwater hermit nation whose chief exports are threats of nuclear war and demands for food aid.
I don't think anyone with a functioning brain really thinks that North Korea is capable of striking America's movie theaters. It's an absurd notion that would probably make a pretty hilarious Seth Rogan movie (I smell a sequel to The Interview). But assuming it were possible for these hackers to attack America, should Sony still give in to their demands?
This reminds me of the Muhammad Cartoon controversy back in 2005. After a Danish newspaper published a cartoon that depicted the prophet Muhammad, which is considered blasphemous among most Muslims, protests erupted all over Europe and the Middle East. While it started out peaceful, in some regions it turned violent and at least 200 people were killed. It sparked an international debate over the right to free speech, and many wondered if protecting this right was worth the lives of all these people.
I would argue that it is, even if what you're protecting is a stupid cartoon or a silly movie. It doesn't matter. An attack on free speech for one person is an attack on all of us. You have to ask yourself, where does it end? If threats of violence can stop a movie from being released, then that makes it okay to threaten other forms of free speech. It gives these thugs permission to threaten everything they disagree with, and it gives them the power to shape and rule our culture from afar, without ever firing a shot.
After the Muhammad Cartoon fiasco, hundreds of Newspapers all over the world recognized this threat, and responded appropriately. They refused to back down to the threats of violence, and republished the cartoon en masse. They understood the long term costs of bending to the will of zealots, so they did what they had to do to protect their rights, even when it could have cost them dearly.
But Sony doesn't see it that way. They think they've taken the high ground by trying to protect their customers, when it reality all they've done is emboldened a bunch of whiny hackers, and their North Korean puppeteers. They've bent themselves over to one of the most petty and vicious regimes on Earth, and in the long run, they're going lose a lot more than a few million dollars.
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