• Patriots’ First Amendment Fail Over “The Interview”

    December 29, 2014

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Post-Constitution America

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    A handful of ragtag, plucky patriots defended their own misguided understanding of free speech by seeing the Seth Rogen-James Franco assassination bro-movie The Interview on our most American of holidays, Christmas.

    God Bless The Interview

    At the Austin Alamo Drafthouse (Remember the Alamo!) a few, proud moviegoers stood before the film ran to sing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”, and posted the effort to YouTube. The brave representative of that band of brothers and female virtual brothers, risking near-certain death at the hands of any North Korean sleeper agents in Austin, reminded the audience that beer is better in a democracy. The sing-along ended with chants of “USA! USA!”

    The owner of the Alamo Drafthouse said “It’s more than watching a silly Seth Rogen buddy comedy. Today it’s really, in a small way, it is sort of an act of patriotism to come and watch this movie this week.”

    In Atlanta, similar selfless acts were seen as the sold-out crowd sang along to Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” before the screening of Sony Pictures’ ode to free speech and assassination. “The movie, and the singing,” said the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “served as a statement from many theatergoers that a foreign power would not dictate what forms of entertainment Americans could or could not enjoy.”


    All-American Hysteria

    Perhaps a little insight is needed in these heady times.

    In November someone hacked deeply in Sony Entertainment’s U.S. computer network. They dumped all sorts of data onto the Internet, including embarrassing racist emails by Sony execs mocking Obama, salary details of big stars and silly things about how bad Adam Sandler movies are. The initial hacks included nothing specific about “The Interview.” American mainstream media feasted on the dumped gossip, ensuring any embarrassment to Sony reached a worldwide audience. The FBI stated the hacks were not committed by North Korea (a suspect given the topic of Sony’s film) and DHS dismissed threats someone claiming to be the hackers made later against theatres that would show the film at Christmas. “The Interview” had its premiere in Hollywood and was shown in many locations as part of the usual media preview PR campaign. Nothing violent happened.

    Oops! Major theatre chains decided on their own to not show the film. Sony pulled the film from distribution, a business decision, albeit a lame and weak one.

    Then, in some sort of chum-churning all-American exercise (following the release of the Senate torture report — coincidence!) blame for the Sony hack was re-directed squarely at North Korea not only by the revised FBI, but by the President of the United States himself. This in spite of fairly weak explanations from the FBI about why the hacks seemed to come from North Korea, and fairly robust explanations from the tech media explaining why the hacks did not seem to come from North Korea.

    The President vowed revenge on the North Koreans for what had morphed overnight from just another example of corporate hacking into a literal act of war, the first shots in the endless cyberwar the Pentagon had been hoping for predicting for years. It was on! And Americans rose to the bait, fueled by a growing media hysteria over… free speech?


    Free Speech

    The First Amendment of the Constitution makes clear the government is not allowed to restrict speech: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    The concept of free speech in the Bill of Rights is directed at OUR government stopping us, not whether or not some other government wants to stop us.

    The First Amendment was meant to make one thing indisputably clear: free speech was the basis for a government of the people. Without a free press, as well as the ability to openly gather, debate, protest, and criticize, how would the people be able to judge their government’s adherence to the other rights? How could people vote knowledgeably if they didn’t know what was being done in their name by their government? An informed citizenry, Thomas Jefferson stated, was “a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

    “Free Speech” in our Constitutional context is speaking truth to our own government and society, not imagining you are flipping off Kim Jong Un.


    Sunshine Patriots

    What the faux-patriots ignore is that what Sony and the theatre chains did and did not do is far short of the ideals of “free speech” and much closer to the bowels of cold, hard business decisions. Sony’s and the theatre chains’ lawyers very likely decided that showing the film in light of weak threats would open them to liability should some nut case have done something, and/or that the weak threats would have scared moviegoers off anyway and they wouldn’t have made any money. That’s it. Cash.

    The true patriotic exercise of free speech is not masking a business decision as a principled stand. It is not recycling some old jingoistic songs in front of a sympathetic group of beer drinkers. You want courage? Say something unpopular against the government. Blow the whistle at great personal risk on a wrong that needs to be exposed. March in protest at risk of a police beating or arrest.

    By all means, go see any movie you want, and have fun (reviews suggest the Seth Rogen character hides an explosive device in his own butt in one scene from The Interview). But don’t conflate that with acts of true patriotism and the exercise of free speech.



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  • Recent Comments

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      1

      quote”At the Austin Alamo Drafthouse (Remember the Alamo!) a few, proud moviegoers stood before the film ran to sing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”,..”unquote

      Oh..my…god.. if I hadn’t seen this with my own eyes..
      (I absolutely abhorred that song just for the sheer hubris of marketing something at the time that would bring every American in existance to his feet cheering..USA.)

      Meanwhile, Sony exec’s are high fiving the success of secretly hiring Anonymous to execute a brilliant plan to make The Interview the most watched movie in history. Cash baby, cash. In the trillions.. gotta hand it to the shrewd Japs. Brilliant is a massive understatement. Meanwhile..the DFCOTP doesn’t have a clue.

      12/29/14 2:09 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      2

      Advocating the assassination of real people is consistent with official US policy.

      “The movie,” said the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “served as a statement from many theatergoers that a foreign power would not dictate what forms of ENTERTAINMENT Americans could or could not enjoy.”

      Entertainment. Holy fucking Roman empire. If there was any doubt this was a sick-fuck country…

      Brave talk. Want to make a real statement, Sony?
      Make a movie about assassinating the character of prophet Muhammad and see how many “brave” Americans go to see that movie.

      12/29/14 2:12 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      3

      ps..I actually couldn’t watch those schmucks singing along with Greenwood. But what I did notice is..you couldn’t have assembled a better sample of the DFCOTP..evah!

      12/29/14 2:15 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      Hey, we’ve seen this movie before:

      “Not only has the United States lost its moral compass, but it has degenerated into a state of political darkness reminiscent of older dictatorships that maimed human bodies and inflicted unspeakable acts of violence on the innocent, while embracing a mad war-like utility and pragmatism in order to remove themselves from any sense of justice, compassion and reason. This is the formative culture not simply of a society that is ethically lost, but one that produces a society that willingly becomes complicitous with the savage ethos and beliefs of an updated totalitarianism.”

      http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/28055-torture-and-the-violence-of-organized-forgetting

      12/29/14 2:19 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      5

      ps..Ok, let’s try Dolts for $2k

      quote”Entertainment. Holy fucking Roman empire. If there was any doubt this was a sick-fuck country…”unquote

      DING DING DING! We have a winnah, Johnny!!

      quote”Brave talk. Want to make a real statement, Sony?
      Make a movie about assassinating the character of prophet Muhammad and see how many “brave” Americans go to see that movie.”unquote

      Yeah. WWW111 would erupt on the streets of Murka.

      12/29/14 2:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      Bullies are cowards at heart.

      12/29/14 2:30 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      7

      Great article at that link Rich. Thanks.

      ah yes..Torture. As Murkan as Apple Pie. Heck, wait till Disney’s new movie comes out. “Mickey Tortures the Cat”!! It’ll break movie going records I tell ya!!

      Kidding aside. Not. You wait.

      12/29/14 2:32 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      8

      ps..I’m glad my Dad didn’t live to see the country he fought for devolve into the United States of Depravity. Vietnam was bad enough. The Iraq war broke his heart. And the revelations of Bush’s lies infuriated him. The Torture Report would have drove him literally insane.

      12/29/14 2:40 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      9

      Meanwhile, the UGLY truths WILL eventually come out..the Secret Team and it’s CIA tenticle are at the bottom of it all…

      http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/ST/

      Murka is beyond salvage now.

      12/29/14 2:44 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...

      10

      HOOOORAY!! New’s flash..the “war” in Afghanistan is OVER!!!!
      “The war in Afghanistan, fought for 13 bloody years and still raging, came to a formal end Sunday with a quiet flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul that marked the transition of the fighting from U.S.-led combat troops to the country’s own security forces.”

      https://www.emptywheel.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/AP-hed.jpg

      except..it’s not.

      https://www.emptywheel.net/2014/12/29/no-the-war-in-afghanistan-did-not-end/

      The MSM in this country never ceases to amaze me at it’s sheer brazen fuckturdness.

      12/29/14 3:02 PM | Comment Link

    • Stephen said...

      11

      Dear Mr. Van Buren,

      This may be a little off topic or perhaps it is not considering government stupidity is an underlying theme here but I thought you and your readers would like this from Patrick Cockburn. You (and your readers) actually know this topic well enough but the details are always good for laughs.

      http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/29/the-west-needs-more-than-a-white-knight-to-defeat-isis/

      Happy New Year
      Stephen

      12/29/14 5:36 PM | Comment Link

    • Lisa said...

      12

      An interesting aside:

      Frank Sinatra starred in two films about assassinating a U.S. President — Suddenly (1954) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962). A year later, President Kennedy was actually assassinated.

      If NOK did in fact commit the hacking of Sony, perhaps it was they did not like those cinematic odds.

      12/29/14 7:22 PM | Comment Link

    • delia ruhe said...

      13

      Thanks, van Buren, that needed saying. When I heard about the song they sang outside the theatre, I was reminded of why I don’t go to cheap satires.

      12/29/14 10:35 PM | Comment Link

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