Sony is so un-American

Well, Sony is a Japanese company, but that’s not what I mean. Sony recently wimped-out when they were taken hostage by cyber attackers, but that’s not the un-American part. Sony (Sony Pictures Entertainment to be specific) made a painful, yet rational decision to protect itself, its employees and potentially movie-going Americans from a possible terror attack. And the media giant hasn’t even pledged retribution, nor have they made any outlandish, brazen comments about tracking down and bringing the perpetrators to justice. How un-America of them.

In case you missed it while battling the crowds at the mall, Sony was the victim of a massive hacking attack in which personal information of all employees, from the CEO on down, was publicly released. American intelligence agencies have determined that it was orchestrated by North Korea in response to Sony’s planned Christmas Day release, “The Interview,” a comedy that depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Further threats of attacks were levied against movie theaters around the country if they showed the movie. In response, America has largely gone all Dick Cheney. Here’s a sampling:

Aaron Sorkin: “Today the U.S. succumbed to an unprecedented attack on our most cherished, bedrock principle of free speech by a group of North Korean terrorists.”

Ben Stiller: “Really hard to believe this is the response to a threat to freedom of expression here in America.”

Jimmy Kimmel: “An un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent.”

Steve Carell: “Sad day for creative expression.”

Newt Gingrich: “No one should kid themselves. With the Sony collapse America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very very dangerous precedent.”

Now, in all fairness, I am sure that I would have watched this movie and laughed hysterically the entire time. Seth Rogen and James Franco are hilarious, especially when feeding off one another. That said, I completely support Sony pulling the film. I disagree with President Obama and others who say it was a mistake. Of course there does need to be some level of response. Newt Gingrich got it right. In an editorial for CNN.com, he said, “Defending America against foreign enemies is the duty of the United States government. To ‘provide for the common defense’ is one of the reasons given in the preamble to the Constitution for forming a government.”

That said, this is a movie that was produced to be offensive to an entire culture. I am not here to defend that culture, but if we are going to produce something so provocative, let us at least do it with a purpose and not for cheap laughs.

I am also disappointed that so many people continually misuse and misunderstand the fundamental concept of “free speech.” I believe in free speech as much as any of the freedoms on which this country stands, but it is cheapened by those who use it without understanding what it means. Free speech is a guaranteed protection afforded to individuals, companies and organizations — in particular the press — from government censorship. In other words, if the U.S. Government told Sony it had to pull the film, that would be an infringement on free speech.

This is the same reason you can get fired for something you say. Free speech and expression is a protection from the government, and nothing more.

My suggestion, let’s use this opportunity to ask more of the producers of our country’s largest export (i.e., the entertainment industry). Let’s proceed with caution, care and consideration for the world around us before meddling in foreign relations. Let us get beyond the “man up,” “either with us or against us” mentality, and set the bar higher for ourselves and the world. Let us not be the teenagers arguing with our parents, realizing we’re wrong, but determined to win the argument regardless. I appreciate the concern for the slippery slope. More often than not, that argument drives me crazy, but this is a very sensitive area, so if that is how you feel, I certainly respect your opinion.

Finally, I would ask you to consider the following: If you opposed the release of the CIA torture report on the basis that it put American interests at risk, you have to respect Sony’s decision to not release this movie due to security concerns.