The Interview – A Guide to Free Speech Hypocrisy

I woke on this Christmas Eve to the news that Sony will show The Interview in some cinemas and was receiving praise from numerous quarters.

For those who have missed this news story, which has been a wonderful exercise for all involved in both censorship, propaganda, publicity and hypocrisy I can summerise it like this.

Sony made a film called The Interview, featuring the generally above average James Franco and the massively over-rated Seth Rogan in a story about an assasination attempt (apparently successful if that matters) on the life of Kim Jong-un, the living ruler (though not actual ruler, those titles still lie with his dead father, Kim Jong-il and grandfather, Kim Il-sung) of North Korea.

Sony apparently fell victim to a cyber-crime in which a lot of “embarrassing” emails were leaked and a lot of films were made available online.

The hackers made threats, pertaining to attacks on the scale of September the 11th, if The Interview was shown – what followed was the biggest hypocritial nonsense by both politicians and the media seen all year – and that is saying something.

First of all, I’m no big fan of North Korea, but like most I’m only really know what I read about it, but I’ll take it as face value that it is a dictatorship, its people live in abject poverty and the leadership are lunatics with nuclear weapons capabilities.

The media, fully milking the teet of 9/11 threat references then proceed to round-up “cinema-goers” for on the spot interviews.  Most seemed unmoved, even more had never heard of the film – but this didn’t stop the media pushing the “movie-goers are frightened” headline.

Cinemas didn’t want to take the risk of showing the film, not probably from the threats, but that showing a film to an empty cinema is a money loser.

Sony, now with a dwindling numer of screens to release it on, “pulled the film” from general release.  From a business point-of-view  I actually don’t blame them, they need to make money, they don’t have control over cinemas so why lose money too?

They were then pillored (rightly) by both the “righ-wing” press and the Hollywood “liberal elite” and everyone inbetween for them apparently bowing to “terrorist demands”.

So the media, culpable of raising the panic and the fear then can perpatuate their own banner news story to then rally more voices about how great and free America really is (it is better than most).

At the same time many smaller cinemas said they would show it, or screen Team America: World Police instead, a film whose antagonist is the aforementioned Kim Jong-il, a film that didn’t spark anything from North Korea when that was released in 2004.  Though the internet and cyber stuff has come on light years in the decade since then.

These screenings never happened either.

So as it stands, at the time of year “when family is most important,” some smaller arthouse theatres, benefitting from a shed load of hype, will screen The Interview; mainly because security is probably easier, not only from North Korean terrorists, but from the more likely source of an American with their arsenal of weaponary not limited to an Uzi 9mm and a phased-plama rifle in the 40-watt range.

The thing about censorship and free speech is it is not supposed to be a fluid thing, it should be an absolute.

But we live in a world where we are conditioned to be upset and outraged via a social media network wanting only free speech so long as they agree with you, and an old media desparate to still seem relevant by drumming everything up to hysteria levels.

Fox News naturally went nuclear when they heard about a 2006 film pondering the assassination of 43rd US President George W. Bush.  The Daily Mail in the UK went similarly bat-shit crazy over a recent book by Hilary Mantel where she fantasised about killing former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Bush and Thatcher are icons to the right-wing, especially the antagonists; equally bemused and entertained at the pure hatred from “the left” that is felt for these two people.

But liberals are no more “for” free speech than those on the right.  I wrote about some of this a while ago

In fact the “liberal elite” of the UK have spent most of 2013/2014 trying to get the press regulated.

Not only that but on numerous occasions they’ve become bullies trying to bully perceived bullies from speaking out about anything, mainly on the pretence that what might get said or all ready has been, will “hurt someone’s feelings.”

To be critical of someone online can get you labelled “a troll” solely because your opinion might not fit the status quo.

What is certain is that speech is not only being restricted but also dumbed down and with it any sense of the ability to think for yourself.

Think on that in 2015.

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

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The Thin End Just Got A Little Thicker

Smoking in cars carrying children set to become illegal in England next year

I, as a non-smoker, find the need to vote this ban through on the basis of the presence of under-18s in a car to be an odd one.

Simple safety should tell you that holding a burning ember while in the control of a machine capable of committing every injury up to and including death probably isn’t the most sensible thing to do.

Eating, texting, using a phone, etc. have been outlawed (though enforcement is dependent on how much revenue is needed to be generated at the time) because they distract the driver, so from a simple competency of driving status you would think smoking in cars would be banned for this reason.

But the reasons for going down this route are many fold, and in my mind, far more sinister.

Firstly, in creates in the mind that smokers are such a disparate and desperate breed that they are in need of a constant fix, regardless of their surroundings, regardless of who is present.

It also creates in the mind a snobbish attitude; simply put if you say you saw someone in a car smoking and a child was present you’d get the exact same picture in your head of what said “offender” looked like.

slobOf course, just how prevalent smoking in cars with children present actually is is not actually quantified or qualified. It is the same mechanism designed to create prejudice against anyone in society that doesn’t quite fit in with a model that the state and it’s numerous “health” quangos wish to enforce.

Secondly, it lets you know that the state can invade your personal space.

The argument is that smoke is more concentrated in a car, so there is no need to worry about this kind of health diktat being extended to breaking into a persons home to check that no smoking is occurring in the presence of minors.

Probably after scare tactics about “third-hand smoke” were never taken seriously.

It will take an astute copper to realise how old any child is in any car and if it is a cigarette that is emitting the smoke and not an e-cigarette, otherwise a lot of time is going to get wasted.

It is this kind of criminalizing of common sense that enables people to not only be stripped of simple, basic rights but also allows people to nod along and passively accept it.