1. I wrote the other day that I wasn't too upset about the hacking of Sony emails that revealed racist exchanges, and the media's reporting on this. I also said that hacking and release of financial and medical information was a different matter, and ought to be strongly condemned and investigated by the FBI. Obviously, threats against theaters are far worse, and indeed constitute a kind of terrorism.
2. But theaters that refused to show The Interview may have over-reacted. There's a world of difference between cyber hacking and terrorist attacks in the physical, off-line world. There's no reason to think - certainly nothing that's been reported - that whoever launched the cyber attacks has the wherewithal to launch physical attacks. Significantly, President Obama said yesterday that he thought there was no reason Americans shouldn't go to the movies.
3. Still, the reaction of the theaters is understandable. Not quite as understandable is Sony's decision to pull The Interview from any possible digital distribution. Obviously, people watching The Interview on Netflix, Amazon, or any cable on-demand channel would be in no physical danger. Possibly, Netlfix, Amazon, Time-Warner, Comcast, Verizon, or other digital channels told Sony that they did not want The Interview. But, if so, there has been no public report of that. So we're left to assume that Sony made this decision on its own. As many have pointed out, it's a bad decision, because it shows that a major movie company is willing to give in to a vague terrorist threat. Either make the movie or not. I could well understand a movie company deciding not to make a movie about any topic, for whatever reason. But if you make it, stand by it - on behalf of the people who created the movie, and on behalf of the public.
4. To be clear, this is not a First Amendment issue, or a case of the government interfering with communicating, in this instance, the public's access to a movie. But the self-imposed censorship by Sony is unfortunate, and sets a very bad precedent.
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