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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why I'm Not Too Upset about the Sony Hack

Aaron Sorkin, among others, has been attacking the media for their reporting of the content of the Sony hacks - including, among other things, "an inappropriate and racially charged exchange" in private email between Sony producer Scott Rudin and Sony exec Amy Pascal.   To be clear, I think hacking is wrong, and release of private financial and medical information even worse.   But "racially charged" email, though understandably embarrassing to the emailers, surely falls under a newsworthy event that the public might want to know.  And, therefore, contra Sorkin,  the media are only doing their job in reporting on these emails.

Further, the people who wrote the emails should have known better - or known what anyone who has been online, going back to the 1980s, should always keep firmly in mind: anything you put online, anywhere, anyplace, in private email or on Twitter, can in principle be seen by everyone in the world a few seconds later.  Anthony Weiner obviously discovered this to his chagrin.   The principle is inexorable: if it's digital in any place other than your own computer, laptop, phone, or tablet, you might as well put it up in lights over Times Square.   An even when it's on your own device, you need to take care these days that your app isn't automatically set to put your content up in a cloud - from where it could wind up over the equivalent of Times Square.

This might sound like it's blaming the victims - the Sony execs who were hacked.  But aren't the real victims, not to put too fine a point on it, the object of the racism that was expressed in these Sony emails?  It mystifies me that Sorkin is more upset about what the media are doing than the racism that inhabits at least part of Sony.   I'm surprised that Sorkin has given in to the all-too common instinct in our society to blame the media - in this case, for reporting about admittedly just a tinge of racism, but racism nonetheless.    An executive and a producer at a media giant like Sony bantering about Barack Obama's taste in movies -  "Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” ... "I bet he likes Kevin Hart" - is indeed worthy of the reporting it's received from the news media.

Again, I think the hacking and release of financial and medical records is terrible, and should be condemned and opposed.   But regarding the racist bantering:  the emailers should either keep their opinions to themselves, certainly not email them, and better yet don't have them in the first place.

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