Hacking, Terrorism, and Freedom of Expression

So. As anyone who has been paying attention recently to news knows, Sony was involved in a bit of a spat against a group of Hackers calling themselves the “Guardians of Peace”, with the rather unfortunate but hilarious acronym “GoP”. There were massive leaks of information, poorly spelled engrish threats, lots of denial by Sony of hacks, and more than enough schadenfreud by those of us who have issues with the way Sony does business, what after the whole PSN hack, putting rootkits on CDs, and so on. None of us were really losing any sleep over Sony executives being hacked, but we also didn’t particularly care for how the GoP was handling the whole situation (much like the GOP, zing!, but I digress. :D). It was like watching Russia and China argue with each other. No matter who loses, we win, so we sat back.

Then it came out that North Korea was behind it. Suddenly it got more interesting, as the Hermit Kingdom (I love that name) was trying to exert a little muscle. I mean, really, hacking Sony to stop a release of a movie? How low can you go? And surely it wouldn’t work. We’re not afraid of some tiny little third-world country and a bit of hacker types.

And then they made their ultimate threat — anyone who watched this movie was a target for another mass murder attack. Really, they’re all in on this. Let’s threaten American movie goers with death if they watch a movie. Surely we Americans are smart enough to realize that at most a lone wolf might shoot up a theater, and most likely, the GoP was pissing in the wind, right? It’s not like the country that responded to Russia’s implied threat of a beeping sphere in orbit by fucking putting a man on the Moon within 13 years would cave to these people.

And then we caved. 5 movie studios announced they would not air the movie citing the terrorist threat. Here in Denver, that meant that most of our theaters would not be carrying this. And then the coup de gras was delivered by Sony — the movie would not be released, at all. Not by VoD. Not at video stores. Not at video kiosks. NOWHERE.

Terrorism worked. We were cowed. We went from the people who woke up one October morning to see a new, faint moon that beeped in the night sky on shortwave radio and resolved that we’d wake our collective asses up and regain our lead to a fearful country, trembling at the slightest hint of trouble.

We decided we would let the hackers win. And now, there is a formula out there for how to beat us. The bad actors in the world know how to get what they want — threaten us in our kushy homes, and watch us fold like cheap chairs.

This is no longer about a stupid movie with a stupid plot. It’s not even about poorly spelled threats. It’s about an identity we used to have, and what we’ve lost. We are no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave that our propaganda tells us about ourselves. We have become petulant scared children, living in fear of our own shadows.

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