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Dec. 18, 2014

Smothering Free Speech Via 'The Interview'

Gone are the days when Hollywood released Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator,” a film lampooning Adolf Hitler. Although the film was released March 1941 – months before the attack on Pearl Harbor – it was the comedian’s most successful film. Today, we have a studio poised to release another lampoon of another infamous dictator but essentially self-censoring the film at the threat of hackers, who appear to be connected to North Korea. The hackers broke into Sony Picture’s computer network, released sensitive information, apparently because of “The Interview.” After threatening 9/11-type terror on any theater that dared air the film, which is about the assassination of Kim Jong Un, the hackers forced Sony to bow to the rule of terror – even though DHS thought the threat was not credible. “In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview,” Sony said in a statement, “we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. … Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like.” The movie appeared to be a crass film dragged along by sex jokes. The product wasn’t worth defending, but the ideal of free speech is. More…

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to a mysteriously unknown actor named Charlie “Chapman.” Clearly, we intended “Chaplin.” We blame Autocorrect.

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