September 18, 2019

Howard Stern Gets It So Right on Sony

Howard knows a thing or two about free speech.  Whether it's the FCC going after him with fines, or hackers going after Sony Pictures with computer viruses and threats, he knows how to fight back.   His rant on the subject inspired me to throw out the editorial I was going to write this week, and write this one instead.  An excerpt:

I know what I’m doing on Christmas Day: First Chinese food, then “The Interview.”


I’ll be eating Chinese food on Christmas because I’m a Jew, and that’s tradition.


Then I’m going to go to a theater to watch “The Interview” because I’m an American, and that’s patriotism.


That’s right, patriotism


Substantial evidence points to the North Korean regime, or people working for the regime, as the ones who attacked Sony’s computer system. North Korea is upset because Sony Pictures Entertainment made the Seth Rogen comedy about two shallow, inexperienced TV journalists who land an interview with North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un and are tasked by the CIA with assassinating him. The regime repeatedly warned Sony not to release the movie and has threatened severe consequences if it does. On Dec. 16, the Guardians of Peace hacking group further threatened to carry out 9/11-style attacks on theaters that screen the movie.


In the media’s mostly salacious coverage of the Sony computer hacking, the focus has been on everything but the perpetrators. How can Sony have let this happen? How can producers say such nasty things? Somehow the criminal invasion of people’s private lives and the theft and destruction of their property has morphed into a story about Hollywood’s behavior. A foreign government decides to invade America through its computers and damage the lives and livelihood of thousands of workers, and our response is, “Shame on that Amy Pascal.”  Talk about letting the terrorists win.


I don’t say that glibly. Hacking Sony is an attack on America. If North Korea gets away with it — even the damage already done to the company and private individuals, let alone the threat of what could happen next week — then all the systems and companies we rely upon are vulnerable.


And later:


“The Interview” so threatens the North Korean regime because it is well aware of the power of a movie to cement its image. Now Kim Jong-un is lashing out at the people brave enough, and free enough, to tell stories the way they want.   Radio pioneer Howard Stern, who knows a thing or two about free speech, said it most clearly on his Sirius show this week: “The attack on Sony is an attack on Amertica.”


The real focus, the relentless focus, has to be on punishing the perpetrators. The hackers have warned that those who go see “The Interview” will suffer a “bitter fate.”  Unfortunately, at least two theatre chains have already buckled under their threats and have decided not to screen the movie.  But wherever it plays at a theatre near me, I'm going.  It's as true with hacking as it is with any other form of terror:   the most bitter fate awaits those who give into it.


You can read it all here.