It’s good to know that Sony Entertainment is following Japan’s pacifist policies in swiftly obliging North Korean interests and canceling the release of The Interview, the comedy about assassinating the Stalinist state’s leader. Nice move. North Korean cyber terrorists are clearly behind the hacking of Sony Entertainment and the 9/11 style threats to any theatre that showed the film, an impossible threat to carry out according to security experts, convinced the corporation to run for cover. It’s main stars Seth Franco and James Rogen are practically in hiding, and the First Amendment Rights so valued by Hollywood, especially in matters like explicit sex and on-screen violence, are somehow missing in action from the quick retreat. It is hard not to sympathize with the perhaps irrational fear that Rogen and Franco must be feeling, but if you are going to do a brutal comedy about North Korea, you would be silly not to expect some sort of screeching response from the regime.

As a post-modern exercise in the absurd, the script when we actually get to see it might be amusing, but as a political fact that produces reactions, it is something more real, more sweaty and in your face. Hopefully Franco, Rogen, and others associated with the film will change their minds and stand up for their creation, whatever its artistic merits. If they don’t they will raise the suspicion that their film was an adolescent prank that blew up in their faces, an awkward turn of phrase given the admittedly absurd threats. Freedom of thought carries, or should carry, the burden of responsibility, and hopefully that responsibility leads the thinker to certain limits on their expression. And if the thinker chooses to stretch those limits, they also bear the responsibility for at least being conscious of the effects their thought, expressed in speech or art or any other form, produces in society at large. It is seems to be common currency for the last few decades to label that burden of responsibility as self-censorship or repression, or some form of archaic taboos. The creators of The Interview should bear that responsibility with enthusiasm and spunk in the face of yet another seemingly psychotic threat from the regime in Pyonyang.

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