The Interview, A Form of Freedom of Speech?

By Josephine Zhen ’16

Theatres across the country canceled screenings of Sony Picture’s movie, The Interview, set to be released on Christmas Day, after threats were received from an anonymous hacking group. The Interview portrays an attempt to assassinate North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-Un.

Threats included attacks on movie theatres, leaks of scripts and films that have not yet been released and private employee data and emails were also among the actions of these hackers. Sony suspects these hacks are North Korea’s doings and as a result, canceled the release of the movie.

However, the United States should not give in to the threats from these hackers, allegedly North Korea. Doing so would violate our freedom of speech. Our country was built upon this political right, so how can we carry on this idea of freedom of speech if we are afraid to voice our opinions?

We should continue to show this movie and not allow an opposing force to control our actions. A country cannot have a democracy when foreign countries control what they do and if they’re scared to voice their opinions. What if the same thing continues to happen with other movies that come out in the future? We would be letting foreign countries dictate what we can and cannot do, letting them control our fear.

This is an act of terrorism on our country: to use violence and fear to frighten people for a political reason. The hackers’ message included, “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001.”

Recently on January 7 in Paris, France, two gunmen killed 12 people, including two policemen, at the satirical magazine office, Charlie Hebdo. Among those people, four of the magazine’s cartoonists, including its editor, Stephane Charbonnier, were killed during their daily editorial meeting.

Charlie Hebdo was targeted for the same reason as the Kurt Westergaard case in 2005: for publishing cartoons criticizing their idea of Muhammad. There are other similar events that have occurred in the past, such as in September 2005, when a Danish cartoonist drew editorial cartoons that depicted his view of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, who worked for Denmark’s largest daily newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, drew Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. This led to violent protests and riots, including threats directed towards Westergaard himself.

More than four years after the cartoons were published, in January 2010, Westergaard was attacked in his own home, according to The Guardian. A Somali Muslim intruded, armed with an axe and knife. Because of living in constant fear for his life, Westergaard’s home is protected by security cameras, armored windows, and a panic room. He even needs to have police escort him from place to place.

These events illustrate how publishing opinions in the media can lead to threats and, in cases such as these, violence.  It raises the controversy of should we or should we not censor ourselves in what we publish.

Threats should be taken seriously, especially when there is a reference to the 9/11 attacks on the US. Completely ignoring these threats can put our country’s safety on the line. How would the US react if a foreign country made a film on assassinating our leader, President Obama? I don’t think too many people would be comfortable with that either.

However, the US should not give in to any country’s threats. It would go against our freedom of speech. We all have a right to express our opinions, as we like.

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