22 December 2014

Sony, Obama, Harvard--Where is the spine?

A brief "goodbye" to 2014.  Good riddance.

The level to which Sony has sunk was indicated again when it was revealed that the company's President, Amy Pascal , "consulted" with Al Sharpton (who withheld forgiveness, yet) after the press published internal emails making jokes about President Obama possibly liking movies about black people.  What does "Rev" Al have to do with this?  (An irreverent aside: the press accounts I saw made no mention one way or the other of any fee or contribution in connection with that consult. What's the odds?)

Am I the only one who whose memory flashes back to President Bill Clinton publicly consulting with the late Reverend Billy Graham after it was revealed Clinton was having sex with a White House intern? I recognize that this is a weak analogy because Clinton was a real criminal who is lucky his victim's father didn't take after him with a shotgun, and Billy Graham was a real "Reverend." Still ... .

I think Sony was fucked not only by the NK hackers, but by the theatre owners as well, who caved in to the terrorists without thinking about the long term. And let us not forget the other studios who sat on the sidelines pulling for Sony to withdraw the film, lest its display at multiplexes hurt their box office receipts. The White House sitting on its hands until after the Sony withdrawal announcement didn't help much either.

Wanna do something instead of just talking about it?  I have several ideas:

1. The theatre owners and Sony suck it up and show the stupid movie.

2. We publicly flay the craven theatre owners.  Publish and advertise their names and stay away from their theatres for at least the Christmas season, or better still, until they show the film?  


3. The Republican-led Congress gets its shit together in January and passes some sort of First-Amendment-anti-terror bill to take Sony, the theatre owners and their insurance companies off the liability hook. Somebody in this mess needs to find some spine.  Who 'da thunk the U.S. Congress is a place to look for that?

I suggest the entire industry has lost sight of the long term.  For a group of people who constantly shout about the importance to their industry of their First Amendment rights, they have given the terrorists the key to the industry's ultimate destruction:by failing to assert and protect those rights.

Let's face it. There is no dearth of internet hackers, and there is no shortage of fundamentalists, assorted whackos, haters, internet trolls, and the like. What the movie people have done here is to add a new filter to the decision-making process of what content is deemed acceptable.  Now in addition to looking for excessive violence, explicit sex, nudity, profanity, etc, films, tv, and plays, writers and producers will need to add to the list "liklihood the content will piss somebody off."  Say goodbye to "Zero Dark Thirty", "Homeland", etc., and productions in which the characters are abusive priests, homosexuals, cop killers, racists, women who have had abortions,--the list is endless.  The result is Hollywood will be limited to spineless pap that no one will want to see.

This is a slippery slope: Self-censorship is not limited to motion picture or television producers.  Think newsrooms, print and otherwise.  There are lots of places in this world where journalists must limit their reports to "acceptable" material. Indeed, I think there is more of them than of us. Scary stuff.

How low we have sunk.

And while we are talking about "spine', check out this piece of news out of Harvard University, the alma mater of so many of our national leaders.  It appears the University has recently stripped labels off some drink machines in its dining halls because the labels bore the name of an Israeli company that made the machines in a West Bank factory. Moreover, the Harvard administrators vowed not to purchase any more equipment from that company.

Why? Well it appears the some Palestinian students complained that the presence of those machines was a "microaggression".  Ya can't make this stuff up.

After the Palestinian microaggression scandal hit the press, the senior Harvard administration scrambled to reconsider its policy, though apparently no final conclusions have been reached. 

I see no report that the President of Harvard has yet sought to consult with Rev Al, or a Palestinian counterpart. But stay tuned. To borrow New York's lottery advertisement: "Hey, ya never know".  Hard to believe?  See for yourself: 

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2014/12/17/huds-soda-stream-suspend-purchase/

(I am having trouble with this link. If clicking on it does not help, copy and paste into your URL box)
My final unsolicited suggestion for the New Year: the District Attorney for Staten Island should resubmit the Garner case to another Grand Jury, or step aside and let somebody else do so. Not because of the subsequent violence, but because, unlike the Ferguson grand jury decision, the Staten Island grand jury decision was indisputably wrong and a patent offense to our criminal justice system.

Ho, ho, ho, and all that.

A bientot.

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