Sony Execs Have Shown Courage In Ways Most People Aren’t Thinking About

Those in Hollywood who are citing freedom of expression are missing a bigger picture. Yes, freedom of expression is our cornerstone, but if you aren’t around to enjoy those freedoms, it is a moot point. Consider this for a moment — the question everyone faced was simple: Was releasing a movie worth the risk of even one life and the potential liability that comes for the entire industry? There is such a thing as being legally liable if you can anticipate risk of injury to others and you disregard that and move forward. All the studios and the theater owners could anticipate possible injury and risk to others because of the threat levied by the hackers.

Does anyone think that releasing a movie is worth someone’s life? The answer is a simple no. Why should any moviegoer and any staff in the theater where The Interview would have played be put at risk? And lastly, why should they have put this kind of burden on law enforcement during the holidays?

I know a big argument was that the risk assessment was determined to be low, however evil and unstable people do reside here in America and love the notoriety that causing havoc and killing others can bring. The worst mass shooting in U.S. history – 70 wounded and 12 murdered – happened by one of these people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

James FrancoHad there been catastrophic results from The Interview being released during the holidays, the finger would have been pointed at Sony and the exhibitors and they would have had to shoulder the legal liability that goes with it. Moviegoing during a key time in the industry would have been negatively impacted.

The only thing I fault Sony for is not postponing immediately until they knew who and what they were dealing with and explaining the issues, instead of putting the decision on the shoulders of exhibitors — only to use it later to justify their actions. However, one should note, there are contractual obligations between exhibitors and studios.

Team America 2Yes, freedom of expression is what America stands for but in this new world in which we now live, public safety is a real issue. And so is legal liability. A better way to have handled this would have been for Sony to have announced that they were postponing the film to take time to assess the threat with law enforcement and then find another time and way to release the movie, but vow to still release the film at a later date. Public safety is paramount. Speaking of which, Paramount did the same thing with its Team America. Not worth the risk.

I know many people have never lived through real violence, so they can’t understand. I have learned over time that people will only understand and believe what their own experience allows them to. The growing number of victims of violence know how horrific it is.

Raging against Sony and the theater owners, calling the decision “disgraceful” and talking about cowardice is the wrong path. The truth is the Sony executives have displayed courage – the kind of courage that is hard for many to realize. Courage is being a victim of crime and finding the strength to get up and go to work every day, knowing that you are going to keep getting attacked and ridiculed.

Amy Pascal, Michael Lynton, Tom Rothman and Michael DeLuca and the rest of the rank and file at Sony are continuing to work under extreme stress and are doing the best they can to cope and continue on for their Japanese employer. This kind of attack strips you naked in a public square to be tarred and feathered, it makes you question your worth, leaves you open for daily ridicule, it makes you question your belief system, it shakes your faith and it bruises the soul. It can ruin your health and destroy you completely.

Unless you have experienced the abject fear of having you and your families’ life threatened by an unknown attacker and have suffered the devastation of being hacked and had your privacy completely violated, you cannot truly understand.

Those of you throwing those stones need to stop and think for a moment. This could have happened to you. Those journalists who have been helping the criminals in their attacks by publishing personal emails — such as that between a husband and a wife, should also stop and think for a moment about playing into the hands of criminal hackers.

Sony Pictures lotAnd to all, how about putting your energies into rallying around Sony? This company and its employees are being sabotaged on U.S. soil by a despicable group of criminals from a hostile country that kills its own people for not kowtowing to its juvenile, power-hungry dictator.

Yes, freedom of expression is important. Why not use it to fight the real enemy?

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