Saturday, December 20, 2014

On torture and 'The Interview'

Canceled, at least for now
As MMXIV draws to a close, we can say goodbye to a regrettable and ridiculous year.

First, the regret.

The Senate finally released its long overdue report on the torture practices of this country and the responses were predictable.

Never mind that torture doesn't even work.

In fact, the opposite approach -- gaining the trust of the prisoner -- produces "actionable intelligence."

Leave it to Dick Cheney to vigorously support such a terrible practice. He boasted that "he'd do it again."

Cheney never tortured anyone. He's too much of a chicken-shit chicken-hawk to ever put his money where his mouth is. He repeatedly dodged serving in the military during the Vietnam War, yet claims that war was worthwhile.

Leave it John McCain to become the voice of reason when he said, "the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights."

In other words, we forsake our "exceptionalism" when we torture.

Unlike Cheney, McCain actually served in Vietnam, was captured and brutally tortured.

Aside from the political posturing over the release of the report, most Americans shrugged. We've moved on and we don't want to think about those dark days after 9/11. We're busy shopping for Christmas.

Ten years ago, when these torture stories first trickled out, a slight majority of Americans were opposed to the use of torture. Today, a slight majority now deems torture acceptable.

Why the change in attitude?

Well, we can thank the Fox TV show, "24," and others, where torture was portrayed and deemed effective.

Incredibly, we turn to fiction instead of facts to justify our actions.

Which leads us to the ridiculous.

Who would think that a funny, little movie about assassinating a real leader of a foreign country would cause any problems?

Evidently, Sony Pictures didn't think much of it when "The Interview" was given the go-ahead.

Unfortunately, that leader is Kim Jong-Un, the newest tyrannical ruler of North Korea, the worst country on the planet.

Even though Kim and most of the North Korean leadership deserve to be shot, it's best not to telegraph it by way of a movie.

As the film neared its release date, North Koreans hacked Sony Pictures' computers and stole digital copies of movies and some embarrassing e-mails, which revealed how inept Sony Pictures' leaders are.

The North Koreans threatened 9/11 type terrorism on any theater that showed "The Interview."

Now, the North Koreans are always making empty threats against us or South Korea or anyone.

Yet, the North Koreans have attacked South Koreans over the years and they are crazy enough to do something monstrous.

Which is why Sony canceled the Christmas day release of "The Interview," after theater owners balked at showing the film.

Now, theater chains don't really care about the safety of their patrons. They just don't want to be sued for mega-millions if something terrible happened.

If Batman provoked homegrown terrorism in Colorado, what would "The Interview" incite?

Probably not much.

I giggled when I saw previews for this movie in the same way I laughed about the reaction to Roseanne Barr's crude rendition of the National Anthem at a baseball game in the 1990s.

I mean, what did people expect?

Afterall, "The Interview" was co-written by Seth Rogen, who also co-stars in the film.

Rogen is known for crude, rude and offensive comedy.

He's no Charlie Chaplin, who made "The Great Dictator," a parody of Hitler, in 1940, before U.S. involvement in World War II.

Unlike "The Interview," Chaplin's classic used fictional names for Hitler and Germany. Yet, Chaplin's famous mustache made him look similar to Hitler.

In his 1964 autobiography, Chaplin stated the he would not have made the film had he known about the actual horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.

In America, we've got the freedom to say and do some outrageous things.

And, that shouldn't change.

But, there are consequences if you cross the line, which, admittedly, is drawn in sand.

That said, I do want to see "The Interview" now, if only as a protest against the North Korean threat.

Maybe that's Sony's marketing ploy after all.

Actually, it appears that stupidity is the more apt description.

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