By Tom Quiner

The guy looked “off.”

I was riding my bike some twenty to thirty years ago in my sleepy, little neighborhood. I had my young son in the infant seat on the back of my bike. My wife had our little daughter on the back of hers’.

My two young nieces were on their own bikes as we leisurely pedaled along a side street with practically no traffic on it, when I saw this guy.

He was walking in no particular path, weaving from one side of the street to the other. He was talking to no one in particular.

My internal radar sensed to avoid this guy. As my bike got nearer, I heard him talking crazy, something about “el Nino.” And then I made the mistake of looking at him and then muttering something to my wife about avoiding this guy.

He erupted, shouting at me for no reason. It was scary, especially when he said, “you’re dead, your brother is dead, your family is dead.”

Shaken to the core, I quickly got my family away from this guy. These were the days before cell phones were out, so we raced home and I called the police. They came and checked out the guy. Turns out he was harmless enough, but it sure didn’t seem that way at the time.

A similar sentiment was expressed in a movie trailer for “The Gambler,” a new Hollywood produced movie coming out soon.

In the trailer above, you hear the character played by John Goodman menacingly state that if the hero doesn’t pay back the money he owes Goodman:

“I will kill your entire bloodline.”

This is a chilling thing to hear. It is one thing to be personally threatened. It is far more consequential and terrifying when the threat is expanded to include everyone you love.

Hollywood is faced with such a threat right now. It is not a make-believe threat you’d see in a theatrical movie, such as “The Gambler.” It is a threat with teeth, because it comes from a government, the government of North Korea, to be exact.

The thug who runs North Korea almost makes the Castro boys in Cuba seem warm and fuzzy.

The evil regime that runs North Korea hacked Sony’s e-mails. You’ve read all about it.

They embarrassed Sony’s high-ups by publishing indiscreet e-mails which the press dutifully published.

All of this was prelude to the real zinger: they demanded that Sony pull the plug on their upcoming movie, “The Interview,” which makes North Korea look bad. They threatened to blow up movie theaters that screened the film. (For the record, the Wall Street Journal film reviewer said “The Interview” is a really lousy movie, but that’s not the point.)

In other words, the communist government of North Korea threatens to kill your family and mine if we go to see an offensive movie. They even threatened Sony employees and their families with violence if the movie was released.

Sony pulled the plug on the movie because movie theater chains refused to show the movie. Their lawyers said if someone dies, you’re responsible.

I understand it, I don’t like it, and I think Hollywood is making a mistake.

North Korea has successfully censored a U.S. movie.

This blog has been critical of Hollywood on more than one occasion. I wish they would have stood up to the Communist killers and said, “this is America, we believe in free speech, even it if is sometimes offensive.”

Sadly, they didn’t.

Actor George Clooney circulated a petition to Hollywood bosses in support of free speech. Here is what it said:

On November 24 of this year, Sony Pictures was notified that it was the victim of a cyber attack, the effects of which is the most chilling and devastating of any cyber attack in the history of our country.

Personal information including Social Security numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and the full texts of emails of tens of thousands of Sony employees was leaked online in an effort to scare and terrorize these workers.

The hackers have made both demands and threats. The demand that Sony halt the release of its upcoming comedy The Interview, a satirical film about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Their threats vary from personal—you better behave wisely—to threatening physical harm—not only you but your family is in danger.

North Korea has not claimed credit for the attack but has praised the act, calling it a righteous deed and promising merciless measures if the film is released. Meanwhile the hackers insist in their statement that what they’ve done so far is only a small part of our further plan.

This is not just an attack on Sony. It involves every studio, every network, every business and every individual in this country. That is why we fully support Sony’s decision not to submit to these hackers’ demands.

We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together.

Not a single Hollywood bigwig was willing to sign Clooney’s petition.

A famous American once said, “give me liberty or give me death.”

Today’s Hollywood says “give me neither.”

 

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