Sony Did Not Make a Mistake

The President’s second-guessing of Sony is highly hypocritical and probably wrong.

I have to admit that, for awhile, I actually agreed with Team Obama on this one. Worse, I got corrected by a quotation from Chris Rock of all people! reported,

President Obama didn’t mince words today when asked at his end-of-the-year news conference about Sony Pictures: “Yes, I think they made a mistake,” he said of the company’s decision to pull the movie The Interview, reports NBC News. “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship in the United States,” he said. Obama added that he was “sympathetic” to Sony’s concerns as a corporation, but he said the precedent set over a “satirical movie” is a terrible one.

I admit, I thought it was a terrible mistake as well.

[See also, “Feds Approved Murderous Comedy about North Korea?]

But Sony Pictures is not in a position to take responsibility to risk lives. They have insurance issues and they have a legal team that advises them of their responsibilities and liabilities and they had to make a decision based on reality, not patriotic fantasy.

And who is responsible for making Sony feel that they are safe and out of danger from attacks?

Japan probably claims some of that responsibility and so does the United States as a global leader. What is their protection worth these days?

Furthermore, Chris Rock’s quotation (as much as it surprises me to admit it) is spot on:

chris rock interview

He is exactly right. The United States Government has inconvenienced us and cost us money and even humiliated us (nudie scanners and gropings!) for years and years. That kind of behavior is far more irrational than giving in to credible threats. Even if you agree that Sony’s decision was a mistake, you have to admit that they are merely guilty of following the example of the government.

The only way Sony could rationally refuse to submit to threats is if they had a credible way to protect themselves and their customers. But if they could do that, then Japan and other jurisdictions would have trouble collecting revenue from them. It is precisely because Sony is helpless when threatened by aggressors that nation-states can bully them to obey their regulations and give them tax money.

So you can’t have it both ways. If you want a company that is subservient to your own threats then you can’t expect them to resist the threats of others.