The Cult of Opinion

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Who is to blame for the cancellation of The Interview, and why should be concerned about the answer?

To be clear up front, I am not saying there is no terrorist threat out there right now. I just find the whole deal with North Korea very fishy and think some fear mongering is going on.

This post is about the cancellation of the Seth Rogen and James Franco film, The Interview, which portrays, in comedic fashion, the assassination of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un and whose release planned for today has been cancelled due to a threat of terrorist retaliation if it is shown.  The trailer for The Interview is here:

The theatrical release of the film has been stopped by Sony Pictures due to the alleged terrorist threat from North Korea. Several theatre chains had advised Sony they had chosen to not show it and Sony decided to cancel its release entirely.(apparently as of this afternoon theatres in Montreal had agreed to show it.  Whether it will happen remains to be seen).  Not only was The Interview cancelled but also several theatres had proposed, in its place, to show the 2004 comedy, Team America: World Police, which also portrays North Korea’s leadership in the most ridiculous way possible, and those screenings were also cancelled.

The American government has gotten behind the cancellations claiming that there is a threat of a terrorist attack that originates from North Korea as a result of the films release.–sector.html

The mass media has clearly decided that if we watch those movies there will be a terrorist act committed upon us. And why would we doubt that? Every major news source is telling us this. We are apparently under attack in our own homeland to the point we have to restrict our freedom of expression in order to make ourselves safe. This a big deal folks and I think we need dig deeper for the truth.

There is always someone who wants you to know that they know the truth

This whole fiasco has got me puzzled.  I swear to you all I am not a conspiracy theorist. I do not buy into lunatic fringe arguments about 9-11(Al-Qaeda did it) , Roswell (there were no aliens, though I agree something shifty was going on), real reasons behind vaccinations(there is no grand plan to lure North American’s into believing vaccinations are good just to unleash a super bug and wipe out the population.  Yes that is a real conspiracy theory), etc. As a guy who loves debate, I have read countless websites arguing both sides of those events and at the end of the day I can accept that perhaps my view is wrong, but I do not believe they are actual conspiracies. There is one reason I have firmly landed on my opinion; nobody can keep a secret.

It is the conceit of human nature that causes us to take credit for, or show our advanced knowledge of, things that have happened.  We love to be the ones to know something everybody else does not  and we get off on letting people know we know more than they do.  It happens all the times.  There is ALWAY someone ready to spill the beans.  ALWAYS.  Especially with the passage of time. Any secret that requires more than a few people to keep it hidden will eventually be exposed.  There will be an informed insider or a whistleblower who eventually have the need to tell the TRUTH and the cover will be blown.  The aforementioned conspiracy theories would require dozens, if not hundreds of people to keep the truth hidden and it would never stick.  Sooner or later someone with credible inside information will have a need to expose the truth; for either the glory or to ease their conscience.  Anyway you cut it, people can’t keep a secret.

Nonetheless here we are today and I believe a conspiracy is afoot.

The Sony Hack and North Korea’s Connection

Just a little backstory for anyone who doesn’t know what is going on:

  • 2013 – Sony announces and proceeds with filming The Interview, which involves characters played by Seth Rogen and James Franco being enlisted by the CIA to kill the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un.
  • June 2014 – The first trailer of The Interview is released.
  • July 2014 – North Korea makes an appeal to the UN trying to block the release of the movie claiming the release of a film depicting the assassination of a sitting head of state was an act of terrorism.
  • August 2014 – Sony seemingly acquiesces to North Korea’s complaints by suggesting they will modify some scenes and make digital enhancements to remove some of the offending content. (I have not determined whether those changes actually occurred)
  • November 2014 – Sony’s computer systems are hacked and extensive data is stolen including employee personal data and details about all Sony projects and several completed but unreleased films.
  • December 2014 – North Korea denies involvement but praises the hacker’s actions. An alleged hacker group called The Guardians of Peace take credit for the hack and releases a substantial amount of Sony’s data online.
  • December 2014 – The Guardians of the Peace threaten that a terrorist attack will occur if theatres show The Interview.  Though they initially state that they do not believe North Korea is behind the Sony hack, the FBI later recants and says it has linked North Korea to the incident.
  • December 2014 – After The Interview release is cancelled some theatres plan to show the 2004 movie Team America: World Police which portrays the previous North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un’s father, Kim Jong-Il in a ridiculous manner. However those showings are also cancelled citing the same potential terrorist threat.

As it has unfolded some things about this situation haven’t sat right with me. Why did the FBI originally say North Korea is not involved but then change its mind? How does the US government attribute the hack and threats to North Korea but not be able to explain who The Guardians of Peace are? Have you ever heard of a terrorist attack by North Korea on American soil? Have you ever heard of sleeper cells of North Korean agents waiting to strike within the US? What do we actually know about North Korea?

I pee myself a little thinking of being stuck in North Korea

I think North Korea is scary as fuck.  They are secretive, they have zero contact with the outside world, North Korean’s live on government propaganda that keeps its citizens loyal to its third generation dictatorship by instilling the fear into them that the entire planet is out to get them.  They have taken fear mongering to an art to bend their people to their will. There are several generations of North Korean’s who truly believe the it is the grandest and most glorious country and the rest of the world is out to get them.

No doubt North Korea has a deplorable human rights record. There have been enough articles about the poverty, slave labour camps, abuses of power and restraints on the freedom of speech that persuasively show it is a terrible place to live if you believe in the freedom’s and liberties that we are accustomed to in North America.

In 2002 George W. Bush, in his justification for initiating the war on terror included North Korea with Iran and Iraq as the “axis of evil” due to its deplorable treatment of its citizens and its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. And indeed, as long as I have been alive I have been told that North Korea was evil (Biggest show when I was growing up? M*A*S*H. Who was the enemy? You got it) and I agree that they treat their people horribly.

BUT, when do you ever hear of North Korea committing terrorist attacks outside of North Korea? We are inundated with news of terror attacks. Every bombing, school killing, village massacre, acid throwing, rocket attack, beheading, etc that occurs is splashed across the headlines. Media outlets are not selective in broadcasting them. It doesn’t matter if they are attributable to ISIS or Hamas or Al-Qaeda or Boko Haram or Somali pirates or solitary extremist nut jobs or gun toting mentally unstable people; if it is a terrorist attack, we hear about it.

So think back and tell me when you have heard about an actual terrorist action taken by North Korea that was not related to military actions.

To be honest I didn’t know the answer to that myself so I decided to do some research.  I focused my search on threats being placed on foreign people in their own lands. Remembering that North Korea, in its mind, has been at war with South Korea and it’s allies for years and it has always strongly asserted it independence and security, I have not included instances where it has kidnapped people it claims are war criminals or actions that could be viewed as military defenses (torpedoing a boat in or close to its waters).  I mean events that actually involve having people planted in a foreign country to execute a terrorist event on the people of that country where those people are clearly innocent civilians and cannot be linked to a military action.

This is what I found. After some research using Google and Wikipedia I determined that indeed there was some non-territorial war related terrorist attacks that have been directly connected:

So clearly there has been some horrific terrorist actions by these people but you will notice that all of those occurred 25 years ago or more. I found no articles that prove there have been attacks on American soil and there have been no claims by the CIA or FBI that they have embedded groups of supporters awaiting orders to carry out an attack.

So why are we now cancelling a movie that on the basis of a terror threat from a group that has not been identified? Would such a terrorist attack not take a lot of planning and the placing of people to carry out those attacks?  With all of the terrorist monitoring that the US government performs, would it not have been raised earlier if North Korea was building a terrorist base in North America?

Global politics: If I make my enemy a friend, I now need a new enemy

Perhaps its worth considering what was happening on an different political front this week. On Wednesday, after decades of isolation and sanctions, the US announced it is going to mend the fences with it’s long time rival Cuba.

The US has had a beef with the communist state since the early day of the Cold War when Cuba supported the Soviet Union. Ever since then and despite the end of the Cold War and the decreasing (and now mostly negligible) threat from Cuba, several generations of people have grown up in the US being told Cuba is its sworn enemy.

I would wager that there are a lot of American’s who believe to their core that Cuba is an enemy but could not tell you why; it’s just what they were raised to know. Us Canadians have capitalized on this and have made Cuba a favourite and affordable Caribbean vacation destination where the costs have not been driven up by the demand from the US market.  Not to mention access to Cuban cigars that we could legally possess but our American friends could not. But to American’s it has always been the enemy.

However, on Wednesday President Obama indicated that their feud with Cuba was essentially over and the sanctions and embargoes against the island nation should be lifted and American’s be allowed to travel there and even be allowed to bring back Cuban cigars (there goes my side business).

Is it purely a coincidence that the US government attributes the Sony hacks to North Korea and declares it a form of terrorism on the very same day the announce they are mending the fence with Cuba? 

The US has always had countries to be enemies with. There was originally England, then Germany, Japan, Soviet Union, North Korea, North Vietnam, Iran, Iraq & Cuba.  But when you look at that list things have changed substantially over the years. England forgave the whole separation thing centuries ago. The once (twice, actually) evil German empire is now a steadfast ally. Japan is a friend despite the whole Pearl Harbor incident. The Cold War ended making the beef with the Soviet Union and the Korean and Vietnam wars irrelevant. It has bridged the gap with Iran, though it remains tenuous. Iraq is governed by US allies that are united in a common enemy of the terrorist group of ISIS.

US has made good with a lot of old enemies over the years and it has also shown us that it feels it’s good policy to keep some enemies in place. The American government, for whatever reasons, always has to have someone they can point to as the enemy. Sometimes the more obscure they are the better.

The tail wagging the dog

So as this whole drama unfolds, we have to wait and see if the US is about to blow the cover way off a huge terrorist plot within the US and we will all breathe a collective sigh of relief that we did not put ourselves in harms way by going to see The Interview. I cannot believe that there has been a terror plot brewing in the US and the CAI and FBI are only finding out about it as a result of a hack of Sony’s computer systems. I think it is possible that North Korea could be behind the actual hacking itself but parlaying that into terrorist threat to me seems like a stretch. On that front we will have to wait and see.

In the meantime I can’t help but think of the scene in the  1997 political satire, Wag the Dog. In the movie Dustin Hoffman plays a movie producer hired by  Robert DeNiro (as Conrad Brean) to produce a fake war to sell to the media to distract the public from a sex scandal involving the President in the weeks leading up to an election.  Brean chooses Albania as the country that the US is supposedly going to war with. When asked by Anne Heche (as Winifred Ames) why he picked Albania the following exchange ensues:

Winifred Ames: Why Albania?
Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: Why not?
Winifred Ames: What have they done to us?
Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: What have they done FOR us? What do you know about them?
Winifred Ames: Nothing.
Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: See? They keep to themselves. Shifty. Untrustable.

Insert North Korea for Albania and you have our new situation. A new terrorist threat who we are scared of because we don’t know much about them combined with a government  who needs us to be afraid of something.

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This entry was posted on December 19, 2014 by in Rants and tagged , , .
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