I thought hard about not putting this little post on my blog. I really don’t have much of a heart for saying anything serious about humanity, or the culture, or the depravity of people any more. Too much anger and hate out there all across the political spectrum, and that’s evident on my Facebook feed every day.
But I just read George Clooney’s comments in an interview about how North Korea successfully isolated and embarrassed Sony before launching their “and now we’ll blow up stuff and kill people” terrorist action… an action that has evidently worked.
I wasn’t even going to watch this stupid Seth Rogen movie. Still won’t, even if it gets released. I think the “Rogening” of entertainment (going directly and ubiquitously for the foulest, dirtiest, grossest joke every time) is going to ruin the effective use of perfectly good curse words, but that’s an argument for another time.
But it was heartening for me to see someone from Hollywood really lay it out there about what is really going on. Not just with North Korea, but in all of entertainment and media. The idea that people with socially or culturally unacceptable ideas, thoughts, or statements should be silenced by whatever means necessary. The idea that if we don’t want to see or hear something, we should be able to use gossip, slander, terrorism, or violence to silence it. Go ahead and read the whole article, because it is important. I’m not much of a Clooney fan, and I’m not sure he and I would agree on many things, but he seems to be a guy with the courage to point out when some wrong has the potential to destroy freedom for everyone. Even you. I can appreciate that.
On a much smaller scale, I was the victim of a Sony-style attack this year. But it doesn’t take much of an attack to destroy someone’s business in the modern climate. Those of us who have been around for awhile used to call this idea that you can embarrass, shame, or threaten someone into silence (or destroy them) “Borking.” But something tells me that from now on it will be called “pulling a North Korea” or something like that. But it is a scary proposition, believe me. It happened to me. A few someones not happy with my freedom of speech, not satisfied to just fundamentally disagree with me, decided to try to utilize the very harsh and violent social climate to try to hurt and destroy me and my family. It’s not hard to do in the technology/online era. Sony found that out. ANYONE reading this would be shamed and embarrassed if everything you’ve ever typed into a computer or sent through the Internet was suddenly, selectively, made public. So these kinds of people — North Korea types — decided to go out and find stuff they hated that I’ve said, and use it to try to hurt me and my family. And a bunch of other people who should have known better let them. One man even built a rational for violence to be used against others if… if… an idea he disagreed with could in any way be construed as dangerous.
Let me let that sink in… All of this is predicated on the idea that if you can, by whatever mental and verbal gymnastics necessary, construe an idea you disagree with as “dangerous.” Then violence can be used to stomp out and destroy that idea.
I want you to take a moment and really consider the ramifications of that idea taken to it’s natural and logical conclusion. I want you to ask yourself in this very angry and fractured cultural environment in America if Democrats and Republicans are likely to construe their opponents ideas as “dangerous.” Where are we headed? Well, I believe that every social/cultural idea with which I disagree is dangerous. But I am still human enough that I cannot rationalize violence being used against my cultural opponents. Nor do I abandon my friends because they have ideas that are lawful, but abhorrent to me. This is what is wrong with America today. With the bifurcation of the country on party lines. On political lines. With the concept that everyone who disagrees with me is dangerous and should be silenced. This is what is wrong with cowards letting people get away with terrorism if the victim can be portrayed as “deserving it.” Clooney describes this kind of cowardice and how it works. But the warning is this, when someone doesn’t agree with you, when what they believe is abhorrent to you, that is precisely when YOUR character is made known. I’m talking about lawful ideas here, even if you fundamentally disagree with them. If you abandon a friend because their ideas differ from yours, or because they’ve said something stupid in their life, or because the culture you’ve embraced will coalesce to destroy anyone who disagrees, then you are not only a coward, but you have lost any influence for good you might have had on that person. You’ve lost the only tool you have (other than violence) to combat bad ideas. You’ve sharpened the divide and made violence the only eventual solution. Everyone is packed into party. One side is always declaring victory, and the other side is already preparing for war to “take the country back.”
In this article, Clooney says he wasn’t able to find ONE SINGLE person of influence in Hollywood to sign a petition against what was going on with North Korea. Against the chilling precedent being set. This is the ultimate results of moral cowardice. This is what happens when everyone smells the air and isn’t willing to stand with someone they disagree with if it might come back to hurt them personally. Well, in my case I was blessed by having hundreds of friends who weren’t willing to throw me under the bus just because we disagree on things. Still, I lost several people who I once called friends. Some of them aided and abetted people who were doing some really, really wrong things. Some stepped aside and allowed it to happen, admitting that they were doing it to protect themselves. Others enabled it and encouraged it by saying it was my obligation to play into the threats and attacks by publicly doing something to placate and vindicate my attackers.
Frankly, I’m surprised that some of the people I know in publishing aren’t rabidly on the side of North Korea in all of this. After all, it is only their own philosophy and worldview taken to it’s next logical step. Perhaps they are unable to see the connection. Perhaps they think that silencing or destroying an author and his/her family is not the same as, you know, threatening to blow up theaters because you don’t want a movie to be shown. But it is the same. It is, and we’re all going to see where this kind of bullying leads.
And that’s all I have to say about that, other than this… if you say you believe in freedom and peace, then be the thing you want to see. As a non-violent plain person, I am sorry to see the way things are heading with discourse in this world. I’m sorry, but I’m not surprised. As humanity, we’ve been here before, and those who do not learn from history, will be doomed to repeat it.