Letter: ‘The United States answered with punishing sanctions against North Korea …’

Freedom not under fire

Neither North Korea’s preemptive threats against the release of Sony’s film The Interview nor the Charlie Hebdo killings have anything to do with the right to freedom of speech. Freedom of Speech as a general principle (and under our First Amendment) concerns one’s own government’s action or inaction regarding protected speech. But the Sony and Charlie events show vigorous government action in support of the speech involved.

The Interview: The threat against The Interview came not from our own government but from a foreign one. The United States answered with punishing sanctions against North Korea and an official U.S. pronouncement urging release of the film. Further, during the making of the film the U.S. State Department had successfully persuaded the filmmakers to include in the plot the assassination of North Korea’s president, consistent with U.S. policy of imposing regime change in North Korea.

Charlie Hebdo: In Paris, the attacks on Charlie apparently came from a political/religious organization unaffiliated with the French government. Indeed, Charlie had been given special government protection before the attacks from just such a threat. After the attacks the suspects were immediately killed and

Charlie’s operations heavily subsidized by the government. Further, Charlie’s ridicule of Islam and its adherents, and suspicion of Muslim and Arab populations, are consistent with French security, policing and military practice in France, Africa and the Middle East.

So Sony and Charlie received considerable government support for their speech rights, both before and after the events in question. To confuse those events with threats to freedom of speech is not just mistaken but echoes official propaganda.

Roger Stoll, San Rafael

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