Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kim Jong Un and The Satanic Verses

What a day. I heard the news this morning that Obama is normalizing relations with Cuba. It is about time! Joni immediately gave me permission to go to Cuba and see what is going on there. Perhaps I will.

And SONY decided to not release a movie called "The Interview" that is supposedly a comedy about killing the North Korean child dictator. Often called The Hermit Kingdom, North Korea is a terrible place. And the leaders have even larger egos than usual. The new kid leader, Kim Jong Un, who carries on the tradition he inherited from his father and grandfather, didn't take too kindly to an American movie that supposedly lampoons his assassination. So he put his security apparatus up to the task of hacking SONY and also to deliver threats against American movie goers. Somehow they pulled off the hacking part, which, we shouldn't be too surprised because they also have been successful in building a nuclear weapon. Yes, they may not be able to feed their people, but they do seem to have a knack to build stuff and even hack into SONY. We shouldn't underestimate them.

So with all the threats, SONY bowed to the pressure and decided to cancel the release of the movie. It was supposed to be a Christmas Day release. And I had planned to go to it then. Screw Kim Jong Un.

Compare this to when The Satanic Verses came out. In case you don't remember, Salman Rushdie wrote a novel about Mohammed that was none too flattering. Conservative Muslim Clerics didn't care for it and threatened the author and also threatened those who sold the book. I was working at a bookstore at the time. We had threats, but we stocked the book. We didn't put it in the front window; you had to ask for it and we would retrieve a copy for you. Everyone thought there might be violence over that book. Salman Rushdie went into hiding, from which, he hasn't emerged yet. In the end, nothing happened and we considered it our patriotic duty to sell it, even though I only made the minimum wage at the time. We risked our lives for peanuts and we were proud of it.

I guess booksellers are braver than cinema owners.

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