Nobody Cares, North Korea

Congratulations, North Korea. If that is your real name. You've done it. You've proven that nobody cares.

It's a given that nobody cares about you. You're just an irritating rabble rouser with a legacy of petty, pseudo-communist dictators. You're never going to leave a lasting mark on world history. Political brinkmanship and poverty are all you have to offer, and neither is particularly interesting. Let's face it, you'll never create a situation that's even in the same league as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Nothing real backs up your displayed grandiosity. Being on your wrong side is not without its consequences, but symptoms are just treatable annoyances.

Sadly, North Korea, your lack of global influence is not really the point here, though. A more corrosive force is at work, and you've exposed it. Your recent attacks on Sony Pictures brought to light the sheer apathy that underlies Americans' thinking about America, and that is dangerous. One might ask, "How so?" Consider this. 

A foreign power unilaterally decides to use it's government's resources to shut down a media outlet in another country. It doesn't work through diplomatic channels. Backing a criminal group, the offending country launches a cyber attack in protest of a creative work, using blackmail and threats against the citizens of the victimized country who happen to work for the media outlet. This attack continues to worsen until said media company is forced to withdraw their creative work from public release. Finally, assume that the media company office is based in a country that has a constitutional clause stating that the government will not abridge freedom of speech. The attacking country is thus subverting through force the guaranteed rights of the citizens in the attacked country.

What should be the attacked country's response to having its citizens' legally guaranteed rights violated by the foreign attacker? An immediate, public demand that the attack stop? Preparation for military action? Loudly escalating the issue to its allies and other world leaders making it clear that this will not be tolerated? Any of these would be appropriate. 

Which did the U.S. choose?

Quiet reflection. Considering a proportional response. For all intensive purposes, it looks like the whole country, much like Sony, is just going to capitulate. 

I am admittedly not going to be the voice of restraint here. I am a proponent of pushing the shiny, candy-colored button. Live free or die. Liberty or death. Etc., etc. Honestly, though, where is the public outcry about freedom of speech? Are we really so hopelessly inured to having our liberties shaved down after 9/11 that now we're willing to let North-Fucking-Korea dictate what we can and can't watch with just a shrug and a sheepish grin? Where the hell did America leave her balls? Fortunately, there are some pundits who get it, such as Alan Dershowitz. But for the most part, the vast majority of the media seem perfectly content to just ignore the First Amendment issue entirely.

I got something of an explanation while reading about Howard Stern's recent interview with the The Interview's producers and stars, Seth Rogen and James Franco. Consider these excerpts which quote Rogen:

Seth Rogen unleashed some hellfire Monday on the “criminals” behind the Sony cyber attack and anyone who re-distributes or "dissects" the hacked material.

“It’s stolen information. I think it’s fucked up that anyone is talking about it,” Rogen said during an appearance on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show.

“I do think it’s fucked up how everyone is doing exactly what these criminals want,” Rogen said, referring to the explosive appetite for the hackers' haul.

Did you catch that? Rogen isn't outraged that his voice is being silenced. The thing he's upset about is not getting paid. His rich, fat ass is really only concerned that you might get a free viewing of some of the film and he wouldn't get his cut. I can understand his ire about the financial loss, but it's not like Seth Rogen is done. If anything, this will ratchet up his stock a few notches and he'll make even more money next time. But come on, Seth. Aren't you a comedian, an artist who wants to share his message? Even if a performer's message is just to entertain and amuse, wouldn't it be galling to have a third party come in and illegally shut you down? I guess we know where Rogen stands compared to Carlin and Lenny Bruce, my friends.

In the end, North Korea, I guess you win this round. You didn't create America's apathy regarding its own rights and laws, but you did a fine job of exposing it. We clearly care more about grabbing our share than anything else. Perhaps you are right to disrespect the U.S. You chose a brazen and dangerous path when forces in the U.S. sought to tarnish what you value. The U.S., on the other hand, doesn't even seem to know that your actions violated what was once precious to her. And why would anyone respect a country that has so clearly lost track of what once made her proud?