Friday, December 19, 2014

Picking our Battles

The difference between us and North Korea? Let's start with handling humor.

The US is no stranger to offensive comedy whether it's racial, political, satire, or something else. These days, it's hard to crack any kind of joke without offending someone. But freedom of speech is a beautiful thing... one that makes us great.

The US itself is subject to all kinds of jokes on the international level. Racial and political issues are probably the top 2. However, we're proud of our mixed heritage. Having a rich social fabric, part of what makes us a target, is also what makes us strong. We know how to roll with the punches.

Consider, for example, this horrifying poster I spotted in Hong Kong over the summer. The rather literal title translates to "Find Ghost, Do Chief Executive!" This horror-comedy features a double-entendre as "ghost" is also a racist Chinese term for foreigners. While the show itself parodies Hong Kong's own politics, there's no denying who the folks on the front cover are. A description of the show in English (or something like English) can be found here.

The difference is, we're not about to hack this Hong Kong production company over a racist depiction of some of our political leaders, including our president. We believe in freedom of speech. And we believe everyone should have it.

That's not to say that productions like this aren't offensive. They're perturbing to me on multiple levels. But I'm not about to call on my government to target those responsible. Even if I did, a parody is not nearly enough of a security concern to warrant such an immense response.

Now, consider the leadership of North Korea, who are so upset by the movie parodying Kim Jong Un that they hacked Sony. The hackers have dumped massive amounts of private data online including scripts, employee PII, salary figures and more. Apparently, a parody movie constitutes a national security-level response. You could call this an overreaction.

Our government has vowed a response to this hack. If North Korea can hack a private company, doubtless they could potentially pose a threat to our government's cybersecurity. Still, the core national security issue is the hacking, not the joke. We know when to pick our battles, too.

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