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7 Reasons 2014 Was a Lousy Year for Free Speech

Yes, everyone is talking about Sony’s decision to pull “The Interview” after hackers threatened theaters showing the Seth Rogen comedy. The debacle became just one of seven sour moments when free speech either buckled or suffered a body blow.

  1. “The Interview” and Its Aftermath: Sony’s cancellation of “The Interview” represents a pop culture earthquake, and we have yet to feel the full force of the tremors. Will other films be targeted next? Could this impact political documentaries during the 2016 presidential election? How many scripts will be scrapped for fear of “Interview”-style repercussions?
  2. Paramount Doubles Up: Sony wasn’t the only film studio to censor itself this week. Paramount prevented the Alamo Drafthouse chain from screening “Team America: World Police,” the 2004 comedy which also poked fun at North Korea’s leadership. At least Sony had the excuse of being battered by a wave of hack attacks prior to caving.
  3. The Death of Joan Rivers: Can we tawk about a comedienne who never held back no matter the consequences? Had Rivers come of age in 2014, the P.C. police would have handcuffed her incendiary wit. Instead, pop culture mourned her free spirit by acknowledging how sorely she’ll be missed. She was one of a kind, but she still couldn’t bend our easily offended nation to her will.
  4. Bill Maher’s College Conundrum: Bill Maher made his name by being politically incorrect, even if these days he mostly mimics DNC talking points. When Maher criticized elements of Arab culture for crushing human rights he went too far. Students at The University of California, Berkeley demanded Maher’s commencement speech gig get rescinded as a result.
  5. Hollywood Hearts China: Film studios crave access to Chinese audiences, and they don’t mind censoring their own product along the way. Bloomberg.com reported earlier this month that Hollywood is seeking Chinese investors, pushing aside worries about censorship of its product. This year didn’t see the start Hollywood’s love affair with China, but it grew more passionate over the past 12 months.
  6. Opie Minus Anthony: Veteran radio comics Gregg “Opie” Hughes and Anthony Cumia survived plenty of drama during their long radio career as Opie and Anthony. But when Cumia let loose with some racially ugly tweets following a fight with a black woman their show came to an end. No one said Cumia’s comments were anything but awful, but should a few tweets, which caused no one physical harm, end a long-standing partnership? Fellow comics Colin Quinn, Jay Mohr and Penn Jillette rushed to Cumia’s side to little avail.
  7. Lena Dunham Escapes Unscathed: The “Girls” star abused her free speech rights by unfairly targeting an innocent man in her memoir, “Not That Kind of Girl.” Breitbart News’ John Nolte broke the story through shoe-leather reporting but the mainstream press sat on its collective hands for days before reacting. When the media finally joined the conversation, it couldn’t be bothered to fully condemn Dunham’s actions. To make matters worse, stars like Rosie O’Donnell and Mia Farrow rallied to her side without acknowledging the impact of her actions.
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2 Comments

  1. This post makes me sad.

    Had a long discussion with the husband this morning about the state of the world right now.

    Our conclusion? We don’t like it one bit.

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