Monday, October 09, 2006

Ok, now let's hear it from the Right!!

Remember all of the castigation that was poured upon the Muslim world of for their reaction to the Mohammed cartoons?

Remember the trumpeting of Freedom of Speech in America versus the religious strictures of fundamental Islam?

Ok, so does this mean that GWB ranks above God and Christ in the American panoply?

I mean, why else would US theatre chains effectively BAN showing of this movie?

Where is the protest in the streets, the baying for blood that the rights of expression and speech can be limited so?

Or is it true that the American right wing does have two faces.
Two major U.S. cinema chains say they will not show a controversial new movie that depicts the assassination of President George W. Bush, while the film's distributor defended it as a thoughtful political thriller.

A third major chain said it was undecided on whether to show "Death of a President".

The movie is scheduled to open in U.S. on October 27 and its backers said they are booking it into many regional venues and art houses, despite being shunned by the large chains.

The fictional film is told like a documentary that tracks the political drama behind an investigation into Bush's murder in October 2007. It has raised a ruckus because it uses digital technology to depict Bush being gunned down.

Regal Entertainment Group, the No. 1 U.S. cinema operator with more than 6,300 screens in 40 states, will not show the movie because of its subject matter, Regal spokesman Dick Westerling said.

"We do not feel it is appropriate to portray the future assassination of a president, therefore we do not intend to program this film at any of our cinemas," he said.

Westerling said Regal has received "numerous phone calls and e-mails" supporting the company and even if the film became a hit in other venues, Regal would stand by its decision.

Cinemark USA, which operates roughly 2,500 screens in 34 states, told show business newspaper The Hollywood Reporter it would not screen the film.

A spokeswoman for AMC Entertainment, which runs 5,600 screens, told Reuters her company had yet to make a decision.

Definitely two faces...

(Hat tip Digby at Hullabaloo)


Dave Justus said...

Theatre chains cannot BAN showing of a movie, they don't have that power. They can of course choose not to show it.

That the two concepts confuse you, is regretable.

No movie, or article, or any form of expression has a 'right' to demand that a venue carry it. No one can justly demand that a newpaper carry their article, or a movie theatre show their movie or a newpaper publish their cartoon.

At the same time, anyone is free to criticise a venues choices in such a matter. Freedom of Expression.

Where Freedom of Expression ends, is in 'baying for blood' when someone doesn't listen to your criticism.

If a paper publishes cartoons of Mohammad, Muslims or anyone else is free to complain about that, or protest that action. Similarly, 'right wingers' are free to tell a theatre that they shouldn't show a movie because of objectionable content. When either of them change to 'don't show this or we will kill you' a line has been drawn.

Virtually everyone I know on the right holds this exact opinion. No hypocracy there.

However, it seems to me that those like you, who think that not only should Cartoons of Mohammad be not shown, but that Government should take steps to prevent them from being shown, but at the same time demand (as you seem to be doing here) that this movie be shown do have a hypocracy problem.

The probligo said...

"Theatre chains cannot BAN showing of a movie, they don't have that power. They can of course choose not to show it."

Interesting semantic, that. Especially when you consider that there is a high probability that the theatres in the Regal chain are franchises rather than directly owned. So the decision to show / not show is not being made by someone other than the owner of the theatre.

Second point; would it make a difference for you if the film were of a CSI investigation of the assassination of Lincoln? Or the assassination of the President of 25 years in the future, perhaps by an Islamic terrorist? Or perhaps a fictitional account of the assassination of Clinton by a crazed, right wing, religieux with a paranoid hatred of cigars?

No, probably not...

Dave Justus said...

I do not think that Regal Cinemas is a franchise operation. Regardless, when you buy into a franchise you are buying both the benefits and downsides of going that route, including not having as much control as if you went on your own. I have no problem with that.

I myself would probably choose not to watch a realistic assassination of any living current or former U.S. President, most other major heads of state, or important people like the Pope or the Dalai Lama. This is especially true if the murder in question is presented as being a 'good thing.'

I would not bother to protest such a thing or write to a movie chain not to show it. I do not feel stronly enough about the subject for that.

Humorous/Cartoon versions of such an event would not bother me at all, and would not influence me seeing the movie one way or the other.

Realistic depictions of events that actually happened, Kennedy or Lincoln for example, would not strike me as improper at all, although I would not attend a film that 'celebrated' the assassination of Kennedy or others such as Martin Luther King.

The assassination of a President in the future would not bother me at all. Obviously that would be a fictional character.

All of this seems beside the point somewhat however. Whether I would go see a given movie or not is not directly related to my views on censorship. I would oppose the government saying that any of the above cannot be shown. I would support the right of consumers to complain if any of the above were shown and they found it objectionable. I would support the right of a business to listen to their consumers or not, for whatever reasons seemed good to them. Lastly, I would mostly certainly not support any effort by those offended that involved violence or threat of violence.

Lastly, as a part of not supporting violence or threat, I would urge any business or person subjected to such threats to ignore them, and urge the Government to use all necessary measures to protect them from this violence. If we allow threat of violence to become a de facto censor for free speech we will lose a very signifigant freedom.

Threat of unpopularity because of free speech (consumers boycoting your product) is, and should be, an appropriate consequence of speech that others find offensive. Threat of death should not be.

Is that so hard to understand?

The probligo said...

"Threat of unpopularity because of free speech (consumers boycoting your product) is, and should be, an appropriate consequence of speech that others find offensive. Threat of death should not be."

So, if this Bush assassination film were to be shown widely on Al-Jazheera, pointing out at the start of the broadcast that it is a fictional account, you will be boycotting all Middle East products?

Ahh, yep!

Dave Justus said...

"So, if this Bush assassination film were to be shown widely on Al-Jazheera, pointing out at the start of the broadcast that it is a fictional account, you will be boycotting all Middle East products?"

I don't know how you get that from what I said. As I said, I would not get upset enough about such a thing to protest it. Middle-Eastern TV stations frequently broadcast things I find even more disturbing than this, for example dramatizing the Jewish Blood Libel.

I think that that it is wrong to create and show such content, but I personally don't feel any need to punish those who did it, let alone boycott all of the middle east.

However, I do think that anyone has a right to boycott the middle east because of this reason (just as Arabs have a right to boycott Denmark if they wish.) I might argue with either group that their boycott is foolish or counter-productive (I have that right too) but I wouldn't argue that they should be legally constrained from doing so.

If on the other hand, someone said if you show X on TV I will kill you, I would support applying legal penalties against that person. That is not ok.

I have been consistant here from the beginning. Are you really confused about my position or not?

I also, as I have said, think that if someone wants to show X and they are told, you can't do that because some group will get violent if you do, that is an increased, not a descreased, reason to show X, otherwise we reward that threat of violence, and therefore there will be more of it.

The probligo said...

Dave, tongue was firmly wedged in cheek there. The "Ahh, yep!!" was a (vain) attempt to indicate that was the case.

Do you believe the "Blood Libel"? No, of course not! Neither do I.

Do you believe that the Q'ran promotes violence against non-believers? How many promote the idea that it does? Is that an "Islamic Lust For Blood" libel?

Dave Justus said...

I believe that the Koran can be interpreted in that way.

As can the Bible and the Torah.

I also think it is more popular in Islamic nations and amoung much of Islam even in the west to interpret it that way, that to intrepret the Bible or the Torah as justifying violence.

Mohammad clearly was a military leader who waged a number of military campaigns against the infidel. That doesn't necessarily mean that those campaigns were unjust, but it does set a certain degree of militarism over the whole religion.

Moses and Joshua of course also had quite a military history, but given the propensity of most Christians to look at Christ, rather than Moses, and the fact that Jews had long period without any ability to realize military power, militaristic views of those religions have somewhat gone out of stile. In addition, the 30 years war traumatized Europe in ways that the Muslim world have not been, which began a strong shift away from Religious wars.

I think the better question is not if the Koran CAN be used to promote violence, but if it IS being used to promote violence against unbelievers.

I think that it indistputable that that is the case.

I also think that while some Muslims take a stand against this, too many do not.

I am also entirely unsure what any of this has to do with this post.

The probligo said...

The intention, Dave, was to try and show that "libel" can exist on either side of a debate... However, I have immediately run into my appalling lack of knowledge of matters religious.

I should perhaps have just limited myself to asking you what the "Blood Libel" had to do with the original topic.

In the meantime there is a new one to get your teeth into...

Dave Justus said...

What did the blood libel have to do with the topic.

Well, you asked me how I would react if Al-Jazeera aired the anti-bush Documentary.

I pointed out that middle eastern nations already air things that I find more disturbing than that, and provided a link to what I was talking about.

The 'Blood Libel' is the proper name for a specific anti-semtic charge, basically that they kill non-Jewish babies and use the blood in religious rituals. When talking about the Blood Libel, that is more analoguos to Holocaust denial than it is to libel in general. It is hate speech, pure and simple.

I find it absolutely disgusting.

That said, I support the right of people to repeat it, even though I disagree completely and have no respect for anyone who does.

Someone saying 'All Muslims are inherently violent and must be killed' might be a similar statement . Someone saying 'Islam needs reform to purge its violent aspects' would not be.

Of course all forms of dishonesty and inaccuracy can (and almost certainly will) exist on both sides of any debate. There are, to return to the original topic, a variety of ways to appropriately punish such behavior, including complaining about it, refusing to listen to such things, and refusing to patronize those who support such things. It is not appropriate to threaten to kill or hurt those who say such things.