12/18/2014 10:16 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sony's Act of Cowardice That Betrays 2000 Years


Kim Jong-Un 1 - Sony Pictures 0.

There's a weapon uniquely fatal to despots and terrorists. That weapon is comedy, and Sony Pictures just cancelled it.

Sony yielded to crackpot internet-threats and cancelled the Christmas Day release of their new comedy film The Interview. Whilst North Korea hasn't publicly accepted responsibility for those threats, it doesn't take a genius-level IQ to spot that the single biggest beneficiary from this cancellation is dictator Kim Jong Un.

Comedy calls-out the corrupt. If you attack them with sanctions then they'll use those sanctions to rally the masses -- just look at Russia's Putin who is enjoying sky-high popularity despite a plunging economy. Attack them with laughter however, and the despotic have nowhere to hide.

It all started with the comedies of Aristophanes. 2,500 years ago, he took to the stage and mocked the all-powerful elites of ancient Athens. A brave man.

Jump forward about 1,500 years to the courts of the medieval European kings and there would be a guy wandering around in silly clothes -- the king's fool. The fool's purpose was not to make the king laugh, but to use comedy to point out the king's errors and the king's foolishnesses, hence the name, "king's fool." A most dangerous job indeed, that required not a fool, but a man of intelligence -- a brave man.


Image credit: Matejko Stanczyk - "The Jester"

Leap forward another half millennia and we have comedians like Bassem Youssef, known as the Egyptian Jon Stewart. Youssef's TV comedy show became the only independent voice to oppose a military government not known for it's tolerance of dissent. A brave man.

Here in America we have Jeff Dunham and his fabulous Achmed the Dead Terrorist -- he of Jingle Bombs. Dunham and Achmed are the living proof that is hard to be in fear of something when we are laughing at it. Comedians like Dunham demonstrate why terrorists such as ISIL and depots such as Kim Jong UN have learnt to fear laughter above all other weapons.

And that's why a cowardly Sony Pictures just betrayed not only its audience, but the entire tradition of comedy, and all those brave men and women who for 2,500 years have used comedy to speak truth to tyranny.

Terrorists and Despots 1 - Humanity 0

Peter Paskale is a communications coach and analyst who writes The Presenters' Blog at