NCAC issued the following statement and joined forces with the Secret Cinema Society to protest the cancellation of The Interview:
There is an Urgent Need to Affirm Our Commitment to Free Speech Amid Threats of Violence
In an age of anonymous communications and instant publicity, threats of violence have become increasingly successful in suppressing cultural expression. Just this past year, before Sony Pictures Entertainment withdrew its film, The Interview, from all outlets of circulation and distribution, we saw London’s Barbican shut down an art installation and a Paris gallery remove a photograph, both because of fear of violent reaction. Other cancellations of screenings (Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s 2004 satire Team America) and film productions (Steve Carrell’s Pyongyang, a paranoid thriller about a Westerner’s experiences working in North Korea) in the US are already happening, deepening the stranglehold of self-censorship on the whole industry.
While we fully support the right to peaceful protest against art and entertainment that some group may find offensive, we, as a society, need to draw a firm line of resistance where threats of physical violence are concerned. We call on those who create, produce and distribute art and entertainment, those who consume it, and the police to work together as a matter of urgency, to stand up for artistic free expression and to resist those who would use threats of violence to undermine the fundamental values of liberal democracy. This means that every possible step is taken to ensure that freedom of expression is respected, while protesters’ voices are heard.
Every time threats of violence succeed in silencing expression, others are encouraged to use the same method to restrain free speech. When fear’s dominion over the imagination tightens it stifles our very ability to fully explore the world and our place in it.
It is imperative that we work to affirm our commitment to free speech especially now, when this commitment requires us to make some hard choices and work actively to assure that our culture remains open and vital.