Back in the 1980’s, there were a series of murders that saw ‘REDRUM,’ the phrase from Stephen King’s (and Stanley Kubrick’s) The Shining scrawled on the walls of the crime scene. It turned out that a bunch of kids — and one in particular — had committed the murders. At the time, people tried to blame King and Kubrick for the killings, saying that the kids who did the awful deeds were influenced by this awful book. King rightfully denied it, effectively saying that if his novel had never been written, those murders would have happened anyway.
Kubrick, of course, was no stranger to this phenomenon. When A Clockwork Orange was released in England in 1971, there were a series of violent copycat incidents that caused him to pull the movie from circulation, and the film was never publicly shown in England again until recently. In a sense, Kubrick — that most uncompromising of film directors — compromised.
Of course, more recently other pop culture sensations have been blamed for wrongful acts — horror movies, Dungeons and Dragons, pornography, rock music, Barney and Friends. But it was generally agreed by the mainstream that all of these cultural curiosities are not causing anything, really; they just hold up a mirror to society. The issue seemed to be put to rest.
But now we have an anti-Muslim ‘movie’ that seems to have caused an uprising in the Middle East, and led to the murders of four Americans. As reprehensible as that ‘film’ is (I hesitate to call it that), I have to point out that it didn’t cause anything. The anger and the intolerance in those Libyan militants’ hearts caused the violence. Their actions are their own.
Once again, art and free speech remain inviolate.