Local resident defends free speech

Cristian Vasquez

For Robert Zirgulis standing outside of Sony Pictures Plaza with his American flag on a hot Tuesday morning was his right and duty as an American.

The former school board candidate stood at Madison Avenue in front of Sony Picture Plaza encouraging people to speak out against Sony’s decision to pull the movie “The Interview” due to threats from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.

“I am completely outraged by what this tin-horn dictator is trying to dictate to us,” Zirgulis said. “For us him to intimidate us is abominable. For Sony to cave in is ridiculous.”

Sony has since released a statement indicating that the film will be released as a limited theatrical opening. When called for a statement regarding Zirgulis’s presence and the studio’s decision to initially cancel the movie’s release date, nobody was available to take our call, nor was a voice message returned by press time.

Zirgulis shared that during his time outside of Sony Pictures Plaza many people, including some of the studio’s employees, agreed with him that pulling the release was a bad move.

“They have shaken my hand and said they are embarrassed that their leadership stifled free speech,” Zirgulis said. “The American public has risen to the occasion and has expressed their outrage. I might be one person out here but I have had a lot of people express their support. People are shaking my hand, giving the thumbs up.”

Long-time Culver City resident John Liechty was happy to see Zirgulis in front of the movie studio’s office.

“My father was a Marine that fought at Guadalcanal with many other men,” Liechty said. “These guys must be roiling in their graves seeing Sony caving. I don’t get the reasoning.”

The 66-year old Culver City Middle School and High School graduate did express his desire to have seen more people speaking out against the initial reaction by Sony.

“We are America and we have our problems like any other nation but we are the freest country and we bow to no one,” Liechty said. “For that little twerp, who treats the majority of his people like slaves, for him to somehow change our way of doing anything is bad. What have we turned into as nation to only have one guy out here?”

Safety concerns weren’t enough of a justification for Zirgulis to stop the release of the movie and believes that the decision to watch or not watch should be left to the public.

“The American public can have a choice: they can quake in their boots or they can stand up,” Zirgulis said. “I am willing to die for free speech. Now I want to watch the movie even more because I am being told by some tin-horn dictator that I can’t watch it.”

Sony approved screenings of the film at art house and independent theaters across the country.