Why Psy and the Innocence of the Muslims Guy Are Nothing Alike
This meme has been infecting my Facebook newsfeed lately, and I thought I'd reply. The facts are these...
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula spent a lot of his life making drugs, evading taxes, and commiting bank fraud, all acts that landed him in various institutions over the years. Because of the last fraud conviction the terms of his probation included no using alias or Internet usage without his probation officer's approval.
He violated both when he made Innocence of the Muslims, in addition to sparking protests where more than 70 people wound up dead. Nakoula ended up with a year in prison, and four years probation. As far as I can tell, he has never expressed any remorse or apologized for the trouble he has caused.
That's a bit more than simply "upsetting Muslims."
Meanwhile, Park Jae-Sang, better known as Psy, did in fact sing some anti-American lyrics at a 2004 protest concert. These included reference to killing American soldiers, though he was actually singing lyrics from the band N.E.X.T.'s song "Dear Americans." He didn't write the lyrics himself.
As some context, in South Korea at the time tensions were very tight because a Korean hostage had been brutally killed by Iraqi insurgents, and a lot of people blamed America because of the invasion.
This was in addition to some already pretty heated anger towards the American military after a military truck accidentally killed two young schoolgirls. It was this incident that was in Psy's mind when he did the concert.
More importantly, Psy has expressed nothing but remorse for what he said. ""While I'm grateful for the freedom to express one's self, I've learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I'm deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted," he said, quoted in the Huffington Post. "I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused anyone by those words."
To recap, the man who made Innocence of the Muslims is a lifelong criminal who is pathologically unable to stay out of trouble and ended up getting some folks killed doing exactly the kind of thing the courts told him not to do.
Psy sang a single controversial song, that he didn't even write, seven years ago when he was angry about some things America was doing that had pissed off a pretty significant portion of the Korean population. Even though he didn't cause any real damage, he has had no problem saying he is sorry and wishing he hadn't expressed those views --that they were wrong.
He even told the Washington Post that if his actions crashed his newfound fame in the States, then he would deserve it.
Lastly, it should also be noted that the White House didn't actually invite Psy to perform at the Christmas in Washington special, nor did Obama pick the lineup. That was handled by the promoters of the annual charity concert, which has been a holiday tradition for 31 years and benefits the Children's National Medical Center.
Obama did shake Psy's hand after the event.