South Park, Fear and Self-Censorship
I confess that I have never watched South Park. From what I have read about it, the show holds nothing sacred and has had cruel attacks on Christ and other religious figures. Some people have given it a thumbs up for not being politically correct. I guess the latter is true, because in an episode that aired Wednesday the South Park crew went after the ultimate sacred cow in today’s America, the founder of Islam, Mohammed.
Or rather they attempted to. Comedy Central, obviously caving to death threats from Islamic extremists, bleeped out the portions of the broadcast aimed at Mohammed:
Comedy Central bleeped out all references to the Prophet Muhammad in Wednesday night’s episode of the animated show “South Park.”
The episode was a continuation of last week’s episode which depicted the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.
A radical Muslim website threatened the show’s creators following that episode.
Comedy Central confirmed to FoxNews.com that it had censored the show, and that the episode was not available on its website.
In addition to bleeping the words “Prophet Muhammad,” the show also covered the character with a large block labeled “Censored.”
A radical Islamic website had warned the creators of “South Park” that they could face violent retribution for their depiction of Prophet Muhammad.
RevolutionMuslim.com posted the warning following the 200th episode of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “South Park,” which included a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad disguised in a bear suit. The web posting also included a graphic photo of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered in 2004 after making a documentary on violence against Muslim women.
“We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show,” the posting reads. “This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”
Abu Talhah al Amrikee, the author of the post, told Foxnews.com he wrote the entry to “raise awareness.” He said the grisly photograph of van Gogh was meant to “explain the severity” of what Parker and Stone did by mocking Muhammad.
“It’s not a threat, but it really is a likely outcome,” al Amrikee said, referring to the possibility that Parker and Stone could be murdered for mocking Muhammad. “They’re going to be basically on a list in the back of the minds of a large number of Muslims. It’s just the reality.”
Al Amrikee said the website is considering a protest against the “disgusting” show, which also depicted the Prophet Muhammad in an episode on July 4, 2001.
The creators of South Park have issued this statement:
In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.
Personally I believe that freedom of speech is routinely abused on television. Obscenity and vulgarity are the order of the day, and the lowest common denominator gets lower every hour. I do not view the South Park creators as heroes, but rather as purveyors of putrid shock entertainment for profit. However, they are models of integrity compared to the powers that be at Comedy Central who are more than happy to make money mocking the beliefs of others until there is the slightest risk to their skins. Then their capitulation cannot be swift enough, their abasement more complete.