Mark Steyn On The Comedy Central Capitulation

Mark Steyn has a good post on National Review Online in regard to the Comedy Central appeasement of the jihadists that I referred to in this post here:

Meanwhile, Comedy Central — you know, the “hip,” “edgy” network with Jon Stewart, from whom “young” Americans under 53 supposedly get most of their news — just caved in to death threats. From a hateful 83-year-old widow who doesn’t like Obamacare? Why, no! It was a chap called Abu Talhah al Amrikee, who put up a video on the Internet explaining why a South Park episode with a rather tame Mohammed joke was likely to lead to the deaths of the show’s creators. Just to underline the point, he showed some pictures of Theo van Gogh, (the picture at the top of this post) the Dutch film director brutally murdered by (oh, my, talk about unfortunate coincidences) a fellow called Mohammed. Mr. al Amrikee helpfully explained that his video incitement of the murder of Matt Stone and Trey Parker wasn’t really “a threat but just the likely outcome.” All he was doing, he added, was “raising awareness” — you know, like folks do on Earth Day. On Earth Day, lame politicians dig a hole and stick a tree in it. But aggrieved Muslims dig a hole and stick a couple of comedy writers in it. Celebrate diversity!

Faced with this explicit threat of violence, what did Comedy Central do? Why, they folded like a Bedouin tent. They censored South Park, not only cutting all the references to Mohammed but, in an exquisitely postmodern touch, also removing the final speech about the need to stand up to intimidation.

Stone and Parker get what was at stake in the Danish-cartoons crisis and many other ostensibly footling concessions: Imperceptibly, incrementally, remorselessly, the free world is sending the message that it is happy to trade core liberties for the transitory security of a quiet life. That is a dangerous signal to give freedom’s enemies. So the South Park episode is an important cultural pushback.

Yet in the end, in a craven culture, even big Hollywood A-listers can’t get their message over. So the brave, transgressive comedy network was intimidated into caving in and censoring a speech about not being intimidated into caving in. That’s what I call “hip,” “edgy,” “cutting-edge” comedy: They’re so edgy they’re curled up in the fetal position, whimpering at the guy with the cutting edge, “Please. Behead me last. And don’t use the rusty scimitar where you have to saw away for 20 minutes to find the spinal column . . . “

Go here to read the rest.  Steyn understands that when members of a free society cave in to threats of murder they are sending a signal that they are the type of men referred to in the famous quote of John Stuart Mill: A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.

6 Responses to Mark Steyn On The Comedy Central Capitulation

  • Dale Price says:

    Comedy Central is just following the craven trail blazed by America’s news outlets with respect to the Motoons. I’m less disgusted with an entertainment outlet doing the same.

    The grimly funny thing is that Islam is not uniformly aniconic with respect to depictions of religious figures in general. The ban only applies to figural representations in worship spaces.

    The Shia have a history of illustrations–including the modern era–of Muhammad and Ali. Khomeini had a painting of Muhammad on his desk. In the Sunni world, the Turks (and, IIRC, the Mughals) had miniature paintings of Muhammad and others they hail as prophets. I’m absolutely certain the Mughals had no problem with figural depictions of historical figures–their miniatures are magnificent.

    Speaking of the Turks: the whitewashing of expropriated Christian churches in Constantinople did not happen right away. For example, Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Savior in Chora (now the Kariye museum) did not have their frescos and mosaics covered until the 16th and 17th Centuries. In short, the alleged dogmatic prohibition against figural depictions, even of religious figures, are not universal, and even in the Sunni world are of comparatively recent vintage.

  • John Henry says:

    Thought this was amusing apropos of our conversation on the other thread, Don. Here’s Douthat’s column today, more or less taking your side:

    Except where Islam is concerned. There, the standards are established under threat of violence, and accepted out of a mix of self-preservation and self-loathing.

    This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.

    Happily, today’s would-be totalitarians are probably too marginal to take full advantage. This isn’t Weimar Germany, and Islam’s radical fringe is still a fringe, rather than an existential enemy.

    For that, we should be grateful. Because if a violent fringe is capable of inspiring so much cowardice and self-censorship, it suggests that there’s enough rot in our institutions that a stronger foe might be able to bring them crashing down.

    Evidently, he saw the same parallel as you did with Weimar Germany, while acknowledging the identification wasn’t complete.

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