Saturday, April 24, 2010

South Park Gets A Fatwa

South Park recently aired another episode which was, shall we say, not particularly kind to the alleged prophet Mohammed. The most recent version disguised him as a big bear, but that was not Trey Parker and Matt Stone's original version (see picture). Last week he was disguised as Santa Claus. The first time they blasphemed, the Mohammed character was not even in the final cut. He was a disembodied voice outside the door.

The original Mohammed episode was also censored by the Comedy Central execs, and the Santa Claus version wasn't originally intended to be that way, either. Parker and Stone are angry, but positively sweet compared to what the current original version produced from the jihadis. Having found the original version of the recent episode online, a Muslim organization made it very clear that Parker and Stone are now subject to death for insulting the prophet. Abu Talah Al-Amrikee wrote on revolutionmuslim.com that "We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably end up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them."

Regardless of the disclaimer, this was a threat pure and simple. Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered and nearly decapitated by Muslims who didn't like his tone when discussing Islam. What is any reasonable person supposed to think this was? Whether it is a threat that would qualify as criminal is a separate discussion. It is likely a "conditional threat," protected by centuries of English common law and 220 years of First Amendment guarantees. But a threat is a threat is a threat.

For the third time, the South Park producers caved in to the pressure. They have allowed truly offensive caricatures of Jesus Christ, the Scientologists, liberals, conservatives, and pretty much everything in-between. Only one group succeeds in getting them to censor Parker and Stone. And it isn't those darned Christians who are lurking everywhere prepared to do violence. Nor is it the Scientologists, threatening to sic Tom Cruise on them. It's not even Barbra Streisand threatening to sing "People Who Need People." Nope--it's the purveyors of the religion of peace. Only they threaten to behead those who show disrespect for their god or his prophet, and with some regularity carry out the threats.

OK, all sane people can agree that it was a threat, whether prosecutable or not. But nobody in his right mind says the mainstream media are sane. Ever since the controversy began, the usual suspects have been downplaying the seriousness of the threat. And who better to point to than the New York Times? Following the MSM mantra of "thou shalt never find anything reprehensible about the practitioners of Islam," columnist Dave Itzkoff at first simply wrote that the internet post about Parker, Stone, and the South Park producers "compared the show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, to Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who was killed in 2004 by a Muslim militant, CNN reported." No mention of the actual threat, let alone the fact the fact that many of these threats actually get carried out. It was just a "comparison."

When the ship really hit the sand over the self-censorship of the South Park producers, Itzkoff felt compelled to expand on his theme. "South Park, the Comedy Central series, is an animated show that tries its best to push buttons and the boundaries of free speech by mocking every high-profile target in sight, from Hollywood celebrities to religious figures." Never mind that in the same week, South Park, uncensored, showed Buddha snorting Coke and Jesus as a compulsive consumer of pornography. But somehow, those didn't offend those dangerous Buddhists and Christians enough to cause the producers to censor the episode as a result of threats.

Itzkoff manages to dance around the Muslim death-threat and defend the Muslim writer of the internet post as having merely stated a warning. "The next day, the South Park episode was criticized (emphasis added) by the group Revolution Islam in a post written by a member named Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee." Get it? It was one individual who was just criticizing the depiction of Mohammed. No threat there. Then, channeling the exact same words used by the Islamic extremist in his own defense, Itzkoff repeated the phrase from the post: "We have to warn Matt and Trey . . . ." Wasn't that nice of the jolly Muslim to warn Parker and Stone that they might, maybe, possibly, arouse some negative feelings.

Well, that's par for the course. The Times previously refused to actually print the Mohammed cartoons that brought on violence all over Europe and the Middle East, and criticized those who did. The Times is very sensitive about the feelings of religious folks, so long as they're Muslim. All others, particularly fundamentalist Christians and Catholics, are fair game. Just like the Obama administration, the Times believes in free speech, but only if it's the correct free speech. It's a combination of lack of respect for the true meaning of the First Amendment and pure cowardice. They can go after Christians and Jews, but if ever is heard a discouraging word about Islam, they know they could end up, as New Amsterdam governor Peter Stuyvesant once said, "a few inches shorter at the top."

26 comments:

ScottDS said...

Some people online have declared May 20th the First Annual Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.

As for me, I don't watch South Park but I hope Matt and Trey put up a good fight. I'm not defending Comedy Central at all but I honestly can't imagine any other network or corporation acting any differently.

patti said...

scott: you beat me to it! i stumbled across this and immediately thought of this post. the extent of my artistic gift is stick figures, but that will have to do!

Writer X said...

Scott, I'm adding May 20 to my calendar.

Bending to pressure because of a cartoon? South Park always tries to be edgy but, like you say, it depends what the meaning of "edgy" is. The censors and producers have shown that they're not equal opportunity censors. Pathetic.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Matt and Trey are furious. This was entirely a Comedy Central decision, and it won't even let them stream the original version on line, which is something they wanted to do when they found out what Comedy Central was doing.

Interestingly, the whole last speech that they bleeped out didn't even mention Mohammed, it was just about tolerance.

FYI, here's a statement Matt and Trey issued:

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.

LawHawkSF said...

Scott: I used to watch South Park regularly. It's been awhile, though. Frankly, I got a little tired with the portrayals of Jesus--too over the top. But I don't remember sending them any death threats over it.

As for Comedy Central, you're right about them not being much worse than anyone else. They're all cowards, and Islamic threats are working very successfully.

LawHawkSF said...

Patti: Not to worry, I have no artistic talent either. Although I will admit I got pretty good in my youth at drawing caricatures of Richard Nixon. All my other drawings look like Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln, no matter who the intended subject is.

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: Since I'm no good at the artistic bit, I'll do my own special day. I'll call it, "Draw, Mohammed!"

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: And now Parker and Stone are planning to do a satire of Comedy Central itself. I wonder how that's going to work out. LOL

I was in a bit of a hurry when I wrote the article, and accidentally left out the part about the speech. Thanks for putting that in the comments.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--I don't know which is worse, Comedy Central's cave-in, or the MSM coverage of it. The Times article is just an apology for chickes--t accommodation with religious thugs.

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: That was really the whole point of my post. It was necessary to give the background and take a few shots at Comedy Central, but the main thrust of my disgust is the mainstream coverage (or lack thereof). Newspaper coverage ran from minimal, to tepid, to "understanding" of the network's behavior. Ditto for TV news coverage. Fox News at least expressed a few serious concerns about free speech and how censorship can come in many forms.

But the overall cowardice of the MSM simply appalls me. I haven't been this irritated since Yale University Press printed an entire book on the Mohammed cartoons violence, but was too cowardly to print the actual cartoons which caused the Muslims to go into jihad mode. Yale used pretty much the same cowardly defense that Comedy Central and the MSM are using now.

BevfromNYC said...

Yes, those great bastions of free speech. And Harvard which published a scholarly book about the Danish cartoons. They refused to actually allow the cartoons themselves to be published in the book to this because they feared Islamic reprisals. These are the same people who keep telling us it's all in our bigoted uneducated redneck racist small minds and we have nothing to fear.

I may be in the minority, but I love South Park. They push the envelope right off the table, but they spread it equally amongst ALL viewpoints. Personally, I think it's brilliant social and political commentary and they make some really good points. I don't always agree, but I will defend to the death their right to do it. I will be starting my drawing now in anticipation of May 20th. I don't want to leave out a single detail...

USArtguy said...

I'm proud to say I have never seen one episode of South Park. I never saw the point of tuning into a show where you knew before hand you were going to be insulted and your beliefs made fun of.

Nevertheless, I understand they are equal opportunity bashers and there's the matter of the first amendment. So in that sense I support them.

It's "OK" to mock Christians, Jews, Buddhists, etc. and not Muslims because to paraphrase what Ann Coulter (I think it was her) said, we don't worry about Baptists blowing up airports.

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: I almost decided that I was a South Park Republican (after all I'm occasionally irreverant and often obscene). But the Jesus caricatures are just way too much for me. However, Matt and Trey do have a libertarian bent, as do I. So I'm certainly in sync with them on many of their targets.

Draw, partner.

LawHawkSF said...

USArtguy: When the show first turned up, several of my associates raved about it, but it didn't sound like my cup of tea. Finally, I watched. I got hooked. I watched it fairly regularly for a couple of years, but it did seem that the guys felt they had to keep pushing and pushing the envelope. So I don't watch it with any regularity any more. It does have flashes of brilliance, and no cow is sacred (occasionally, they even have actual cows). But if I can simply turn the TV off when they start making fun of Jesus, the Muslims can just turn it off when they start lampooning Mohammed.

And in case you don't know some of their storylines, the best from my point of view was when South Park was threatened with destruction by the oncoming giant toxic cloud of "smug" coming in from San Francisco. LOL

BevfromNYC said...

You know, USArtGuy and LawHawk, I may be reading more into their juvenile cartoons than they deserve, but maybe this is the exact point they are making. They can say anything about Christians and Christians won't threaten to murder them. The moment they make add Islam into the mix, all hell breaks loose.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That was their point, and you aren't in the minority at all. South Park is hugely popular among conservatives -- not so much among liberals.

BevfromNYC said...

Well, I loved "Starvin' Marvin" and AlGore's Manbearpig and the Giant Evil Barbra Steisand and Saddam and his male lover Satan and so on and so on.

Sorry, I kind of think they are brilliant at political and social satire...OH MY GOD, THEY KILLED KENNY!

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: That's precisely the point they're making. I'd like to see them tone down the Jesus (and Buddha, for that matter) characters. But I'm not going to kill anybody over it. Mohammed--that's another story. Off with their heads!

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Are you suggesting that liberals have no sense of humor, particularly about themselves? Heavens!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I watch the show all the time -- like you, I think it's a totally brilliant political/social satire.


Lawhawk -- Nope, liberals can't take a joke.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I share that view with Bev and you. I was practically rolling on the floor when they did a few takes on Mel Gibson. Their pokes at people I often agree with are often as funny, or funnier, than the ones they take at people I can't stand (Barbra Streisand, anyone?).

BevfromNYC said...

You're wrong. Liberals CAN take a joke. They can take a joke and elect it over and over to high office! They elected Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Waters, Dodd, Rangel, Schumer and the biggest joke of them all - Biden!

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: LOL. But isn't that technically making a joke rather than taking one?

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I stand corrected. LOL!

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

I wonder when Jon Stewart will get his Fatwa? Seems he called them out two days ago. His rant was a classic along with singers.

He also was praised by StageRight, Larry O'Conner on Big Hollywood. Comedy Central is running scared, they claim they care only for the creator's of South Park.

What is interesting is what will the Muslims do with those of us who don't cower? The majority of the blogosphere are not cowed. That means that if the Muslims intent was to instill terror, it succeeded in terrorfying executives, but not the people.

LawHawkSF said...

Joel: I thought the same thing when I saw the Jon Stewart video. As for us, they've only pissed us off, and gotten me to be more diligent about target practice and gun-cleaning.

Post a Comment