South Park, Comedy Central and the American Taliban

Speaking of the American Taliban, WTF is up with Comedy Central? From the AP:

Banned by Comedy Central from showing an image of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, the creators of “South Park” skewered their own network for hypocrisy in the cartoon’s most recent episode.

The comedy – in an episode aired during Holy Week for Christians — instead featured an image of Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and the American flag. [snip]

Parker and Stone were angered when told by Comedy Central several weeks ago that they could not run an image of Muhammad, according to a person close to the show who didn’t want to be identified because of the issue’s sensitivity.

The network’s decision was made over concerns for public safety, the person said.

Comedy Central said in a statement issued Thursday: “In light of recent world events, we feel we made the right decision.” Its executives would not comment further.

With Comedy Central bending over to fanatics and Playboy considering it, many might consider the Islamic world too radical for their tastes. Before the “U.S. is always best” crowd jumps all over them, I thought we might wish to take a quick look at how backwards we are, too.

We:

Prohibit certain plants
Prohibit other plants
Prohibit plants people need to survive
Prohibit playing dominos on Sunday
Prohibit private property
Prohibit guns
Prohibit BB guns
Prohibit water pistols
Prohibit free speech
Prohibit free speech
Prohibit free speech
Prohibit smoking
Prohibit sex toys
Prohibit multiple sex toys
Prohibit political competition
Prohibit freedom of the press
Prohibit hunting camels
Prohibit individual self-defense
Prohibit larger scale self-defense
Prohibit certain styles of music
Prohibit erections
Prohibit the right of an attorney to the accused
Prohibit the rights of those not even accused
Prohibit bouncing breasts
Prohibit the right to a speedy trial
Prohibit people old enough to die for their country from having a beer

Actually, we prohibit pretty much the entire Bill of Rights.

We’ve just barely won back our choice of books in a library and the ability to drink alcohol in a bars — for the moment, at least. Perhaps it’s time we start fighting back.

24 Comments
  1. I wish that someday we can have an a la cart system for cable. I don’t want to pay my moeny to Al-Comedya Central anymore, but have little choice in the matter.

    I usually don’t agree with anything the Christian Right has to say, but, even though Al-Comedya did not show a picture of Muhamed, they did not have a problem with Jesus crapping all over the place.

  2. You can find the uncensored version of the show on your favorite BitTorrent network.

    As for Comedy Central, the most effective thing you can do is to boycott their advertisers — and let them know you’re doing it — until Comedy Central airs the episode uncensored.

  3. Has anyone ever noticed that people who push a lot of buttons have easily reachable buttons themselves?

    Did either party stop to think what effect their actions would have? Or care if it was a step toward their goal?

    Are they letting their behavior be determined by others, even though they think they’re not?

    Freedom means being able to ignore others’ attempts to manipulate or control one because it fits a goal one has. I’m afraid this is starting to sound like war, not comedy. I’m a screenwriter, too, and it’s fatal to forget not to preach, even when you’re trying to make a point.

  4. During the Revolutionary war, everybody named their sons “George.”

    If some boycott because of “censorship” and some because the show is offensive, we’ll succeed in losing the Southpark soapbox without ever making either point. (Is your son named after the King or George Washington?)

    Free market being what it is, no viewers, no show.

  5. Now that I know I cannot shoot camels in Arizona, they’ve pushed the last button with me.

    When the Iranian government sponsored the recent competition for cartoons poking fun at the Holocaust (and at Jewish people) it presented what is a stark contrast between their proposed society and what actually exists.

    A simple internet search using terms like “jew”, “joke”, “holocaust”, will reveal there already are massive collections of holocaust and anti-religion jokes and cartoons…there also, of course, are plenty of arab, muslim jokes too; me, I’m sticking with the always in vogue Helen Keller jokes.

    Freedom means laughing at all prohibitionists, be they Jew, Muslim, blind, deaf or just plain old non-handicapped secular prohibitionists. They are a laugh riot and I intend to keep on smilin’.

  6. No one is going to boycott South Park because it is offensive. Those people aren’t watching as it is and aren’t part of any audience they’ll lose. The network will likely cave to pressure from those who boycott as a result of the censorship issue as they are the only people tuning in.

    Those on the so-called “Christian Right” canonized King George a long time ago and won’t sit through any of Comedy Central’s “godless, heathen” programming.

  7. From the person who let me know I was a libertarian, Peter McWilliams:

    From the standpoint of consensual crimes and freedom of speech, (if I may paraphrase Lenny Bruce) we must use that marvelous ten-letter word that begins with “t” (and certainly no one would marry me who didn’t have a great deal of it): toleration. If I don’t want Jerry Falwell editing my books, I must forgo the luxury of editing his sermons. (But I can dream, can’t I?) To have a freedom ourselves, we must pick up the banner of that great light of the Enlightenment, Voltaire, and declare: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    As long as we keep censoring, we are lost in the symptoms of our society’s problems, thus ignoring the problems themselves. Pornography, for example, doesn’t degrade women; women are degraded by our culture, and certain forms of pornography reflect that. Yes, we have a serious problem with the way women are treated in our culture, and pornography is a symptom, but let’s not kill the messenger. Let’s get the message and do something about it.

    Similarly, violence is a messenger. The idea that problems can be solved through violence causes violence. We have a problem with drugs? Let’s declare a war on drugs! We have a problem with crime? Let’s declare war on crime! We have a problem with violence? Let’s declare war on violence! The deeply ingrained American attitude that we can solve any problem with enough force creates, feeds, and rewards the epidemic of violence we are currently experiencing.

  8. “If some boycott because of “censorship” and some because the show is offensive, we’ll succeed in losing the Southpark soapbox without ever making either point. (Is your son named after the King or George Washington?)”

    There are casualties in every war. There are more important things in life than South Park. If boycotting Comedy Central results in the loss of South Park, well, life is rough. I won’t be watching that channel anymore.

  9. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me South Park, or give me death!

  10. The funny thing about the episode is that Kyle, the main character, gave a very long speech to the head of the “Fox” network about how he can’t just show an episode and censor out the offending part. He says it sets precedent between what is and isn’t acceptable to be aired, and that he has to fight for free speech. The president(whose name is shared with Comedy Central’s president) airs the episode uncensored.

    Of course when we see the part in the episode, we get a card “In this scene Mohammed hands a helemt to Peter. Comedy Central has deemed this content unacceptable for air on their network.” And ten seconds later, they have images of Jesus and George W. Bush defacating on each other and an American flag.

    And the thing is, Mohammed did nothing but STAND THERE like a normal person. Trey Parker did an amazing job of showing the hypocrisy of American networks and the media in general, and something tells me they aren’t done.

  11. I thought SP spoofed us into *thinking* Comedy Central disallowed them to show the {gasp!} “offending material”…

    Firs Isaac Hayes, now this. I hope Matt and Trey can keep stirrin’ the puddin’.

  12. Mark — that’s why I didn’t post that version floating around the net today. However, the one I saw could have been real. I expect someone’s already uploading bittorrents, splicing, and such.

  13. They were definitely censored, but it wasn’t a “censored on the fly” type of thing as we saw in the episode.

    The guys behind South Park are incredibly talented and have been known to put together entire 22 minute episodes in less than 2 days. I suspect that they lobbied Comedy Central to let them show Mohammed, CC refused, and then they made this two part episode about it. Typically every episode is made in the week leading up to airtime. They turn it in on Tuesday and it airs on Wednesday.

  14. I wanted to add that I just read a great post from Brendan Loy at “The Irish Trojan’s Blog” and what he says really makes sense. I inclined to beleive its more likely comedy central is playing us all – I mean look at the fuss it caused already – than they actually censorsed the episode. The question mark at the end is a hint I think. Either way, like Mr. Loy, I’m gonna hold off on my judgement for a week or two. Maybe we all should.

    http://www.brendanloy.com/2006/04/still-not-convinced.html

  15. Seems like this and the Chef controversey are publicity stunts.

    They are very effective. Everyone is talking about South Park.

  16. A nice summation of our lost rights.

    The only thing missing now is a requirement for our women to be veiled.

    Apparently the way to win the war on terror is to become just like the terrorists. Once we are the same there will be no reason to fight.

  17. “The only thing missing now is a requirement for our women to be veiled.”

    Well, maybe we should prohibit them from driving, the streets would be safer :)

  18. ian-yes this issue is bringing attention to south park and comedy central, but this issue is important regardless and it is NECESSARY that it be brought before the public eye. throughout history controversy has always existed. people dont like it sometimes, but it furthers culture. whether it be the crude beethoven in aristocratic classical culture or the doors pushing the envelope on public television, these things have brought attention to those that do them, but it is because they are artists in their own right, and if art was meant to be censored, then the artist would do it to begin with. if you take a piece away, then it is incomplete. i am a musician. cutting segments out of a song irritates people that actually appreciate it. context establishes the melody and the meaning therein. likewise detail establishes artwork and south park is art. to censor it retards history and furthers the battle against that epidemic. one day artists will have freedom from censorship…one day…

  19. Count me in with the people who think there was no actual censorship but rather Parker and Stone wrote it in to the script to make a point – a point that would not have been made if there was no “censorship”.

    Plus, we got to see Jesus shit on Bush. How refreshing after seeing Bush shit on Jesus so often everytime he pulls a “faith based” war, redistribution of wealth, or debt for future generations out of his rear end.

  20. My post above assumes the point made was to show that censoring the Big Mo is PC, but that not censoring Jesus shitting on Bush is OK. Bush supporters who constantly grab at straws to show PC behind everything should especially appreciate this.