Southpark and Mohammed – art imitating life

The big issue of the day today in the blogosphere is Comedy Central’s admitted censoring of a cartoon image of Mohammed on last night’s Southpark episode (see here and here for background).

I’m not a Southpark watcher – have never liked the show, but the last two weeks I’ve watched the two episodes that dealt with the issue of showing a cartoon image of Mohammed (it was a two parter, and it was the second part where the cartoon image of Mohammed was censored). I’m not sure what drew me to watching the first episode other than the lack of nothing else being on TV the night it was on, but I did watch it and found it to be very much like art imitating life in terms of how we’ve been dealing with the issue of displaying the cartoon images of Mohammed that created so much controversy overseas – and to a lesser extent here. The first episode showed the entire town burying their heads in the sand in response to the Fox channel’s announcement that they were going to air an episode of Family Guy that included a cartoon image of Mohammed. The townspeople who buried their hands in the sand did so so that when the episode was aired, and the terrorists who threatened retaliation carried through with their threat, they’d skip over them because they didn’t watch the family guy episode.

The second episode’s focus was two of the main characters going to Fox studios – one of them to get the episode in question (and Family Guy) pulled off the air and the other one wanted to stop him (sorry, I don’t know the characters names because I don’t watch it often enough to know). The climax to the episode showed the two of them trying to persuade the Fox channel president to air the episode (the one who wanted the episode pulled was trying to do so by pointing a gun at the Fox channel prez). The president had been on the phone to I guess what was ‘command central’ for the Fox network and intially had told them to pull the episode. The lady who answered the phone said she needed a code reserved for him to use to confirm he wanted to pull the episode. He was about to give the code away when the one little guy persuaded him not to pull the episode (see the video here and also here).

When the episode did go on the air (literally seconds after the Fox prez gave the go ahead) we saw Family Guy and a character from that show open up the door to a house and that’s when we were supposed to see Mohammed. But we didn’t. What we saw was this:

Comedy Central censors Mohammed

I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or what, but I know I was disapointed last night when I saw that. Reading Malkin’s blog today I see that it was indeed the decision of Comedy Central to ban the cartoon image of Mohammed.

I can see the NYT or the Washington Post hypocritcally not publishing the image out of fear of hurting the feelings of the Muslim community, but Comedy Central has never been a network that worried about offending people. In fact, in last night’s episode, they had no issues showing an image of Christ defecating on the President.

Amazing, eh?

Here’s a write up on the controversy via the WaPo:

Parker and Stone [the creators of Southpark] 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.

Sounds familiar.

Comedy Central, obviously, is free to do what they want to as far as the image of Mohammed is concerned. But what they’ve done with this is two things: 1) display a blatant hypocrisy by censoring an image of Mohammed while in the next breath showing an image of Christ defecating on the President and 2) given in to the fear and intimidation that Islamofascists across the world want us all to.

Jeff Goldstein writes:

But with the Krazy Islamists (who, as Hillary and Tbogg and Digby and Atrios will happily remind you the Bushies keep “using” as a “scare tactic” to get neocon “bedwetters” to vote their way), it seems the execs at Comedy Central just couldn’t be too sure.

Naturally, they write off their cowardice to “cultural sensitivity”—but as I’ve noted here a thousand times already, when you surrender free speech to an interest group who claims to hold the only legitimate authority on how its narrative can be expressed, you have effectively done away with both the idea of free speech and the idea of tolerance in its non-bastardized form.

Because when “tolerance” is redefined as an interpreter’s right not to be offended, the onus is always on the utterer to make sure his speech is free of any potential offense.

And because just about anything can be offensive to someone, such a twisted idea of tolerance (which, like many other disasters regarding language grows out of fundamentally incoherent view of communication that refuses to recognize intent as the grounding for interpretation) has become the standard excuse the press and our universities have been giving for their increasing anti-intellectualism.

That they are selective in when to employ this type of tolerance simply marks them as cynical hypocrites, as well.


Read more via: Captain Ed, Jim Lindgren at The Volokh Conspiracy, James Joyner, Political Pit Bull, Anchoress, Wizbang, Lorie Byrd, Gateway Pundit, Flopping Aces, Iowa Voice

Update: On a related note, Cal at California Conservative has a post up about a MTV ad in Germany that makes fun of Jesus’ Crucifixion.

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