Not Funny: Comedy Central Accused of Self-Censorship of South Park

We previously posted on the death threats levied against South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, here. The extremists appear to have succeeded. Comedy Central confirmed that they blocked out mention of Mohammad’s name and image in the later episode.


South Park’s series continued yesterday with the “Prophet Muhammad” bleeped out and the character blocked out with a large label reading “censored.”

Comedy Central’s actions will serve to embolden and encourage similar attacks against other writers and artists. There is certainly nothing funny about that.

The program has routinely mad fun of Jesus and other religious figures.

The decision is reminiscent of the disgraceful decision by Yale University Press to delete all of the controversial cartoons in a book on the earlier controversy, here.

For the full story, click here.

46 thoughts on “Not Funny: Comedy Central Accused of Self-Censorship of South Park”

  1. “Someone is going to be completely monkey shit unhinged pissed off and totally fucking offended.

    And they can say something about it.

    But what they CANNOT do is use force to take the rights of citizen who offended them.

    Be that force direct or implicit as in the threat of violence.”

    I absolutely agree!…..in theory……while no-one is holding a gun to MY head….and I don’t have to look over my shoulder….

    I don’t see the cowardice here…Matt and Trey did not back down…they did what people in this country do every day….made a complying moderation in order to keep their jobs. It is offensive because it is in the limelight but most people have to do this EVERY DAY and not because their lives have been physically threatened. Kudos to them for keeping the conversation and truth alive. And Comedy Central….they are not police…I’m sure they don’t want blood on their hands. The real world exists between the idealistic extremes and the fundamental terrorists and to call someone a coward for living in the real world may be, well, cowardly….

  2. When Free Inquiry magazine decided to become the first US publisher to reprint the controversial Danish cartoons in 2006, both Borders and Barnes and Noble stopped selling it.

  3. (don’t tell Buddha that I completely agree with him/her, ‘cept for the cussin’)

    But I must say that these people are serious about killing folks for speech. This is scary stuff.

  4. To the Rude Brigade:

    The Right to Be Offended is one of the prices of The Right To Free Speech. One of the corollary rights like The Right To Ignore. So if you find any of this offensive, feel free to ignore it.

    Comply with terrorists because they think one is rude?

    Screw that and screw them and, yep I’m a goin’ there, screw their retrograde God too.

    If your God (of all things) can’t take a joke, He/She/It isn’t much of a God, but rather a pissy little child.

    The Right to Free Speech gives me the right to say what I please no matter who likes/dislikes/loves/hates/is offended by/is encouraged by my words. If the audience doesn’t like it, they can refute it, ignore it, or STFU. But the “Right” Not to Be Offended Because Others Vocally Disagree With Your Belief System (a non-existent right and bullshit concept) somehow trumps a Constitutional Right for an American citizen? Just like the same Constitutional Right Mr.’s Parker and Stone exercise?

    Not only “No”, but “Hell No”. Compromise is not appropriate when it comes to your rights. One has the right to say what they like and worship as they like but the natural cost of allowing all viewpoints is that someone is going to be offended.

    Pardon me.

    Someone is going to be completely monkey shit unhinged pissed off and totally fucking offended.

    And they can say something about it.

    But what they CANNOT do is use force to take the rights of citizen who offended them.

    Be that force direct or implicit as in the threat of violence.

  5. mespo-
    “The flaw is cowardice in the face of oppression, and that is what is happening here.”

    Succinctly and well said.

    Blouise-
    “Comedy Central’s action in this case says a lot more about Muslims than it does about the network. Any Muslim who thinks there was any respect for their prophet involved ………..”

    I wouldn’t even go that far. I think it says a lot about a tiny subset of stone-aged level savages. Most Muslims are as horrified as we are. I wish to also stress that I am not singling out Muslim fanatics; there are plenty of Christian fanatics in my own country that I would also characterize that way. Hell, some of them are in high office.

    TomD.Arch-
    “I certainly think that the South Park folks should have the RIGHT to say/do stupid, obnoxious things. But … depicting Mohammad is just plain rude to many millions of people around the world.”

    And they have the simplest remedy imaginable: don’t watch. There is no right to not have your feelings hurt.

    “Interestingly, we’re using the term “censorship” in this case, but I’d bet that South Park would run into a lot more “real,” “hard” censorship if they tried to show a scene where an adult was sexually assaulting a child, compared with depicting Mohammad.”

    South Park has repeatedly depicted Catholic priests and bishops walking around with naked children on leashes. I’d say that’s a lot more directly offensive than simply showing a picture. There is also the issue that Comedy Central has already allowed them to show Muhammad, but it was pre-9/11, so it was apparently ok then.

    “Couldn’t the South Park guys have come up with a smarter way to make the point than just directly violating the taboo?”

    Violating taboos is a long and time honored method of satire and social commentary. They were not depicting Muhammad just to piss people off. They were commenting on the specter of fanatics killing people and strong-arming entire companies into blocking the expression of artists and journalists.

  6. I agree with the view of TomD.Arch…

    I am an atheist, yet I find no reason to offend people’ beliefs purposely and without any real purpose…

    I don’t consider this to be censorship as much as I consider it to be politeness and respect… or in south park’s case just plain fear…

    you address your message or speech based on your audience, if your audience cannot comprehend certain “concepts” you adjust your communication methods until they catch up with you…

    you approach change, like everything else, in small steps…

    we all know muslims are not ready for this yet (and I honestly don’t think that making fun of jesus, buddha or moses is funny or justified)… there are many reasons why you can’t compare muslims to christians… add to that the fact that the depiction of muhammad in any way, shape or form is explicitly forbidden, not for the reasons those individuals interpret it, but because it is the unfortunately the prevailing view right now…

  7. Tom,

    It’s “rude” so censorship is justifiable? Not only does this same episode have Buddha snorting cocaine, but they’ve made fun of various religious figures. The entire episode is rehashing all the celebrities and cultural trends they’ve bashed in past years. It’s a juvenile show, and admittedly so, and to expect something “polite” to come from the same station that airs Crank Yankers is beyond my level of comprehension.

    Professor, it’s worth mentioning that Muhammed has been shown in previous episodes of South Park without controversy. The Super Friends are from an earlier episode and Muhammed spoke, was shown, etc…

  8. Isn’t Muhammad on the Supreme Court building? There’s a sculpture of him holding a sword and a Quran if i remember correctly.

  9. I swear to God, organized religion is going to be the death of us all.

  10. James M.: “BTW, when Comedy Central censors the creators of a TV show, that’s just plain “censorship” not “self-censorship”.”


    Right, Comedy Central should have been consistant and backed Parker and Stone IMO.

  11. From the linked article: “Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee of RevolutionMuslim wrote on his Twitter account “May Allah kill Matt Stone and Trey Parker and burn them in Hell for all eternity. They insult our prophets Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses…” ”

    Another cartoon jihadi Younus Abdullah Muhammad further explained “I think it’s very clear what we are saying. Under Islam, the punishment for insulting Muhammad is death . . . You saw the picture of Theo Van Gogh lying (dead) on the streets in Europe. At the end of the day there is a very real possibility that this will be the outcome for the ‘South Park’ creators.”
    —-

    What is hard for me to grasp is why Al-Amrikee and Mr. Muhammad have not been rounded up with others, of whatever stripe, like the ” Break their windows. Break them NOW” fool Mike Vanderboegh and sent to Gitmo for interrogation. Nothing illegal or immoral, no torture, just several months of detention and interrogation by the FBI for inciting violence and the possibility that they have information about terrorists that will do their publicly disclosed bidding.

    One of the reasons I voted for Obama was his pledge to close Gitmo; it and Bagram and the other black sites and rendition are abominations to the Constitution. I love the First Amendment. But I admit I’m also morally corrupt and pragmatic to a real fault. I’d remain discretely silent if the hate/violence talkers of every stripe spent some quality time being schooled by the full weight of the government on the point that their words have consequences.

    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2010/03/anti-hcr-teabagger-mike-vanderboegh-is.html

  12. Hmmm… What about plain, old politeness?

    I certainly think that the South Park folks should have the RIGHT to say/do stupid, obnoxious things. But … depicting Mohammad is just plain rude to many millions of people around the world. Personally, I don’t feel like I understand that prohibition as anything more than an arbitrary rule, but lots of decent folks feel very strongly about the issue. I generally like South Park, and I haven’t seen this episode yet, but I doubt that the point that they were making really rises to the level of justifying such an extreme move.

    Maybe it isn’t a good metaphorical fit, but think (or don’t!) of the rape scene in the movie “Showgirls.” Yes, the film makers have the right to depict that, but the movie was so bad that the really aren’t justified in depicting something so really horrific.

    Depicting Jesus raping small boys would be really, really offensive to lots of Christians. But under the current circumstances, that might be a justifiable element of a South Park episode dealing with the coverup of sexual abuse of children that is present in essentially all Christian denominations. (Interestingly, we’re using the term “censorship” in this case, but I’d bet that South Park would run into a lot more “real,” “hard” censorship if they tried to show a scene where an adult was sexually assaulting a child, compared with depicting Mohammad.)

    There are two other problems with actually depicting Mohammad that I see immediately, on top of it just being rude. First, it puts South Park in line with racial/religious bigots who would want to do this specifically because it is rude to people they view as inferior. Also, it just gives more credibility and “ammunition” to the fringe, violent extremists. Are those scum bags worth it?

    There never was an real threat of legal censorship of South Park on this. It wasn’t particularly “courageous” of them. Any jerk can get a piece of cardboard, draw Mohammad on it and parade around making an ass of himself down at Bughouse Square. No law enforcement is going to stop him.

    Or try taking your cartoon to a gathering of elderly Muslim women and wave it around. I don’t think you’d feel particularly “brave,” or that you’re making some important point. Rather, if you’re much of a human being, you’d probably end up feeling like a tiny, little turd.

    Couldn’t the South Park guys have come up with a smarter way to make the point than just directly violating the taboo?

  13. I would suspect that the reasoning behind this action has absolutely nothing to do with respect for Muslims or their prophet but rather with fear of the extremes to which some Muslims will go in demanding even phony respect for their prophet.

    I don’t expect some Comedy Central secretary’s life, taken by a crazy Muslim because she was the only one he could reach, is worth it.

    Comedy Central’s action in this case says a lot more about Muslims than it does about the network. Any Muslim who thinks there was any respect for their prophet involved ………..

  14. BTW, when Comedy Central censors the creators of a TV show, that’s just plain “censorship” not “self-censorship”. Self-censorship will be if Matt Stone and Trey Parker eventually give up pushing this particular boundary.

  15. Absolutely shameful. One of the purposes of the episode was to point out the hypocrisy on Comedy Central’s part that allows them to show Buddha snorting cocaine and Jesus looking at internet pornography, but not even show Mohammad’s image. What does Comedy Central do? Censor not only his image but the very word “Mohammad”. Mind-blowingly poor choice on their part.

  16. “Not Funny: Comedy Central Accused of Self-Censorship of South Park”

    *******************

    Self-censorship is no character flaw. Heck, I do it all the time on my blog comments and find it a virtue when others do it. The flaw is cowardice in the face of oppression, and that is what is happening here.

  17. When terrorists gain compliance through intimidation, they win.

    That’s not funny. Just a sad, sad fact.

  18. Kinda sad. But I’m not the one getting the death threats, and I’m not going to criticize Comedy Central or anyone else who is. It is completely their choice how they decide to react to a potential threat like this.

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