April 14, 2006

NOT DONE IN PURITAN NATION:

'South Park' Creators Skewer Own Network (DAVID BAUDER, 4/13/06, The Associated Press)

In an elaborately constructed two-part episode of their Peabody Award-winning cartoon, "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker intended to comment on the controversy created by a Danish newspaper's publishing of caricatures of Muhammad. Muslims consider any physical representation of their prophet to be blasphemous.

When the cartoons were reprinted in newspapers worldwide in January and February, it sparked a wave of protests primarily in Islamic countries.

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.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 14, 2006 8:00 AM
Comments

Up next, they'll probably do a show where Tom Cruise threatens to go on a jihad if Comedy Central shows Chef's image again.

Posted by: John at April 14, 2006 9:48 AM

the boys have brilliantly exposed the cowardice and hypocrisy behind all of this new found sensitivity in the dinosaur media. and ironically, the islmacists have shown the Christian right how to take back the culture here.

Posted by: toe at April 14, 2006 10:17 AM

I gots to 'gree with the Big Toe on this one, oj. These boys made them rustlers over at comedy central look pretty sorry. And roped two steers with one lasso in the bargain. They showed what everyone that warn't sitting in the sun too long could see: that while they'd balk at showin' a lil' ol' pitcher o' that there Mohammed feller, they didn't have no objections to showing Jesus Christ disrespectin' Old Glory and Hisself. An' it's cuz them yellow bellies at Comedy Central ain't a feared of any God-fearin' Christian reaching for his six-shooter. But they IS a feared of what a so-called God-fearin' jihadi might do, right? So, these South Park youngins really branded the steer last night, folks. Caught'em in the outhouse with their pants down, I reckon.

Posted by: Slim at April 14, 2006 11:10 AM

Slim:

Yup.

Posted by: Fats at April 14, 2006 12:11 PM

Yup.

Funny thing, the most offensive part of the entire show last night was the part where they edited out Mo's picture. The part where Christ and Bush are shown to be defecating on each other and the American flag wasn't insulting as much as it was just stupid. In fact it server more as a slam against the islamists than it did an assault on Bush or Christianity (the best part was Bush explaining the 1st Amendment to the Press).

Posted by: Robert Modean at April 14, 2006 1:08 PM

Those who make a big deal of the part with Bush and Jesus and the flag miss the entire point of that segment. It was supposedly Zaqawii's retaliation video, and was supposed to be just as nasty as what he considered objectionable.

So the best he (Zarqawi) could do to insult Western culture is something which in any other circumstances would get an NEA grant, tour every college campus, win awards, be lauded and defended by every self-proclaimed intellectual, and end up on permanent display in the most prestigous art galleries.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 14, 2006 1:36 PM

Toe: I hope your second sentence was not meant as a recommendation.

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 14, 2006 2:56 PM

As the show has allowed depictions of Christ in a boxing ring, it's hard to believe the prohibition on a Muhammed figure is a manifestation of puritanism so much as it is simple p.c.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 14, 2006 3:22 PM

it wasn't a recommendation, it was a prediction. an example of unintended consequences.

Posted by: toe at April 14, 2006 3:26 PM

It's not blasphemous to portray Christ, it is to portray Mohammed.

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2006 6:46 PM

There are centuries of examples of Muslims portraying Mohammed, albeit not as extensively as Christians have protrayed Jesus. There are Christian theological arguments for NOT portraying Christ, based on the graven images prohibition. In both cases the prohibition is not universally recognized within the respective communities. Once again the Islamists are using their somewhat idiosyncratic "theology" to intimidate their fellow religionists as well as the rest of us.

Posted by: Vic at April 14, 2006 7:10 PM

No, Muslims are. If they're offended then people oughtn't do so. Christians are too securely in control to be offended by such trivia anymore.

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2006 7:15 PM

Mr. Judd;

Could you supply a list of which religions get to impose their standards for blasphemy on other societies?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 14, 2006 7:15 PM

Other?

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2006 7:30 PM

"Other?"

Yep that is what he said. Do you have an answer?

Mere month ago Afganistan was ready to kill an individual because of his conversion to Christianity. That might imply a different standard than "our" society. I think most people would say that is a manifestation of an attitude different than most western Christian countries.

Posted by: h-man at April 14, 2006 8:21 PM

H:

We aren't other. We're a Muslim society as well as a Judeo-Christian one.

Persecuting nutty heretics is hardly out of keeping with Western tradition.

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2006 8:26 PM

You say we are a "proposition nation", so therefore the propostion is that we persecute heretics? Not I think.

If that is an important issue with Muslims, then the solution is to remain in their culture and practice the persecution on their on time, without involving us. But they don't and won't as long as they can depend on people to redefine the "proposition" to suit their needs.

Posted by: h-man at April 14, 2006 8:54 PM

Yes, the proposition is that anyone who accepts the fundamentals of the Founding is an American and anyone who doesn't isn't. We're a success because of our extreme conformity.

People who think it important to offend others aren't American.

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2006 9:11 PM

The issue isn't offense - Comedy Central (or some obsure Danish publication) can hardly "offend" the Shi'a or the Sunni worse than they "offend" each other. And the deaths of 25 or more protestors in various Islamic mobs around the world (mobs encouraged by their governments, to be sure) shows how pointless (and hypocritical) the offense is.

The issue is power. The current version of 'offense' flows from Khomeini's fatwa against Salman Rushdie, which led to deaths in Japan, Europe, and attempted murders in other continents as well. The West should have told Khomeini that his fatwa was an offense to God and man, and Bush Sr. or Clinton should have given Rushdie the Medal of Freedom.

If George Bush gave an impassioned speech about freedom for the Persians, surely that would be more 'offensive' to the mullahs than some cartoon published by the student newspaper at the University of Illinois. And yet....

The same holds for Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan and Indonesia appear to be different, where rioting is used as a relief valve by the governments, for their own purposes.

Offense for the sake of rudeness is wrong. Violent street theater (and actual murder) is worse, just as claiming the right to kill over blasphemy is wrong. If the Muslims believe that right is theirs, then what is to stop the West from claiming the right to kill to preserve its decadence? After all, the Spainards made a choice in March 2004; had they chosen to expel every Muslim from Spain, would that have been wrong, given the perceived danger and their history with terror from within?

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 14, 2006 10:14 PM

No, it would be perfectly acceptable for the Spaniards to determine their culture could not withstand the presence of Muslims. But if Muslims are an integral part of your culture you ought not offend them for the sake of offending them.

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2006 10:20 PM

It's pretty basic American doctrine that we don't get to second-guess what others find blasphemous and that good manners mean that, once we know, we step gingerly. Being blasphemous just to prove we can puts us on a level with the flag burners.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 14, 2006 10:35 PM

They (Stone and Parker) were not being blasphemous just to prove they could be. They were trying to sound a warning that the West was jettisoning 200+ years of having fought for freedom (freedom of speech and freedom from death threats) because a bunch of 9th century vermin were making it clear that they would murder the daughters and wives of television executives if they aired an image of Mohammed. The same executives had no issue airing Jesus defecating on the American flag precisely because they know in their "heart of hearts" that no Christian would kill over THESE BLASPHEMOUS IMAGES, the same way no one killed or threatened to kill over Monty Python's Life of Brian, with Jesus on the cross, singing, "Look on the Bright Side of Life"! Like that or PissChrist isn't blasphemy. WAKE UP CALL!One of these religions can deal with something American and Western called GIVE AND TAKE! Can you dig that, OJ? Where's the give and take in Islam?

Posted by: bob at April 15, 2006 3:22 AM

Give and take? What is that supposed to mean? Surely the issue is whether Muslim or any other immigrants (or the native-born) will support the separation of church and state and make their peace with religious tolerance and pluralism. Most of them clearly have. But what folks are arguing here is that Muslims have a positive obligation to put a sock in it when they see their faith blasphemed or publically mocked by others on the basis that the denizens of other faiths have so resigned themselves. Just where does that duty come from?

And please don't tell me that South Park is just trying to kick-start a Muslim Reformation.

Posted by: Peter B at April 15, 2006 5:21 AM

bob:

Exactly look what Christians did to the NEA and NEH because of Piss Christ. Muslims deserve the same respect we demand.

Posted by: oj at April 15, 2006 7:56 AM

Mr. Judd;

You are outdoing your self in disingeniousness today. How many NEA and NEH staff were kidnapped, executed, or blown up by suicide bombers? How many instutitions did not show that "work" because of fear of personal safety?

What you are really supporting here is French style mob politics, where it is not about getting elected and passing legislation, but getting out the protestors and using violence to intimidate one's opponents.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 15, 2006 9:28 AM

Exactly as many as Comedy Central executives--you've simply biffed your own analogy, as per usual.

Yes, the majority disciplines the media.

Posted by: oj at April 15, 2006 10:05 AM

Good manners. Good point.

But, surely part of the 'separation' of church and state is that the state does not get to define blasphemy (against Christianity, Judaism, and yes, Islam). Incitement and fighting words, perhaps, but not blasphemy. And those who claim blasphemy do not get to break the law in return, no matter what.

This issue is not about offense. When Andres Serrano and the elephant dung artist did their thing, were Billy Graham and the Pope 'offended'? Perhaps, but I doubt if it surprised or angered them, and they certainly didn't go barking in the streets. Neither did millions of Southern Baptist fundamentalists (as an example).

Likewise, if only the radical nutjobs (and their manipulative governments) riot over the cartoons, is the issue really about offense? It is about power and a flimsy justification for violence. As I said earlier, if 'offense' were the issue, then the Sunnis and the Shi'a would have killed each other off long ago - after all, theologically, they regard each other as corrupt and impure, respectively.

While there may be a component of 'respect' involved, why would killing 25 people in riots in Pakistan and Indonesia over something that happened in Denmark (4 months previous) have anything to do with 'respect'? Do Christians or Jews in Atlanta riot over religious persecution in Iran? Or do Christians/Jews in Los Angeles riot over bloodthirsty Islamic publications in Gaza or Cairo? Disingenuous is too weak a word in this case.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 15, 2006 10:28 AM

Mr. Judd;

Only because you skipped half of the analogy: "How many instutitions did not show that "work" because of fear of personal safety?"

Also, when did the USA become majority Muslim? Are you seriously claiming that the majority of Americans consider images of Muhammed blasphemous? As noted earlier, it's unclear if the majority of Muslims think so. So what "majority" is "disciplining" the media?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 15, 2006 11:38 AM

The offense of the piss Christ et al. is, as I see it, that the taxpayers, myself included, fund it. As a piece of dreck/art, I couldn't care less who was offended, what is symbolized, who 'created' it or what private institution/gallery displayed it.

The larger issue is that taxpayers shouldn't fund 'art' in any form.

South Park's creators put their product out into the marketplace and found their audience. I applaud that they're standing up for American values even though their material is far too extreme for my tastes.

Posted by: erp at April 15, 2006 12:12 PM

The majority of Americans think monotheists should be treated with respect.

None.

Posted by: oj at April 15, 2006 12:48 PM

did you see the poll showing 80% of Americans have a poor opinion of islam ?

Posted by: toe at April 15, 2006 5:38 PM

Islam has earned that bad opinion--but we still have a good opinion of ourselves, so don't do such things.

Posted by: oj at April 15, 2006 10:54 PM

fair enough.

Posted by: toe at April 16, 2006 2:40 PM
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