Comedy Central Censored Mohammed ‘South Park’ Again

Super Best Friends Featuring MohammedLike Erik Kain, I haven’t yet seen the second part of South Park’s 200th episode, wherein they joke about depicting the Muslim mythological figure Mohammed but are, once again, thwarted by the cowardly hypocrites who run Comedy Central.  (Unlike Erik, I actually have the episode saved on my DVR.)

His analysis is spot on:

Really what this bit of fear-inspired censorship does is put a lie to every other piece of mockery which Matt Stone and Trey Parker ever dished out. They never flinched from sticking it to members of just about every other religion. Catholics, Buddhists, Mormons, celebrities, Scientologists, whites, blacks, Mexicans, gays, politicians, celebrities, conservatives, liberals, Tom Cruise, and on down the list — South Park has crossed as many lines as it could, as if to say that so long as every line is crossed and nothing is sacred no harm is done except to our vanity.

The network routinely runs crude humor and, indeed, that’s a staple of South Park.  There’s simply no rationale for allowing the mocking of Jesus or Joseph Smith but being squeamish about this particular religion.  Unless, of course, it’s because radical Muslims like to murder people for making fun of their little prophet.  (Speaking of which, you can see all the Danish Muslim Cartoons by clicking the link.)

See “Comedy Central Censored Mohammed ‘South Park’” for coverage of the April 2006 incident.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan points to this snippet from the 2001 “Super Friends” episode, back when making fun of Mohammed was okay because we didn’t know his followers would start killing people for doing so:

Here’s a suggestion for the free speech blogosphere. The Youtube above, showing the 2001 episode now also taken down from the South Park Studios site, may not last very long. Embed it in your blog this morning. We need to show real solidarity with Matt and Trey. God knows Comedy Central isn’t (with the grand exception of Jon Stewart, peace be upon him).

I’m not sure it’ll help much, frankly, but it’s interesting that Comedy Central is getting more squeamish over this issue.

FILED UNDER: Humor, Popular Culture, Religion, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Wayne says:

    From the sound of it, it was Comedy Central that imposed the censorship. The creators even mock the station in the carton for doing so.

    It looks like threats of violence do work.

  2. Franklin says:

    This is spot on, as far as it goes. They are being totally inconsistent.

    That being said, I guess I would prefer if their consistent position was to not cross the line, which specifically is to intentionally desecrate what many people feel is sacred. Or would there be no humor if we did that?

  3. James Joyner says:

    I would prefer if their consistent position was to not cross the line, which specifically is to intentionally desecrate what many people feel is sacred. Or would there be no humor if we did that?

    I could respect that position — which was, until recent years, anyway — the default position for most broadcast networks. But it’s likely not a recipe for cutting edge humor.

  4. TangoMan says:

    When an initiative is rewarded, you’ll likely get more instances of the same initiative in the future.

    Also, others will observe the success of the initiative and adapt their own tactics so as to increase the chances of success for their own initiatives.

    No good can come of buckling under to threats.

  5. Steve says:

    It’s not so much that Parker and Stone or Comedy Central are “squeamish” about mocking Islam. The difference between the treatment of all other religious figures vs Muhammad, is that Parker and Stone are relatively self-assured that they won’t be assassinated for mocking Jesus, et al. The restraint is not some philosophical choice, but is instead imposed by practicality. Having watched the first episode, but not the second yet, I am pretty sure that is the point they are trying to make.

    Indeed, at one point in Ep. 200, Stan was commenting on how it was wrong to desecrate the religious figures, while at the same time Buddha was depicted snorting cocaine. The South Park episode is simultaneously abiding by, and mocking, the double-standard. But sadly, it is probably the safe thing for them to do.

  6. Wayne says:

    Maybe I’m reading things wrong but it seems like some is missing a point that there is a difference in what Parker and Stone want to do compare to what censorship Comedy Central imposes on them. Comedy Central is after all their bosses.

  7. James Joyner says:

    there is a difference in what Parker and Stone want to do compare to what censorship Comedy Central imposes on them. Comedy Central is after all their bosses.

    No one’s questioning CC’s right to censor South Park; we’re just saying they’re cowards for bowing to the jihadists and hypocrites for censoring even the mildest criticism of Islam when it allows incredibly harsh and juvenile attacks on Christianity, Mormonism, and Scientology.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    Jon Stewart made the same point. He ran clips last night of his own show taking shots at various religions, pointing out that they could and did tweak Christians, Jews, Buddhists etc… He also brought on his Muslim cast member, Asif Manvi (sp?) to admit that he was bothered by depictions of the prophet, but rather opposed to death threats.

  9. G.A.Phillips says:

    Don’t they have enough money to say start their own network?

    I’m not a big fan of South Park( have never seen a full episode, can’t stand the voices)but I sure would like to see a weekly series about Team America….

  10. Don Baker says:

    Muhammad is a “mythological figure?” I think most historians agree that he was a historical figure, born in 570, died in 632.

  11. James Joyner says:

    Muhammad is a “mythological figure?” I think most historians agree that he was a historical figure, born in 570, died in 632.

    Sure, but it’s his mythological status that makes depictions of him so objectionable to fanatics. Presumably, it was okay to draw him whilst alive?

  12. Wayne says:

    James
    I am just nitpicking. Yes Comedy Central are hypocrites but to accuse Parker and Stone of being hypocrites for something imposed on them is unjust.

  13. tom p says:

    go ahead… pick a fight you can’t win… I don’t want to hear any whining about how unfair the fight was.

  14. tom p says:

    Sure, but it’s his mythological status that makes depictions of him so objectionable to fanatics. Presumably, it was okay to draw him whilst alive?

    Like when whats-his-name put jesus in a jar of piss and called it art?

    Let us all grow up and realize that some of us will never grow up. (especially guys who put religious figures in jars of urine and think nobody should get upset)(or more to the point, do it expressly to upset people)(and think that is their right and they should not have to pay for it)(after all, my daddy fought in WWII so that I can be really stupid?)

  15. JKB says:

    Well, you have to consider the threat came from an extremist group based in NYC. Not being right wing extremists, i.e., veterans or 2nd amendment supporters, Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and DHS are unlike to take notice of the threats emanating from the homeland. So what is domestic corporation to do when threatened by an domestic organization that is tacitly approved of by the government.

  16. Alex Knapp says:

    Like when whats-his-name put jesus in a jar of piss and called it art?

    You’re talking about Andres Serrano, who took a photograph of light streaming through a crucifix in a jar of urine. The intent was to provide a pictographic demonstration of the divine and earthly that was the Incarnation, since by becoming human, Jesus Christ left the perfection of Heaven and exposed himself to the vulgar and mundane.