The “South Park” Revolution

When the ever-offensive creators of the popular Comedy Central cartoon “South Park” recently featured the Prophet Mohammed in a bear costume, they provoked a veiled death threat from some Islamist fanatics in New York and set off a firestorm about free speech in the process. The cable network’s cowardly response to Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s perfidy – namely, censoring the show and bleeping out any reference to the prophet – unintentionally triggered the kind of backlash that radical, fascist, jihadists should have earned a long time ago. It’s ironic that it took a cartoon to spotlight the issue so brightly.

As a Catholic, I have often been offended by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The same can be said by anyone who practices Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism or just about any other “ism” under the sun. The difference is that “South Park” could poke fun at Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Joseph Smith, David Blaine, or practically any other religious or cult figure, without any fear of repercussion. There is, of course, one exception. Muslim fundamentalists can’t abide it when the prophet Mohammed’s teachings are questioned, much less when the prophet himself is mocked. For a religion as certain that it has a direct pipeline to the absolute, unalterable Word of God as Islam is, too many Muslims are awfully – and too often violently – insecure about that point.

Parker and Stone believed that it was their duty to call out the hypocrisy inherent within a society that purports to champion freedom of expression, but whose mainstream media outlets simultaneously refuse to criticize – or even gently make fun of – a murderous cult that would extinguish that very freedom. Through the voices of Cartman, Kyle, Stan and (the unintelligible utterances of) Kenny, Parker and Stone place the issue that CNN, MSNBC, Fox and their media brethren and their political supporters are unwilling to face squarely on the table: not one involving the merits of Islam per se, but rather something more basic: freedom of speech.

Parker and Stone didn’t criticize the religion of Islam in any substantive way during their two-episode send up. That was a touch of genius, for what they did – without attacking any Muslims directly – was to mock the countless people of other faiths who refuse to question the tenants of Islam in even the mildest of ways, out of fear of what might become of their own skins should they dare to do so.

The supposedly edgy powers-that-be at Comedy Central dutifully assumed the posture of good, subservient dhimmis when Parker and Stone submitted their part two of their tribute to free speech, censoring any purported image of the prophet and bleeping away every mention of Mohammad’s name. The latter is rather remarkable. There is nothing in Islamic scripture that prohibits mentioning the name of the religion’s founder, but the executives at Comedy Central were so thoroughly cowed that they couldn’t bring themselves to allow cartoon characters to utter that name, which, if I didn’t mention it before, is “Mohammed.”

A subsequent exchange between Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane and comedian Penn Jillette on Larry King Live was sadly representative of the contrast between the mainstream media’s hands-off policy towards Islam and the courage that Parker and Stone displayed. McFarlane is always ready to take a swipe at other religions, but then there’s nothing risky about poking fun at people who aren’t going to do anything more than compose an angry letter in response. But would McFarlane make a joke about Islam? Heavens no. In McFarlane’s world, you don’t take the risk of insulting an enemy sworn to kill and subjugate you because there are plenty of other groups to insult who will do nothing more than write an angry letter or two. Penn Jillette’s response to McFarlane was right on the money:

“I think you cheapen Matt and Trey’s morality, strength and courage when you say ‘is the joke worth it?’ Because the question is: what is morally right?”

The public’s response to “dhimmigate” has been both swift and heartening. Had Comedy Central been less appeasing of the Islamist bullies, it would have taken even more time for a great many otherwise disinterested people to notice the appalling, violent bigotry that consumes too much of the Islamic world. Who could have imagined that the names Trey Parker and Matt Stone would ever be mentioned alongside that of Thomas Paine?

Yet, the parallels are there. When Paine penned Common Sense he shone a spotlight on British tyranny so brightly that the colonists found it impossible to ignore and, as a result, discontent with His Majesty’s government reached critical mass. This, in turn, left the British government with two equally unpalatable choices. They could ignore the movement and thus embolden the malcontents across the pond, or they could come down hard on the colonies, a policy which would simply serve as a recruiting tool for the rebellious faction in America. Lord North and George III ultimately chose the latter course, but it really didn’t matter. Once a matter of principle was transformed into a popular cause, courtesy of Thomas Paine (and, it must be admitted, others, but Paine spoke to the common man better than anyone), British colonial rule was doomed, no matter what the government did. William Pitt the Elder, Edmund Burke and other British stalwarts saw that coming, and urged the King to cut his losses, but pride ever goeth before a fall.

Pride is again on the table more than two hundred years later, courtesy of Parker and Stone, but it’s Muslim pride at issue this time around. Among the liberties Americans cherish is the right to make fun of anyone, anything and any system of belief. “South Park” censorship made it clear that there is one system of belief that believes itself to be off-limits, and this episode has created the critical mass of public opinion that will again prove impossible to ignore.

We’re already seeing the effects. Jon Stewart, bless his liberal heart, rose to defend Parker and Stone’s right of freedom of expression. Sunday night’s episode of The Simpsons began with Bart using the chalkboard to write “South Park – we’d stand behind you if we weren’t so scared” however many times Bart has to scribble his punishment of the day. Reason Magazine declared May 20 “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” More of the same, we can be sure, will be coming.

That leaves radical jihadists with the same uncomfortable, impossible choice that the British government faced in 1776 when Paine’s pamphlet first hit the streets. They can ignore the “make fun of Mohammed” movement, which will do nothing but embolden more Americans to do the same. Alternately, they can attack the growing number of Americans who dare to crack a joke at the expense of the founder of Islam, but doing so would simply outrage even more citizens who heretofore have stood silently on the sidelines, hoping that radical Islam might somehow fade away. It really doesn’t matter. The intolerance and insecurity that permeates Islam is plainly out there now and it’s impossible to ignore. Whatever those Muslims who would kill untold number of innocents in order to further their aims do going forward, they will lose – at least in America, if nowhere else.

Here’s hoping that the trend continues and that more and more Americans come to realize that there is no way to reconcile the demands of Sharia law with the inalienable rights of free peoples. How ironic that it took two irreverent, blasphemous cartoonists to make that happen.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/couchtripper couchtripper

    So, all the Moslems you've met have been normal people just going about their business, and yet you believe that the Billion+ others are all out to get you? That makes perfect sense.

    As for your snide attempt to deflect the accusation of bitterness back on me – perhaps you should read your previous dirge again.

    Have a shit day, bigot.

  • Linda

    Rich,

    Excellent article. You used the word "tenants" when you meant "tenets." This is about the third time I've seen this, so thought I'd let you know for future articles.

  • Tom

    Lemme get this right. Every time a Christian (?) bombs an abortion clinic, the fact that almost all other christians turn him in and deny that they speak for the majority means nothing.

    I have known people who lost friends on 9/11, an event that obviosly means nothing to you.

    I gather that (at least by your standards) its OK to harass people who disagree with you, OK not to pick up a blind man with a seeing eye dog (See muslim cab drivers at the airport in Detroit), OK to cut throats and behead people, OK to keep slaves (Sudan), OK to oppress women and gays, etc.

    And you call me a bigot?

  • Ghostwriter

    Maybe Simon and Couchtripper,when your members of your religion stop trying to force itself on this country,will it gain some respect.

  • 9-11 Infidel

    Nah. He just the read the Koran, Hadiths and the Sira. Suggest you save the taqiya for the rubes.

  • 9-11 Infidel

    Nah. Your comparison is bogus as is your lame arguments. I'm a vet and you got a condition we vets refer to as Cranial Rectal Infarction. So why don't you just bend over and shove both your hands up your ass, and with a rapid twisting motion, pull your head out.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/aharris aharris

    That tells me all I need to know. Thanks.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/couchtripper couchtripper

    Why do you assume I'm a Moslem, godless (by your own definition) fool?

    If I was attacking the bigotry against Jewish people that the vast majority of 9/11 freaks display, would that make me Jewish?

    Get lost.

  • david elder

    I haven't got much time for Stone or Parker. They take cheap 'antiestablishment' shots at things that others value, or treat with respect, and that have made a society where Stone and Parker are free to carry on as they do, while being part of a lucrative media industry. It appeals to 'freedom' – for itself – a lot of parents would love to have freedom from it. The moment there is a real fight the media money-making machine bends at the knees. OK Stone and Parker didn't agree with the knee-bending – but are they then going to break with the media money-spinner industry?

  • Democracy First

    And the one of which I am aware means do not kill Muslims. Others? Well, they're another story.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/couchtripper couchtripper

    awww, a military scumbag doesn't like the idea that he's treated with the same contempt as he treats others.

    How many people did you murder for money, diddums?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/couchtripper couchtripper

    hey, no worries – you can't play on an even field, so run away all you want.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/couchtripper couchtripper

    Do your employees know that you're a bigoted freak?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/couchtripper couchtripper

    Ironically, when arseholes like you stop making assumptions about a person's particular beliefs then the world will become a better place.

    I'm not religious. I abhor all extremists – especially those freaks who say they're Christians and yet support war.

    • guest

      You appear to be an extremist in your own right. Hypocrit – abhor thyself.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/couchtripper couchtripper

    why are you making spurious claims?

    9/11 is *nothing* to do with this story. Why do you bring it up? It's because it represents the reasoning behind your prejudice, right?

    And yes, you are a bigot – your prejudice is part of that. You put the problems of certain subsections of the billion+ members of the Islamic faith onto them all. This is the very definition of bigotry.

    Are all Christians Creationists? If I were to argue that point then you'd rightly be able to call me a bigot and an idiot.

    • Tom

      Dear fool,
      Actually 9/11 has a lot to do with the story. It's about ISLAMIC intolerance and hatred. The same hatred that led to Theo Van Goeh's throat slashing and stabbing by an islamofascist who was angry about the truth. I'm sure Salman Rushdie who is living under a death fatwa would not agree with you either.

      Its obvious to me and at least one other reader that your mind is made up, so we won't bother confusing you with those inconvenient facts.

  • http://stopislamizationofamerica.blogspot.com/ Art Telles

    What Else Is New…?

    Comedy Central, Trey Parker, Matt Stone and et al in Golly Gee… Are They Really Mad At Me? Hollywood have simply revealed themselves as being weak…

    … weak minded and weak willed when the political fan starts spinning.

    But, what can you expect from shallow thinkers who are brave against compassionate Christians and Jews but quake and shake against "top-rung-of-the-ladder" true believer Islamic suicide murders?

    They may be brain dead and dumb, but, obviously, they are not stupid.

  • thinkforasecond

    IT. WASN'T. EVEN. MOHAMMAD. IN. THE. BEAR. SUIT.
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/South-Park-Episode-

  • 9-11 Infidel

    Nah. Your comparison is bogus as is your lame arguments. I'm a vet and you got a condition we vets refer to as Cranial Rectal Infarction. So why don't you just bend over and shove both your hands up your ass, and with a rapid twisting motion, pull your head out.

  • http://theunknownamerican.blogspot.com theunknownamerican

    I really believe that most people are scared shitless of these people. I'm generalizing and profiling at that same time but who cares. Something has to be said about a faith where 10% threaten to behead people who speak against it and the other 90% comply by not doing denouncing those actions. Is it so hard to look at the koran and find the passage that says 'thou shall not kill'?

  • henry

    south park is a nest of cowards and hypocrites! They make fools out of Catholics and Protestants and every religion you can imagine – except for the one they like the best! They have said very very little against the Muslims who are the most potentially ridiculous of all the religions that ever existed on earth! Why is that? It is because they have real respect and love for Allah and Mohammad – always have had! The Muslim Bible, the Koran, is extremely anti-democratic and pro-murder – why do you think South Park makes fun of us all but very little fun of Islam? Because they want us to be more like Muslims! But Islam is so hateful that they have even turned against South Park and now South Park, in order to make up with Allah, have voluntarily censored themselves in accordance to the commands of the mighty Koran! They disgust me! Damn cowards!

  • 9-11 Infidel
  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Doggwood Doggwood

    This article is a great analysis of the situation, which had become notorious even before Comedy Central added a thick layer of censorship to the second episode. But I did wonder whether maybe that last bit of censorship wasn't merely cowardice on the part of the network, but done with the knowledge that this would make the series more popular than ever. It's obvious enough that doing something like that will draw attention.

    So what was in that final "What have we learned today?" speech at the end? I guess we'll find out eventually.

    Anyway, it says a lot about the state of our world that the respectable media has completely failed us, and only a pair of foul-mouthed clowns have the courage to make the moral statements that need to be made if free speech is to survive.

  • badaboo

    Comedy Central caved , plain and simple .Simon is a duped DHIMMI , and nothing more . The irony here is that any mocking or criticism appearing in the media regarding islam , does not even remotely approach it's barbarism and evil ethos .
    In Indonesia this week [an alleged "moderate " islamic nation ] thousands of muslims rampaged and burn down an entire christian compound , based merely on the rumor that a church would be built there . In Egypt and Pakistan ,and Nigeria christians are murdered , raped and forced to convert , their churches burnt to the ground. Churches are not allowed to be built or even repaired .
    One need not mock islam , but simply objectively describe it .The cowards at Comedy entral should refrain from any religious criticism or mockery , if they are going to be intimidated by a 16 year old islamic punk .

  • henry

    Doggwood! Nonesense! Look what you said! " only a pair of foul-mouthed clowns have the courage to make the moral statements that need to be made if free speech is to survive." They are cowards, it is quite clear – in fact, compared to any other religion they LOVE the Muslim Koranic point of view! Count the number of times they have lampooned any other religion – and measure how deeply stabbed they were, then see the little good natured tickling they gave Allah's secretary Mohammad. They (the cartoonists) are both multi-millionaires – the network can't stop them from telling the truth (that is, unless they want them to). They are phonies and soon everybody will know it – just check out what these brave heroes are going to do next! Nothing!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/couchtripper couchtripper

    It's interesting that my comments are now being moderated. Is that because I've dared to attack your scared cow and you want to censor me as a result?

    The sad fucking irony, eh? haha

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/idf idf

    Islam deserves all the mockery and disrespect that it receives. It is nothing but an evil cult that was created to justify the actions of a murderous pedophile, aka, Mohammed. Western Civilization will not survive if this cancer is allowed to continue.

  • badaboo

    South Park Cowards punked out .

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/couchtripper couchtripper

    if you're going to use words that are beyond your usual vocabulary, you should make sure you can spell them.

    In what way am I an extremist? I don't support murderers (governmental or not). Military scum always have a problem with this simple logic, so don't feel too bad about it – you can't help it.

  • guest

    Drifting way off topic here but…

    Thanks for pointing out my typo. I'll return the favor, you missed a capitalization of a word. Very petty, agreed?

    The colorful forceful tone of your responses gives me a sense that you are extreme in your beliefs and likely under 20 y.o. maybe even under 15. I see that you like to vote for yourself so I will vote for myself, too.

    I'll be waiting for your next humorous outburst. Just kidding. I am done with this thread though.

  • henry

    badadoo! Bless you! Well said up there – so true, so clear

  • badaboo

    Islam is not a religion , but a cult , borne of an evil mind of a deranged person . Men are born with an innate sense of right and wrong , therefore I have no sympathy for muslims who adhere to this hideous ideology . They are not innocent as they violate their own conscience , indeed violate their very humanity and all notions of civilised behavior .

  • henry

    dear theunknownamerican Yes, you are correct 99% of us (me included) are really really scared of these people – scared shitless, as you put it. But there is no passage in the Koran that says thou shalt not murder innocent people whilst thou art enjoying it with the expectation of being able to rape afterwards.

  • henry

    Let us not forget that the South Park multi-millionaires are extremely vile and unjust cowards who err on the side of Islam, preferring to pick on people who love civilized behavior while showing deep respect for savages who worship a book that sanctions holy cold-blooded murder. They will be forgiven by the savages for their mild and good natured kidding of Islam – as they always knew they would whilst they were hoping they would fool everyone into thinking they were free-speech heroes (now they have even more money! What damned moral cowards these cowards are!)!

  • susan

    To Everyone-
    Simon wrote that at one time Islam was considered the religion of justice.
    I think it behooves us to ask him what happened. None of us would find
    anything just in the practice of Islam that we have been witnessing. What
    we have seen in video after video – whether some mob in London, some
    cleric ranting, Ahmadinijad shouting that there was never a Holocaust but
    that Israel should be eradicated, or the staged Palestinian victimization
    which makes Israel look like murderers –
    the behavior of Islamic students at the different college campuses, and
    certainly with reaction from Islamists with regards to the particular cartoons,
    has been out of the realm of justice. It's been horrifying! Americans who
    have fought for what is just, will simply not tolerate it. If the Muslims
    living or studying here object, they can back to wherever their own
    country is. Justice shall reign over Sharia law any day!

  • Sim One

    Mohammed: *~@):~{>

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