Thank you for your correspondence regarding the "South Park" episodes entitled "Cartoon Wars." We appreciate your concerns about censorshipand the destructive influence of outside groups on the media,entertainment industry and particularly Comedy Central.
To reiterate, as satirists, we believe that it is our First Amendmentright to poke fun at any and all people, groups, organizations andreligions and we will continue to defend that right. Our goal is tomake people laugh and perhaps, if we're lucky, even make them think inthe process.
Comedy Central's belief in the First Amendment has not wavered, despiteour decision not to air an image of Muhammad. Our decision was made notto mute the voices of Trey and Matt or because we value one religionover any other. This decision was based solely on concern for publicsafety in light of recent world events.
With the power of freedom of speech and expression also comes theobligation to use that power in a responsible way. Much as we wish it weren't the case, times have changed and, as witnessed by the intenseand deadly reaction to the publication of the Danish cartoons, decisionscannot be made in a vacuum without considering what impact they may haveon innocent individuals around the globe.
It was with this in mind we decided not to air the image of Muhammad, adecision similar to that made by virtually every single media outletacross the country earlier this year when they each determined that itwas not prudent or in the interest of safety to reproduce thecontroversial Danish cartoons. Injuries occurred and lives were lost inthe riots set off by the original publication of these cartoons. TheAmerican media made a decision then, as we did now, not to put thesafety and well being of the public at risk, here or abroad.
As a viewer of "South Park," you know that over the course of tenseasons and almost 150 episodes the series has addressed all types ofsensitive, hot-button issues, religious and political, and has done sowith Comedy Central's full support in every instance, including thisone. "Cartoon Wars" contained a very important message, one that Treyand Matt felt strongly about, as did we at the network, which is why wegave them carte blanche in every facet but one: we would not broadcast aportrayal of Muhammad.
In that regard, did we censor the show? Yes, we did. But if you holdComedy Central's 15-year track record up against any other network outthere, you'll find that we afford our talent the most creative freedomand provide a nurturing atmosphere that challenges them to be bold anddaring and places them in a position to constantly break barriers andpush the envelope. The result has been some of the most provocativetelevision ever produced.
We would like nothing more than to be able to look back at this in a fewyears and think that perhaps we overreacted. Unfortunately, to havemade a different decision and to look back and see that we completelyunderestimated the damage that resulted was a risk we were not willingto take.
Our pledge to you, our loyal viewers, is that Comedy Central will continue to produce and provide the best comedy available and we willcontinue to push it right to the edge, using and defending the FirstAmendment in the most responsible way we know how.
Comedy Central Viewer Services