Monday, April 17, 2006

Comedy Central's reply to my complaint

Here is Comedy Central's entire response to the complaint letter I wrote Friday about the episode of South Park they refused to air unedited.

Dear Viewer,

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

Comedy Central is at least being mostly honest in the reply. They didn't give any mumbo jumbo about the sacred image of Mohammed or being sensitive to the religion of Islam. It was a safety issue. They didn't want to get themselves or innocent people injured in potential retaliation by Muslims around the world.

But behind that reasoning is a logical conclusion they they didn't express in the response to my complaint. They don't trust Muslims. It's not that they don't like Muslims, or the religion of Islam, or anything like that. They don't trust that Muslims won't riot, fire bomb buildings, or kill non-Muslims given even the smallest provocation, whether that provocation is implied, real, or totally imaginary. Islam has officially been entirely corrupted by extremists who will kill anyone who speaks out about their religion in basically any manner whatsoever. If you mention Islam, Allah, Mohammed, Mecca, or any other sacredly held Islamic belief, you are in danger.

So it's not so much that Comedy Central fears for the public's safety as much as they don't trust Muslims not to overreact and kill people.

UPDATE @10:56am: Thanks to Chad at the East Coast Cake or Death for pointing out that South Park's newer epsiodes opening sequence actually has a cartoon Mohammed in it from a previous episode Parker and Stone did (Season 5, Super Best Friends). So technically Comedy Central's been airing Mohammed cartoons all season! Here's a pic from that episode...

And here's the pic of Mohammed in South Park's opening credits...

Kinda fuzzy, but he's there...