Friday, April 14, 2006

I can't believe Comedy Central censored South Park's image of Muhammed

I am really, really, really dumbfounded by the whole thing... Apparently it was the buzz of the blogosphere yesterday but I only just watched the TiVo'd episode last night. Once again I'm behind the curve...

Picking up where last week's episode left off, Cartman is in Hollywood to convince Fox to pull the episode of The Family Guy with Muhammed in it, but he's doing it not for the good of humanity or sensitivity for Islam, but simply because he hates the show. He wants to get it cancelled. In that effort, he is taken to meet the writers of The Family Guy who turn out to be manatees. They write complete non-sequitor jokes by randomly selecting idea balls from a huge pile. Five ideas balls make one joke.

As Cartman is learning the secret of The Family Guy, the world braces for Islam's reaction. Much of the US has their heads buried in the sand, so they miss statements released by Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden slamming the show (I found my notes! Updated the post.)

Zawahiri: Family Guy better not show Mohammed tonight. I'm serious. Family Guy isn't funny

Osama bin Laden: If you look closely at the writing in Family Guy, you will see that the jokes never derive from the plot. And I think that's totally gay.

In the end Kyle thwarts Cartman's efforts to get the show pulled and it airs as scheduled... but in place of the scene of Peter in a toga getting a Salmon helmet from Muhammed (see... random manatee joke), the screen goes black with script noting that Comedy Central refused to air an image of Muhammed.

Then the video cuts back in and we get to see Islam's response. A short video from Osama productions of US citizens crapping on each other, then crapping on George Bush, then crapping on Jesus, and finally all of them crapping on the American flag. (I found my notes! Updated the post.)

Zawahiri: We warned you not to show Mohammed, but Family Guy did it anyway. So now here is our retaliation on America. Oh yeah, take that! We burned you! That was funnier than Family Guy

It's the perfect illustration of the double standard applied by the media when it comes to Islam. Mocking Christianity, Judaism, and even classic American symbols are fine, but we can't say anything about Muhammed because we don't want to upset Muslims. Some Christians were offended by the imagery of Jesus in the episode, and voiced that opinion (even though they completely missed the point of the episode). But we don't have to worry about Christian clerical leaders bombing embassies or news studios.

The WaPo gives a little history behind Parker, Stone, Comedy Central, and Muhammed.

Weeks ago, when they were mulling the episode on this subject, Cowardly Central told Parker and Stone they could not run an image of Muhammad on the network.

Ironically, about five years ago, "South Park" did just that. That episode was called "The Super Best Friends" and in it Jesus and his Super Best Friends -- including Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha, Joseph Smith, Laotzu and Moses -- took on the church of Blaintology, founded by David Blaine, the street magician who is a sweeps special staple of ABC.

At least South Park gets the freedom of speech implications here, as shown by Butter's dad's speech from last week's episode.

Freedom of speech is at stake here, don't you all see? If anything, we should all make cartoons of Muhammad and show the terrorists and the extremists that we are all united in the belief that every person has a right to say what they want.

Look, people, it's been really easy for us to stand up for free speech lately. For the past few decades, we haven't had to risk anything to defend it. One of those times is right now. And if we aren't willing to risk what we have now, then we just believe in free speech, but won't defend it.

Grow some balls Comedy Central... show Mohammed.

UPDATE @ 9:15am 4/17: See Comedy Central's reply to my complaint letter about this episode.