Southpark creators Matt Stone (no connection to me or this blog, just the same name) and Trey Parker have sparked religious controversy again with an episode featuring the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
“LOS ANGELES: In its 200 shows, the irreverent animated program South Park has mercilessly satirised Christianity, Buddhism, Scientology, the blind and disabled, gay people, Hollywood celebrities and politicians of all persuasions, weathering the resulting protests and threats of boycotts.
But this week, after an ominous threat from a radical Muslim website, the US network that airs the program removed a key speech from the second of two episodes set to show the Prophet Muhammad in in a bear costume. Many Muslims believe that Islamic teachings forbid showing images of Muhammad.
The incident provides the latest example of how media conglomerates are still struggling to balance free speech with safety concerns and religious sensitivities, six years after the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was killed for making a film critical of Islamic society.”
Matt Stone and Trey Parker have subsequently released a statement dening the censorship was their doing.
“In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.”
But this disclaimer does little to address the questions in my view. This is defacto religious discrimination. Are we really ready to priviledge extremists over moderates? What sort of world might that lead to? Do Christians have to issue fatwas to get equal treatment? In light of the arrest of Christian terrorist wannabe Joshua Matthew Stone (is my name cursed or something?) earlier this month I really have to wonder where all this is heading. Is a day coming when Christian extremists might be threatening Southpark too? Would make for a confusing header if nothing else: Matt Stone assassinated by Joshua Matthew Stone and this Matt Stone ain’t happy.