Friday, April 14, 2006

The South Park Mohammed censorship kerfuffle

It's a classic case of life imitating art imitating life.

Comedy Central censors an image of Mohammed on a South Park episode poking fun of media that censor pictures of Mohammed.

Michelle Malkin is all over it with video clips, links and commentary. She's posted the key clip here.

One of the South Park characters, a kid named Kyle, makes a pretty good speech on the issue of free speech and the Mohammed controversy:
Kyle: You can't do what he wants just because he's the one threatening you with violence.

TV exec: I can't be responsible for people getting hurt, especially me.

Kyle: Yes, people can get hurt; that's how terrorism works. But if you give into that..., you're allowing terrorism to work.
And Thom Zaler writes to Powerline on the juxtoposition of the censureship of mundane Mohammed images with the showing of outrageous images of Bush and Jesus:
The episode was built around a network and the free speech/Mohammed hypocrisy. Mohammed's appearance in the cartoon was of him handing off a football, purposefully tame. That's when the "Comedy Central won't air this part" popped up. Then, in the cartoon, the Muslim extremists react by making their own offensive cartoon, including the images of Jesus and Bush defecating on themselves and the American people.

That, to me, is the brilliance of it. They knew Comedy Central wouldn't air Mohammed, but would air the Jesus/Bush images. They not only called out their network's callowness, they illustrated it, and further showed how Americans DIDN'T riot upon seeing those images. Unless there was a story I missed this morning.

And take note of this memo (as quoted in the New York Sun) from Comedy Central executives in response to a prior freedom of speech controversy:
As satirists, we believe that it is our First Amendment right to poke fun at any and all people, groups, organizations and religions and we will continue to defend that right. Our goal is to make people laugh, and perhaps if we're lucky, even make them think in the process.
Certainly a First Amendment right to free speech is different from an obligation to broadcast offensive speech. But it does not seem right to block only speech that might offend to those who threaten violence. Leads to conclusions like this one:
Still, either way the point is the same: Don't like people mocking your religion? Threaten them with violence. It seems to work pretty well.