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Comedy Central's generic response to the Muhammad censorship (on South Park)

Reader comment on item: Danish Cartoon Aftershocks

Submitted by PT (Israel), Apr 20, 2006 at 07:01

Several people who have complained to Comedy Central regarding the network's decision to censor the image of Muhammad on the show South Park episode "Cartoon Wars: Part II" all received the same generic email:

Dear Viewer,

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the "South Park" episodes entitled "Cartoon Wars." We appreciate your concerns about censorship and 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 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.

Comedy Central's belief in the First Amendment has not wavered, despite our decision not to air an image of Muhammad. Our decision was made not to mute the voices of Trey and Matt or because we value one religion over any other. This decision was based solely on concern for public safety in light of recent world events.

With the power of freedom of speech and expression also comes the obligation 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 intense and deadly reaction to the publication of the Danish cartoons, decisions cannot be made in a vacuum without considering what impact they may have on innocent individuals around the globe.

It was with this in mind we decided not to air the image of Muhammad, a decision similar to that made by virtually every single media outlet across the country earlier this year when they each determined that it was not prudent or in the interest of safety to reproduce the controversial Danish cartoons. Injuries occurred and lives were lost in the riots set off by the original publication of these cartoons. The American media made a decision then, as we did now, not to put the safety and well being of the public at risk, here or abroad.

As a viewer of "South Park," you know that over the course of ten seasons and almost 150 episodes the series has addressed all types of sensitive, hot-button issues, religious and political, and has done so with Comedy Central's full support in every instance, including this one. "Cartoon Wars" contained a very important message, one that Trey and Matt felt strongly about, as did we at the network, which is why we gave them carte blanche in every facet but one: we would not broadcast a portrayal of Muhammad.

In that regard, did we censor the show? Yes, we did. But if you hold Comedy Central's 15-year track record up against any other network out there, you'll find that we afford our talent the most creative freedom and provide a nurturing atmosphere that challenges them to be bold and daring and places them in a position to constantly break barriers and push the envelope. The result has been some of the most provocative television ever produced.

We would like nothing more than to be able to look back at this in a few years and think that perhaps we overreacted. Unfortunately, to have made a different decision and to look back and see that we completely underestimated the damage that resulted was a risk we were not willing to take.

Our pledge to you, our loyal viewers, is that Comedy Central will continue to produce and provide the best comedy available and we will continue to push it right to the edge, using and defending the First Amendment in the most responsible way we know how.

Sincerely,
Comedy Central Viewer Services
Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (13) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Iran's Holocaust cartton exibition [60 words]VijayAug 16, 2006 08:2853040
If the radicals kill each other over satire and art depicting Muhammad -carry on!!!!!! [84 words]Lee StewartMay 5, 2006 20:3344928
iranian ambassador article [109 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
daniel silverlindApr 26, 2006 10:5744242
"I willingly apologize as a Christian" [209 words]rickApr 24, 2006 14:3644024
Comedy Central's generic response to the Muhammad censorship (on South Park) [606 words]PTApr 20, 2006 07:0143639
False info in apology: Scientology episode also censored by Viacom at behest of Cruise [71 words]Dan SchwartzApr 23, 2006 07:2343639
danish cartoons [31 words]ghummanFeb 18, 2008 11:0743639
Anti-Muslim cartoon- [45 words]Douglas BoggsApr 20, 2006 00:1843627
Comedy Central ... worse than the Simpsons [132 words]Nabil ShwarmaApr 17, 2006 09:0743376
We were afraid that showing the episode would cause riots [316 words]Maggie O'HearnApr 21, 2006 02:5243376
Too bad us Americans aren't as brave... (Southpark) [153 words]PTApr 17, 2006 03:3043364
Its a matter of Ideology .. not bravery [49 words]NKApr 29, 2006 04:5843364
Agree with most of this except.. [29 words]HeidiNov 5, 2006 15:2643364

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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