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More on Muhammad on "South Park"

Reader comment on item: Admitting Censorship due to Islamist Intimidation

Submitted by PT (Israel), Apr 25, 2006 at 19:53

A widely discussed fact, but one that has yet to be mentioned here, is that Muhammad has been shown on the show “South Park” in every episode this season during the opening credits (in a group shot among all the other “South Park” characters http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Southparkseason10opening.png#file ). Ironically, he was even seen in the opening credits of “Carton Wars: Part II”, the very episode that caused the ruckus when Comedy Central censored Muhammad’s more prominent and plot-inherent appearance (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartoon_Wars_Part_II ).

The image of Muhammad (as with all the characters featured in the back of the group shot) is very small and faded and therefore hard to distinguish. It is very possible that Comedy Central may have simply missed the fact that it was even there, but that is no longer likely to be true. This information has been so widely reported that it’s hard to believe that Comedy Central hasn’t caught wind of it by now. Yet, they have opted to leave the opening credits unchanged, with the image of Muhammad, even in a subsequent episode, “A Million Little Fibers”, shown a week after the news of it broke.

This raises a possible positive observation: while comedy central isn’t willing to show the image of Muhammad when it’s an integral part of the show they haven’t yet completely capitulated. Perhaps there is hope. And maybe these are the first fruits that prove that admission (that the censoring was done out of fear) is better than denial--aware of their own cowardice action, the network can consciously choose to do at least something to subvert it.

More pessimistically, one could point out that the Muhammad’s image in the opening credits hasn’t yet been widely covered in the mainstream press and media and therefore has yet to give Comedy Central a reason to act. The cable network may have simply opted to turn a blind eye on this tiny matter while they still can, but once publicized, feeling pressured, Comedy Central would censor that image too. (Keep in mind that censoring the original Muhammad clip was not an easy feat: http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2006_04_09-2006_04_15.shtml#1144984968 )

Finally, it’s important to point out that even the portrayal of Muhammad that was censored was a very far cry from the vulgar satirical take “South Park” has taken against other religions such as Scientology and Mormonism where every illogical facet of those religions was illustrated and mocked. Balanced will only be restored when “South Park” shows:

...Let us not delude ourselves. The “South Park” creators only seem brave because everyone else is so cowardly. Even if Comedy Central had shown their innocent cartooning of Muhammad, we would still have a long way to go.

(Correction: the purported censored clip of Muhammad that’s on the web (http://www.brendanloy.com/2006/04/see-the-banned-muhammad-clip.html ) as I have previously posted about (http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/43364 ) was apparently a forgery according to the show’s producer Anne Garefino, although a Muhammad clip was animated and censored but never released

(http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2006_04_09-2006_04_15.shtml#1144962230 ). Judging from the context, subsequent clips and the short allocated time, in my opinion, the original clip couldn’t have been very much different from the fake.)

(One additional fact that has also been widely reported but some may not be aware of: Muhammad was already prominently featured on the show “South Park” episode “Super Best Friends” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_best_friends , years before the ‘Danish cartoons’ incident (this, by the way, was the same Muhammad featured in the fake clip))

Submitting....

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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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