Friday, April 23, 2010

Censoring Bears In The Name Of All That Is Muslim

Well, we've lost. I thought maybe there was a chance this wouldn't happen, but it did and we lost. So close, too. So very close. What's that? Oh, yeah. The South Park guys were going to have Muhammad in their episode this week, but the network censored it, presumably because they were afraid that the Muslim extremists would come unglued (like they always do) and end up killing someone over it (like they always want to do).

Here's the scoop: According to an article over at the
LA Times, "...after an ominous threat from a radical Muslim website, the network that airs the program (South Park) bleeped out all references to the prophet Muhammad in the second of two episodes set to feature the holy figure dressed in a bear costume." Wait. In a bear costume? You can't have Muhammad in a bear costume? Are you kidding me?

Whether you can or you can't probably isn't the issue. But what became the issue is that over at something called (a site which seems to have since been taken down), the following had been posted: "We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show." A photo of Van Gogh's body lying in the street was included with the original posting. "This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them." Uh-huh. I see. So they censored the...bear? The bear. OK. What the hell?

In the same article, it explains that Matt and Trey did not agree with the decision to censor the episode (a position which I can't help but to admire the heck out of). It says that they "...clearly disagreed with their bosses' handling of the situation. A statement posted on their website said that executives "made a determination to alter the episode" without their approval and that the usual wrap-up speech from one character didn't mention Muhammad "but it got bleeped too." Great. What a bunch of wusses.

Now, look, am I saying that I would want to be the first one in American media to just come right out and mock Mohammad? Uh, no. I don't think I would. But depending on my position, I just might. Here's the thing: We can't bow down to extremist Muslims. We can't. We can't compromise our own freedom of speech because extremist Muslims issue vague death threats which they could probably find some nutjob to carry out for them. We can't be afraid of them. But that doesn't change the fact that the executives at Comedy Central are clearly very afraid of them.

When you censor something like that in this country (or anywhere, for that matter, but I'm just saying) all it does it make it so that it's easier for it to happen again. So, now, the next time that something is made fun of that a particular group doesn't like, are we going to hear death threats over it? OK, that's probably a bad example to use because the answer is most likely NO. But the answer will increasingly be "YES" when it comes to making fun of the Muslim religion. It's not like this is the first time that this has happened. And, unfortunately, it's unlikely to be the last.

You know what would have been great? What would have been great is if this threat (and it was a threat) had been made and then all that is American media (or media in general, I'm not going to be particular about it) had just saturated all of their shows and papers and magazines with references and depictions of Muhammad. Just have it everywhere. One big show of solidarity. That's what would have been great. But instead what we got was a cartoon of a bear that allegedly had Muhammad inside of it censored. Sure. That makes a lot of sense. We're doomed.

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