You don’t have to be a regular viewer or fan of the Comedy Central cartoon “South Park” to have an opinion on the latest controversy stirred up by animators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In their two-part 200th anniversary episode (episodes 200 and 201), Parker and Stone returned to the celebrity and religion-bashing that has made the “South Park” cartoon famous, bringing back most — if not all — of those they have ridiculed and mocked four fourteen seasons. They even brought back the Muslim prophet Muhammad. They had him wearing a bear suit. And then Trey Parker and Matt Stone were threatened — all before the episode 201 was broadcast.
Although the pro-Osama bin Laden Muslim website RevolutionMuslim.com claims that their message was just a warning to the animators and those that would broadcast any depiction of the prophet Muhammad (by Islamic standards, any and all physical descriptions of Muhammad is forbidden), after the words “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,” the website posted the addresses of Comedy Central’s New York office and Parker and Stone’s California production office.
The post states that the cartoon “outright insulted” the prophet Muhammad.
For those not in the loop about Theo van Gogh, he was a Dutch filmmaker who was stabbed to death in Amsterdam in 2004 by a religious fanatic infuriated by van Gogh’s film that repudiated the prophet Muhammad as a guide for modern morality.
The author insists, however, that his words were “not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”
But then there appears the addresses of the animators’ production studio and Comedy Central’s New York office.
Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, the author of the post on RevolutionMuslim.com, told the Associated Press that Matt Stone and Trey Parker “should feel threatened by what they did.”
But the “South Park” creators shouldn’t feel threatened by a website that posts the graphic picture of the death of Theo van Gogh juxtaposed with the warning that his fate could also happen to them juxtaposed with the address of the “South Park” production studio. It was just a “warning.” Plausible deniability is an amazing thing in the hands of politicians and fanatics exercising their right to freedom of expression.
But what about Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s freedom of expression?
In the second part of the two-part 200th episode (dubbed episode 201), everything mentioning or depicting or vaguely alluding to the prophet Muhammad was censored. On the “South Park” website, the video is prefaced with the animators’ message that there were “numerous additional audio bleeps… throughout the episode. We do not have network approval to stream our original version of the show.” Viewing the episode shows Muhammad as a black “CENSORED” box. Of course, when Tom Cruise attempts to appropriate some of Muhammad’s power of not being ridiculed (the storyline behind Episode 201), he also becomes a black “CENSORED” box. By the show’s end, the it becomes a Morse-code-sounding display of bleeps and regular phrases. Even Stan’s staple moral affirmation statement is one long censored bleep.
Which are the censored bleeps and which are the actual scripted bleeps are anyone’s guess.
So some took the “warning” of the pro-jihadist website (which is down at present) to heart or chose to err on the side of caution. Either way, Muhammad (or the prophet who shall forevermore be referred to as “bleep” or “CENSORED” on “South Park”) and his image were protected.
As for Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s protection…
“South Park Episode 201,” Comedy Central Network
“South Park 201 Censored,” CBSNews.com