For South Park fans who missed the first airing of the now hotly-controversial “201” episode, which further explored the idea of showing an “image” of Muhammad, chances are you missed it altogether. Beyond all the bleeps and black censor boxes, which rendered the South Park “201” episode not unlike a slice of Swiss cheese, Comedy Central also quietly refused to air it a second time later Wednesday night.
Sean Thomason, of Tucson, AZ, expressed that when his friends and he tried to watch the usual-encore of the week’s new South Park episode later in the evening, the re-play of the South Park “201” episode was actually a repeat of an episode from earlier in the season, titled “The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs”.
In addition, the South Park “201” episode isn’t being shown streaming on southparkstudios.com, as is typical of new South Park episodes. Instead, there are statements from show creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, explaining that Comedy Central in fact censored their work on episode “201”, telling fans, “We will bring you a version of “201” as soon as we can.”.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker issued a full statement on southparkstudios.com related to Comedy Central’s actions surrounding the South Park “201” episode, saying jointly:
“In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.”
It remains to be seen what effect, if any, this intense level of South Park censorship by Comedy Central will have. Will fans boycott the network? That seems unlikely. However, there is a good chance Comedy Central is hearing what people are already saying on internet forums and blogs. The people don’t seem particularly happy. One online commenter, An Angry Fan, logged the following in response to an Examiner article on the South Park “201” episode controversy, written by Comedy Examiner Scott Wampler:
“I’m surprised at the lengths Comedy Central is going to to drum up publicity for itself. That has to be what this is about, right? This is the basic cable channel that brought us “Uncut” broadcasting on Saturday nights! There is more widely offensive material in a Katt Williams special than on South Park. Give me a break!!”
However, there are plenty of people who would find an image of Muhammad on TV, or anywhere, highly offensive. Some of those people may even become outraged, and threaten awful things. Some may even act on them. The disconnect comes in the thinking that Jews, Catholics, Scientologists, Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise, and Barbra Streisand aren’t offended when mocked on South Park (not that it was really Muhammad being mocked here, at all). The difference is those entities don’t issue death threats or fatwas on Trey Parker and Matt Stone every time they see themselves depicted on the show (though they may have their lawyers send out Cease-and-Desist letters…).
Radical Muslim extremists, who, sheerly by the grace of bearing opposable thumbs and a certain amount of free speech while living here in the US, have managed to effectively shut down one of our nation’s most popular satire shows for an entire week with a simple, ranting blog post. Mention one dead body, and suddenly, everyone’s all a-quiver. Not to take lightly the death of the Dutch journalist who was killed, and mentioned in the South Park fatwa (issued by repugnant extremist scum not worth naming), but thinking that by placing a few bleeps here, and black boxes there, that you are in some way saving a life…it’s nothing short of ridiculous.
The sort of people who would threaten death over a cartoon, one that depicts Muhammad or not, are not going to be influenced by bleeps, Comedy Central. The only purpose served by the censorship of South Park’s “201” episode was to cheapen that free speech you so often stand behind when pushing the boundaries of good taste and political correctness.
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Local In-Person Interview – Sean Thomason