It is not often that I comment on cartoon shows, but Comedy Central's recent decision to bleep the word Mohammed from South Park was an act of extreme cowardice in my opinion. Now, to be fair, this is based on comments on the South Park web site and not any official comments from the cowards at Comedy Central.
I am a sort of fan of the show. A lot of their humor does not work for me, but a lot does. I enjoy their mocking of celebrities, religion and society in general. I thought their take on sex addiction was epic.
Last week, the cartoon show featured a collection of religious icons including Jesus, Buddha and Moses. All were equally and brutally mocked. And it was funny, as intended. However Mohammed, while enumerated among the group was depicted as a box with the word "censored" in it. After the episode aired, South Park's creators received death threats from radical Muslims.
This in itself is an age old problem. The issuance of death threats at the drop of a joke. The proof of amazing intolerance by a few members of an otherwise decent and peaceful religion. And the ongoing acceptance and tolerance of these threats. The response to these has become one of acquiescence. Comedy Central is the latest to fold. This is not a matter of respect for a religion. South Park makes no such claim. In fact, it is hard to find any religion or institution they have not mocked.
In the newest episode that aired Wednesday night, Comedy Central not only continued their prohibition on showing Mohammed, they also bleeped the actual word. This is the same network that decided that "son of a b***h a**hole," is okay for broadcast. At first, I thought it was the show's creators extending a joke, but it was not. It was, as it turns out Comedy Central yielding to threats.
I am not a fan of the phrase "...then the terrorists win," but this is a prime example of just that. If by just issuing threats, they can void free speech, then who wins? Not us, that is for sure.
What makes it worse is that these threats of violence have been tolerated for centuries by civilized society. This is not the first time and I am sadly certain it will not be the last. At some point, someone other than a Danish cartoonist will have to stand up and refuse to yield to this thuggish behavior. At some point Americans will have to stand and say, "Go ahead and try."
Unfortunately the suits at Comedy Central apparently contain no spine. They yielded immediately. And they did not even have the courage to say so. They just folded right up. Apparently they forgot that the show in question is a cartoon featuring 4 elementary school kids. Apparently they forgot all about their right to free speech. Apparently they forgot that we do not yield to threats and such. All they thought was that they were scared of the nasty terrorists and folded like a cheap suit.
Well, this is just plain wrong. While our men and women in uniform are in harm's way halfway around the world defending these rights and freedoms, we have an obligation to respect and honor their courage by having some of our own. Comedy Central failed this test.
While most of us are not in harm's way and fighting real battles with real weapons in real uniforms, we are all, to a large extent in the fight. For those of us here, we need to stand up to the thugs and violent radical Moslems. We need to let them know that we as Americans do not fear them and will not yield to their intolerant demands. And if this means death threats, then it means death threats.
Had any of my Jewish ancestors yielded to these threats over the centuries, Israel would not exist. Yet the Israelis persevere and go to work every day under real threats from an enemy just over the hill. They fight every day and by simply standing up to the thugs, they win every day.
Comedy Central does a disservice to Americans by their shriveling cowardice. I only hope that some member of our government has the stones to say this publicly. To call out the thugs and violent extremists.
If they do not, then as much as I dislike saying it, this round will go to the terrorists. And that is just not acceptable, or to paraphrase South Park, "Oh my God, they killed free speech!"
(Update: Since I wrote the above, the creators of South Park issued a statement saying that Comedy Central not only bleeped "Mohammed," but also the closing speech which was about not yielding to hate and intolerance and did not mention Mohammed at all.)