One of my common complaints about the forces of stupid is that they seem to have no sense of irony. When, for example, Christians reference the bible to persecute gay people as unrepentant sinners, whilst simultaneously forgetting the parable about the adulteress who was saved from stoning by the admonition “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” It’s especially funny when those same anti-gay crusaders turn up in a bath house or in a men’s room somewhere having all kinds of kinky gay sex. The complete lack of a sense of irony or self-critical skills that is required to make such leaps of hypocrisy is one of the hallmarks of the footsoldiers of “DUH”.

So it came as no surprise when I read this news story:

A radical Muslim group has warned the creators of South Park that they could face violent retribution for depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit during the 200th episode of the animated TV show.

I love South Park, I think it’s one of the smartest shows on TV. While I don’t always agree with their views, I do enjoy good satire, and South Park dresses that satire up in good wholesome filth, tearing down the notion that anything is sacred. In the episode(s) in question, the characters were extorted into exposing Muhammad so that celebrities could capture his powers of “never being mocked”. Of course, in true South Park style, things just get more and more ridiculous.

The entire point of the episode arc was how ridiculous it was to respect the beliefs of complete nutjobs who make ridiculous terrorist demands. In the episode, the characters have to resort to a series of increasingly-ridiculous stunts to avoid accidentally showing any part of Muhammad: locking him in a U-haul trailer, not letting him walk around, and then finally dressing him up in a bear costume.

South Park shows Muhammad as a bear

All this to avoid reprisal from a group of people who lack the basic level of self-awareness to avoid becoming willing participants in their own public lampooning. In the next episode (it was a 2-parter) the image are covered with large black bars that say “CENSORED”. This is of course to say nothing of the fact that Muhammad has appeared, unmasked, on the show before:

Muhammad on South Park

Of course, just as the show’s creators intended, radial Muslims became incensed by the (non-)portrayal of their religious symbol. This ridiculous reaction to a cartoon bear which may or not contain a cartoon of a person who may or may not resemble Muhammad (nobody knows what he actually looked like) played right into the purpose of the show. It’s one of those “art imitates life imitates art” things where a television show caused the world to behave in the way the show predicted, which allowed the show to turn around and lampoon that reaction.

There’s also an argument to be made that, by outlawing the portrayal of Muhammad, Muslims are making it more likely that people will do just that for shock value. Talk about suicide bombing yourself in the foot!


  1. says

    When NPR aired the South Park threat story there were over 400 comments and interestingly most of them were censored including mine.

    What I don’t understand is what right does some Muslim group have to threaten anyone and perhaps more important why would the South Park folks run scared because of it?

    Muslims claim it is blasphemous to depict an image of their so-called prophet but a public figure like Muhammad is fair game especially for non-Muslims.

  2. says

    There’s some speculation that Trey and Matt were not in fact censored by Comedy Central, but censored themselves to highlight the ridiculousness of censoring on religious grounds. Either way, the threats were real, and religious groups couldn’t bend over fast enough to say “well, they have a point… you can’t offend someone’s religious beliefs.”

    As Obama would say, “Yes We Can!”

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