South Park and censorship

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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41 Responses

  1. Freddie says:

    1. This censorship, like all censorship, fucking sucks.
    2. South Park is not funny.
    2a. South Park is not funny in large part because it is so preachy and self-satisfied.Report

  2. Scott says:

    What is all the fuss about? Islam is the religion of peace, right?Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    I can appreciate how someone, in theory, might find issue with a comedian exercising prior restraint when it comes to offending minorities.

    I just question why someone might choose to scream about that while there are regular mobs threatening the government.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    But, seriously, we ought to have known that this would happen when we saw what happened to Rushdie.

    He wrote his book… and got a Fatwa on his head for his troubles.

    Instead of a discussion revolving around yet another group of religious fanatics burning books, we had discussions of how, yes, we need to respect the freedom of artists but we also have to respect other cultures and we ought not be surprised when people from other cultures get offended by our insensitivity to their traditions and mores.

    I remember some of the arguments over the Taliban in Afghanistan shelling the giant statues of Buddha… statues several stories tall that predated Jesus. Instead of a discussion of right-wing religious nuts smashing art, we had discussions of how No True Buddhist would see the statues as anything but piles of rock.

    We saw what happened when there were a number of political cartoons depicting Mohammed. Instead of a discussion of the importance of the freedom of the press, we had a discussion of “what did they expect to happen?” when there were riots.

    And now they shut down South Park.

    I wonder what the focus will be on. One hopes that this particular art is low enough that people might actually say “hey, you religious nuts need to stop telling people who aren’t your own women and/or children how to live!”

    I rather expect to be disappointed. We’ll see.Report

    • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

      @Jaybird, This is where we agree to such an extent that mere words cannot express.Report

    • Rufus in reply to Jaybird says:

      @Jaybird, Isn’t this painting it a bit broadly though? I remember having conversations with plenty of people who said, “WTF, man?! This is f’ed up!” when those things happened. I suppose it wasn’t the “official response”, but you know, the sentiment is pretty widespread.Report

      • Rufus in reply to Rufus says:

        @Rufus, Where I’d agree with you is on Rushdie. I remember watching an interview on the BBC at the time with Cat Stevens in which he was calling for Rushdie to die- apparently, he got off the peace train a while ago- and I was saddened that the host didn’t say, “Oh, piss off!”

        But, even there, U2 had Rushdie on stage with them, for whatever that’s worth. So, Bono is with you anyway.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Rufus says:

        @Rufus, maybe it’s my circle and the fact that I get into arguments on the web into much deeper detail than in the real world.Report

    • Simon K in reply to Jaybird says:

      @Jaybird, People did say those things, but my memory of it rather differs. Maybe because I was living in Britain during most of those events, or maybe I was just hanging out with different people.

      I mean, the official response to the Salman Rushdie business wasn’t to rush out and arrest all the nutters burning books in the street and (rather more seriously) speaking approvingly of threats to his life, which after all would have been a violation of freedom of speech in itself, but it did include round-the-clock police protection for the better part of a decade. And I really can’t remember anyone speaking approvingly or even neutrally of the Taliban’s statue-smashing.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Simon K says:

        @Simon K, interestingly, there is a comment on this very website that talks about the statues.

        Jim says: No one I cna remember aaw the destruction of the Bamian statues as blaspheny, least of all Buddhists. The term has no meaning in a non-theistic worldview, one, and secondly, since Buddhism says that forms and egoes and statues are transitory, it hardly makes much difference how a statue ceases to be a statue – explosives or weathering or the corrosive effects of birdshit.

        That’s the sort of thing I encountered more than once.

        Back in the US, there were two kinds of responses. One was the radio stations that started smashing the records of Cat Stevens saying “we ain’t gonna play no fascist music!” which, quite frankly, struck me as spectacularly missing the point. The other thing I really remember was having it explained to me, slowly and patiently (as to a dull child) that their culture was not like our culture and we had to understand that their response to blasphemy was just as valid as our culture, etc, etc. I don’t recall any fierce defenses of Rushdie that weren’t in the vein of smashing records. It’s like the liberals felt that they had to pick between standing with record smashers or being tolerant of other cultures and, of course, they chose tolerance.

        But, as you said, maybe that’s because of the circle that I was hanging in.

        Britain did do a good job, for what it’s worth. The knighthood thing was brilliant.Report

  5. North says:

    I’ve never been so disappointed.
    This is the editorial cartoon controversy revisited. If every goddamn newspaper in the western world had reprinted the cartoons in their entirety then what would the retrograde ass-backwards faction of the Muslim whiners have done? Killed them all? No, the affair would have blown over. Now, instead since they were abandoned by the very media that so prides itself on its courage for speaking truth to power, those cartoonists live in hiding in fear for their lives.
    I’m glad the Southpark due stuck to their guns but I’m so disappointed in Viacom. And now I’m not going to see the damned conclusion. I wish Matt and Trey would put Mohammed in every episode they issue just to force this issue but of course they do have economic concerns, they have a business to run after all. One can only hope that there is uproar and the suits go back on this poor decision.
    Now as a moderate liberal, a democrat and a homo (and especially as a Canadian) I’ve felt the sting of Southparks satire but I have to disagree Freddie. Southpark is sometimes hysterically funny.Report

    • ThatPirateGuy in reply to North says:

      Exactly we aren’t free if homophobic morons can’t hold hateful signs. And we are free if sensible people can’t mock or insult them in return.

      Freedom is being allowed to be the asshole.Report

      • @ThatPirateGuy, “Freedom is being allowed to be the asshole.”

        …And a society where one is prohibited from being an asshole is a society devoid of freedom.Report

        • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          @Mark Thompson,

          • Rufus in reply to North says:

            @North, This sort of brings up the question of Canada, because my understanding of it is that you can be an asshole here, but not too much of an asshole without running afoul of the human rights commission. Which leads me to believe that this country doesn’t actually have free speech. But every time I ask Canadians about it, they say, “Oh, we don’t restrict people’s speech unless they say something really, really terrible”.Report

            • North in reply to Rufus says:

              @Rufus, Rufus, I’m practicing my breathing right now to keep from having an episode from just thinking about the subject of the Peoples Panels on Polite Speech… err I mean the Dominions Discourse Domination Buereau err rather the Extra Judicial Railroad Retards… *cough* that is to say the Canadian Human Rights Commissions.

              Could the creators of Southpark have been dragged in front of one of these secret special courts were their studios located in Canada? I dare say yes. All it would take would be for one Mohammed molesting Islamophile (or an Athiest Douch or a Jesus loving Jerkwad) to have their feelings hurt and then the buzzards of political correctness would be deployed on the hapless Matt and Trey. On the Canadian taxpayers dime no less (but as defendants of course Matt and Trey would have to either represent themselves or pay for a defender themselves)!

              Fortunately the Canadian word weasels have been lying relatively low since they ran afoul of Steyn. If there’s one thing conservatives are good for at least it’s making noise and those twits nearly got their charter yanked. And that’s another reason to be pissy about the CHRC; they have me lined up on the same side as Steyn of all people against them! I hate agreeing with people who are otherwise dingdong crazy.

              If I had my way we’d wall them up in some abandoned mineshaft with a couple hundred tons of rebar reinforced concrete on top of them to keep their gaseous pronouncements from escaping into the environment. Alas, I’m not the King of Canada and Her Majesty the Queen of Canada won’t return my phone calls.Report

  6. Katherine says:

    I never watch South Park because I find it crass and offensive, but it shouldn’t be censored – and certainly not to accommodate adherents of one religion when the show is deliberately offensive to pretty much every religion on the planet (and if aliens are watching, probably to them as well).Report

  7. Dan Summers says:

    Am I allowed to simultaneously defend the creators of South Park from attempts at censorship and threats of violence and also find them incredibly self-congratulatory, juvenile and irritating?Report

  8. Bob Cheeks says:

    If Bush woulda listened to me Mecca and Medina would still be glowing in the dark, and Americans wouldn’t be frightened of these 7th Century desert dwellers.Report

  9. dexter45 says:

    If Luther had only listened to me, the vatican would still be smoldering from all the priest’s, bishop’s, cardinal’s, and pope’s bodies hanging from the old fires and American children would not have to fear being raped by those 21th century pedophiles.Report

  10. dexter45 says:

    Boy, Mr. Cheeks, you sure do keep some odd hours. Why would anybody want to throw you off a site. You alone are responsible for at least ten new vocabulary words since I started reading LOOG. Also, the old testament leaders killed everything in sight, but where does Jesus say it is okay to murder innocents? If possible, I am looking for a serious answer.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to dexter45 says:

      @dexter45, I find this helps with understanding Bob, and Voegelin for that matter.

    • Bob Cheeks in reply to dexter45 says:

      @dexter45, Dexter, all things are possible. There’s but one problemo; what exactly is your query, I’m having a problem understanding (maybe I’m getting a little long in the tooth). So, if you could possibly restate the question, I’d sure try to give an answer.
      I’m working on a paper for a little known southeast Asia philosophy journal on certain aspects of the gnostic movement and consequently I’ll be hovering about this infernal contraption at all hours of the night and day as the pneumatic irruptions permit!
      My mission here is to bring the love of God and enlightenment to the edumacted minds that lurk about this neo-preppy site…I think of you kids as my children (gone astray) or grandchildren.
      Rufus, good job and good work on the blogs!Report

      • Ben Carlton in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

        @Bob Cheeks, “If Bush woulda listened to me Mecca and Medina would still be glowing in the dark, and Americans wouldn’t be frightened of these 7th Century desert dwellers.”

        “My mission here is to bring the love of God and enlightenment to the edumacted minds that lurk about this neo-preppy site.”

        You’re doing it wrong.Report