Last November, Jon Stewart told Bernie Goldberg to go fuck himself after Goldberg said that, unlike his hero Sarah Palin, liberals would never have five babies, let alone allow one with Downs Syndrome. (Rose Kennedy? Anyone?) And then again on Tuesday, Stewart told Goldberg as well as his paymaster, The Lupus of News, to go fuck themselves, this time to a Gospel beat and choir.
He was back in full Gospel mode two nights later, telling a New York based group of Bin Laden fans called Islamic Revolution to go do likewise after they issued not so-veiled death threats against the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, as well as Comedy Central itself for showing a depiction of the prophet Muhammed.
Last week for their 200th episode, Parker and Stone reprised their satirization of all the famous religious characters they have lampooned over the years, but struggled over how to depict Muhammed since they had gotten so much flack the first time when they showed him as a man. They settled for delivering him to South Park in a U-Haul dressed in a bear suit, a compromise that turned out to be just the opening volley of increased censorship by Comedy Central management. In a written statement, Parker and Stone responded:
“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.”
Comedy Central was reacting to this posting by Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee on the Islamic Revolution website, which included the addresses of Comedy Central’s New York headquarters, as well as Parker and Stone’s production studio in Los Angeles :
“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. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”
(Theo Van Gogh a film director and the great grand nephew of Vincent Van Gogh was murdered on an Amsterdam street for a movie scene in which he showed verses of the Qu’ran written on the body of a naked actress in his film Submission, a critique of the treatment of women in some Muslim communities.)
Yunus Muhammad, a spokesman for Islamic Revolution, told CNN that terrorism is sanctioned, even required, by the Qu’ran for such an offense. Muslim scholar Juan Cole has a different interpretation:
“Yunus Muhammad says in the interview that the Qur’an instructs Muslims to ‘terrorize the disbelievers.’ It does no such thing. The Qur’an instructs Muslims to live at peace with non-Muslims who are at peace with them.whose not-so veiled threats of terrorism against Comdey Central over a South Park episode caused the network to censor it.
The verse to which this individual referred was in the chapter of the Spoils (al-Anfal), 8:60:
Wa a`iddu lahum ma istata`tum min quwwatin wamin ribati ‘lkhayli turhibuna bihi `aduwwa Allahi wa`aduwwakum
Which means, “Prepare against them all the power, and all the war horses that you can, whereby to strike fear into the enemies of God and your enemies.”
After citing the historical context for the verse, Cole concludes:
“So what the Qur’an is saying in 8:60 is that the Muslims should keep a stable of fighting steeds at the ready and let the Meccans know about it, to strike fear into the hearts of an enemy trying to wipe out them and their religion.”
(Cole, who reads and speaks Arabic, Pashtun, Urdu, and Persian fluently, has also debunked the infamous “wipe Israel off the map” mistranslation of remarks by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, cited as the rationale for a launching a pre-emptive war against Iran.)
But back to the censorship issue. Personally, because I respect people’s right to their own religious beliefs, I try to avoid topics they might find offensive, preferring the Jesusonian technique of stressing commonalities rather than differences. I believe that accentuating and nurturing the positive can go along way towards eliminating the negative.
That said, if, for whatever reason, once the line between respect and offensiveness is crossed, threatening to kill someone is going to earn you a righteous response from the likes of Jon Stewart.
Can I get me a witness?
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|South Park Death Threats|