Censorship And The High Price Of Satire

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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  1. Avatar Seeing Eye Chick

    It is what it is out there. I always feel stuck in the middle. Too Liberal for the Reich most days, and too Conservative for the Left. I will be happy to see the Muses of Reason and Logic make an appearance this century–I might actually sleep the whole night through for once.

    Finding out that the two members of “Revolution Muslim” who are most responsible for this hoo ha, happen to be little more than barely grown teenagers with bad teenage mustaches, well that is just the cherry on the shit sundae. One of them was recently [born] a Jew. Why couldn’t that one convert to Wicca and get 50 piercings like all the other *revolting teenagers? Oh, now he had to become a Fundamentalist Dickhead for Islam–though it appears that American Muslims are none too proud. And the other one—all dark and mysterious, woe to him and his dark ass [dark metaphorically speaking like goths]. I seen this shit all the time in the military, I have even dipped my toe in that particular kind of teenage wisdom pool. They are 20 going on 40, they know everything about everything in theory, but they been nowhere but the East Coast of America, and somehow in their dissafected angst, they have fantasized that it would be way cooler to live in a verson of America that looks more like a bombed out ghetto in Somalia, than it would be to actually live in a country that has freedom of religion and silly shit like Infrastructure. I mean come on!

    Talk about overcompensating for a small teenage weiner and an even tinier brain. And to give you some idea to the shere scope of their genius…One of them [not the Jewish one] lives in Fairfax VA. The same state where teabaggers and the like celebrated April 19th by openly carrying fire arms. Holy Shit. Not the brightest bulb in the box, that bunch.

    I still say, press charges, they violated the civil rights of the creators of South Park through threats and intimidation, and they did it using religion as the reason, which also makes it a Hate Crime. They violated the civil rights of the people who run Comedy Central, by making them fearful of their lives if they went through with the show {that didn’t even show Mohammed], which was also based on religious extremism and bigotry–also a Hate Crime.

    And after their sentence is served, they should be put on ankle bracelets. Since it’s clear that the rest of us are not safe from the likes of them, since we could unknowingly run afoul of their religion at any time, and this could drive them into a terroristic, killing rage. “You kill us, We kill you” I believe is the quote from their Fox Interview.

    And for all this group has touted the sanctity of religious figure and religion, they have made it clear that this only is true for them, and the rest of us, can go die already. They have at least a couple years history of posting Anti-Semitic material on the web–at least since 2007–so much for for their holy endeavor to be like men of the cloth and shit.

    They need to be banned for life from using Internet and Twitter and other emerging or future, similar technologies that will allow them to communicate threats to innocent citizens who have every right to satirize any public figure, Mohammed included.

    This is a Nation of Laws. These two dipshits should know better. They are American Citizens. [I think I just threw up a little in my mouth when I typed that].

  2. Hear, hear, Seeing Eye Chick!
    Twelfth Century religious hysteria is just as dangerous as 21st Century religious hysteria, and if you threaten to kill anyone in our country, you go straight to fucking jail. What part of no more violence do they not understand?

    And all these cowardly fuckwads with their concealed handguns and exposed assault rifles are next. Why the fuck would anyone want to go relax in a bar in Arizona where their idiot Governor, Jan Brewer, made it legal to carry concealed weapons without a permit? Wonderful; let a bunch of uneducated cracker-barrel mother fuckers go drinking to excess with a revolver in their pants.

    That’s insane.

  3. Avatar Seeing Eye Chick

    There is already a huge portion of this populace that is unhinged and itching for a fight. These Fuctards seemed to have completely missed that point, which is kind of surprising considering most of the unhinged-nonMuslims showed up armed, at of all things, Health Care Rallies. Now if those guys are going to Town Hall Meetings toting AR-15s, imagine what the same dudes will do if Muslim ding dongs decide to push this crap?

    And for the record. Using Mohammed in a Cartoon, does not constitute trying to wipe out Muslims or Islam. That has to be the weakest fucking excuse for violence I have seen this century. So far, I don’t see any armed troops gathering up Muslims to load them into trains to take them to concentration camps. So I have to just raise the dipshit flag now, and I want to know why in particular those fuckers aren’t in jail right now? Right Now? They are advocating Violence, they make no secret of it and have expressed more than just a little sympathy and admiration for enemies of this country. They owned that desire, –acted on it by posting this material online, and even going on the tee vee, now lets give them the reasonable response of picking their asses up and putting them in jail. And if they are not citizens, I would like to see them deported.

    And the deafening silence from the rest of the Muslim community isn’t thrilling me either. If a Muslim actually believes that it is a reasonable response, to terrorize, threaten or kill people over the satirization, criticism, or insult of their religion–then they don’t belong here. They belong in a Muslim country.

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