I Heart Trey Parker and Matt Stone

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jul 14, 2006 4:45 PM
This Post story focuses on the scrubbed Scientology episode of "South Park," which was bumped allegedly due to objections from Scientologists Tom Cruise and Isaac Hayes.

But, if you read to the third page, which I always do when reading about "South Park," you'll find Trey and Matt addressing what I think is a more interesting censored "South Park" moment (emphasis mine):

Stone and Parker also admitted they were stunned when, right around
the same time, Comedy Central refused to let them show an image of
Muhammad in an episode lampooning the so-called "cartoon wars" -- the
violence that broke out in Europe and several Muslim countries over
Danish cartoons that protesters said were blasphemous because they
depicted the prophet.

Stone and Parker were particularly
surprised since, a few years earlier, the network had run an episode in
which Muhammad was portrayed as a superhero who could turn himself into
a beaver.

In the newer episode, instead of Muhammad's image,
viewers saw a black screen with the words "Comedy Central has refused
to broadcast an image of Muhammad on their network."

At the time the network said, "In light of recent world events we feel we made the right decision."

"A new taboo was created out of nothing," Parker said Thursday.

During the Q&A, Herzog told the TV critics that it had been
a tough situation and a "judgment made on behalf of a big media
company" and that "history might show we overreacted and we're willing
to live with that." Then he noted that the image of Muhammad
was there -- "it's underneath the black screen."

No kidding -- he really did. He added, "We're looking forward to the day when we can uncover it."

Stone noted that last month Harper's magazine ran the Danish cartoons and nothing bad happened.

After the Q&A, Herzog insisted there was "a difference between a journalistic endeavor" and the satire of "South Park."

But,
the "South Park" creators noted, Harper's had asked for the censored
frame of Muhammad from "South Park" to include in its "journalistic
endeavor."

Comedy Central wouldn't let the magazine have it, they said.

"We're looking forward to the day when we can uncover it,"??? This is what gets me about the Muhammad cartoon flap, and I know Hugh and others have a slightly more tempered view on this than I do.

Some folks contend that we should avoid showing Muhammad's image because it riles people up for no good reason. We shouldn't, they say, go around poking things with sticks when we don't have to. I can see merit in this argument.

But here's the thing. If you make whether you'll show a cartoon dependent upon someone else's reaction-- in this case the reactions of some very violent, unreasonable people-- then you've abdicated your freedom to show the cartoon, haven't you? You can say all you want that you're abstaining out of politeness or consideration or caution, but I think it rings hollow because the truth is in this sentence:

"We're looking forward to the day when we can uncover it."

Well, who controls when that day arrives? The people who riot and kill folks over cartoons. So, we'll just keep on waitin'.

In the meantime, you can watch the Scientology episode of "South Park" this Wednesday. Now that MI:3 is out and promotion over, the boys are welcome to lampoon Tom Cruise again. Enjoy. It's a good one. My favorite part is R. Kelly.