Sunday, April 25, 2010

Of censorship and speaking out against actual threats to peace.

Meanwhile, Comedy Central — you know, the “hip,” “edgy” network with Jon Stewart, from whom “young” Americans under 53 supposedly get most of their news — just caved in to death threats. From a hateful 83-year-old widow who doesn’t like Obamacare? Why, no! It was a chap called Abu Talhah al Amrikee, who put up a video on the Internet explaining why a South Park episode with a rather tame Mohammed joke was likely to lead to the deaths of the show’s creators. Just to underline the point, he showed some pictures of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film director brutally murdered by (oh, my, talk about unfortunate coincidences) a fellow called Mohammed. Mr. al Amrikee helpfully explained that his video incitement of the murder of Matt Stone and Trey Parker wasn’t really “a threat but just the likely outcome.” All he was doing, he added, was “raising awareness” — you know, like folks do on Earth Day. On Earth Day, lame politicians dig a hole and stick a tree in it. But aggrieved Muslims dig a hole and stick a couple of comedy writers in it. Celebrate diversity!

Faced with this explicit threat of violence, what did Comedy Central do? Why, they folded like a Bedouin tent. They censored South Park, not only cutting all the references to Mohammed but, in an exquisitely postmodern touch, also removing the final speech about the need to stand up to intimidation.

Stone and Parker get what was at stake in the Danish-cartoons crisis and many other ostensibly footling concessions: Imperceptibly, incrementally, remorselessly, the free world is sending the message that it is happy to trade core liberties for the transitory security of a quiet life. That is a dangerous signal to give freedom’s enemies. So the South Park episode is an important cultural pushback.

Yet in the end, in a craven culture, even big Hollywood A-listers can’t get their message over. So the brave, transgressive comedy network was intimidated into caving in and censoring a speech about not being intimidated into caving in. That’s what I call “hip,” “edgy,” “cutting-edge” comedy: They’re so edgy they’re curled up in the fetal position, whimpering at the guy with the cutting edge, “Please. Behead me last. And don’t use the rusty scimitar where you have to saw away for 20 minutes to find the spinal column . . . ”

Terrific. You can see why young, urban, postmodern Americans under 57 get most of their news from Comedy Central. What a shame 1930s Fascist Europe was so lacking in cable.

If there is a better poli-writer out there than Mark Steyn, please get back to us.

Ann Althouse objects to "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" on the grounds that it might offend Muslims that had nothing to do with the death threats made against the creators of "South Park".

She likens this instance to the Piss Christ controversy back in the 80s. Funny, I don't remember any death threats made by Christian groups or individual Christians.

And perhaps if more in the Muslim community spoke out against the seemingly never-ending number of death threats and actual deaths made by the extremists of the Muslim faith, we'd be more inclined to be concerned with the sensibilities of others.

We liked reader New "Hussein" Ham's comment at Althouse's post:

I would imagine if the neo-Nazi's would start making good on some death threats, like the Muslims have done with folks like Theo Van Gogh, then discussions of the Holocaust would be "out of bounds" and "over the top" because it would offend the neo-Nazi's and needlessly hurt their feelings.

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