South Park Matters

Politics in Western culture is little more than a circus these days, a spectacle of lunacy that would make any sane individual scratch his head. Each day, Americans arise to bend their ears upon news stories and political initiatives that defy all logic and sensibility. And to make us chuckle at the absurdity of it all, there's the little town of South Park, Colorado.

For years, four little boys in a town chock-full of stereotypes have been making America laugh by satirizing current events, able to show complete disregard for the fabricated rules of political correctness that shackle us. Much like the child who lacked inhibition and pointed out that the Emperor had no clothes, these boys, in their innocence and irreverence, point out how incredibly stupid it is to be either fanatical supporters of or mute witnesses to the silliness in the world around us.

Over the years, these boys have been especially critical of the entitlement of the Hollywood elite and other celebrities, but they have also successfully satirized such ambitious subjects as global warming, race relations, and religion. 

And recently, they have been an unwavering reminder that freedom of speech is our most basic and most important right, and that this right is being stripped from us in a very deliberate manner through militant political correctness and terrorism.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the show "South Park," have emerged to be counted among the most important figures regarding free speech in America. 

Though they are not overtly religious, and in fact have made a living skewering religious typecasts, their most impressive contributions to the defense of free speech have been in humorously pinpointing the inequalities in our ideas of "religious tolerance." Particularly, and on many occasions, they decry the lunacy and hypocrisy displayed by radical Islam.

In defiance of the status quo and in an effort to exercise their innate right as Americans to freedom of expression, Stone and Parker have sought to portray Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, in more than one episode. They succeeded in 2001, going relatively unnoticed by the Muslim community. Then, in 2006, in a reaction to Muslim threats in the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoon incident, Parker and Stone petitioned Comedy Central to allow their show to portray Muhammad in their episodes "Cartoon Wars." Their petition was refused. And recently, in the episodes "200" and "201," Muhammad appeared as a large, black "censored" bar. Comedy Central again denied their request to show Muhammad and even bleeped out Muhammad's name as if it were an expletive. And most egregiously, even the trademark "moral of the story" scene, which was apparently a warning about the use of fear and intimidation, was entirely bleeped out by Comedy Central.

Though Comedy Central would not allow Muhammad to be shown at either request, the shows' message was clearly heard. 

These episodes made deliberate strides to offend people of other faiths to make their point, but none of these offenses warranted censorship. Portraying Buddha, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, or Moses in negative ways did not make the episodes too taboo for portrayal. But somehow, merely showing an image of Muhammad was intolerable. This is a ludicrous hypocrisy brilliantly exposed. 

And Stone's and Parker's efforts did not go unnoticed by Islamic militants. At one point in the show, Muhammad was allegedly inside a mascot costume. For this "offense," a radical Muslim website suggested that Parker and Stone would be understandably murdered for the suggestion of Muhammad's presence in the costume. To add severity to the threat, the site included a picture of unjustly murdered Theo Van Gogh and insidiously included the address of Stone's and Parker's production studio.

The insanity of this threat is revealed when it is discovered that Muhammad was never in the suit at all. Essentially, these Muslim zealots got worked up over nothing. This puts an exclamation point on the fact that these Muslim militants are simply indoctrinated lunatics who do not care about substance, only their ideas. They do not respect Americans' right to free speech, and rather are prone to knee-jerk reactions to commit senseless violence in the name of their hateful cause. 

Parker and Stone have picked up a gauntlet that political leaders and pundits fear to carry. They suggest that we must stand our ground against those who seek to commit senseless violence against American citizens who are merely practicing their rights as Americans.

We cannot amend our most sacred principles because we fear violent reprisal. We must defend them dearly, as they are part and parcel of our very identity. We live in America, and in America we have the right to say what we please. Any limitation placed upon that right by our government is tyranny. Any American who makes a self-validated attempt to incite violence against other Americans who practice free speech should be swiftly incarcerated. And any attack by foreign forces upon our citizenry who exercise that right is a direct attack upon our sovereignty. We must remember these truths rather than blindly accept the absurdity that intolerance and threats by Muslim extremists should force us to disavow our rights as Americans.

Whether you love the show's hilarity and scathing political commentary or simply hate its exploitation of toilet humor, this show and this event absolutely matter in our efforts to preserve free speech. And by no fault of the show, Muslim extremism has won this round by forcing Comedy Central to kneel before its demands. But all Americans should be thankful that "South Park," in its own unique way, has the steel nerve to remind us once again who we are and what we stand to lose.