The creators of the satirical cartoon South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, recently stirred up quite a controversy for spoofing the profit Muhammad on the show.  They depicted the prophet in a bear suit.  Comedy Central decided to censor the episode to protect their employees from harmful repercussions.  Despite the censorship, the creators received a warning/threat from a group called revolutionmuslim.com.  The group suggested that the two men could end up like Theo Van Gogh, a murdered Dutch film maker who made a film about controversial Islamic culture (BBC.com).  They went so far as to publish their addresses on the website.

Opposing view points on how filtered media should be for fear of offending specific cultures made the topic of several news shows.  Bill O’Reilly of the O’Reilly factor brought in a former DEA Special Agent to comment on the severity of the situation.  Ann Hayes, the agent, recommended personal security for the two but said that it was not that bad and that the pair have done more extreme and controversial satires than this.  She also said that there were no restrictions the federal government could place on the group’s website unless a direct threat to kill Stone and Parker were made but, the FBI would continue to monitor the site.  O’Reilly said he admired the courage of the pair but in his opinion the risk was higher than the reward.  He also stated that he was a coward and even had issues with doing a segment on his own show.  “I hate to give in to the intimidating forces of evil,” said O’Reilly.  Though the agent clearly down played the incident, O’Reilly continued to dramatize it (foxnews.com).

If everything said or made fun of in the media was censored for offensive or fear, there would be nothing on the television but documentaries and nature shows.  Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, also an employee of Comedy Central, had a different opinion to the posers of the threat.

According to Stewart, revolutionmuslim.com is located in New York city.  He pointed out that they are allowed to praise terrorist Osama Bin Laden, celebrate the anniversary of 9-11-2001, and intimidate the creators of South Park all the while enjoying the benefits granted by living in America.  Stewart said, “All because we in this country value and protect their freedom of expression.”  He basically said what’s good for you (the group) isn’t good for the writers of South Park?  In his mocking of the terrorist group, he spoke to all other religious groups as well and thanked them for being able to take a joke because “We’ve been ass holes” he said.  He also chose to deliver a personal message to the group that he has used to other networks and commentaries that have questioned his style of satire before, acknowledging that ‘even in our angriest and most contentious moments, the people at the other networks and such are still decent human beings’ and did not want to them to be grouped in with the terrorists.  To the terrorists, he said “This type of hate and intolerance is the enemy,” then proceeded to break out in song telling the organization that they suck and to go fuck themselves (thedailyshow.com).

At what point does our country stop catering to threats and demands for concerns that another hate organization will attack us on our soil?  How much longer do we live in fear?  O’Reilly clearly stated his cowardice while Stewart mocked and berated the terrorist group.  Comedy has been poking fun at all different religions for years in many different facets.  Threatening to murder someone for expressing their opinion is an out dated and ineffective approach to protecting ones own right to believe how they choose.  Living on our soil and enjoying the freedoms of this country are about just that, the Freedom to choose.

“BBC NEWS | Europe | Gunman Kills Dutch Film Director.” BBC NEWS | News Front Page. Web. 09 May 2010. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3974179.stm>.
“‘South Park’ Episode Prompts Death Threats – Video – FoxNews.com.” Special Mother’s Day Story – Video – FoxNews.com. Web. 09 May 2010. <http://video.foxnews.com/v/4159547/south-park-episode-prompts-death-threats>.
“Video: South Park Death Threats | The Daily Show | Comedy Central.” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Official Website | Current Events & Pop Culture, Comedy & Fake News. Web. 09 May 2010. <http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-april-22-2010/south-park-death-threats>.

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