Friday, April 23, 2010

South Park and freedom of expression

It is not clear whether the censoring of Prophet Muhammad in a recent South Park episode was intentional or not (he appeared in a bear suit). But despite the lack of physical description on Prohet Muhammad, the show's creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are being "warned" by RevolutionMuslim.com, an extremist muslim site. A recent post written under the name of Abu Talha al-Amreeki stated:

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.

Appended with the post were pictures of a murder victim, the address of South park  as well as a video claiming that the "dust will never settle" (the video was later removed from YouTube).

 

I have many issues with this. First and foremost, as a fan of South Park (and a Muslim) I not only watched this episode but thoroughly enjoyed it as well.  Considering that he last few episodes lacked intelligent humour and were overworked with toilet jokes to the point of boredom, I was glad to finally see the return of the trademark satire which made me a South Park fan in the first place. I did not find the appearance of Prophet Muhammad in a moving van, followed by a bear suit offensive in any way. The tongue in cheek reference to the whole Prophet Muhammad cartoon incident was right on as well the allusion to the Muhammad Teddy in Sudan. I understand that from a religious Muslim's perspective putting Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit is disrespectful, but I don't see how this would be offensive. If you are going to be offended, then I would suggest that you don't watch the show.

(Note: Prophet Muhammad is the brown guy in the turban)
(Image Credit: Huffington Post)

Secondly, using the first amendment to defend the right to threaten people because their views offend your religious sensibilities is plain hypocrisy. Either you believe in freedom of expression or you don't. It's mind boggling that these individuals are so quick to hate the system that they are in, but are not above using it to further their own aims (yes Anjem Choudary, I'm talking about you). And then providing justifications for this behaviour is just icing on the cake.This ignorant rage would be understandable if the individuals in charge of RevolutionMuslim.com were extremists madressah educated ideologues born under corrupt Muslim dictatorships with crippling poverty and no opportunities for a better life. But this is not the case. The individuals propagating violence and threatening freedom of expression are products of a society which guarantees their basic human rights. This is what scares me the most.

Freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of modern western democracies.It is essential for healthy pluralistic societies to exist. And while the threats against Matt Stone and Trey Parker by RevolutionMuslim.com represent an attack on this right, shutting down this website would be equally abhorrent. Let them shoot themselves in the foot. Sooner or later these individuals are bound to screw up and commit an act with legal consequences. Until then, let's just ignore these idiots and continue to enjoy our South Park episodes

18 comments:

  1. i agree , especially in the second part where it turns out to be Santa in the Bear suite , if any thing i thought it was a compliment since he is the only man actually cannot be made fun of and if anything we should be furious on how Jesus was made fun off.

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  2. i like south park but they do go overboard sometimes; and this is one of the times
    Prophet Muhammad is very sacred to us muslims and no one has the right to use Prophet Muhammad for comedy. That is just disrespectful.

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  4. @anonymous

    That is an interesting take on this issue.

    @Captain,
    Welcome back. It's good to hear from you after a long time.

    I have to diagree with you on this one. Prophet Muhammad is sacred to muslims and muslims only. And as far as I know the depiction of Prohet Muhammad is religiously forbidden for Muslims. Considering this, I don't see why the creators of South Park have any reason to not depict the Prophet especially since they are not Muslim.

    As a Muslim this may be disrespectful for me to see these depictions made, it does not mean that others do not have the right to make these depictions.

    Therefore I feel that even though it is disrespectful, people still have a right to do it and not expect death threats in return.

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  5. @ roti fan
    because the creaters of south park doing so will indirectly create a hate message against the muslims of the world. which is even against their society; so they will be breaking the rules of their society as well. It's like the Ku Kux Klan creating their own show that discriminates against every other race except pure white. That would be a freedom of speech but it violates harmony and sends out a hate message.
    Now that doesn't mean these groups are forbidden to organize or protest but by putting something so vulgar on national tv during primetime will create unreast and chaos and further alienate the muslims of the u.s. which the government cannot handle especially at this point. (also the viacom network)

    so see even from their viewpoint it is a wrong and incorrect thing to do.

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  6. lol srry i forgot to write this earlier; it's great to visit to ur blog again. :D
    alot of great posts! keep it up yaar!

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  7. Hey, first of all thanks for linking to my blog. I just followed the breadcrumbs.

    Revolutionmuslim website is, surprisingly, not opening over here. I don't if its a technical glitch or if its taken down. Hence, I cannot comment on what they specifically said. However, I agree with you wholeheartedly on the Freedom of Speech argument. If you are free to say and preach anything you want to, it is hypocritical for you to banish someone else who does the same thing.

    Also, the whole damned point of the episode was to evoke a reaction, or comment on the reaction of something. Though the Danish cartoons were meant to offend, the South Park episode was not. I was uncomfortable, yes, but was more anxious about the fallout.

    Wouldn't it be a better outcome if nobody had reacted. The issue would have died, and nobody would care about it after a while. Now this issue is etched in popular mindset, and will be eventually become a point of contention, in a cycle of stupidity.

    Best!

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  8. Anon_for_a_good_reasonApril 26, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    @Captain
    How can you compare satire to hate propaganda of KluKluxKlan.Did Comedy Central say go kill off all Muslims or paint Muslims badly in anyway.If you are getting hurt by frivolous things,how can any free debate and intellectual upliftment happen in that part of the world.For great thoughts to bubble up, a terror free atmosphere needs to be created so that people can express ideas freely.If redlines are crossed in satire, of course there is legal recourse. To say that threat is justified/or asked for it because you are "hurt" is BS.Such ppl shud go and live in a cave or something far away from civilization. Look how Vatican is treated by press when abuses have been found out. The internal British Govt memo,which I think is deliberately leaked to give a mesg to Pope etc are examples of healthy society.Contrast it with Eygpt where all literary works(translations) of Jewish people are banned for "atrocities" of Palestinians and blasphemy law in Islamic counties etc.These are all excuses plain and simple.

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  9. Anon_for_a_good_reasonApril 26, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    For the record Israel is the innovation and entrepreneurial capital of the world..second only to USofA.By innovation&entrepreneurship,I dont mean dick sized buildings and artificial wierd islands damaging ecology that cost billions of dollars.I mean ideas.That says something.

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  10. @Captain

    I don't see how putting the Prophet in a bear suit (it turned out to be Santa Claus) is really going to create civil unrest against Muslim. The character that played him was shown in a good light as opposed to previous incidents. Your arguments would make sense in the Danish Cartoon case where the Prophet was shown negatively, but I don't think it applies in this case.

    @DishoomDishoom

    Thanks for dropping by. Did I mention that I think the name of your blog is brilliant (and rather nostalgic).

    I agree with your comment completely. I just wish that that everyone else would just understand the situation in this way. Muslims in general (a broad statement, I know) could do with a bit of PR training.

    @Anon_for_a_good_reason

    I get your point, but I would appreciate it if you could stay on topic. I don't see the need for bringing Israel into the debate especially when it has nothing to do with my post.

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  11. @roti: "Muslims in general". Haha! You mean "Ummah"? *Prepares to bitchslap*

    Thanks man, shall read your blog as well! Though one grad student to another, no pressure!

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  12. @ Anon_for_a_good_reason
    how can u compare what i said to the pope? lmao
    muslims already have a tainted image in the states and episodes like those just increase the alienation of the muslims from the rest of the american public. By doing something like that and trying to call it comedy is just going to provoke the muslims and the non-muslims and further unrest will be caused. And that's exactly what almost happened. I'm not sure if your understanding how complex the american society and culture is.

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  13. @ Anon_for_a_good_reason
    how can u compare what i said to the pope? lmao
    muslims already have a tainted image in the states and episodes like those just increase the alienation of the muslims from the rest of the american public. By doing something like that and trying to call it comedy is just going to provoke the muslims and the non-muslims and further unrest will be caused. And that's exactly what almost happened. I'm not sure if your understanding how complex the american society is.

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  14. @ Anon_for_a_good_reason
    also ur comments about isreal/dubai and their economies are irrelevant to what we r discussing (as if the pope example wasn't bad enough lol)

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  16. @ roti fan -
    from earlier comment to that "other dude" lol
    "muslims already have a tainted image in the states and episodes like those just increase the alienation of the muslims from the rest of the american public. By doing something like that and trying to call it comedy is just going to provoke the muslims and the non-muslims alike and further unrest will be caused. And that's exactly what almost happened."

    It's just in bad taste yaar, a no positive reaction will come out of it :T

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  17. Asalamoalaikum. You must be well aware of who Zaid Hamid is and due to the fastly-growing conflict between his fans and those against him, all of you would be aware of the charge against him, he is accused of being the Right hand (Khalifa) of a false prophet Yousuf Ali a.k.a Yousuf Kazzab. But Zaid Hamid keeps on justifying Yousuf KAzab as a sufi and keeps on supporting him and calling him innocent.

    So the Big question which appears in every mind is who is right and who is wrong? What is the truth and What is the lie? Was Yousuf innocent as Zaid claims? or Was he purely guilty? Are the hands of Zaid Hamid clear? or are they not? What are proves against Yousuf/Zaid? and Which ones are in his favour? Is alone Zaid Hamid right? or are so many honorable people/Ulemas/religious institutes wrong? Is Zaid a friend or a foe? Should he be followed? or should he be condemned?

    In this regard, I have gathered up some facts and have compiled them in a single page for general public view. Kindly spare some time and see the truth for your self. Also after your done reading, please DO drop some comments/additional info/point out mistakes etc. As there is a generalized public open forum for any comments/proves both in favour and against the article/Zaid Hamidat the end of page. And tell as many Muslims as you can, so they can also be aware. JAZAKALLAH.

    Here is the link to all the facts/proves and a logical and detailed, comprehensive discussion on Zaid Hamid and Yousuf Ali A.K.A Yousuf Kazzab, including books / original audio of Yousuf Kazzab / Fatwas / reports / News etc:
    http://www.xendla.com/zz.html
    May ALLAH show all of us the right path.
    Take Care. ALLAHHAFIZ.

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  18. ^WTF^ lmao rotifan know u know why i have comment moderation up ;)

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