What the (bleep)? Threats trump Free Speech
So once again South Park is creating controversy. Something creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are used to by now. Except this time they are the subject of death threats by extremist Muslims. Once again, the South Park guys were trying to show the image of Mohammed on television.
A quick recap for those not in the know. South Park aired their 200th episode, aptly titled “200”. A celebration of sorts, it featured many characters from all of South Park’s history. They also brought back that old issue of trying show Mohammed on TV. The next episode of South Park was a continuation of the previous week’s episode. What was weird was that in this episode the word Mohammed was bleeped whenever spoken. The first thing that came to mind of South Park fans was that it had to be a meta-joke as a result of the threats. The ending of the episode had an almost 30 second long bleep section when Kyle and Stan were moralizing the episode. We soon learned that the audio bleeps were not jokes but something Comedy Central deciding to censor any mention of Mohammed. They have literally made Mohammed a dirty word.
There is no reason to use violence or threats of violence if you disagree with someone’s viewpoints. Muslims will tell me that the reason they don’t have drawings of Mohammed is because it leads to idol worship. It would take away from the worship of Allah (that is my understanding of it, please feel to correct and/or elaborate). And that is fine. I understand it. But when extremists say that people should be put to death for doing that action is wrong. Wrong. Just plain wrong. It is just another example of people using religion to impose and strike fear.
What I like best about Trey Parker and Matt Stone and their little show called South Park is how passionate they are about their ideas. I will not always agree with their viewpoints but they always open up a discussion. Like before, the reason they wanted to show Mohammed was not to desecrate the prophet. Rather they wanted to use him as a symbol of freedom of speech. A lot of people accuse them of just pushing the envelope simply for the fun of it. And they would be right, sometimes. Other times, they have very valid points and in this case, they do.
What did the South Park guys want to do? They wanted to disrespect a religion in the most tame way possible: literally just by showing his image. They fully knew that doing that would offend Muslims. But while they knew people would get offended by disrespecting their religion, I think they fully respected Muslim people themselves. Much like Christian people, Buddahist people, and any other religious people, they knew would get offended and use their freedoms to voice displeasure. But that is about it. They knew that a nation of a billion people wouldn’t rise and go out to kill them.
That is the worst of this whole Mohammed-gate scandal. Incidents like this only serve to cause tension against the Muslim community. Extremists like the people from the Radical Muslim blog only bring bad blood to their religion, and people caving into threats and intimidation only serve to validate those who make the threats. I used to be a Catholic myself. After taking long and hard look at religion, I decided that it was not for me. But I will always respect one’s decision to follow a religion. I understand how somehow can find beauty in it. Why someone would use that beauty to instill fear in all those who disagree will always puts me into a daze. If you really believe in a higher being, don’t pervert it with your human flaws. You’re only disrespecting your own religion if you do.