Islamic Fascism In America: The Silencing Of South Park
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain, once wrote; “Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense,” and, “True irreverence is disrespect for another man’s god.” These statements represents some of the key principles of a free society. The acts of criticizing, satirizing, and mocking are part of process that removes pomp and circumstance from an issue, allowing us to see more clearly and comprehend the truth. The ability to challenge and test the veracity of our most sacred thoughts and beliefs is not merely a privilege but a shared duty.
The constitutionally protected right of free speech provides the cornerstone to a democratic society where derision and disagreement fuel the process of negotiation, discovery and cooperation. Our individual as well as societal growth and development are aided by access to the opinions and criticisms of others. Every idea, belief or endeavor benefits from the collective input of our society whether it is solicited, welcomed, encouraged or feared.
Free speech promotes development where a strong foundation is present, and exposes weaknesses where they either hide or lay undiscovered. Free speech is loved by the strong and feared by the weak. Truth welcomes free speech and accepts the strengthening process of criticism where lies and falsehoods are unable to withstand its trials. It is for this reason that corrupt systems of thought, and the organizations, institutions and regimes built on them, will do anything possible to prevent this powerful force from exposing their masquerade.
Often time, the more ridiculous an assertion is, the more violently it is defended. When something is unable to withstand any questioning or criticism, it’s proponents seek to quell any dissent by any means necessary. In extreme cases, when both the assertion and the proponents are lacking in strength, the ridiculous is defended with the extreme threats, and acts, of violence. This unintended admission of weakness seeks to replace the strength of an enduring truth with lies wrapped in the protective cocoon of terror.
The rights of a free society cannot be allowed to wither and die in the shadow of threats. Terrorism cannot be allowed to subvert liberty. It is a constant battle that must be attended, and where an inch is given it must be reclaimed. Freedom cannot be allowed to erode by the giving of ground in the face of constant onslaught.
This past week, the ongoing battle to protect and maintain our freedoms was conceded. Blatant threats issued by Islamic Fundamentalists was enough to subvert the First Amendment rights of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park.
Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, aka Zachary A. Chesser of Virginia, took exception to Parker and Stones satire of Muhammad and immediately launched a campaign of intimidation.
On April 15, the day after the first of two episodes of South Park featuring Muhammad aired, Chesser made his first comment about the program through his Twitter feed. “May Allah kill Matt Stone and Trey Parker and burn them in Hell for all eternity. They insult our prophets Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses…” Chesser posted similar entries to his Mujahid Blog as well as the Revolution Muslim website(currently closed) later that same day. The post included a graphic picture of the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh laying dead on the ground with a knife in his chest after he had been assassinated by a Muslim extremist in 2004. Under the photo was the caption: “Theo Van Gogh – Have Matt Stone And Trey Parker Forgotten This?”
In the same post, Chesser provided the address to Stone and Parker’s offices in California, telling readers to “contact them” or “pay Comedy Central…a visit.” He also posted the link to a Huffington Post article that described a Colorado retreat owned by the two men. Chesser also noted: “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh if they do air this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”
On April 18, Chesser posted a comment to Revolution Muslim’s Web site, calling on supporters to help in the “defense of the Prophet campaign.” The post included a purported lecture of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American born Muslim cleric living in Yemen who posts and distributes radical sermons and lectures over the internet, retelling a story about a Jewish leader who was assassinated for defaming the Prophet during the 7th century. The post ends with a message by Revolution Muslim: “Join us in this campaign to let Matt Stone & Trey Parker know that…the dust will never settle down.”
Reader comments responding to Chesser’s post exposed the potential for escalation in support of Chesser’s threats against Stone and Parker. For example,“I wish i [sic] could slit their throats with a rusty knife,so [sic] it be more painful…. ” and, “So the options we have to deal with these two kafirs… Killing and annihilating them… Crucifying them… Cutting off from opposite sides their hands and feet with axes.”
In response to these threats, Comedy Central altered and censored the episode without Stone and Parker’s knowledge. “In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode,” they said in a statement on SouthParkStudios.com. “Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.”
Despite the open ridicule of all other religious and spiritual figures as well, the censoring was applied only to the character of Muhammad. It should not have been applied to any. This is not the first time that such a separate standard has been used. In 2006, Comedy Central banned the men from showing an image of Muhammad on their show. They had intended to comment on the controversy created by a Danish newspaper’s publishing of Kurt Westergaard’s caricatures of the Islamic leader. Muslims consider any physical representation of their prophet to be blasphemous. Instead, “South Park” showed an image of Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and the American flag.
In addition, Comedy Central has pulled the episode from the Internet.
Although Comedy Central may have intended only to protect Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the De facto result has been the subversion of their First Amendment rights in the face of intimidation, and threats of terror, from a religious organization that enjoys and exercises those very same rights that they deny others. As a free society, this cannot be tolerated. Comedy Central must be told that their actions, however well-meaning, are misguided and unacceptable. They must be encouraged to right this wrong. Please go to their website and let them know that these episodes must be aired in their original form without censorship.
As a society we must take a stand and make it clear that we will not tolerate this form of abuse. A Facebook group named ‘Play Uncensored South Park‘ has been created to revel in the irreverence of Muhammad as it rallies support for the release of the unedited episodes. This is not a fight only for the sake of a singular comedic product but for the right of free speech that we all must protect. The only way to ensure the safety of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and to protect our right to free speech, is to get behind them as a community and join them en masse. I encourage everyone to take part in, or at least support, the May 10, 2010, Facebook campaign, ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day‘.
Fundamentalist religions and extremists who would deny individual’s rights in order to protect indefensible propositions must be challenged. Intimidation through terror and threats of violence must be met with an irreverent resolve to deny such cowards any purchase in society and protect the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution. The subject at the center of this issue may be humorous, but the principles are not. Visit the sites mentioned above. Make your voice heard.