That’s the message you’ll see if you try to view the latest episode of South Park online.
The New York Times explains why:
An episode of “South Park” that continued a story line involving the Prophet Muhammad was shown Wednesday night on Comedy Central with audio bleeps and image blocks reading “CENSORED” after a Muslim group warned the show’s creators that they could face violence for depicting that holy Islamic prophet. Revolution Muslim, a group based in New York, wrote on its Web site that the “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker “will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh” for an episode shown last week in which a character said to be the Prophet Muhammad was seen wearing a bear costume. Mr. Van Gogh was slain in Amsterdam in 2004 after making a film that discussed the abuse of Muslim women in some Islamic societies. The new episode of “South Park” on Wednesday night tried to revisit this character, but with the name and depiction of the character blocked out.
When I was watching the episode last night, I thought that the bleeping of Mohammed’s name was part of the joke that Stone and Parker had set up in the previous episode, but apparently that wasn’t the case:
On Thursday morning, a spokesman for Comedy Central confirmed that the network had added more bleeps to the episode than were in the cut delivered by South Park Studios, and that it was not giving permission for the episode to run on the studio’s Web site.
What a cowardly bunch of crap.
Andrew Sullivan hit the nail on the head in this description of the genius behind this two part episode:
In the first part of the 200th episode, South Park went to hilarious lengths to have Muhammed but cloaked in various disguises – a U-Haul van, a bear mascot, Santa Claus. But any actual depiction,as in 2001, was covered with a block of black with the word “censored” on it. In some ways, this act of censorship wasn’t too big a deal. It actually helped illuminate the unique intolerance of Sunni Islam among world religions today. SP has long had Jesus and Satan, they have ridiculed Mormonism, eviscerated Scientology, mocked Catholicism and showed the Buddha actually doing lines of coke. None of the adherents of these other faiths have threatened to kill Matt and Trey, but, of course, some Sunni Islamists did so.
So what does Comedy Central do? They wussed out even further. They bleeped even mentions of the name of Muhammed spoken by characters
The funny thing is there was a time, before 9/11 and before the cowardly murder of Theo Van Gogh, when Comedy Central had no problem with a depiction of Mohammed:
All that this episode has really done, of course, is point out how absurd this kow-towing to extremists really is.
Update: A statement from Stone and Parker that pretty much confirms that this what all Comedy Central’s doing:
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. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. 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.
So far, no response from Comedy Central or it’s parent company
Update #2: The moral cowardice of Comedy Central has been even further revealed. As you may have noticed, the episode I embedded above, which featured Mohammed in the “Super Best Friends” episode, has now been deleted:
We Apologize that South Park Studios Cannot Stream This Episode