Jeff Goldstein on the latest “South Park.”
As most of you know by now, Comedy Central censored last nightÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s episode of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œSouth Park,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? refusing to run an image of MohammedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬?evidently out of cultural sensitivity to those who Comedy Central executives fear might, I dunno, key their cars? Write angry emails?
Or maybe there really is something to this jihadist threat after all, for all the time spent by other Comedy Central shows and personalities ironizing the threat away with a lot of wink-wink talk about duct tape and plastic sheeting and color-coded warnings and cowardly soccer moms.
Jesus taking a dump? Not a problem for Comedy Central. After all, Comedy Central execs realize that poking Christians with a stickÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬?while it might raise a bit of controversy and bring in higher ratingsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬?is not much different than, say, burning Steven Hawking with a cigarette: sure, he might not like it, but it ainÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t like heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s going to get out of his chair and lop off Jon StewartÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s head.
But with the Krazy Islamists (who, as Hillary and Tbogg and Digby and Atrios will happily remind you the Bushies keep ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œusingÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? as a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œscare tacticÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? to get neocon ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œbedwettersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? to vote their way), it seems the execs at Comedy Central, at least, just couldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t be too sure.
Some of you who actually watch TV probably are better qualified than I am to comment on this. But it seems to me the comments on that thread get right to the gist of it.
One, defending CC, writes, “Would you force me to wear a t-shirt with a Mohammed cartoon on it? If I refuse am I ‘giving in’ to terrorists or just being smart?” And one replies, in part, “[N]o one can force Comedy Central to have the courage of their convictions, no one is even trying. But we can all point out what cowardly, hypocrtical, chickenshits they are. ThatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s what free speech is all about.”
Let’s see … if the left’s beloved “chickenhawk” argument is that you should not advocate for some potentially deadly policy unless you’re willing to bear personally the consequences of it, where does this leave Comedy Central on the question of free speech?