It shouldn't surprise anyone that Viacom's Comedy Central is developing an animated show practically designed to offend Christians. But the network's handling of recent controversy over depictions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad illustrates a stark double standard in how the entertainment media deal with issues of religion.
Comedy Central announced it is developing the script for an animated show tentatively titled "JC." According to the network's release, the show is about Jesus Christ "wanting to escape his father's enormous shadow to live life in [New York City] as a regular guy." The announcement described God as "all-powerful yet apathetic" and said the show would be a "playful take on religion and society with a sprinkle of dumb."
The show promises to stand in sharp contrast to the network's treatment of another religious figure: Muhammad. In 2006, Comedy Central censored a segment of "South Park" that depicted Muhammad. In April of this year, the network added audio bleeps to the second of a two-part episode to cover any mention of the prophet, as well as an end-of-show speech about freedom of expression and giving in to intimidation. The first episode of the story arc featured Mohammad hidden inside a moving truck and a bear costume.
This censorship came in response to a threat from a radical Islamic website, based in the United States, which warned that "South Park" creators would face violent retribution for "insulting" Muhammad by featuring (although not showing him) on the episode.
The government of Pakistan has blocked social networking site Facebook due to a page encouraging users to "Draw Mohammed." The page, and the larger movement, have outraged Muslims, who believe it is blasphemous to physically depict Islam's prophet.
"Death to Facebook!" shouted protesters in Karachi, demonstrating against a group called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," designed to further the cause of "free expression." The movement was a backlash against recent threats of violence against, among others, the creators of the popular animated show South Park, which showed Mohammed in a bear mascot suit.
The "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" page has been taken down -- though Facebook categorically denies any attempt at censorship or involvement in its removal -- and Facebook has been "indefinitely" blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. All in all, it's been a rough couple days for the social network.
Because, you see, it's "hate speech" - according to CCAM. And therefore, KMJ should "alter their programming" (read: change their content by silencing conservatives) "in order to curtail practices that we believe to be damaging to our social fabric and to civility in public discourse."
It would seem the residents of Fresno do not believe that Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and others on KMJ are "damaging to our social fabric and to civility in public discourse." But that could not matter less to CCAM.
This local "community group" has organized a press conference for today at 11AM PT to publicly call on KMJ to dump these conservative hosts, who according to them:
Eight former Federal Elections Commissioners today blasted proponents of a Senate bill that would "blunt" the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, which allowed unions and corporations to spend freely on political advertisements.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the Commissioners called the bill "unnecessary, partially duplicative of existing law, and severely burdensome to the right to engage in political speech and advocacy." They also accused Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. -- sponsors of the Senate and House legislation, respectively -- of "partisan motives" designed to satiate the Democratic Party's labor union backers.
While some prominent news organizations, including the Washington Post, have raised serious concerns about the legislation, other ostensibly (or at least presumably) pro-free speech news outlets are either silent or, in the case of the New York Times, simply parrot Democratic talking points and give critics of the bill a mention, though not a voice, and make sure to dub them "the business lobby."
At which Mayor Censor designated the absence of the mis-named "Fairness" Doctrine and the free market radio choices made by the American people that resulted as in part contributing to the passage of Arizona law 1070, which calls on state law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws.
One can't help but be a bit stunned at the audacity of an organization built by Morton Halperin and George Soros lecturing others on "astroturfing." But that same audacity -- not the good Barack Obama kind -- is taken to extremes when that same organization alleges a corporate conspiracy where there simply is none.
Think Progress's Lee Fang was practically giddy that he had uncovered the next vast right-wing conspiracy, proclaiming that a powerpoint "obtained" by the website "reveals how the telecom industry is orchestrating the latest campaign against Net Neutrality" via layers of astroturfing "front groups."
In reality, the powerpoint was the creation not of the giant telecoms that quite openly oppose Net Neutrality, but rather of six students in a contest at a "think tank MBA" program held by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. The whole project cost under $200. And far from being "secret," as Fang claimed, the powerpoint was posted online, as was the audio of the students' presentation to the contest's judges. Some astroturf!
As first reported by Matt Cover at the Media Research Center's news wing CNSNews.com, Kagan offers up this gem:
"If there is an ‘overabundance' of an idea in the absence of direct governmental action -- which there well might be when compared with some ideal state of public debate -- then action disfavoring that idea might ‘un-skew,' rather than skew, public discourse."
So if talk radio suffers from an "overabundance" of conservative voices, government action to "un-skew" this particular public discourse is just fine by her.
Hello so-called "Fairness" Doctrine. Not to mention Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd's liberally "skewed" interpretations of FCC "media diversity" and "localism" rules.
"Associated Content claims to be a non-partisan website, encouraging its contributors to publish articles at will on any topic without prohibitions towards political ideology…unless, as it turned out in my case, YOU ARE CONSERVATIVE," Schenker wrote at the Jawa Report. Associated Content seems, in that sense, to reflect the same values of its non-digital media counterparts.
Earlier this week at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California, several students were told to remove their shirts because they featured the U.S. flag. Apparently Live Oak thought that wearing the American flag on May 5 – Cinco de Mayo -- was disrespectful to Hispanic students.
Today's New York Times makes its editorial priorities clear: It values free speech for violent video games, but not on the issues of the day.
Thursday's editorial, "Video Games and Free Speech," was launched by news the Supreme Court would review a California law that makes it illegal to sell violent video games to minors:
But video games are a form of free expression. Many have elaborate plots and characters, often drawn from fiction or history. The California law is a content-based restriction, something that is presumed invalid under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has made it clear that minors have First Amendment rights....California lawmakers may have been right when they decided that video games in which players kill and maim are not the most socially beneficial form of expression. The Constitution, however, does not require speech to be ideal for it to be protected.
Too bad the Times doesn't hold the First Amendment in such high regard when it comes to truly important speech: political speech on issues of the day, the most vital kind there is in a democracy.
A January 22 editorial termed the Supreme Court's victory for expanding free speech, in the form of loosening restrictions on companies spending money on political campaigns, "The Court's Blow to Democracy." The text was no less hysterical:
Guess who said this: "In general, comedy in purist form always makes some people uncomfortable." Nope, it wasn't Lenny Bruce or George Carlin. It was Comedy Central's head of original programming Kent Alterman, who was defending the network's new animated show, "JC," which centers on (read: mocks) Jesus Christ.
This, of course, is the same Comedy Central that two weeks ago forbade the show "South Park" from even speaking the name of the Muslim prophet Mohammed for fear of offending that faith's followers. So at Comedy Central, apparently, making people uncomfortable by poking fun at their beliefs is fine. Unless those people are Muslims.
This is nothing revelatory -- the double standard has existed at least since the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published depictions of Mohammed, sparking worldwide protests. But Comedy Central's unveiling of "JC" a mere 15 days after a heavily censored "South Park" episode went on air serves to drive home just how absurd and offensive to the values of a free society this double standard is.
While the story of the South Park death threats may not specifically constitute bias in the media per say, it does highlight an embarrassing pattern that has sent Big Media the way of the dinosaur, and a disturbing pattern that has people kowtowing to aggressive threats from radical Islamists.
We'll start with the MSM. Zachary Chesser, or Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee as he is known on the Revolutionmuslim.com Web site that hosted his death threat, recently garnered serious attention from major networks such as CNN and Fox. But the fact remains that these networks only came upon Chesser after an egregious threat was made, and after several blogs had already covered it. And they certainly hadn't done their homework as the blogs had, documenting the history of his disturbing radical statements.
The Jawa Report has been able to highlight several instances of odd behavior from Chesser, including a statement regarding the recent plane crash that killed the President of Poland and his wife, along with 96 others. The statement, as highlighted here, includes a celebration of the tragedy:
On last night's "Daily Show," Jon Stewart noted the blatant censorship his employer Comedy Central exercised against its popular show "South Park" by banning it from showing, and even uttering the word "Mohammed" in this week's episode after a threat came forward from an Islamic group.
"The censorship was a decision Comedy Central made I think as a way to protect their employees from what they believe was any possible harmful repercussions to them," Stewart stated, adding, comically, that "after forcing many of these same employees to work on [Comedy Central shows] "Mind of Mencia" and "Crod Mandoon" … damage done. But again they sign the checks."
Stewart is one of the few left-leaning media figures to note a glaring double standard: in popular culture, religions of all kind are regularly mocked but Islam mostly gets a free pass. "Comedy Central decided to censor the episode. It's their right," Stewart stated. "We all serve at their pleasure." But his extensive recap of all of the religions the show has made fun of over the years was clearly a critique of Comedy Central's decision.
The elite gatekeepers of American pop culture huff and puff about freedom of speech. But when political correctness actually threatens that right, Hollywood's stalwart defenders of free expression are nowhere to be found.
Last night, Comedy Central gave into threats of violence against the creators of the animated sitcom "South Park" and not only censored the image of the Muslim prophet Muhammed -- as it had last week and in one previous episode -- but even censored every verbal mention of the the prophet's name (see the video below the fold).
The decision came days after a radical New York-based Muslim fundamentalist group warned that Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the show's creators, would be killed for supposedly mocking Muhammed.
Believe it or not, CNN - the same CNN which has recently dismissed the Fort Hood terrorist as lonely, has featured a member of ‘Jihad U' as a teacher of the ‘nuts and bolts of Islam', and which has run three separate stories interviewing the father of radical jihadist, Anwar al-Awlaki - has actually taken interest in a jihadist threat of physical violence upon the creators of South Park.
It seems that Trey Parker and Matt Stone have raised the ire of a radical, pro-jihad Web site known as RevolutionMuslim.com, for the egregious crime of portraying the Prophet Mohammed disguised in a bear suit. A posting on the Web site does what most jihadists do - makes a direct threat and calls it a warning.
The outstanding citizens of RevolutionMuslim.com, an organization based in New York City, had this to say:
"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."
Van Gogh was murdered partly because of another man's ‘religious conviction', and partly because of a controversial film he directed about the abuse of Muslim women.
The posting puts an exclamation point on the threat, by showing a photograph of Van Gogh's corpse with a knife driven into his chest, including the caption, "Have Matt Stone And Trey Parker Forgotten This?"
There are other factors however that make this posting more than just a simple ‘warning' as the author states...
Last Thursday, on his unwatched and unwatchable MSNBC television program, Equine Ed Schultz stepped into his Leftist Wayback Machine for a little retro-censorship. With the intent of bringing it back to the future.
Having first called for a reimposition of the alleged "Fairness" Doctrine the week prior on his unlistened to and unlistenable radio show, Schultz took his censorious intentions to his tens of viewers on the tube. (He is doing all of this after making fun of us in 2008 for concerning ourselves with the Doctrine's return.)
Schultz made his latest call for "fairness" by citing the patently absurd 2007 "report" The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio. Which was co-published by the George Soros-funded Leftist "think" tanks Center for American Progress and (the Marxist-founded) Free Press.
We have in fact dismantled this "report"for its deep-seated and inherent fraudulence. It asserts that talk radio is too conservative - and that we need oppressive government regulations aplenty to remedy the situation.
However, it cooked the books from the outset - excluding uber-liberal National Public Radio (NPR) from their analysis pool and then drawing their fraudulent conclusion.
Editor's Note: Alex will be appearing on "The Early Show" on CBS tomorrow to discuss his story and situation.
Even before Monday morning, I had already acquired a reputation as American University's resident anti-feminist bomb-thrower. The campus community -- which, as is typical for expensive, East Coast universities, tilts strongly progressive -- had already seen me criticize the idea of a Women's Resource Center and bash the identity-based victim politics of the cultural-Marxist left. I never hid the fact that I enjoy acting as a provocateur. So when I penned my most recent piece, "Dealing with AU's anti-sex brigade" for the campus paper the Eagle, I figured that, like with my other columns, there would be some heated arguments, but that the piece would come and go. Early Monday morning, the piece was published online.
Still asleep early Monday afternoon, I received a wake-up call from the Washington City Paper's Amanda Hess, asking me for my response to the fact that the hard copies of the Eagle had been rounded up, thrown back at the main office, and replaced with signs stating "NO ROOM FOR RAPE APOLOGISTS." Still woozy from sleep during the phone call, I was at once confused and amused. I told her I'd call her back once I'd truly woken up.
What compelled these "womyn" to round up the papers? Behold, the offending passages:
(A) new and discouraging, but not unsurprising (OAS) report about the troubling anti-democratic trend in Venezuela, as Hugo Chavez continues to crack down on those who oppose him - be they in the judiciary, opposition parties or the media. The OAS's 300 page report by jurists and civil rights activists from Antigua, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the United States points out the increasing role that violence and murder have played in Chavez's consolidation of his power, including the documented killing of journalists.
Again, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd has praised Chavez for taking "very seriously the media in his country." Again we ask, is the above what Lloyd has in mind?
Is this what Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd meant when he said (on camera) Venezuelan thug dictator Hugo Chavez (take that, Sean Penn) had begun "to take very seriously the media in his country"- while praising Chavez's "incredible...democratic revolution?"
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday defended the arrest of a major TV channel owner, calling him a criminal and denying the government is carrying out an assault on press freedom.
The back-to-back arrests this week of two government opponents - including the owner of Venezuela's only remaining anti-Chavez TV channel - have drawn accusations that Chavez is growing increasingly intolerant and authoritarian as his popular support has slipped.
Opposition leaders and human rights groups condemned Thursday's arrest of Globovision's owner Guillermo Zuloaga, who was detained at an airport and released hours later after a judge issued an order barring him from leaving the country.
Zuloaga is accused of spreading false informationand insulting the president at an Inter American Press Association meeting in Aruba last weekend, Attorney General Luisa Ortega said.
As the piece indicates, this is but the latest example of Chavez taking "very seriously the media in his country," in Lloyd parlance. Which is woefully at odds with freedoms of speech and the press. Which is fine with Lloyd, because so's he.
With March unemployment data to be released April 2, some are anticipating what potentially lower jobless numbers will all mean for the financial markets and the economy as a whole. However, that data will come with the caveat that it will be misleading because it will include temporary jobs driven by hiring for the 2010 census.
On CNBC's March 29 "Squawk Box," CME floor reporter Rick Santelli was asked how to interpret the expected improvement. He warned it isn't the kind of job creation that is good for a sustained economic recovery.
"You know, I think it's fascinating," Santelli said. "Most experts would agree, the kind of job creation we're going to see is welcome but it isn't the kind we need in the big picture. But having said that, yes, I think that the markets will act in a way that will show a robustness if the number comes in a couple of hundred thousand and I think it's kind of silly."
(March 27th, 10:06 a.m. -- Please see update at the end of the post.)
What is the first step in the main stream media's handbook of liberal bias? Why, alter the headline to fit your agenda, of course.
To say that CNN was misleading in their headline about James O'Keefe is to be kind:
Feds punish ACORN filmmaker? Seems an odd choice of headline considering the article itself does not mention any punishment being doled out by the Feds - in fact the word ‘punish' or any other variation does not even appear in the article.
The actual story concerns the fact that prosecutors have reducedthe charges against O'Keefe and three others involved in the Landrieu phone incident. Perhaps CNN is confusing allegations and charges with actual punishment.
They Know Nuh-Think It was the 2008 Talkers magazine New Media Seminar - June 6 and 7 in New York City. I was there to hob nob with the elite of talk radio.
And Ed Schultz.
I was there also to curry support for our then latest effort to keep the radio airwaves free from tyrannical and censorious government regulation. At that time it was against a return of the ridiculously mis-named "Fairness" Doctrine. Given the talent pool in which I was swimming - those whose livelihoods would be destroyed by it's reinstatement - many were graciously willing to assist.
Not Ed Schultz.
Word of my efforts made its way to him. And he sought me out and approached me so as to ridicule us for fighting the good fight. He rigidly insisted that no Democrat - no one in fact - was seeking a return of the Censorship Doctrine.
"Who talks to Nancy Pelosi more - you or me?" he angrily asked. I replied "Have you talked to Nancy Pelosi - ever?" Because if he had, once, ever, he had done so more than me. (And more's the pity for him.)
He responded "Well I just spoke to her, and no one wants to see (the alleged "Fairness" Doctrine) brought back."
I tried to persuade him that there were plans in the works but he remained, as always, impervious to facts.
Journalists love the marketplace of ideas until people start selling ideas they find objectionable. The liberal media somehow manages to shout about its right to speak freely while demanding others be silenced.
Glenn Beck is probably the most popular target for the left's demands for censorship. Cokie Roberts and her husband Steve picked up that ball and ran with it today in their joint syndicated column. They dubbed Beck "a traitor to the American values he professes so loudly to defend" and claimed he is "corrupting the very essence of democracy." And all this just by speaking.
Unsurprisingly, the immense damage Beck is doing to the American political process can only be demonstrated anecdotally:
In a textbook case of liberal-hysteria, Henry Rollins and Vanity Fair fear the Texas Board of Education will wipe Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Charles Darwin, the Civil Rights movement, and even the outcome of the Civil War from the pages of history in the "Great Texan Rewrite."
At question is a recent victory by conservatives on the Texas Board of Education to adopt more traditional curricula to be used in writing history textbooks. Due to its size, books adopted by Texas tend to be used extensively throughout the nation.
To Rollins, any attempt to restore balance to the teaching of history is an attempt to turn back the clock.
"I fear for the New Deal reforms and any other bits of history that may somehow be seen as inconvenient truths to the architects of the Great Texan Rewrite," Rollins wrote. "I cringe when I think that the Civil Rights movement may magically vanish from the state's history or be seen as an uppity peasant uprising. What will become of the Emancipation Proclamation? The outcome of the Civil War?"
Upon further research and examination into the Army's complete findings on the Fort Hood shootings, in a February 22 report, the Boston Globe's Bryan Bender conceded that politically-incorrect conservatives were right all along - just not in those words of course.
Immediately after Major Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 U.S. soldiers November 5, major news networks and publication bent over backwards to omit Hasan's Islamic identity or to excuse the killing of 13 soldiers as a result of stress or psychosis.
Report after report, interview after interview, and press conference after press conference, reporters, politicians, and government officials warned against jumping to conclusions - in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Update - 7:15 PM | Lachlan Markay: The questions from the poll phrase the issue in similarly misleading language. Details below.
The news media have a tremendous potential to shape public opinion. So when they misreport important events, it has significant consequences for public opinion and public policy.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released today shows that 80 percent of Americans disagree with the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United v. FEC decision last month. Perhaps if the Post stopped misleading its readers about the decision as it did today in reporting the poll, public opinion would look differently.
The misinformation begins right in the lede, where reporter Dan Eggen claims the SCOTUS decision "allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns." That statement is utterly false. The decision allows corporations and unions to spend unlimited dollars on political advertising. Restrictions on campaign contributions are still in place.
The New York Times has apparently discovered its inner patriot. The paper decided after a request from the White House to hold off publishing key information about the war effort in Afghanistan for fear of alerting the enemy to key U.S. intelligence.
The Times and its executive editor Bill Keller, who defended the decision, have left the nation collectively uttering, "It's about time." Now that's change we can believe in.
Keller told WNYC radio today that two Times reporters had a story ready to go on Thursday about the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's top military commander in Pakistan. The paper decided to hold off on running the story until today, the date the White House requested.
The National Security Council, Keller recalled, "thought it had been a clean snatch and they were afraid once the word got out, other Taliban officials would go deeper underground or take measures to cover their tracks. So they asked us to hold off for a while."
The left is up in arms over the Supreme Court's recent decision in "Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission". But few voices have been louder than those emanating from the echo chamber at MSNBC. It seems that the cable network's talking heads feel that their parent company, General Electric, deserves a special exemption to what should be a blanket ban on unrestricted corporate speech.
First a bit of background for those unfamiliar with the Supreme Court decision. The court struck down in a 5-4 ruling a ban on corporate (or union) spending on political speech specifically endorsing or attacking a candidate for office within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. It ruled that the ban violated the First Amendment.
Few liberals seemed to notice that in attacking corporate speech they were also effectively undermining their own employers, media corporations who employs them for the express purpose of engaging in political speech. Surely Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow would defend MSNBC's right to speak (and spend) freely without interference from the federal government--especially in the run-up to an election when free speech is most important and must be protected.