Did Comedy Central Censor 'South Park' Portrayal of Muhammed?
Comedy Central, the home of the hugely popular animated "South Park" appears to have censored the show's attempt to show a cartoon image of the founder of Islam, Muhammed.
The Muhammed segment aired in a special two-part episode which wove together criticisms of Comedy Central for earlier caving in to demands from scientologists, jabs at rival Fox cartoon "Family Guy," and the manufactured furor over the Danish Muhammed cartoons.
In the story, after word gets out that "Family Guy" will soon show an episode in which Muhammed is drawn as a cartoon character (something "South Park" did back in 2001), a fourth grade boy, Eric Cartman, sets out to get the episode censored in hopes that doing so will lead to the show's eventual cancellation.
Cartman's attempts fail, however, as the Fox network head decides to air the entire show including the Muhammed gag reference.
All the "South Park" characters are portrayed as having seen the Muhammed image but real-life viewers of the show were not allowed to see it. Instead, a message was displayed which stated that Comedy Central refused to show the cartoon of Islam's prophet.
It's possible that Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of "South Park," may not have ever intended to put Mohammed on the screen since the duo did reprise an earlier joke on fans at the beginning of the show's life which involved showing a completely irrelevant episode inserted between two back-to-back episodes.
Parker and Stone have feuded semi-publicly with Comedy Central in recent months over the network's yanking of rerun episodes which ridiculed scientology and made fun of some aspects of Catholicism under public pressure. Oddly enough, the cleaned-up syndicated "South Park" recently ran a 2001 episode which did feature a cartoonified Muhammed.
My guess is that "South Park" isn't going to last much longer given the disputes its producers and home channel are going through. Stone and Parker seem to be quite unafraid of letting their discontent with Comedy Central be known. I wonder how long the Viacom suits will tolerate it?
Update: The Political Pit Bull has a clip of the yesterday's episode.