'South Park' Makers Say It's 'Open Season on Jesus,' Not Mohammed

ABC's Jake Tapper interviewed Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the sleazy cartoon "South Park" for Friday's "Nightline." It's been "vilified as crude, disgusting, and nihilistic." Actually, it may be calmly, dispassionately, almost scientifically decribed as crude, disgusting, and nihilistic. But Tapper elicited some interesting commentary on how which religions can be mocked:

"That's where we kind of agree with some of the people who've criticized our show," Stone says. "Because it really is open season on Jesus. We can do whatever we want to Jesus, and we have. We've had him say bad words. We've had him shoot a gun. We've had him kill people. We can do whatever we want. But Mohammed, we couldn't just show a simple image."

During the part of the show where Mohammed was to be depicted — benignly, Stone and Parker say — the show ran a black screen that read: "Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Mohammed on their network."

Other networks took a similar course, refusing to air images of Mohammed — even when reporting on the Denmark cartoon riots — claiming they were refraining because they're religiously tolerant, the South Park creators say.

"No you're not," Stone retorts. "You're afraid of getting blown up. That's what you're afraid of. Comedy Central copped to that, you know: 'We're afraid of getting blown up.'"

In fact, as not such a fan of "South Park," I did not know, as it's described here, that the show started as a little Christmas cartoon for an entertainment executive to show his friends featuring Santa Claus and Jesus having a fight. It's also interesting to hear Parker and Stone swear they believe in God, and think atheism is the most ridiculous point of view:

Stone, who was raised Jewish, says he's not religious. Parker says he considers himself religious, but it would take him a long time to explain it. Both say they believe in God.

"I believe there's something going on that we don't know," Parker says. "That's as far as I can go."

"Recently, atheists and people who hate religion have, like, really glommed on to our show because we make fun of a lot of religions," Stone notes. "But neither one of us is anti-religious at all. I mean, I'm fascinated by religion."

"All the religions are superfunny to me," Parker adds. "The story of Jesus makes no sense to me. God sent his only son. Why could God only have one son and why would he have to die? It's just bad writing, really. And it's really terrible in about the second act."

But Parker says atheism is more ludicrous to him than anything else.

"Out of all the ridiculous religion stories — which are greatly, wonderfully ridiculous — the silliest one I've ever heard is, 'Yeah, there's this big, giant universe and it's expanding and it's all going to collapse on itself and we're all just here, just 'cuz. Just 'cuz. That to me, is the most ridiculous explanation ever," he says. "So I think we have a big atheism show coming."

I'm not convinced after all this talk that you can claim that these men revere anything, including God. They certainly have no fear that God would be displeased with what they do for a living, and that whatever creed is true, they've mocked every version of God, so perhaps they are guaranteed to be on God's bad side regardless of who's right. But there's absolutely no fear of the Lord required to mock the atheists. It would be inconsistent for these all-purpose mockers to leave them out. 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis