No one likes to see his religion trashed, and from everything we have learned about [the PBS documentary] "The Life of Muhammad," Muslims have nothing to worry about. The New York Daily News says the film could be subtitled "Islam 101," boasting that "If it helps with greater understanding, it has done its job." A professor who appears in the series praises it for its "balance."
However, a look back at PBS' treatment of the Catholic Church yields few films that could reasonably be dubbed "Catholicism 101," or that could in any way be praised for promoting "greater understanding." In fact, most of the films were flagrantly imbalanced.
Sounding less like a supposed foreign policy expert and more like someone who's been listening to way too much late, late night left-wing radio, Zbigniew Brzezinski claimed to see the outlines of a "conspiracy" in the making of the anti-Mohammed movie trailer.
Saying "it's not an issue of freedom of speech entirely," Jimmy Carter's former National Security Adviser suggested on Morning Joe today that the makers of the movie could be held "liable" for the deaths of the US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. He recommended that the United States should "investigate and crack down" on "evil forces" such as those people behind the movie. View the video after the jump.
Wiley Miller's comic strip Non Sequitur is not a conservative strip. Right before the 2008 election, one of his characters was told that making up the news was illegal, and she replied "You don't see Rupert Murdoch in prison, do you?" But Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander reported Sunday that the Post censored Miller's "Where's Muhammad?" Sunday strip for October 3 -- even though there was no image of the Muslim prophet in the art work.
Alan Gardner of The Daily Cartoonist (who has the image) reports the Post was apparently not alone: readers also reported a substituted strip at many major dailies, including the Arizona Republic, Arizona Star, Austin American-Statesman, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Daytona Beach News-Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Salt Lake Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Seattle Times, and Syracuse Post-Standard.
The joke caption for "Where's Muhammad?" was "Picture book least likely to ever find a publisher." The Post ombudsman said editors were wrong to pull the cartoon:
Comedians often pride themselves on being irreverent, and in today's popular culture a favorite thing to ridicule is religion. The network Comedy Central has made laughing at religion its bread and butter. Their irreverence has limits, however, and it has nothing to do with taste. When radical Muslims wrote ominously online that the creators of "South Park" could end up like Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh - shot eight times on the street - mockery of Muhammed was formally and publicly censored.
Within weeks of that very public retreat, Comedy Central announced plans to work up a series laughing at Jesus Christ called "JC," a half-hour animated show about Jesus trying to live a normal life in New York City to escape the "enormous shadow" of his "powerful but apathetic father." God the Father is preoccupied with playing video games while Christ is the "ultimate fish out of water."
Beyond the glaring double standard there is this question: Where is the market demand for an entire television series dedicated to attacks on Jesus Christ? What did Jesus Christ do to Comedy Central that they must relentlessly mock Him by portraying him defecating and talking about his "yummy, yummy crap" on "South Park" and roast him on specials titled "Merry F--ing Christmas"? Why the visuals of Jesus Christ being stabbed to death? Of the Blessed Virgin Mary menstruating? To call these attacks "juvenile" is an insult to juveniles.
A recent episode of Comedy Central's animated comedy show "South Park" caused an Islamic group to send a veiled death threat to show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, accusing them of insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Comedy Central reacted by censoring a later episode that also had scenes involving the cartoon version of the Islamic prophet.
Two New York Times stories on this free speech issue by Arts reporter Dave Itzkoff were buried on the inside pages of the paper's Arts section, under whitewashed headlines alleging that the "South Park" creators were being "warned" by Muslims, not having their lives threatened.
The issue first came up in Thursday's "Arts, Briefly" column under the lame headline "Muslim Group Warns 'South Park.'" (A more accurate headline would have been "Muslim Group Sends Veiled Death Threat to 'South Park.'")