This already being widely discussed on many other sites but the April 21st epsiode of South Park entitled ‘201’ was broadcast heavily edited by Comedy Central and apparently only aired once with Comedy Central airing repeats of earlier episodes rather than re-broadcasting ‘201’. The reason behind this was Mohammed’s ‘appearances’ in the previous episode sparking criticism (and death threats) from an extremist Muslim website owned by a group based in New York. During ‘201’ Mohammed’s character was replaced by a giant ‘censored’ block and any time his name was mentioned it was bleeped out. This is shown in the video below:
The episode is currently unavailable online and South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have commented on the matter making it clear that they had nothing to do with the editing of the episode. Viacom, the owner of Comedy Central, has apparently even pulled earlier episodes with references to Mohammed off of the Netflix instant streaming service (as reported on Andrew Sullivan’s blog). Apparently these older episodes are even being pulled from the official ‘South Park Studios’ website. This is a clear hit against freedom of speech and apparently only Jon Stewart is standing up for Matt Stone and Trey Parker — the rest of Comedy Central is just bending over for Viacom. Good comedy is never supposed to placate you or make you feel comfortable — its supposed to get a reaction out of you. I don’t think there is anything South Park has ever left untouched and not even Mohammed is beyond Matt and Trey’s artful hands — this is an excellent example of how easy it is for a large media corportation to make certain kinds of information very difficult to obtain. I’m sure that the complaints from the Muslim website were hardly the first that Comedy Central and Viacom have ever recieved on behalf of a South Park episode, so I am very curious to get a better understanding of why they made such an exception to such a small fringe website that has, in light of this incident, been taken down. It will be interesting to see if the episode will ever be released, and if it is, what form it will take.