For a second last night I thought I might be crazy: they didn't bleep the word "Mohammed" last week during part one of the two-part 200the episode. But last night they were bleeping "Mohammed" like it was a dirty word. (And you know what? Maybe it is, thanks to his batshit followers.) So what the hell happened? South Park fanatic Andrew Sullivan:
In the first part of the 200th episode, South Park went to hilarious lengths to have Muhammed but cloaked in various disguises—a U-Haul van, a bear mascot, Santa Claus. But any actual depiction, as in 2001, was covered with a block of black with the word "censored" on it. In some ways, this act of censorship wasn't too big a deal. It actually helped illuminate the unique intolerance of Sunni Islam among world religions today. SP has long had Jesus and Satan, they have ridiculed Mormonism, eviscerated Scientology, mocked Catholicism and showed the Buddha actually doing lines of coke. None of the adherents of these other faiths have threatened to kill Matt and Trey, but, of course, some Sunni Islamists did so.
So what does Comedy Central do? They wussed out even further. They bleeped even mentions of the name of Muhammed spoken by characters.
And now Comedy Central is blocking South Park Studios from posting episode 201 on their website. Cowards.
Finally, I thought the most subversive moment in episode 200 was when someone held up a drawing they'd made of Mohammed—a crude, stick-figure image, a drawing that could be of anyone. The stick figure drawing was only alarming to the viewers because the person holding it up said it was supposed to be Mohammed. If the person holding it up had said it was supposed to be Barack Obama—or Andy Dick or Bill Donohue or Justin Bieber—it wouldn't be controversial or blasphemous or grounds for death threats. South Park's point: blasphemy can quite literally be in the eyes (and tiny minds) of the beholders.
UPDATE: A little flashback...
After this cover ran, the Knights of Columbus did not march into our offices and start beheading people with their dress swords. The Vatican did not demand that Greg Nickels shut down The Stranger. And that’s one of the markers of a great, big, all-grown-up-now world religion: The ability to take an intentionally offensive jab in stride.