When Matt Stone and Trey Parker spoke to me for a Boing Boing Video interview last week about plans for their 200th episode, which would feature a cartoon version of the prophet Mohammed, I did not anticipate what would follow.
Comedy Central, as the duo predicted, bleeped out all references to the religious figure's name (while leaving in Jesus, Buddha, and the rest of their holy ilk), and censored a closing speech which did not reference the figure at all. But they apparently did so in response to death threats against Matt, Trey, and Comedy Central posted on a site called RevolutionMuslim.com. That site appears to be based in New York City, and is said to be run by a Jewish guy who converted to an extremist form of Islamic fundamentalism. A post on the site said Matt and Trey would likely "end up like" Theo van Gogh, the filmmaker who was murdered for making a film about the abuse of Muslim women.
The site embedded my interview with Matt and Trey in that post, and referenced portions of the interview in making the argument that the two should face death for this episode of South Park. Screengrab here (JPEG). Snip from that Revolutionmuslim.com post:
Here are the authors boasting of their insults and celebrating their complete disregard for what anyone considers sacred: Are you afraid that you would be bombed, she asks? Perhaps they are not, perhaps they should be, only time will tell.
I am saddened that these two artists have been so utterly abandoned by the network that distributes their work. I am saddened that the interview we published about that controversy was used by buliles to justify threats of violence. This is just nuts.
In the 14 years we've been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn't stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn't some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle's customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn't mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We'll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we'll see what happens to it.