A terrorist group threatened South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone after of a recent episode in which the Muslim prophet Mohammed was depicted wearing a bear costume. In the follow-up episode, the now-infamous episode 201, Comedy Central bleeped out all references to Mohammed, and went as far as to bleep out the wrap-up speech that is standard at the end of every episode, even though the speech did not mention Mohammed. Viacom, Comedy Central’s parent company, clearly is scared shitless.
This is all happening for many reasons. First and foremost, religious extremism is to blame. A group has threatened two individuals for expressing themselves. That is the act of a group of maniacs. Secondly, the media had a chance to prevent this half a decade ago, but did not. Per the Los Angeles Times:
“In 2005, an uproar over Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper rocked Europe and the media industry worldwide, with many newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, declining to publish the materials that some found offensive. One of the cartoons showed the prophet wearing a bomb as a turban that was about to explode. Many Muslims believe that Islamic teachings forbid showing images of Muhammad.”
Had the world’s media banded together, and printed those cartoons, regardless of how offensive they were, it would have shown extremists everywhere that they cannot control speech. When the media backed down, the terrorists won.
Since the mainstream media will not stand up to these thugs, individuals have taken up the cause. On May 20 people worldwide have pledged to post images of Mohammed on their websites and Facebook pages as part of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” The campaign sprang up organically, inspired in large part by a cartoon – this piece from Seattle artist Molly Norris:
If you are interested, everyone draws Mohammed on Thursday, May 20.