One of the longest lived and most controversial TV shows of all time – South Park – is kicking off its 17th season.

Despite being a cartoon, South Park was the first weekly TV show to be given an MA rating, meaning it's intended for mature audiences. And it’s certainly packed with foul language, off-color humor, and adult situations.

But it’s also truly educational, especially for children. So here are three reasons why all parents should make their kids watch South Park.

1. Disrespect My Authoritah!

Virtually every episode points out the difference between legitimate authority and the abuse of power and scare-mongering. Whether it’s the show’s Jew-baiting jerk Eric Cartman going nuts as a traffic cop or former Vice President Al Gore trying to scare the boys into hysteria over ManBearPig, South Park always emphasizes thinking for yourself rather than blindly following what leaders say.

2. Respect True Diversitah!

Today’s kids are constantly force-fed hosannas to tolerance and diversity that ring hollow and false. But even when it’s brutally satirizing something like Mormonism, South Park actually fosters a true live-and-let-live ethos that’s sadly lacking in most K-12 curricula.

3. It Emphasizes Personal Responsibility

Among South Park’s core values is taking responsibility for one’s actions. In the episode where Stan’s father develops a drinking problem and seeks supernatural intervention for a cure, it’s the child who lays out the case for self-control and accountability.

The most enduring lesson of South Park isn’t found in any given episode but in the entire show’s run and the careers of its creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The show grew out of early videos, including a 1995 one that pitted Santa vs. Jesus in a fight to the death over the true meaning in Christmas.

Now, almost 20 years later, Parker and Stone have created one of the greatest TV shows of all time, along with unforgettable movies such as the all-puppet action thriller Team America and the Broadway smash The Book of Mormon.

They’re no uncritical fans of Walt Disney but their careers are a testament to his belief that “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

In a way that’s virtually unmatched, Parker and Stone teach all our children that creativity and hard work – and an ability to laugh at everything life throws at you - eally do pay off in the long run.

About 3 minutes. Written by Nick Gillespie, who narrates, and produced by Jim Epstein. Scroll below for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel to receive automatic notifications when new videos go live.

Related: "South Park Libertarians: Trey Parker and Matt Stone on liberals, conservatives, censorship, and religion," from the December 2006 issue of Reason magazine.