Does Mohammad Shit in the Woods?*
Yes. It's another South Park post.
When they aren't skimming Reason for subject matter, Matt Stone and Trey Parker are doing the yeomans work of pissing off Muslim extremists by—and prepare yourself, now—portraying Mohammad as a soft-spoken guy in a bear costume who, as Jesse Walker and Jacob Sullum point out below, happens to be Santa. If this all sounds a trifle confusing, the episode can be viewed online here for clarification. Admittedly, it's rather easy to irritate the Islamists. When not calling for cartoonists to be put to death or novelists to be sacrificed, the radicals are busying themselves finding offense in Burger King ice cream, McDonalds toys, Nike sneakers, duty free bags, calenders featuring cute pigs, and stories featuring Piglet, the cuddly and haram costar of Winnie the Pooh. So it was no surprise that a group of knuckle draggers in New York, proprietors of the a website called Revolution Muslim, warned Stone and Parker that they would "end up like Theo van Gogh" if they continued offending their faith. This, they wrote, was not a threat (of course not), but simply a statement of fact.
This morning on BBC World Service's "World Have Your Say," it was repeatedly declared that the thugs from RevolutionMuslim had it all wrong; that one should not judge the reaction of "Muslims" by the actions of a few extremists. This is, of course, an entirely fair point, though it elides the hysterical reaction that followed publication of the now infamous (and still banal) Danish Mohammad cartoons, in which foreign governments whipped mobs into violent "reprisal" actions, Danes living in the Middle East and Indonesia were advised to stay at home, Western journalists tut-tutted about the "limits" of free expression, and few, if any, mainstream Muslim activists defended the right of Jyllands-Posten to publish the drawings without tacking on an insipid caveat about "causing offense."
But the issue here is not causing offense to those who believe the rest of us must abide by the rules of their religion, by not representing their "prophet" in cartoon form (demonstrating that the turban bomb was mere icing on the cake). The answer to this niggling problem is simple: screw 'em. No, the real problem is the pathetic, spineless cowards at Comedy Central, who mock one and all nightly on the Daily Show and Colbert Report, but submit to the outrageous demands of the violent and superstitious. Actually, being that this is a preemptive measure, could we not accuse Comedy Central of Islamophobia? Are they not fearful of Islam, despite receiving only one threat from a group of subliterate wackjobs in Queens?
And it isn't just that Comedy Central censored an image of Mohammad, as they have done in the past, but they bleeped out any mention of the him, lest any Muslims happen upon their prophet's name being used in an offensive context. Parker and Stone released the following statement today:
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.
At the time of posting, no one from RevolutionBuddhists, whose deity was depicted snorting a fat line of cocaine in last week's episode, could be reached for comment.
Update: Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist behind the famous Mohammad-with-bomb-in-turban drawing, was fired from his job today "for security reasons." A bad day for free speech; a terrific one for religious lunacy.
*—See Jacob's post on the same subject.