Free Speech

China Banned South Park After the Show Made Fun of Chinese Censorship

"You gotta lower your ideals of freedom if you want to suck on the warm teat of China."

|

In a case of life imitating art imitating life, the Chinese government has purged all references to South Park from the country's highly restricted internet—following an episode of the show that criticized Chinese censorship.

"Band in China," the second episode of the show's 23rd season, satirizes China's heavy-handed crackdowns on free expression. The kids attempt to make a biopic about their new rock band, only to discover that they need to sanitize the plot to appease the Chinese government. Meanwhile, Randy Marsh gets sent to a Chinese prison, where he meets Winnie the Pooh—a reference to China's odd attempts to clamp down on the beloved bear for its supposedly resemblance Chinese President Xi Jinping. The episode also castigates Disney for making artistic concessions in order to remain in Chinese markets. "You gotta lower your ideals of freedom if you want to suck on the warm teat of China," one character says.

Unsurprisingly, China has not responded favorably. According to The Hollywood Reporter:

Now, those very same government censors, in the real world, have lashed back at South Park by deleting virtually every clip, episode and online discussion of the show from Chinese streaming services, social media and even fan pages.

A cursory perusal through China's highly regulated Internet landscape shows the show conspicuously absent everywhere it recently had a presence. A search of the Twitter-like social media service Weibo turns up not a single mention of South Park among the billions of past posts. On streaming service Youku, owned by Internet giant Alibaba, all links to clips, episodes and even full seasons of the show are now dead.

And on Baidu's Tieba, China's largest online discussions platform, the threads and sub-threads related to South Park are nonfunctional. If users manually type in the URL for what was formerly the South Park thread, a message appears saying that, "According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open."

The South Park ban proceeds news that Chinese broadcasters will no longer air the Houston Rockets' NBA games because a general manager tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protests. Both incidents should serve as reminders that China is a one-party state whose authoritarian government squelches freedom of speech at every turn.

NEXT: The NBA Cares More About Making Money in Mainland China Than Supporting Freedom in Hong Kong

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Is anyone else surprised that China allowed Southpark prior to that? SP’s been pretty clear since day one where it stands when it comes to authority and personal freedom.

    1. It’s a cartoon. They can make the characters say anything they want.

      1. Que? Do you mean China or Southpark?

          1. Whether in China or Southpark, we should certainly ban any form of “satire” that makes fun of law enforcement efforts to put an end to the scourge of criminal “parody”–a scourge that’s been eating away at the social fabric of our great nation, particularly on our college campuses, and here at NYU too (I hesitate to refer to our institution as a “college”), where it has impacted upon the good names and reputations of several highly respectable members of the community, who would never engage in any form of charlatanry, let alone the forms of malfeasance attributed to them. See the documentation at:

            https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

            1. Quixote
              October.7.2019 at 7:24 pm
              “Whether in China or Southpark, we should certainly ban any form of “satire” that makes fun of law enforcement efforts to put an end to the scourge of criminal “parody”–a scourge that’s been eating away at the social fabric of our great nation,…”

              A-1, whiner. Buzz off.

              1. Is he a parody account?

                1. No, his comment is intended as satirical. This guy has been posting in Reason comment sections for years, trying to get attention drawn to his personal case.

                  I’ve actually read his story and it’s updates several times. The proceedings have finally been stopped but he’s still going on about it. Basically, he was accussed of fraud, impersonating someone and making statements that were meant to made such person look bad. He claims his statements were parody/satire and were thus protected speech. The court case and appeals apparently went on for years, although apparently proceedings against him were finally dropped. He’s a bit annoying, as on every article regarding free speech or censorship, he posts a comment about his personal situation and only uses the topic of the article as a segue to how his case is the most egregious example of suppression of free speech.

                  Actually having read through the details on his case, it’s much more of a grey area then the general impression he gives. Like, the state had a reasonable argument that his intention was not parody but impersonating someone with the intention of making that person look bad. I don’t know the details, and I’m not saying he was doing that, he obviously had charges dropped eventually, but the way he has gone about this has been trollish.

                  1. “don’t know ALL the details”, I know some of them from what I’ve read

                  2. I mean “don’t know ALL the details”, I know some of them from what I’ve read

                    1. Now as a philosophical anarchist, I don’t believe what he did should be illegal.

                      However, I’m not as convinced the parody argument applies here. The case specifically had to do with an academic, Lawrence Schiffman, who was accused of plagiarism. Schiffman was a department head. Mr. Gott, the defendant, sent emails to Schiffman’s colleagues that represented themselves to be from Schiffman himself ordering them to suppress discussion of the plagiarism accusations while strongly implying he was guilty of plagiarism.

                      I am a free speech absolutist, so I don’t believe this is a crime. However, the “satire/parody” defense here doesn’t ring true to me. I particularly think it is absurd that Gott repeatedly spams this board claiming his case is some vital question of free speech. Particularly the manner in which he does so, reposting in alarmist tones, as though his trial is the hill to die on for free speech, and his conviction would mean the end of free speech as we know it.

                    2. I would ignore Kunard’s nasty aspersions, but it should be pointed out that he egregiously misrepresents the nature of my anti-troll postings here, for there is nothing more “satirical” about them than there is about portraying a highly popular television personality and academic department chair as openly “seeking to suppress allegations,” as Kunard puts it, of his own plagiarism while pointing readers towards internet items about the alleged plagiarism and justifying it with statements like this: “It is true that I should have given credit to this man, but if I had done so I would have been banned from conferences around the world.” Clearly such “expressive” conduct constitutes a crime, and so Kunard is wrong to suggest that it should not be “illegal.”

                    3. Take an even more familiar example: if emails signed “J. Biden, V.P.” were to go out pompously admitting to plagiarism, seeking to suppress discussion of the scurrilous allegations, linking to news items on the alleged plagiarism, and explaining that the author’s “career” was at stake, that would hardly qualify as any sort of a “parody” or “satire.” Such conduct should clearly be criminalized everywhere in this great nation, and no “free speech” program that seeks to somehow excuse or decriminalize it on the grounds of “parody” should be allowed at all.

      2. There is this neat thing called “synecdoche”. It allows you to use one thing to refer to another related or connected thing. Like when you say “Southpark” but actually mean “the people who make Southpark”.

  2. >> will no longer air the Houston Rockets’ NBA games

    yeah but Yao Ming.

  3. China is a big market and the entertainment business has decided it’s too lucrative a customer base to sour. Of course, it’s not individual consumers but the power in Peking (that’s right, I call it that) sending back the soup.

    1. “Peking”? PEKING?!?!?

      Imperialist Pig.

      1. Peking University still calls itself that.

        1. Confucius say: “Man who appear in piss video call himself Pee King.”

  4. China is just one big piece of schiff

  5. A cursory perusal through China’s highly regulated Internet landscape shows the show conspicuously absent everywhere it recently had a presence. A search of the Twitter-like social media service Weibo turns up not a single mention of South Park among the billions of past posts.

    *google execs furiously taking notes*

  6. Both incidents should serve as reminders that China is a one-party state whose authoritarian government squelches freedom of speech at every turn.

    Thomas Friedman just jizzed in his pants.

    1. Paul Krugman will be along shortly to help him clean up.

        1. You need better hobbies.

  7. Clearly China needs more Tegrity.

    1. I think a strong case can be made that we all need some more Tegrity

  8. Perhaps what are needed are more artists like the makers of South Park, who don’t compromise their integrity for a few dollars from a totalitarian country.

    1. Now that they have fuck you money…

      1. But even still, you could make a lot of money selling to markets besides China. Suppose instead that we hadn’t traded with China and that it was still poor. Would producers who wish to avoid insulting China be better off? No, because that money would be off the table.

      2. They seemed pretty intent on calling out BS (or at least what they see as BS) even before South Park became the juggernaut that it is.

        Granted, in those days it was mostly making fun of celebrities and other soft targets.

        1. Their very first video was commissioned as a birthday present. It featured Jesus VS Santa Claus in an epic battle over the meaning of Christmas.

          It was quite profane and probably blasphemous to the devout.

          It made them famous on the internet – which resulted in their Comedy Central show.

      3. If only Big Tech, Hollywood, and the NBA had that kind of money.

        1. Exactly! As just one example, LeBron James a near billionaire, loves to show how “woke” he is when trashing any conservative ideal, but has had nothing to say regarding the oppression from China, one of his main money machines…

    2. It’s pronounced “tegridy”

    3. But they did enable CC to censor Muhamed.

  9. Oddly, Parker and Stone have more courage and dignity than NBA Commissioner Silver.

    1. That man’s not fit to wear J. Lo’s dress.

      1. Why would you think he was?

        1. Because Matt Parker showed up to the Oscars one year wearing her dress.

          1. I did not know that.

            Glad I don’t pay attention to Hollywood award shows because I did not need to know that.

    2. The NBA… where not letting men into womens locker rooms is worse than a murderous communist regime.

      1. Yes their priorities are childish and meaningless.

      2. LeBron is in China now whining that his adoring fans are not lining the street to see a glimpse of him…all because some white guy in Houston tweeted about freedom….

  10. It’s one thing for a company to make concessions on products in order to sell those products in china. It’s not ideal, but it’s a huge market you’re not going to say no to without your investors tearing you a new asshole.

    But there’s a limit to this. Selling good, services, and content to citizens in an evil regime is one thing, but actively participating in the evils is quite another. And a lot of social media is skirting awful close to that line by actively censoring on behalf of China. Fuck that shit.

    1. #LibertariansForSavingANickelWithSlaverXi

      Reason assures me that trade with Slaver Xi is the epitome of Muh Free Market, at least as long as that Bad Orange Man doesn’t tax the transaction.

      1. You save a lot more than a nickel.

  11. “Both incidents should serve as reminders that China is a one-party state whose authoritarian government squelches freedom of speech at every turn.”

    But aside from that we can totally trust them to honor their trade agreements, amirite?

    1. About as well as they respect IP rights.

    1. I don’t understand the scope. I can go to nike.com and apparently find Houston Rockets apparel for sale.

      1. I think the Houston gear is pulled from China based sites.

  12. Both incidents should serve as reminders that China is a one-party state whose authoritarian government squelches freedom of speech at every turn.

    The New York Times wonders if there is something we can all learn from China.

    1. Justin admires their ability to change things on the fly.

    2. How dare he slander Muh Free Market partner, Slaver Xi!

  13. “ Both incidents should serve as reminders that China is a one-party state whose authoritarian government squelches freedom of speech at every turn.”

    As is California.

    1. Nah, California only does it at every other turn. So far.

    2. We could offer to trade California for Hong Kong…

  14. The “Band in China” episode was one of South Park’s finest. Highly recommended viewing.

    1. “You’re a towel!”

      1. Worst character ever.

    2. LeBron is in China now whining that his adoring fans are not lining the street to see a glimpse of him…all because some white guy in Houston tweeted about freedom….

  15. The PRC is quite right to censor any statements made against their socialist paradise.
    The lucky people of the PRC are very fortunate indeed to experience the wonders of socialist totalitarianism like famines, terror, oppression, mass murder, constant political indoctrination and abject poverty while we fools here in this capitalist hell hole called America suffer from the cancers of capitalism, free speech, due process, gun ownership, etc.
    However, the oppressed of America, are lucky in one way.
    We can all buy clothes so cheap that are made in genujine sweatshops by actual slave laborers that make millions of dollars for liberal hypocrites like Colin Kaepernick and Phil Knight.

    1. “The PRC is quite right to censor any statements made against their socialist paradise.
      The lucky people of the PRC are very fortunate indeed to experience the wonders of socialist totalitarianism like famines, terror, oppression, mass murder, constant political indoctrination and abject poverty while we fools here in this capitalist hell hole called America suffer from the cancers of capitalism, free speech, due process, gun ownership, etc.”

      You might say ‘their betters’ have succeeded in leading them to a progressive utopia.

      1. I can’t remember. Is China now the largest economy now or not?

        1. LeaveTrumpAloneLibertarian
          October.7.2019 at 11:51 pm
          “I can’t remember….”

          We know.

        2. Gee, the largest population in the world has a large economy, you don’t say. Yeah, when your government blocks foreign competition, while using it’s intelligence services to help you break international copyright and patent laws and subsidizes your company heavily, while devalueing your currency so your workers are cheaper than your international competitors, you too can be a success.

          1. Yep, the U.S. definitely never blocks foreign competition, heavily subsidizes companies, and devalues its currency.

            1. It only does that last one by accident.

        3. No. It has the largest number of potential customers, but it imports surprisingly little. That’s why Trump’s tariffs have been nailing them. They can tax our imports, but they send so much to us while we send so little to them that it’s not possible for them to hit us at the same level. We’re the biggest consumer economy, and the businesses in China need us (they primarily need the lower overhead and abundant labor in China), which is why so many of those businesses are packing up and moving to countries like Vietnam, which have good trade deals with us.

    2. “We can all buy clothes so cheap that are made in genujine sweatshops by actual slave laborers ”

      Muh Free Market!

      #LibertariansForSavingANickelWithSlaverXi

  16. Fucken Mongarians!

    Fuck them to death!

  17. But will South Park ban China?

    1. They’ll kill them in effigy. Like they did Isaac Hayes and like the creators did Michael Moore in one of their movies.

      1. “Death of Chef” was one of the most profoundly obscene things ever produced.

        It was fantastic.

  18. But China is feeling heat from America’s proud PC warriors, who accuse them of apartheid, human rights violation and will shame every business and individual doing business with them.

    Oops, “China” should read NRA and Israel, my bad.

    1. Maybe someone could bring this up with the contributors here. What is the point with maintaining all those ‘professional’ ties with the Vox/Salon/WaPo crowd if not to ask them about this apparent dichotomy?

      Isn’t that the Ken Schultz argument – you keep in contact to exert influence, right?

  19. If you have pi$$ed off the Chinese, you have done something right.

  20. I wonder if SP is still available on YT there…

    1. Oops; RTFA.
      No, it is not.

  21. Read more on the NBA’s role in this mess.

    As if it wasn’t already an insufferable league filled with fake woke ass douches, they really pulled a good one here. As Red Foreman would say, ‘dumbasses’.

    Imagine siding with pro-democracy protestors who admire America gets you pissed on by a hypocritical league and its PC/SJW armada of mob rule. But I bet Kaepernick is a hero to them though, right?

    As usual, South Park acts as a proper conscience.

    1. Wait, isn’t it the Alt-Right and their beloved leader Donald who are disgusted with the “violent and obnoxious” Hong Kong protestors, and anxious not to make Xi upset? That is certainly the impression one gets from reading commenters at places like Unz. Most of the Alt right is also enamored of China’s “reeducation” of Muslims.

      About the only good thing one can say about the PC/SJW armada is that they tend to hate the PRC (at least most of the people I’ve dealt with).

      1. Do you have any examples for your rant? Or just pulling shit out of your ass again?

  22. Trey and Matt have apologized– in exactly the fuck-you way you would expect them to “apologize”:

    https://twitter.com/SouthPark/status/1181273539799736320

    “Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh after all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?”

    1. Ted Cruz retweeted this with:

      Annoy a communist. Watch South Park.

      (Note to @NBA: This is how it’s done.)

      https://twitter.com/tedcruz/status/1181296483078955008

  23. Those guys have always been more reliable in condemning authoritarianism abroad than they have been here at home. Amerikkka, fuck yeah, indeed.

    1. Uh, what? They’ve torn everyone apart. Republicans, democrats, Trump, Obama, etc.

      1. Eh, i’m Not a totalitarian so i’m Capable of watching a show that doesn’t necessarily follow my political leaning, but occasionally they get up their own ass about things. I mean… this? Parker once mused, “We used to have a great time going to Hollywood parties and saying ‘I think George Bush is doing a great job.’ We’d clear out the room. I used to love it.” Yeah, Trey, he did a fucking great job. I like your show and your Woodland Critters Christmas Special was sublime, but You can get fucked, ok?

        1. He was fucking joking asshole. He was making a point about Hollywood’s echo-chamber group think. Obviously, you didn’t get it, but since it is obvious you also partake fully of this form of indoctrination Kool-Aid, are we surprised?

        2. I remember that interview, and was being sarcastic with that remark. He was saying they enjoyed trolling intolerant people with things they knew would piss them off.

          Do you know what sarcasm is? It’s the form of speech that leftists like yourself fail to grasp because you have a cognitive deficiency that causes you to assume every comment is intended literally. It’s why leftists make weak conversationalists.

    2. LeaveTrumpAloneLibertarian
      October.7.2019 at 11:49 pm
      “Those guys have always been more reliable in condemning authoritarianism abroad than they have been here at home. Amerikkka, fuck yeah, indeed.”

      I’ll bet your mommy thought that was clever.
      Unfortunately, she’s as fucking imbecilic as you are; it’s not clever, you’re a fucking ignoramus.
      Fuck off and die where we can’t smell you, commie kid.

      1. I think he missed the point of Team America. It wasn’t some sycophantic jingoism. It was a criticism of America’s role as world police while also a criticism of Americans who fellatiote dictators while condemning America. The problem is the movie hit to close to home and so he must reject it.

  24. Dilbert did a few strips last week about our growing inability to distinguish between reality and parody. They suddenly seem particularly timely.

    1. Hence the ridiculous response to Trump. He is often not clear about what is facetious and what is serious. And all the leftists portray things in the worst light, and all the conservatives portray things in the best light. Being vague or contradictory is sometimes an advantage. Didn’t Trump say he was going to keep everyone guessing?

  25. Reason Then: There is absolutely no downside to enriching Emperor Xi.
    Reason Now: Xi is infringing on Muh Freedom! Wah!

    1. What’s the problem?
      Emperor Xi is simply exercising his market rights to deal, or not, with American companies.

      Muh Free Market!

      1. But Walmart raised the price of cheap toys that break after a week by $0.05 thus we are headed for a financial Armageddon. Principals over principles as they used to say.

        1. Yeah, how the Hell am I supposed to repair that cheap Wal-Mart toy without the cheap tools from Harbor Freight?

  26. I earned $5000 last month by working online just for 5 to 8 hours on my laptop and this was so easy that i myself could not believe before working on this site. If You too want to earn such a big money then come and join us.

    CLICK HERE►► Theprocoin.com

  27. Reason used to have articles examining how personal freedom in a country lead to economic and other individual freedoms. This is just a reminder, that statists that can’t handle free speech, can’t handle free markets.
    It leads me to think there are more reasons the Chinese will lose the trade war than we’ve considered since they are so un-free and have politically controlled markets. Consider, a lot of Chinese (including some politician) will no longer be making money with this TV show any more, nor the people working for him. The Chinese not only get less wealth, but also less humor.

    1. Imperial Twilight by Stephen Platt does a tale unfold about the secrets of that prison-house. The Quing dynasty never hesitated to decapitate miscreants by the tens of thousands, and braided pigtails were mandatory because they made mass-decapitations a less messy affair. The current dictator-for-life dynasty has shown itself no less barbaric today than its 1860s version, when 20 million partially-eaten corpses littered the landscape. Le plus c’est la même chose…

  28. Silver is supporting free speech. The Chicoms are punching back. Pretty soon they will be exchanging flagrant 1’s.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinese-state-broadcaster-drops-two-nba-games-11570522782

    1. The NBA should grow a principled pair and spare us their empty vapid bull shit.

      All we’re missing is Popovich to chime in with a vapid faux-intellectual, Zen-light comment.

  29. Altruist commie overlords don’t have as much say over what people watch in American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii or Puerto Rico. Citizens of Hong Kong could try collecting signatures on a petition for American statehood instead of aping Antifa demonstrators. Communist Cuba and These States enjoy a respectful peace, and if Hong Kong were to beat Puerto Rico to statehood, coexistence there could be a helluva lot more peaceful than what we’ve been seeing lately–plus we’d have another source of anti-surveillance laser pointers tariff-free. –libertariantranslator

    1. Just as an aside, were the people of Hong Kong consulted before the UK pulled out as to their wishes? I was in basic and AIT at the time so my access to the particulars was limited so I admit my knowledge of it at the time was severely lacking.

      1. It was a 99 year lease so a deal is a deal. Just like how a tenant doesn’t has a say in who buys the building they rent space from.

        I think this is how it went down.

        1. It wasn’t a 99 year lease on Hong Kong, it was a 99 year lease on Kowloon Province (which was intended to be renewed in perpetuity). But Kowloon and Hong Kong are economically inseparable, so splitting it wasn’t an option, and China threatened to invade if Thatcher didn’t concede, so Thatcher caved because she didn’t see possible war with China as worth it.

          1. Reading the Wikipedia page on it (yes, I live dangerously) it appears Hong Kong was pretty much left out of the negotiations at the request of the PRC and the Iron Lady seems to have caved in many ways. Typical, decolonization seems to involve everyone but those actually colonized.

            1. Honestly, there was no way to split the two. They were completely entwined economically and geographically. Thatcher was either going to have a possible war with China or she was going to have to give all of it up, because China was not interested in stopping at Kowloon either. She gave all of it up.

            2. Hong Kong wouldn’t have had a hand in negotiations because they weren’t an independent body. They were a protectorate of the British, like Gibraltar or the Falklands. The British government were the title holders of Hong Kong and the tenants of Kowloon.

              It’s the same token by which a tenant in a house doesn’t get a say when the landlord is involved in a property or tax dispute with the state.

              1. Good clarification.

        2. Kowloon was annexed after the establishment of Hong Kong, so they were under different deals. Hong Kong was granted to Britain in perpetuity and not leased.

  30. Morality, humanity and civil liberties are reduced to banner causes, identity politics and partisan politics in America.

    When a son murders his mother in cold blood we would say “eww that’s icky”. If a piece of string was found hung on tree branch at a school, we LOSE our freaking minds.

    Every single one of these liberals who hyperventilate over the Orange Man burning down the republic didn’t care when Obama caged families and formed an unenforceable treaty with a terrorist nations with no congressional input. They’ll threaten boycott of American states over bathroom policy but have no qualms about doing business with China, where people are herded to actual concentration camps. Harvey Weinsten championed equal pay for women but raped them in his private life.

    If your rights are being violated, you have to hope that you’re part of the protected class or the person violating your rights is a political enemy to the political left or right. Otherwise, no one will care.

  31. I am making a good salary online from home.I’ve made $97,999 so for last 5 months working online and I’m a full time student. I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.I am genuinely thankful to and my administrator, It’s’ really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it , …… Read More

Please to post comments