Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

It’s Official: South Park Self-Censored

I’m glad to see that South Park had the nuts to jump into the fray. Of course, given their track record, who could possibly be surprised that they would. But I was terribly disappointed to see that Comedy Central lost their nerve. This whole debate about Mohamed has become ridiculous. My own college issued an email to all the students when a local newspaper decided to run the cartoons apologizing for the newspaper’s decision to do so and expressing the need for everyone to “be respectful” of religions. This is political correctness at its worst.

I can’t make the point better than the episode did, really. I mean, if Jesus crapping on President Bush, crapping on the American Flag doesn’t get your goat then you certainly wouldn’t be offended by Mohamed handing some guy a fish helmet. If you were offended by that maybe you’d see nothing wrong with censoring Mohamed as well as a number of other offensive images in the episode. in fact, you might see nothing wrong with watching a bunch of black boxes move around the screen. I find it hard to believe that there are many people like that in this country given how proud everyone usually is about the bill of rights, but then again we seem to be making a lot of exceptions here and there lately.

All of these cries for sensitivity makes me want to start my own camp for teaching people that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Am I the only one that remembers that little gem? I actually remember getting in a fight with an old ex-girlfriend who insisted that it was okay that she punched me because of something I said. I could never get my head around that one. Physically attacking someone or even threatening physical violence to coerce their silence can never be seen as an equal or acceptable repsonse to something that someone says. Ever. I don’t care how offensive it is. People who believe that need to understand that they are on the road to enforcing thoughtcrime.

I’m not one to make the “slippery slope” argument. Frankly that argument never stands. Issues like this one are independent. How Americans react to this Mohamed issue will not be telling or indicative of their desire to protect free speech in other instances. So it is my hope that the US and particularly the media have decided to be cautious for now but will tend to loosen up when the fire dies down a bit. But I have to admit that amongst so many other blatant transgressions against our rights I feel that now is a time of great challenge for us. We have acknolwedged that our rights are god-given but how long has it been since they cost us anything? It’s clear to me that terrorism is not only going to be one of the greatest challenges this country has faced, it’s going to be the first conflagration that the citizenry cannot merely pass off to their precious Department of Defense. This battle is coming home to directly attack our culture of contentment and it remains to be seen who will hide, who will watch and who will fight.

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