Comedy Central Bows to Extremists, Censors South Park

Amid veiled threats over cartoon depiction of Muhammad, network modifies controversial episode

By Josh Grossberg Apr 22, 2010 4:27 PMTags

Trey Parker and Matt Stone have no problem pissing off pretty much everyone. Their bosses—not so much.

Comedy Central suits have admitted to censoring last night's South Park, the follow-up to the seminal 'toon's 200th episode, after the show's brain trust was subjected to veiled jihadist threats for the show's depiction of the prophet Muhammad.

A notice posted at, where Parker and Stone would normally stream the latest episode, explained the situation:

"After we delivered the show, and prior to broadcast, Comedy Central placed numerous additional audio bleeps throughout the episode. We do not have network approval to stream our original version of the show. We will bring you a version of 201 as soon as we can."

A spokesman for Comedy Central acknowledged that "we went back in and added some bleeps" after the episode came in. The offending verbage?  The word "Muhammad" which wasn't bleeped at all last week.

OK, so the network wussed out—but not without good reason.

A radical Muslim group based in Brooklyn posted a warning on its website earlier this week, saying of Parker and Stone "that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show." The Dutch filmmaker was murdered in 2004 for his movie questioning Islam's views of women.

"This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them," the website insisted. Still, it was enough to make Comedy Central honchos blink.

Seemingly lost on the fundamentalists (and the network execs) was that the offending South Park storyline was mocking the ridiculousness of extremists who would resort to bombing if a bunch of cartoon cutups showed Muhammad (even with a big "censor" strip plastered over him or if he was hidden in a bear suit).

Parker and Stone were unavailable for comment.

Before 9/11 and the Danish cartoon controversy that exploded Muslim sensitivities, the network ironically had already aired an animated version of the prophet without incident back in 2001—in a season five episode titled "Super Best Friends."

That segment with its cartoon Muhammad, by the way, is still streaming on the South Park website.


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