The Fallout From the South Park Death Threat

Over the past two weeks, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been riding out the 200th episode celebration from hell. What started out as a milestone for the Comedy Central series led to death threats from a radical Islamic website. On top of that, their most recent episode, which included a lengthy response to the hype via a brave speech about fear, was completely bleeped out in a defensive effort by Comedy Central. In effect, Parker and Stone found themselves the subject of the very censorship they ridiculed earlier this season. So now what happens?

Well, nothing, in spite of Revolution Muslim's "warning" that the South Park creators will "probably" be assassinated. According to the New York Times:

It sounded like a threat to Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly. That's what he called it. So did a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York.

Then why have there been no arrests?

The F.B.I. man cited First Amendment issues. Mr. Kelly said the threat had not risen to the level of a crime. But it did not mean that police investigators "weren't taking it seriously," said Paul J. Browne, a spokesman for Mr. Kelly. The department was already monitoring Revolution Muslim and had stepped up its presence at the Manhattan office of Comedy Central, Mr. Browne said.

Revolution Muslim is said to have no more than about a dozen members, some of them converts to Islam and considered way over the top by many fellow Muslims. In assessing the threat, Mr. Eisenberg said, much depends on the probability of follow-through, on how afraid the target should realistically be, on whether "there's any imminent likelihood" of some nut's being incited to murder by the Web posting.

The F.B.I. may not be taking action but South Park fans are, with an event planned for May 20 called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." The project was spearheaded by Seattle artist Molly Norris, who dedicated a drawing (of various objects including a coffee cup and a spool of thread, all claiming to be likenesses of Muhammad) to South Park's creators. Ironically, after several blogs and radio stations picked up on the event and Norris received an overwhelming response from critics, she began to distance herself from the movement; still, even without her support, a Facebook page for the event has over 9,000 confirmed guests as of Tuesday.

Meanwhile, several other television personalities have formally addressed the controversy. Last Thursday, Jon Stewart referenced his network's decision to censor the episode: "The censorship I think was a decision Comedy Central made to protect their employees from what they believed to be any harmful repercussions to them. Although, after forcing many of these same employees to work on Mind of Mencia and Krod Mandoon, damage done."

The Simpsons referenced the story on this Sunday's episode, with Bart writing a message to the show's creators ("We'd stand beside you if we weren't so scared.") in the show's opening gag (pictured above). Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane seemed to echo the same sentiment when he appeared on Larry King Live this past Sunday, saying "I think any combination of angry plus deity equals danger... If it were me and I was in this situation, [I would think], 'OK, is this worth being shot? Is this the funniest joke ever written?"

Meanwhile, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been busily working on a new episode, "Crippled Summer," set to air tomorrow night. According to the network's press release, the episode will center on Jimmy and Timmy's summer camp experience with "their handicapable friends."


  • Anybody says:

    As a grown up in the 21st century I can't help but see all religion as a hangover from the infancy of our species' understanding. Grow up.

  • Korruptable says:

    How are people offended by what other people say? There is nothing you could say to me or about me that would offend me. And even worse, you get offended when people make comments about a subject (censorship and Muslim sensitivities) that has nothing to do with you. You must want to be "offended". Makes it easier for you to dismiss the truth and instead focus on the emotion of the situation. Really, you get offended by what someone SAYS? The entire premise is ridiculous. I would be embarrassed to tell someone "that offends me". You are an adult; if I don't like what you say I can just get over it.

  • Matt says:

    Are you crazy? As a "grown up"? You? What, a grown up jack@$$ maybe. Anyways religion is much more complex than what the uneducated/unintelligent folks like yourself claim it to be. It is partly a moral code and something that significantly impacts our human existence, regardless of what you may believe.
    Contrary to ignorant beliefs, our Universe wasn't created by sheer happenstance. Do your homework. It is nigh on impossible that we came to exist by random chance. And chances are we're not alone in the Universe. Stop being petty and blaming religion for the misconduct of a few "bad apples".

  • Steve says:

    The only way to deal with this kind of insanity is to ridicule it. If everyone did start openly satirising religious figures they would have no choice but to declare death threats against everyone. If the morons responsible think that's even remotely feasible, well, then we can all stand back and laugh at them and their beliefs. It's about time we sent these sacred cows off to the abbatoir.

  • Anybody says:

    Hi Matt,
    Loving the textbook knee-jerk there slugger; my education? Also the misinterpretation and subsequent fiery ripostes to things I haven't said? Very clever. Please believe me when I say I have done my homework. I mean this in terms of every branch of science, history and, yes indeed, theology. I agree that it 'significantly impacts our human existence', though you choose to see that as a virtue. In the past it has been. As for the moral code? I see your point there too, but for myself I've never needed the threat of eternal damnation to tell me its wrong to bludgeon the elderly or pocket other people's belongings. I'm also a huge fan of religious architecture, and have seen the joys religion brings to people in some of the poorest parts of the world. Also some people need the comfort of believing in an afterlife, I understand that too. But it is fantasy. From the minds of our ancestors. Something to fill in the enormous gaps in their knowledge. I don't consider science a religion, or even the notion of 'faith' as an important part of the modern human. I quite like the quote "religion gives us answers we can't question and philosophy gives us questions we can't answer". When a scientist says something is 'for definite' I'm always a little taken aback. Science is nuance and correlation, a thousand minds and a thousands studies giving evidence to point in a similar direction. But things we've known 'for definite' have been overturned in the past, so constantly studying and questioning seems to me the smartest way of doing things. If you look at the LHC for example, they're looking for understanding of the big bang as we can theorise so much from the millisecond after but nothing before or during. Therefore to me it seems the last possible refuge of divinity is in this moment; though looking at the brilliance and complexity of the cosmos, what we understand of evolution too and sub-atomic structure, the notion of a creator appears just too crass and simplistic. You stated religion is complex, and I suppose that is where I fundamentally disagree with you. It isn't. Its too big for simple minds I grant you, 'the few bad apples' as you somewhat naively stated. Do you consider dangerous zealot behaviour to have begun in 2001? And 'petty'? I'm talking of several thousand years of world changing behaviour from some of the most deluded and powerful human beings of all time. The universe is not as black and white as religion would have it, there are shades. And this is a good thing.
    I'd also like to add that you can call me a 'jackass' without using silly symbols, utterly pointless. If I wanted to call you a 'cretinous thundercunt' I'd like to think you could handle that without diluting its potency through symbolism.
    Oh, and grow up.

  • Chris says:

    Matt, first of all I don't need religion to dictate how I should act towards others. If you can't act morally towards other human beings without the aid of religion then there's something wrong there don't you think? Contrary to your statement that "It is nigh on impossible that we came to exist by random chance" given enough time, from chaos there will become order i.e given an infinite sequence of random numbers there will be "bursts/pockets/patches" of patterns and order that emerge from the seemingly random. A good example is: give a thousand monkeys a type writer each and let them bash away randomly for an indefinite amount of time, they will eventually create the entire works of Shakespeare. Secondly if the theory of evolution did not work then Genetic Algorithms would not work, remember science is a reflection of nature. Why do people always have to follow what other people are doing or thinking (e.g. religion), why can't people have there own beliefs without following the beliefs of someone else (i.e. religion made up by another).

  • wbm says:

    May 20: Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.
    Be there, or be 747 fodder.

  • jen says:

    Some of you guys would make a better case of you'd wash out your potty mouths.
    Also-we're talking about Islam-why're you taking this time to denigrate Christianity? Islam is a POLITICAL system that governs everything a (true) muslim does and contains its own law and financial systems. It's more akin to totalitarianism or communsism than Christianity.
    Study up, like a kot of us have since 9-11. You'll be amazed at how wrong what you "know" really is.

  • timmy says:

    Actually, you do need to be afraid of turbanheads with guns, precisely because you're northamericans. You're pampered, you can't even stand a long war anymore before crying to bring your boys back. Those turbanheads live in a world where war is pretty much all they know, and they live in that world because of the usa's tampering with the region in the name of its economic interests. And the thing is, they don't even complain about that fact, they like it that way because that world the usa created in the middle east is fertile for the fundamentalist movements.
    The usa created a monster that now hates the usa, and it's not because it was created, it's not some kind of "you made me what I am now I kill you", it hates the usa because it is in it's nature to do so. Some time ago, when the usa was busy making that monster, it was useful, it directed all it's hate to the nearest neighbor, the feared communists, now with the communists gone, the monster still needs war death to stay alive, and the most evident target is the usa.
    You may say you have the greatest war machine ever, the best soldiers and all that, but the fact is, it doesn't mater how much technology, how much training you soldiers have, there is simply no way to kill this monster with that might of yours. The more you hate them, the more powerful they become, the more bullets you waste killing them, the more orphans grow up becoming part of the monster.

  • Anonymous says:

    Why must we ignore the elephant in the room?
    All religion is evil and must be destroyed.
    Every religious person is like the guy at 3:00 in this video
    The only difference between him and the terrorists and the fundamentalists is that the guy in the video doesn't have enough co-believers to make trouble.

  • teamamerica says:

    you are clearly an idiot. since when does wanting our troops to NOT die for nothing constitute 'crying'? its something we have in the west thats called humanity, where we dont rejoice at needless bloodshed. and there is no reason for me to be afraid of any al qaeda or taliban. in fact i welcome them to come to my neighborhood and try to pull some of their crap. ill blow their head off before they can say 'dirka dirka muhammed jihad'. oh, what you got there, a nice ak47/whatever-piece-of-crap-gun-left-over-from-the-war-with-the-soviets? welcome to america, home of the .50 bmg semi automatic sniper rifle. better be sneaky with that suicide vest because i can reach out and touch you at up to 2 miles on a clear day, even if you are sitting inside a tank. thats freedom. you are clearly no more intelligent than your average taliban soldier. dumb as the rocks in the desert. and what do you mean they dont complain? they release stupid videos complaining all the time. if they didnt complain, the hatchet would be buried for american involvement in their affairs a long time ago, and they would actually do something to improve themselves, not blow up the west. im not scared of someone who throws acid on little school girls' faces just for going to school. instead, i AIM for those people. 661 gr of diplomacy.

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  • 123 says:

    I'm a muslim and I find it very shameful with that radical group's threat to Matt and Trey
    I love south park and didnt get offended at all by the episode,
    but the episode wasnt really that funny though

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  • lomax says:

    South Park is the most White Supremacist cartoon on earth.