The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Trey and Matt

Do these names ring a bell—Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Salman Rushdie, Geert Wilders, Kurt Westergaard and Lars Vilks? They’ve all been threatened with death by radical Islamists who have taken offense to something one of these people said, wrote, or published. Free speech? Not when “offense” is taken—there is no right to free speech. Criticize Islam? Offense. Write a book that questions Islamic religious doctrine? Offense. Make negative political comments about the Islamist ideology? Offense. Publish cartoons? Offense.

And now two American animators—Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of "South Park"—have caused “offense” and have been threatened with death by radical Islamists.

Why? For portraying the Prophet Mohammed, who never is shown directly, in a bear suit! The fact that it’s satirical, that their work is clearly protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and that they’re a mainstream voice in the entertainment industry, means nothing to the Islamist voices who threaten bodily harm.

And yet, following in the footsteps of European media and celebrities who did nothing to come to the defense of European artists who “offended” Islam and required police protection for years afterward, U.S media and entertainment industry are treading so lightly that you’d think that freedom of speech no longer mattered to them. Maybe it doesn’t when it conflicts with their warped sense of political correctness.

Members of the gliteratti shake their heads solemnly and cluck about the propriety of Parker’s and Stone’s commentary. But like the postmodern cowards they are, they do not condemn the Islamists who make the threats, rather, they dissect the animated cartoon and ask whether maybe South Park went too far. Pathetic.

And where is the President and US Justice Department in all of this? Barack Obama saw fit to comment nationally on a small police matter in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but apparently, he can’t bring himself to comment (and condemn) threats made against mainstream media personalities by terrorist sympathizers. Hmmm. The Justice Department rightfully goes after militant right wingers in the upper mid-West, but can’t bring itself to move against the radical Islamist organization based in New York City from which these threats emanated. Hmmm.

Diana West relates an interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone who discuss the Mohammed cartoon travesty:
"It's so sad, the whole Muhammad, the whole Danish cartoon thing," said Stone, Parker seated beside him during a joint interview with the entertainment Web site Boing Boing.

Don't laugh. Boing Boing here goes where "elite" media fear to tiptoe, let alone tread.

The subject was the 200th episode of "South Park," which, in unusually clean if satirical fashion, focused on Islam's fanatical, and, to Western sensibilities, ridiculous prohibitions on depictions and criticism of Muhammad, who is at one point presented in a bear suit. (Now you can laugh.)

Stone continued: "It's like, if everyone would have just, like, normally they do in the news organizations, just printed the cartoons -"

"Everyone would have rallied together," interjected Parker.

"Now that guy [Westergaard] has to be hiding and all this [bleep] because everyone just kind of left him out to dry. It's a big problem when you have the New York Times and Comedy Central and Viacom basically just [wimping] out on it. It's just sad. I was, like, really sad about the whole thing."

Indeed, everyone—media outlets, media personalities, entertainers, politicians, the President, and the Justice Department—should “rally together." Instead, their cowardly behavior encourages further threats and serves as a warning to anyone who might have the temerity to criticize Islam. We’ll leave you out to dry, they imply by their passivity.

I found it amusing a few years ago when the Left suggested that the past president’s policies had a “chilling effect” on free speech. They seem to be much more sanguine about the “chilling effect” of this South Part drama. I guess its okay to express outrage when there is zero probability (except in your fevered imagination) that the party you criticize will harm you. But expressing outrage for real threats to free speech is another matter altogether. Diana West notes that when the media took one look at “a photo of the slain body of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, his head nearly cut off on an Amsterdam, Netherlands, street in 2004 by a jihadist assassin,” it cowered in fear, masked as concern and an unwillingness to offend.

Cowards—all of them.