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"No, that's ignorant. You're being ignorant."

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Beefy Phil, Apr 23, 2010.

  1. Beefy Phil

    Beefy Phil
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    By now, most of you know about this:

    'South Park' censored after threats from Islamic fundamentalists

    Generally speaking, there are two schools of thought on the issue. Some believe that the network repressed free speech by censoring South Park's depiction of the Prophet Muhammad and essentially acquiesced to the demands of Internet thugs. Others believe that broadcasting a cartoon is not worth potentially violent repercussions that could harm innocent bystanders.

    What do you think?

    What This Thread Is Not: It is not a dumping ground for your personal politics. No one cares if you hate Muslims, and if you can't contribute without injecting non-constructive opinions into the debate, do not post. If it helps, pretend that Muslims had nothing to do with the incident. Pretend that a bunch of Marklars threatened to marklar the marklar if South Park depicted an image of the Marklar Marklar.

    What This Thread Is: It is a debate on the limits of free speech. Is freedom of expression worth violence at the hands of extremists? Should we limit what we say if it makes us safer? Is a cartoon worth the loss of even one life?

    Discuss. Intelligently.
     
  2. Guy Fawkes

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    I'm torn on this issue.

    I firmly believe that if Matt & Trey wanted to risk it that they should have been allowed to have their show air unedited.

    However this falls into the category of "things you COULD do but I wouldn't recommend", kind of like driving a nice car through a really bad neighborhood very late at night, or poking a hornet nest with a stick.

    In regards to free speech I firmly believe that if the message an individual or group wants to get out is important enough they'll do it regardless of the consequences. Matt & Trey could buy a website specifically for the purpose of airing their episode unedited if they believed in their message strongly enough. Damn the consequences.
     
  3. taikaviitta

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  4. toddus

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    It's a tough one. My initial reaction is to call the Comedy Central management a bunch of gutless pricks. But the reality is they aren't Fred Friendly and the Southpark guys aren't Edward R Murrow. They are merely Corporate Executives of a cable comedy channel, it is unfair to expect them to be champions for free speech gallantly staring down a perceived threat. They are simply a bunch of guys in suits who decided 'fuck dat shit, I seen what happened to that van Gogh motherfucker, I don't need to be firebombed'.*

    They simply decided this wasn't their fight to fight. It is easy to criticize them for this but in the same situation rightly or wrongly perceiving a threat to yourself how many would follow the same course of action. Based purely off how often I will see a no one in a carriage dare tell a group of teenagers playing music on a cell phone to shut it off, I would say a damn few of us.



    *Note: I am under the assumption Comedy Central executives speak in Ebonics.
     
  5. ghettoastronaut

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    A nice relevant debate on the subject:



    And when I say "nice", and "relevant", I mean the only side remotely worth listening to is the side that isn't in favour of censorship and doesn't talk about free expression laws as if the world were a grade school playground.

    I saw the episode (or maybe a different one) with the prophet Mohammad a while ago and thought it was at least mildly ironic that the broadcasting network didn't want to display an image of said prophet considering the content of the episode, so they had a blacked out screen with a brief explanation of what they did instead of whatever it was that was supposed to happen. And I thought it was kind of stupid that, immediately after, the characters said crap like "Wow, look, it's Mohammad, looking all normal and stuff" as if the whole problem with death threats over cartoons displaying the prophet were that he didn't look normal enough.

    In any case, of course free speech shouldn't be limited if it'll make us safer. What do we suppose makes us safe in the first place if not freedom of the press and free expression? Philip Gourevitch makes some excellent points on the subject in the video above: we might think for now that banning offensive imagery does us some good, but in the long run, the people who really do ban "offensive" things are the people that we are trying to protect against. In Rwanda people were silenced for speaking out against genocide, in other parts of Africa people have their tongues cut out and their lips padlocked shut, and so on for every other totalitarian and fascist regime you can think of. You simply can't have restrictions on free speech in a free society.

    In the case of depictions of the prophet mohammad, there are two groups of people that object to it: rabid fanatics, and sinister moderates who say things like you heard in the video above: "This isn't a question of censorship, this is a question of productive dialogue!" "These cartoons are very hurtful and I think we need to have a discussion over whether this is an appropriate thing to publish" and "These cartoons are not a productive dialogue between Muslims and the West". I even saw some opinion from liberal non-Muslim types who thought that, because the cartoons were offensive, the newspapers shouldn't have published them, based on reasoning like "What happened to common decency?" and limp-wristed shit like that. Fundamentally, the objection to it boils down to two camps: fascism that attempts to kill or destroy anything that objects to it, and people who think that the question of whether or not someone should do something is a surrogate for whether or not someone should be allowed to do something. Of course, these people fall into the trap Gourevitch and Hitchens describe in the debate: when the law can start banning things that are offensive, what are you going to rely on when it starts banning you? Or when it becomes the offensive thing you wanted to ban in the first place?
     
    #5 ghettoastronaut, Apr 23, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2015
  6. Samr

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    Other side of the fence (just roll with me here, this isn't political):

    How would you feel if President Obama was depicted in a prominent media getting repeatedly ass-fucked by another guy, for sake of entertainment (laughing at the President being humiliated).

    Not saying it's the exact same, but I understand that the extremest standpoint.

    THAT BEING SAID, threatening violence because you don't like something that entertains someone else is just insane. Yeah, if those extremists showed that cartoon I wouldn't like it. In fact I'd probably be mad. In fact, if one of the people that created that cartoon was physically in front of me, I'd punch them in the face. But would I threaten violence more extreme than that? No. I don't like it, so I look away.

    As far as the censorship goes, same thing. If the extremists don't like it, they don't have to look. Air it, because chances are a lot of people are going to like it. And you're going to lose some audience members, possibly permanently, because you chose to, in my opinion, cowardly censor something over a baseless threat.

    Now, if that threat was credible, if it presented a clear and present danger, then by all means cut that show. But cut it, don't censor it. If there's a guy with a bomb in the studio, or near a bunch of Americans saying "I'm going to blow myself up if you air that," what the fuck else would you do? You'd be, in essence, killing them if you actually aired it under those circumstances. But just because some organization is threatening harm doesn't mean it is actually a clear and present danger.

    Now, I understand there exists some ambiguity in the definition of "entertainment," and I draw my line at the physical injury or death of a person. For example, dragging a dead soldier in the street in the street is entertainment to some extremists. But it's also fighting words for every military person and American worth their salt. My issue there isn't with the disrespect it causes, it was the fact that someone had to die. If they want to go burn an American flag, again, I wouldn't like it, but I wouldn't want to go all apeshit-Rambo like I did if they dragged a dead American soldier in the street.
     
  7. scotchcrotch

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    I think they'll be thanking Comedy Central in the long run.

    It's a ballsy move, but 30 years down the line, do you still want to be in hiding ala Salman Rushdie?

    It's bullshit, but we're already on the brink of WW3. Why instigate it further?
     
  8. Roxanne

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    If the Danes can do it, we should be able to do it too.

    Yes, it is a disrespect to the religion. Of course, I remember the Ten Commandments saying that you can make no graven image of God either, and that's been done without violent retribution, though I'm sure Christians have not liked it. Muslim extremists are capitalizing on their image as dangerous and violent to suppress the ability of the people to poke fun at their religion, and I find it ridiculous that the media would bend to that.

    Comedy Central should have let this run. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. You need to hear things you don't like to hear so that you can evaluate your beliefs and make sure you stand behind them. Otherwise we are just a nation of conformists, trying not to step on any toes and becoming the worse for it.
     
  9. Beefy Phil

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    Have you ever once heard Rushdie express regret for his actions? Or ask his would-be assassins for mercy? Do you think he, or Parker or Stone were unaware of what they were doing? Is it possible that they had accepted the consequences of their actions before taking them? Is it also possible that they considered injury or even death an acceptable result of their expression?

    Let's give these guys some credit and not assume that they need to be saved from themselves.
     
  10. Psychodyne

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    What This Thread Is: I do not believe there should be any limits on Freedom of Speech. Hence the name. A person should be able to say anything they want, with in the confines of the area/country that's allowing it. However, they also need to be prepared to accept the consequences, good or bad, of that speech without claiming people should be 'tolerant' or 'accepting' of what ever the speech giver is saying. No one says anyone has the right to be heard; therefore everyone else must listen to what ever is being said. They just have the right to say it. I'm not saying that if someone says something another person doesn't like, that person can kill them. That's against the law. But the person exercising their right to free speech must do so recognizing that there could be repercussions, and take responsibility accordingly.

    There will be some people who don’t agree, or don’t understand, or simply don’t want to listen to what ever is being said. That's okay too. Just because someone has the freedom to express their views and thoughts, sure as hell doesn’t mean I have to sit there and listen to them. It also doesn't mean that news medias and television networks have to show it or print it. That's why I quoted Guy Fawkes. It's up to the person expressing to find a way to deliver. The networks aren't suppressing Freedom of Speech. Comedy Central (to my knowledge) didn't tell the creators of South Park "Hey, you can't say that shit". They simply didn't provide a stage on which to deliver. Maybe they don’t agree with it, maybe they don’t want to deal with the hassle. That's okay. Don’t like it? Then start your own network, newspaper, website, etc, and let your voice be heard.
     
  11. MoreCowbell

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    I was firmly in the South Park camp. However, something occurred to me last night. I haven't really thought this through thoroughly, but it seems worth consideration.

    By doing this, Matt and Trey are putting at risk (admittedly, at a low probability) the lives of every single person associated with Comedy Central.

    Did they ask these people's permission? Weight the potential costs and benefits? Probably not.

    Those workers at Comedy Central probably didn't sign up for this. It isn't the Army. They didn't start their job presuming that it would mean putting themselves in mortal danger.

    While I'm wholeheartedly in favor of freedom of speech and the freedom to put one's own life at risk, Matt and Trey might have been playing dice with other people's lives. Which strikes me as irresponsible and immoral. And it also strikes me that Comedy Central has a responsibility to protect the lives of their employees.
     
  12. Benzilla

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    I have a couple of friends who are of the star and crescent persuasion and we talk about things like this whenever they come up. The general consensus from their point of view is that the people making these threats are just like the most embarrassingly vocal minorities in every demographic. They speak only for themselves and a couple of thousand other people out of a billion Muslims worldwide.

    Even though the entire internet (a lot of the sites I visit, at least) threw a shit fit about Comedy Central's decision to censor South Park I think the network made the obvious prudent decision in light of the feedback (read: threats) it received after the first episode in the arc. The likelihood that there would be any repercussions if they ran the episode uncensored is extremely low but CC wants to protect its people and its image; that's not at all out of line for a major cable TV network.

    I get the feeling that that the case with this episode is going to be like the Scientology debacle of a couple of years ago. The objectors will win temporarily and then it will blow over. Once it's blown over, Comedy Central will try airing the uncensored episode late at night and then during prime time.

    Personally, I like Jon Stewart's take on it. He plainly states that these guys are cowards and invites them to go fuck themselves complete with a gospel choir.

    Edit: I didn't complete the post. Did Matt and Trey do anything wrong? Hell no, this is exactly what Comedy Central pays them the big bucks to do. The only unfortunate thing about this situation is that someone made a threat that CC couldn't help but take seriously.
     
  13. Improper

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    I see the various points being made here, but....isn't Comedy Central in the business of selling their channel to cable companies for as much as they can justify each and every year? If yes, then it follows that more viewership/higher viewer demand equals more dollars per subscriber for your content. I see no advantage in randomly alienating ANY viewers.

    Yes, be irreverent. Topical. Yes, certainly, be funny. Be what you want to be, but focus on WHY they pay Matt and Trey to make the show....more dollars per subscriber per year. Airing this is well over that line, into the realm of actual physical danger. Death is funny in Shaun of the Dead, but rarely a good laugh in person.

    Besides, if you are looking to a distributor of cartoons for your champion of freedom of speech, you may have other issues.
     
  14. Beefy Phil

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    Extrapolate that, though. If NBC News received similar threats tomorrow because of a story some extremist believed projected Muslims in a bad light, would NBC executives be irresponsible if they didn't discontinue all news stories concerning Islam? The coffee boy and copy girl didn't sign up to be bombed, either, but at what point is the line drawn?

    The fact that it took 'South Park' to bring this issue into the public consciousness is sad, but that doesn't mean it didn't have to be done, and it doesn't make the cause any less legitimate. Historically, satirists have a solid track record of bringing issues to the foreground that other media purposely avoids. I would ask, if not 'South Park', then who?
     
  15. no use for a name

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    Just going to point out, if anyone is interested, http://www.southparkstudios.com is Matt & Trey's website where they stream uncensored episodes. I believe episodes 200 & 201 (the episodes in question) will be available uncensored in late May.
     
  16. barney

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    The main difference I see with this argument, is that NBC News is (supposed to be) a source of information to people. Things we need to know about what is going on with the world. South Park on the other hand is pure entertainment, a form of escape. Censoring a news source is a definite attempt to control the information that the people are given. Censoring an entertainment TV show may be supressing someone's expression, but it isn't keeping the masses in the dark about something important.

    I don't think the show should have been bleeped, but I don't think it's a sign of danger to Freedom of Speech.
     
  17. ghettoastronaut

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    So, how many groups of people has South Park made fun of? What you're saying is that they shouldn't have made the scientology episode. Or the mormon episode. Or, well, pretty much every episode. Alienating people is what comedy requires: a joke isn't really a joke unless it's at someone else's expense. I mean, you can't honestly say that they have to do everything in their power to keep as many people watching as possible, because what's going to happen is that the show will turn into fluffly pablum that nobody finds offensive, and therefore, nobody will find interesting.

    Well, people were killed and shot over the Rushdie scandal - you know, translators and publishers and the like who had only the faintest connection to the man himself. Things like this play right into the hands of extremists - we grant them that they're allowed to riot and kill and we also grant that we're the ones who instigate them to violence. If we follow the logic that nothing we do should have consequences for anyone else, then there's an awful lot of things people have to stop doing.

    Here's another hypothetical - if a news organization came across a piece of scandalous information that would incite hatred and violence, should the organization still run it? Riots would break out, buildings would be vandalized, molotov cocktails thrown, people unrelated to the story would die in the crossfire. Were the victims asked permission before the story would run? Was the cost and benefit to them vandalized? What I'm getting at here is asking you if you want society to collectively adjust what it sees on TV and reads in the paper so that anyone with a menacing enough threat has the whole world accomodated to them.

    I'm not really trying to say that comedy central should have definitely played the episode uncensored. It's their own cost-benefit analysis to make and ultimately South Park probably isn't worth people dying for. But the thing is, freedom of speech most certainly is worth people dying to preserve. People are looking at both South Park and the Danish cartoons as "entertainment". They're not. Satire is far more than just entertainment, and we shouldn't adjust what is and isn't appropriate to satire based on people who can't handle seeing the truth about themselves.
     
  18. exfundie

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    I don't think they should censor the episode at all. South Park is already shown Jesus, Buddha and various other deity's. They should have the freedom of speech and it's unfortunate a few extremists have threatened them. As a former fundamentalist (christian) I have seen some people take this stuff WAY too seriously. I have not seen people take it to the level that is discussed here, but I've seen what can happen when folks blindly follow a person/religion/etc.
     
  19. Rob4Broncos

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  20. Beefy Phil

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    Art does not inform? Our culture isn't influenced by fictional accounts of created characters or experiences across a broad spectrum of media? Since when, and says who?

    What would be a good sign for you? Two guys wanted to say something on T.V.. Someone else said, "You better not, or you die." So the two guys couldn't say that thing on T.V. How exactly isn't that a danger to freedom of speech?