Friday, April 23, 2010


The creators of South Park recently joined the ranks of many other artists whose lives were threatened by Muslim fundamentalists dedicated to the proposition that other human beings who don't share their values or who offend their sensibilities don't deserve to draw breath. The motivations behind Muslim rage and frustration are varied and complex. I would even submit that some of these motivations may be justified. Muslim societies across the world have borne considerable pain and suffering over the last several decades - much of it entirely unprovoked. But none of this justifies threats to artists and satirists working to enlighten, enrich, and entertain us.

To add insult to injury, Comedy Central censored the episode that Trey Parker and Matt Stone submitted. This isn't a first amendment issue, of course. Comedy Central had every right to do what it did. But in my opinion, they tarnished themselves by abandoning Trey and Matt, who have worked tirelessly to deconstruct shibboleths and taboos. You may not enjoy the show, but to a certain extent you have to respect the satirical mission.

Militant fundamentalist Islam is more than a security threat. It is a step backwards in human evolution - a regress to a time before modernism and humanism - as is every militant fundamentalism. Perhaps the only difference between Islamic militant fundamentalism and other varieties is that its toxic combination of revealed truth, liberal textual appeals to violence, and an explicitly global sense of its own jurisdiction imbues the movement with a unique animation and activism. Nationally based militant fundamentalisms (such as national fascist movements), or militant fundamentalisms based on other epistemologies than revealed truth (such as international Communism) are certainly disturbing, but in many ways they are less disconcerting. More reasonable epistemologies can be reasoned with or disproven. More limited jurisdictional claims can be isolated or even simply appeased. Militant fundamentalist Islam is a different beast that is only further complicated by the fact that there most definitely is (and we can never forget this) a considerably more widespread non-militant, non-fundamentalist Islam.

I can only speak for myself, not Evan - but I want to offer this post in solidarity with South Park and all the other artists, film makers, and writers that have faced or even suffered death at the hands of these people.

South Park

The Danish Cartoonists

Theo Van Gogh

Salman Rushdie

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