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Published: Saturday, 5/1/2010

Gone south

TREY Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the TV show South Park, aren't known for showing piety or pulling punches. Their irreverent animated series has insulted, denigrated, and mocked just about every sacred cow on the planet.

They aren't strangers to boycott threats or stinging reviews. But recently, they were warned by a fundamentalist Islamic Web site that the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in an episode of South Park could result in their deaths.

As a result, Comedy Central, the cable network that broadcasts the series, censored the episode and deleted it from the network Web site. Citing security, Comedy Central insisted it had no choice but to knuckle under to the demands of the RevolutionMuslim.com site.

That's not true. There's always a choice of whether to capitulate to the demands of religious fanatics and bullies. As long as South Park treated all religious figures equally badly, it was immune to charges of being sectarian. With parodies of Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed, it proved it was an equal-opportunity offender.

That is protected speech in the American political system. Comedy Central deserves blame for caving in to threats by fanatics.

But the ultimate blame belongs to the thug who made the threat in the first place.

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