For those not up to snuff, the creators of South Park recently received death threats/warnings for depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Facing the possibility of death, the show used alternative and comedic means to avoid showing the prophet's face--including dressing him in a mascot uniform and having him in the back of a U-Haul trailer. Leave it to South Park creators Parker and Stone to make censorship fun!
But the censorship isn't all fun and games. Douthat notes, "In last week’s follow-up episode, the prophet’s non-appearance appearances were censored, and every single reference to Muhammad was bleeped out. The historical record was quickly scrubbed as well: The original 'Super Best Friends' episode [a previous episode that featured the Muslim prophet] is no longer available on the Internet."
This sort of pandering to Islam is nothing new. It seems that time after time each religion is fair game for criticism and mocking, except for Islam. Anti-religious documentaries primarily sling mud at Christianity. The new atheists find their prime opponent in the Christian God. On and on the one-sided offensive behavior is railed. Islam is left relatively untouched, and the forced censorship continues.
It should be noted that the South Park "Super Best Friends" cast includes the leaders of every major world religion, including my savior Jesus Christ. I am often offended by the mocking and misrepresentation of my Lord and my faith in pop culture, but I would never support the censoring of such. I adhere to the classical Christian view regarding freedom of conscience, and I know that it is not my place to forcibly bring change in one's behavior. It is God who brings true, lasting change--not me, not censorship, not force.
In Psalm 2 the Bible speaks of the heathens raging against God--mocking, disrespecting, and defying. The passage goes on to say that God "sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them [the mocking and self-assured world] in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury..." Knowing of His own sovereignty and the power of His Son, the LORD is no respecter of persons or their mocks. Knowing this same thing, Christians have no reason to fear the scorn of the world. Islamic fringe elements, on the other hand, lack that surety.
A large part of the censorship and egg shell walking surrounding Islam involves fear, and the only way to break this fear is to defy any attempts to squelch expression. In a country founded on freedom of conscience and expression, we cannot stand for this type of fear-induced censorship.
In a country where the latest hit movie, “Kick-Ass,” features an 11-year-old girl spitting obscenities and gutting bad guys while dressed in pedophile-bait outfits, there isn’t much room for real transgression. Our culture has few taboos that can’t be violated, and our establishment has largely given up on setting standards in the first place.
Except where Islam is concerned. There, the standards are established under threat of violence, and accepted out of a mix of self-preservation and self-loathing.
This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.
Happily, today’s would-be totalitarians are probably too marginal to take full advantage. This isn’t Weimar Germany, and Islam’s radical fringe is still a fringe, rather than an existential enemy.
For that, we should be grateful. Because if a violent fringe is capable of inspiring so much cowardice and self-censorship, it suggests that there’s enough rot in our institutions that a stronger foe might be able to bring them crashing down.