Thank you for your correspondence regarding the "South Park" episodes
entitled "Cartoon Wars." We appreciate your concerns about censorship
and the destructive influence of outside groups on the media,
entertainment industry and particularly Comedy Central.
To reiterate, as satirists, we believe that it is our First Amendment
right to poke fun at any and all people, groups, organizations and
religions and we will continue to defend that right. Our goal is to
make people laugh and perhaps, if we're lucky, even make them think in
Comedy Central's belief in the First Amendment has not wavered, despite
our decision not to air an image of Muhammad. Our decision was made not
to mute the voices of Trey and Matt or because we value one religion
over any other. This decision was based solely on concern for public
safety in light of recent world events.
With the power of freedom of speech and expression also comes the
obligation to use that power in a responsible way. Much as we wish it
weren't the case, times have changed and, as witnessed by the intense
and deadly reaction to the publication of the Danish cartoons, decisions
cannot be made in a vacuum without considering what impact they may have
on innocent individuals around the globe.
It was with this in mind we decided not to air the image of Muhammad, a
decision similar to that made by virtually every single media outlet
across the country earlier this year when they each determined that it
was not prudent or in the interest of safety to reproduce the
controversial Danish cartoons. Injuries occurred and lives were lost in
the riots set off by the original publication of these cartoons. The
American media made a decision then, as we did now, not to put the
safety and well being of the public at risk, here or abroad.
As a viewer of "South Park," you know that over the course of ten
seasons and almost 150 episodes the series has addressed all types of
sensitive, hot-button issues, religious and political, and has done so
with Comedy Central's full support in every instance, including this
one. "Cartoon Wars" contained a very important message, one that Trey
and Matt felt strongly about, as did we at the network, which is why we
gave them carte blanche in every facet but one: we would not broadcast a
portrayal of Muhammad.
In that regard, did we censor the show? Yes, we did. But if you hold
Comedy Central's 15-year track record up against any other network out
there, you'll find that we afford our talent the most creative freedom
and provide a nurturing atmosphere that challenges them to be bold and
daring and places them in a position to constantly break barriers and
push the envelope. The result has been some of the most provocative
television ever produced.
We would like nothing more than to be able to look back at this in a few
years and think that perhaps we overreacted. Unfortunately, to have
made a different decision and to look back and see that we completely
underestimated the damage that resulted was a risk we were not willing
Our pledge to you, our loyal viewers, is that Comedy Central will
continue to produce and provide the best comedy available and we will
continue to push it right to the edge, using and defending the First
Amendment in the most responsible way we know how.
Comedy Central Viewer Services