South Park’s Most Self-Reflective Episode, “Cartoon Wars (1),” Episode 1003, Speak of Muslims, Terrorism and Free Speech

Personally, I think that the two part episode, “Cartoon Wars,” is out-of-this-world amazing. The layers of meaning in these two episodes go beyond almost anything most of us experience on a regular basis as we engage with the satirical media around us.

When Family Guy plans to show an image of Mohammed, the Muslim prophet, on its program, the Muslim world is outraged and the Americans are terrified of offending Muslims, primarily for fear of retribution. In large part the episode is about free speech and defending our American values, but it’s also about so much more than that. I recommend that everyone watch this episode and its sequel which will be on tomorrow night, Thursday.

A great free speech quote from the episode comes from Mr. Stotch, Butters’ dad:

“What we need to do is just the opposite. Freedom of speech is at stake here, don’t you all see? If anything, we should all make cartoons of Muhammad, and show the terrorists and the extremists that we are all united in the belief that every person has a right to say what they want! Look, people, it’s been real easy for us to stand up for free speech lately. For the past few decades we haven’t had to risk anything to defend it. But those times are going to come! And one of those times is right now. And if we aren’t willing to risk what we have, then we just believe in free speech, but we don’t defend it.”

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read about other South Park episodes.

I’ve actually written an essay called, “In Defense of South Park,” in which I discuss the importance of these episodes in the context of their genre and satire.

What do you think of this episode? What about free speech and the need to defend it?

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3 Responses

  1. I’ve written a number of times about free speech over the past several years; however, you may not agree with my conclusions. 😉

  2. You were right when you wrote on my post that we probably don’t agree entirely about issues surrounding free speech. As you’ve said, though, people shouldn’t have to put up with derogatory comments and cartoons that blaspheme their faiths.

    I agree that they shouldn’t have to, but I also realize that they do. I feel that it is ultimately more dangerous to attempt to control what people can say – and to punish them for it – considering how slippery that slope can be, than to just let them do what they will and allow society to create its own backlash indicating what is and what is not acceptable.

    Fortunately, you and I, I believe, both agree that it’s okay to disagree with one another about certain beliefs and values while living our lives happily and in the same society (whether local or global). Then again, neither of us are making offensive cartoons 🙂

  3. […] that it was more than a single episode – and then three episodes! – I became enthralled by the […]South Park’s Most Self-Reflective Episode, “Cartoon Wars (1),” Episode 1003, Speak of Muslims,… September 17, 2008Personally, I think that the two part episode, “Cartoon Wars,” is […]

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