Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Issue at the heart of the episode.

I am a huge South Park fan. My first ep was "Chinpokomon", but I didn't start watching regularly until probably "Something you can do with Your Finger"

There are a few things ticking me off about the news coverages of the 201 controversy. Mostly there is almost no context for it so I will do my best to summarize things.

The Cartoon

In September of 2005, the danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, printed cartoons that showed the Islam Prophet Mohammad along with an article. If you can't read dutch here is a Google translated version. Immediately after there were a number of protests throughout the world some of which were violent. According to The New York Times at least 200 people died in the resulting riots.

Here is a video from a interview from one of the cartoonists on the danish telvision show "In all Honesty from 2008.

Also here is an article written by the editor of the Danish newspaper published in the Washington Post.

The Economist Fires the First Shot in the Cartoon Wars

By early 2006 several media outlets had reported on the cartoon and the riots and as can be expected there were several opinions about it. In February 2006 the Economist published an opinion article entitled "The Limits to Free Speech: Cartoon wars".

Unfortunately I don't subscribe to the economist so I can only tell you tidbits of what I heard and it might be wrong. But I believe the article makes the point that while free speech has its limits (libel and slander) that it is not a value worth giving up to appease radicals.

"So what the Heck does this all have to do with South Park"

In 2006 one of my favorite episodes aired. "Cartoon Wars". In that episode the writers of family guy decide to insert a joke about the Islam prophet Mohammad into the show and its censored out but the writers demand that in the next episode that he be fully shown.

Notice how the only person in the clip really upset is Cartman. The thing you have to know in order to get the clip is that Cartman is a jerk at best and an depraved villain without conscience at worse. Anything written in his mouth is is going to be either an uncomfortable truth or at odds to what the creators think and also kind of evil.

Just to make the point what he does in this two-parter is considered by many fans to be one of the most evil plans he came up with in the entire series.

Though it doesn't compare to the time he ground up a kid's parents and made him eat them in his chili, while licking his tears and making his favorite band watch as he wept.

And Now for 200

Reaching your 200th episode is a big deal for any series. I love Lucy not counting all the spin offs only made it to about 179. Heck, only about 80 TV shows since the 1950's have made it that far and most of them are considered classics. Most modern TV shows try to do something special for the fans when they get that far. South Park decided to revisit several old plot lines and characters.

That kid who Cartman made eat his parents is back and coo coo for coco puffs. May the great ginger conspiracy kick Cartman in the nuts for what he did in season 9. The super best friends from season 5, Mecha Streisand from season 1, and Mitch Connor aka Jenifer Lopez from season 9 all make an appearance.

In this season 14 2-episode continuity nod for fans who stuck with them for so long the creators decided to give a nod the to cartoon wars plot. And of course it involves showing the prophet Mohammad.

A website, issued a warning on its website stating that what the creators were doing could get them killed. I'm not going to comment on if thats a death threat or not since it seems, especially after reading their statements in the backlash that they were saying violence could come from somewhere else but even if I give them that. Well Kyle said it best in Cartoon wars.

You can't give into them just because they are threatening you with violence.

But that's just what comedy central did. They censored out Mohammad in Cartoon Wars in the last scene but it was only 2 seconds so no one noticed. They did the same thing in 201 but this time however people noticed. Not only that but in a season 5 episode "Super Best Friends" way back in the day they had showed him uncensored.

Here is an interview Matt and Trey did with Boing Boing a week prior to it airing.

Every verbal mention of Mohammad his animation, and even the concluding speech of the episode were censored. Needless to say this went against Matt and Trey's, the creators of the shows wished and they issued a statement.

In Conclusion

First off I support Matt and Trey, not just because I love the show but because I want to be a writer and at the end of the day free speech matters a great deal to me and to the very concept of democracy.

Second, I am kind of peeved at the mainstream media. When watching the reports they never seemed to comment on the episode itself and even when they did they didn't mention the political stances on free speech the creators had already made in "Cartoon Wars" which at least to me seem to be at the heart of both the in episode and out of episode issues. Its like were watching "Cartoon Wars" but in real life and its sad.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Budget

I was raised in a staunchly democratic family. Don't force a ten year old to go to a political banquette, if you don't have to. It will not end well. Right now republicans look a little crazy, but the dems can be just as crazy. In those campaign speeches it was always lets get those republicans.

I disagree with republicans on a series of issues but they do have a few good points.

I may be a hippie, but I am deep in the money.

I am not a fiscal conservative. I believe in the Keynesian idea that a small deficit is a good thing, but what we have right now is not a small deficit.What we have right now is the largest deficit in the history of the United States. (I was wrong about that. When you consider the deficit as a percentage of GDP, it was actually larger in the 1940's, during WWII. Although in terms of the dollar amount it is still larger now.)Something needs to be done about it. That said its not necessarily anyone's fault. Something needs to be done about it. That said its not necessarily anyone's fault. The Dems want to blame Bush for it and the Reps want to blame Clinton and Obama, but its none of their fault.

One of the reasons why Clinton had a surplus was that the economy was generally booming and everyone was paying more taxes as a result. Now that it's not and, especially over the last 3 years, has really been hit the government is simply not making as much money as it used to.

The problem is exacerbated by trying to figure out what programs to cut. Contrary to popular belief over the the last 30 years the federal (states are another story) bureaucracy, based on the number of federal emplyees, has not grown that much. I am of the belief that in a modern society the idea of not feeling the hand of government is outmoded. We need the Environmental Protection Agency(Yes I believe global warming is man made). We need the Department of Transportation (I'm really hoping we get started working on that bullet train). We need the Consumer Product Safety Commission (Toyota!!!!!!!!).

If we got rid of some of these programs there would be outrage. Unemployment is still high and right now government stimulus packages are still needed.

It's a catch 22. Hey I'm just a plucky college kid. Don't ask me what to do.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Primer on the N-Word

Typically speaking when I hear an position I am probably going to disagree with and do a general face palm at it, I make a list of acceptable arguments and explanations from the opposition. Fox news reported a story about the teabags denying they used the N-word. Hey no problem. I wasn't there at the protests immediately before and after the health care protests, and most of what I heard about it was hearsay with no tape. That right there is a reasonable response, not to say I believe them but its a reasonable response.

Then just for kicks I went to the comments. Let me say this. Almost all internet commentators myself included are slightly unhinged. I got comments comparing redneck to the N-word. Its close. but not the same. There were also comments asking why black people can use the word and white people can't. Now this is not the definitive end all answer but I will try to explain.

First off let me blast away some racial myths. Racism is not dead. Race in some ways still matters in America. There are still people both black and white who were around during Jim Crow. And although I know that most white people I hang with weren't born during that time and aren't racist (I hope) and don't blame them for Jim Crow, I and a lot of Black people still have an awareness and general anger about the following

  • Slavery (Lets localize this to not getting paid for a fair days work not the other consequences of slavery for now.)
  • Physical brutality during slavery
  • Raping of Black Women During of Slavery
  • Separation of the black family unit during slavery
  • The inability to sue over wrong doing(like rape) or have any rights during slavery
  • Lynching which occurred well into the 20th century. One occurred in 1981.
  • The taking away of the black vote and general political power
  • Jim Crow Laws and Segregation
  • Economic and Social Disenfranchisement which resulted from Jim Crow Laws and Slavery
  • Police Brutality
  • Stereotyping
and now for the intangible one that
relates directly to this argument folks
  • The general feeling white people had throughout history that they were by definition the superior race. I mean read some of the racist political speeches between the 1880s and around the 1970s. It will make you want to pull a Bobby Knight and throw a chair.

You see the problem is when pointing out the idea of white superiority they would use the N-Word... a lot. So much so that the N-word has become a symbol of the idea of white supremacy. Now I'm black and I generally don't use the word but, if I did most people would take for granted that I wasn't suggesting that black people are morally, culturally and intellectually inferior to white people. And lets face it some white people still do feel that way.

Some folks like to say those days are back in the past and that we are all just people, but the distrust of blacks and whites was not so long ago. The times before the civil rights movement are still within living memory. My dad saw the Detroit riots of 67. Not only that but the economic consequences of not only the riot but segregation and the idea of white superiority in general can still be seen in both Detroit and the rest of the country.

It doesn't help that in many places, this is especially true in metro Detroit, America has decided to re-segregate itself.

I can go on in a general rant on race but eh Its too early in the morning. Point is, white folks when you use the N-word you bring all of that up again. So just don't.

P.S. If you want a really well done comedic primer or African American racial politics in contemporary America you got to give it to South Park's "Apologies to Jesse Jackson.

"Look Token I did everything in my power to make this right. You have no reason to still be mad"
"I have every reason to be mad. You just don't get it."
"I'm not responsible for what my dad did"
"No but you can't just pretend it didn't happen either."

And No "Jesse Jackson is not the emperor of black people."

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