Jewish Journal


September 8, 2008

Russia moves to ban ‘South Park’ for religious extremism



Well, The God Blog better not relocate to Russia.

In addition to being a generally awful nation straddling the line between European democracy and despotic oligarchy, Russia began proceedings today to ban “South Park.” Not only would I have nothing to watch on TV late at night, except from my collection of Seasons 1-10, but I might not be able to post all the clips and quotes I regularly do.

Here’s the story from The Times of London:

Prosecutors took action against the 2x2 television channel for broadcasting an episode of the animated comedy show that featured Christmas songs including a medley duet performed by Santa Claus and Jesus Christ.

The Basmanny regional prosecutors office in Moscow has announced that the programme “bore signs of extremist activity”.

The episode in question called Mr Hankey’s Christmas Classics was aired in Moscow in January. It shows a number of regular and guest characters including Satan, Adolf Hitler and an anthropomorphised human faeces called Mr Hankey performing in a Christmas variety show. An accompanying CD is available to buy.

Valentina Titova, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors office said: “In accordance with the conclusions made by experts from the court investigations committee, a claim has been filed against 2x2 for its broadcast of an episode of South Park.”

The cartoon series made by Matt Stone and Trey Parker since 1997 has attracted criticism throughout its award-winning run and often targets special interest groups and religions for mockery.

A statement by Moscow prosecutors read: “It offends the honour and dignity of Christians and Muslims alike.” It could just have easily included Jews, Scientologists, Catholics, Mormons and Moonies all of whom have been mercilessly targeted by American series.

Let me get this straight: In Russia, you can’t watch “South Park” but sexual harassment is part of God’s natural order? Right ...

It is curious that the prosecutors singled out Christians and Muslims, because “South Park” disparages everybody, which is how they can get away with denigrating anybody. In reality, I’d say Mormons and Scientologists have gotten it the worst. Muslims, Christians and Jews tend to be peripheral victims in jokes about cultural absurdities (similar to the Muslims offended by the Barack Obama bin Laden New Yorker cover).

But at least the prosecutors picked a good target here. If they wanted to make a case against “South Park” as being rife with religious hatred, “Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics” was the best example they could find. I’m not sure, though, how they will prove that a set list that includes songs like “O Tannenbaum,” performed by Hitler, “Christmas Time in Hell,” performed by Satan, and “Merry F—-ing Christmas,” courtesy of Mr. Garrison, bears signs of “extremist activity” or incites religious violence.

Garrison’s song and dance is, in my mind, funnier than the others. He’s uber-offensive, but Garrison’s success lies in the all-too-real juxtaposition between his words and deed. The lyrics are very profane, so viewer beware:

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