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‘South Park’ and rats

BY BEAU ELLIOT | APRIL 27, 2010 7:30 AM

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I don’t get to see “South Park” all that often — mostly because I don’t watch TV all that often.

(Outside of baseball highlights — and speaking of which, in my humble opinion, the Red Sox could do with a lot more highlights instead of the steady string of lowlights I’ve seen so far this season.)

Instead of TV — or even YouTube — I tend to listen to the radio and to read. You know, newspapers, magazine, books — all that antiquated stuff. I know, I know — I’m hopelessly 20th century.

And I know there are more important things to worry about than “South Park” and what it is and is not allowed to air. Arizona’s tough new immigration law, for instance, designed, apparently, to crack down on illegal immigration.

It’s probably unAmerican of me, but I just can’t get too excited about illegal immigration. That’s because whenever I think about illegal immigration, I think of my friend Jessica, who is very intelligent (graduate student in philosophy kind of intelligent) and who is also, as it happens, part Menominee. If I bring up the topic of illegal immigration with her, she just laughs. And I laugh, too, because if you’re white, complaining about illegal immigration is more than a bit absurd. I mean, how did all we white Americans get here, anyway?

There are other things more important than “South Park.” Republicans blocking the financial-reform bill, for instance. Off-shore oil rigs exploding and sinking in the Gulf of Mexico, causing an oil spill (drill, Obama, drill). Rats in your toilet bowl.

Rats in your toilet bowl? you exclaim. That’s an urban myth. Isn’t it?

Um, maybe not. According to a story I heard on “This American Life” this past weekend, rats — or a single rat, more specifically — can indeed wind up in your toilet bowl.

So now I eye my toilet bowl a bit more suspiciously. And wonder why in the world a Republican would ever want to be in my toilet bowl.

Meanwhile, back at “South Park,” I have to agree with *New York Times* columnist Ross Douthat, with whom I agree on almost nothing, that the cartoon show should be able to satirize the Prophet Muhammad and not be censored.

Apparently, according to Douthat, “South Park” wanted to parody the notion that you can’t show an image of the prophet by airing an episode in which, “… Muhammad never showed his face. He “appeared” from inside a U-Haul trailer and then from inside a mascot’s costume.” This caused the website, Douthat writes, to proclaim that the show’s producers could wind up like Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who was killed after criticizing Islam. And that caused Comedy Central to censor “the prophet’s non-appearance appearances … and every single reference to Muhammad was bleeped out.”

I have to agree with Douthat: This type of censorship is unacceptable. Satirizing Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, ]Hinduism, ]Taoism, Shintoism, animism, atheism — and bigoted ranting — is protected speech and shouldn’t be censored.

I’m sorry if I missed anybody. It wasn’t for lack of trying.

Now, granted I’m an atheist and believe all religions are superstitions, but let’s just ignore that for the moment. Let’s suppose, for a moment, there is God (Or any other name — Allah, Jehovah, etc. — the naming is merely a human thing, not a godly thing; if there is a God, it does not think of itself, as we humans understand thinking, of a name for itself. It is everything. Such as we humans understand everything. Which, I admit, we don’t. Things get messy here, and we Americans really don’t like “messy here.” We like tidy solutions to complex problems and frequently mowed lawns, neither of which occur as often as we would like. That explains some of the politicians we elect — I call it the frequently mowed-lawn solution.)

Now, about those rats.

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