Saint Trey on Religious Icons and Miracles (and the Catholic Church)
It may be hard to believe that Trey Parker's "Bloody Mary" South Park episode is more than juvenile ridicule. But that may be because many people do not know how pervasive such beliefs continue to be. Yes, idol worship is alive and well today, as can be seen on our Virgin Mary Miracles Page (featuring Penn & Teller), which, BTW, includes a real bleeding Virgin Mary statue! Indeed, the iconoclasm in this South Park episode on this page is a mild version of the violent attacks on idol worship launched against the Eastern Orthodox Church (in the 8th and 9th centuries) and later, during the Protestant Reformation, against the Catholic Church.
Violent iconoclasm eclipses Trey Parker's relatively mild critique. For example, consider the violent outrage voiced by Muslims in response to "12 Danish to Go" that left more than 150 dead, and the reaction to the destruction of a mosque in Iraq that left more than 1,000 dead (and made civil war inevitable).
In contrast, consider the lack of a violent response by Buddhists to the madness depicted in this video:
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Because Yoism is built upon a thoroughgoing rejection of magical thinking and religious delusions, Yoism has been referred to as The Iconoclastic Religion. While Yoism rejects violent attacks on the beliefs and symbols of other people—and most Yoans do not even want to be associated with the mocking tone used by Parker (or by Penn & Teller)—others feel that religious delusions must be vigorously opposed, even if doing so offends some people. Regardless of their public attitude toward such beliefs, Yoans agree that delusional religious faith poses a grave danger to the future of humanity. Iconoclasm is sacred.
And now, Trey Parker "On Miracles"
The Full Text of the South Park Disclaimer
Warning: The videoclips below, contain all of the controversial scenes that led to the episode being censored. In addition to the harsh, mocking tone directed at religious institutions (in this case, the Catholic Church), many people find South Park's crude language offensive. If you are offended by such language and/or by "body excretion humour," this Bloody Mary may not be your "cup of tea."
(This disclaimer is valid in those states where applicable.
Void where prohibited by law ;-)
Note: This video is excerpted from a Daily Show that appeared in late March 2006.
For more recent censorship, see the Muhammad Incident.
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By Sarah Hall Thu Dec 29, 7:14 PM ET
"South Park" Parked by Complaints
Did Comedy Central grant the Catholic League its Christmas wish?
Following the Dec. 7 season finale of South Park,
titled "Bloody Mary," the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
slammed the network for its irreverent portrayal of church icons and
sought to block the episode from being rebroadcast.
appears the group may have met with success. A repeat of the finale was
scheduled to air Wednesday night, but was pulled from the Comedy Central
lineup without explanation.
In the episode, a statue of
the Virgin Mary is believed to be bleeding from its rear end, inspiring
faithful parishioners to flock from miles around to be healed by the
Eventually, Pope Benedict XVI is called
in to investigate, whereupon he determines that the statue is actually
menstruating and thus is nothing special.
bleeding out her vagina is no miracle," the pope declares in the
episode. "Chicks bleed out their vaginas all the time."
Somewhat predictably, the Catholic League was incensed by the satirical
portrayal of the Virgin Mary and the pope and by the fact that the
episode aired on the day before the Catholic Church celebrated its Feast
of the Immaculate Conception.
The conservative group
demanded an apology from Viacom, Comedy Central's parent company, to
Roman Catholics everywhere and "a pledge that this episode be
permanently retired and not be made available on DVD."
Catholic League also sought a personal condemnation from Viacom board
member Joseph A. Califano Jr., who the group noted is a "practicing
Califano was only too happy to oblige. After
viewing the episode, he released a statement calling the episode an
"appalling and disgusting portrayal of the Virgin Mary."
"It is particularly troubling to me as a Roman Catholic that the segment
has run on the eve and day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a
holy day for Roman Catholics," Califano said.
also pledged to have Viacom president and CEO Tom Freston review the
Comedy Central did not respond to a request
for comment on why "Bloody Mary" was yanked from the schedule.
Screencaps of the episode were no longer available on Comedy
Central's press site or on comedycentral.com's South Park
The Catholic League previously tangled with
Comedy Central in 2002 over a South Park episode titled "Red Hot
Catholic Love," but failed to produce any results.
Copyright © 2006 E! Online, Inc.
Not Even in South Park?
Two months before 9/11, Comedy Central aired an episode of “South Park” entitled “Super Best Friends,” in which the cartoon show’s foul-mouthed urchins sought assistance from an unusual team of superheroes. These particular superfriends were all religious figures: Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Mormonism’s Joseph Smith, Taoism’s Lao-tse and the Prophet Muhammad, depicted with a turban and a 5 o’clock shadow, and introduced as “the Muslim prophet with the powers of flame.”
That was a more permissive time. You can’t portray Muhammad on American television anymore, as South Park’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, discovered in 2006, when they tried to parody the Danish cartoon controversy in which unflattering caricatures of the prophet prompted worldwide riots by scripting another animated appearance for Muhammad. The episode aired, but the cameo itself was blacked out, replaced by an announcement that Comedy Central had refused to show an image of the prophet.
For Parker and Stone, the obvious next step was to make fun of the fact that you can’t broadcast an image of Muhammad. Two weeks ago, “South Park” brought back the “super best friends,” but this time Muhammad never showed his face. He “appeared” from inside a U-Haul trailer, and then from inside a mascot’s costume.
These gimmicks then prompted a writer for the New York-based Web site revolutionmuslim.com to predict that Parker and Stone would end up like Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker murdered in 2004 for his scathing critiques of Islam. The writer, an American convert to Islam named Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, didn’t technically threaten to kill them himself. His post, and the accompanying photo of van Gogh’s corpse, was just “a warning ... of what will likely happen to them.”
This passive-aggressive death threat provoked a swift response from Comedy Central. In last week’s follow-up episode, the prophet’s non-appearance appearances were censored, and every single reference to Muhammad was bleeped out. The historical record was quickly scrubbed as well: The original “Super Best Friends” episode is no longer available on the Internet.
Oh Yeah? Here's One of South Park's
Banned Episodes: Super Best Friends
In a way, the muzzling of “South Park” is no more disquieting than any other example of Western institutions’ cowering before the threat of Islamist violence. It’s no worse than the German opera house that temporarily suspended performances of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo” because it included a scene featuring Muhammad’s severed head. Or Random House’s decision to cancel the publication of a novel about the prophet’s third wife. Or Yale University Press’s refusal to publish the controversial Danish cartoons ... in a book about the Danish cartoon crisis. Or the fact that various Western journalists, intellectuals and politicians the list includes Oriana Fallaci in Italy, Michel Houellebecq in France, Mark Steyn in Canada and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands have been hauled before courts and “human rights” tribunals, in supposedly liberal societies, for daring to give offense to Islam.
But there’s still a sense in which the “South Park” case is particularly illuminating. Not because it tells us anything new about the lines that writers and entertainers suddenly aren’t allowed to cross. But because it’s a reminder that Islam is just about the only place where we draw any lines at all.
Across 14 on-air years, there’s no icon “South Park” hasn’t trampled, no vein of shock-comedy (sexual, scatalogical, blasphemous) it hasn’t mined. In a less jaded era, its creators would have been the rightful heirs of Oscar Wilde or Lenny Bruce taking frequent risks to fillet the culture’s sacred cows.
In ours, though, even Parker’s and Stone’s wildest outrages often just blur into the scenery. In a country where the latest hit movie, “Kick-Ass,” features an 11-year-old girl spitting obscenities and gutting bad guys while dressed in pedophile-bait outfits, there isn’t much room for real transgression. Our culture has few taboos that can’t be violated, and our establishment has largely given up on setting standards in the first place.
Except where Islam is concerned. There, the standards are established under threat of violence, and accepted out of a mix of self-preservation and self-loathing.
This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.
Happily, today’s would-be totalitarians are probably too marginal to take full advantage. This isn’t Weimar Germany, and Islam’s radical fringe is still a fringe, rather than an existential enemy.
For that, we should be grateful. Because if a violent fringe is capable of inspiring so much cowardice and self-censorship, it suggests that there’s enough rot in our institutions that a stronger foe might be able to bring them crashing down.
Back to the top of this page and the "Bloody Mary" episode of South Park.