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“South Park” is disgusting, blasphemous, and occasionally hilarious out of all bounds. In the past it has taken on the Catholic Church , the Jews , evangelicals , Mormons , Scientology , Christmas , and virtually every institution and value and public figure one might mention. It took an extra measure of chutzpah, not to mention physical courage, to lampoon the one major religion that the series has avoided, namely [censored], in the person of the Prophet [censored].

As the Times Online reported today:

An American television network has blocked global internet broadcasts of an episode of South Park featuring the Prophet [censored] after death threats from a radical [censored] group.

The 201st edition of the satirical animation was aired on Comedy Central last night but only after the channel had introduced a slew of audio and visual obfuscations in addition to the self-censorship applied by the programme’s makers.

A spokesman confirmed that the network had not granted permission to play the episode online and that producers had edited the programme before it was broadcast.

Trey Stone and Matt Parker, the cartoon’s creators, were warned this week that they would be killed if they were seen to continue mocking the Prophet after an episode broadcast last Wednesday . It included a character representing [censored], who spoke from inside a giant bear suit to prevent the illustrators having to depict him — a blasphemous act according to some [censored].

A message on the site reads: “We apologise that South Park Studios cannot stream episode 201 at this time. After we delivered the show and prior to broadcast, Comedy Central placed numerous additional audio bleeps throughout the episode. We do not have network approval to stream the original version of the show.”

The dispute comes after a little-known American group calling itself “Revolution [censored]” posted a message on its website warning Stone and Parker “that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show”.

The warning was accompanied by a disturbing image of Van Gogh, a Dutch film-maker who was murdered by an [censored] militant in 2004 after making a film that was seen to criticise [censored].

I do not normally watch the show, but prior news coverage peaked my interest. The plot involves a nefarious scheme concocted by Tom Cruise to kidnap the Prophet [censored] and transmogrify into his identity, so that no-one will make fun of him any more (because no-one dare make fun of [censored] for fear of winding up like Theo van Gogh]. The League of Super Best Friends (Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Joseph Smith, et. al.) ally with the kids of South Park to foil Cruise’s scheme. Also in for a drubbing were Pope Benedict XVI (who expresses the wish that no-one would make fun of him, either), Barbara Streisand (presented as a Godzilla-like monster), and other notables.

We are living under censorship by terrorists. Even South Park can’t make fun of [censored], and I can’t say anything about the fact that [censored] had a father and stepfather who were both [censored], not to mention offer comments about [censored]’s mother.

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