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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
WRITTEN IN THE CONTEXT OF RECENT EVENTS (i.e. censorship of South Park, the Danish Cartoon riots, etc.).

The pen is always mightier...(or possibly, the cartoon crayon)

With all due respect to all religion, it should have absolutely no part in modern progressive politics, government and modern policies (including censorship or lack thereof). Ideally, religion should be irrelevant to public policy, and have no influence whatsoever. I realize this notion is idealistic, and at the very least there will always be religious lobby groups with deep pockets and political clout- and this should be the limit. The fact that the more right-leaning parties in the West have varying degrees of religous affiliations is inherently dubious and potentially disastrous to the progression of a society and the evolution and furthering of human knowledge and understanding (for example, "intelligent design" as a pseudo-science, aligning/modifying/modernizing long standing established religious beliefs, which to even the lay-person have become increasingly indredulous, to be more inline with well-documented and supported scientific theories).

If we were do to a cost-benefit analysis, the human costs of religion far outweigh any potential benefits. For example, Stem Cell research has the potential to relieve a vast array of human suffering, yet religious groups logically dubious arguments have slowed it's advancement considerably. Biomedical ethics boards are in place for providing logical and educated discussion on topics too complex for the lay-person (and it is indeed the lay-person that forms the bulk of religious worshipers). This is just one of many examples.

Furthermore, my beliefs are my own, and yours are your own. Beliefs in no way should be forced upon others. We can only hope that people make rational informed decisions forming beliefs based on all possible ideas forwarded. Having acess to all of these ideas is a key benefit and essential component of a democratic and free society. Thus, freedom of speech and democracy in general are sacred due to the advancement of knowlege, allowing an open forum of dialogue between people without fear and intimidation, and if I may be so bold, basically increases overall enjoyment of life.

Not to over-simplify, but Democratic nations are pluralistic, and many cultures co-exist peacefully. This is because no one belief system is allowed to dominate others. The primary value is freedom itself. Obviously freedom (specifically for the purpose of this discussion, freedom of expression) has it's limits, and must be used wisely- this is why anti-slanderous legislation exists...and different mediums have different standards. Because of this, any rational person would not believe everyting read on the internet (which is completely open and unregulated). In contrast, something read in the American Journal of Internal medicine has incredibly high standards in which every notion must be supported and validated (I only use the two examples to provide polarized examples). Thus, there is a certain element of critial thinking required before one reacts to a medium. Additionally, there always have been and likely always will be crass opinions that will find a route of expression through one medium or another- it is a personal decision to pay attention to these opinions and whether or not to react to them. It is a personal choice, just as it is a personal choice to practice your religion. Filtering through BS in the media is nothing new. People need to take some responsibility and make some intelligent choices filtering information mediums.

The fact an independant, private corporation (newspaper company) published is being associated with the Danish government is ridiculous- the two are separate entities. It is like saying all of Canada (and Canadians) are responsible for what the Toronto Star Publishes. This association has no logical basis (but then again, neither does religion).

There are obviosuly those that believe that the government is responsible to censor the media- but this is where their argument falls apart because there are standards by which the media is forced to uphold. These standards are currently more than sufficient. If they were any more strict, the phenomenon of unaccountable governments and totalitarianism/authoritarianism would be encouraged. This phenomenon is evident in most islamic governments and theocracies. The media is responsible, in large part, for keeping people aware and keeping governments accountable- thus, upholding freedom (positive reinforcement). In countries where there is little freedom of speech, there is a concurrent lack of acceptance of other beliefs- with often disastrous consequences for the population socially, economically, politically, etc. Freedom of speech is essential in any pluralistic society. I think we have already fallen down a slippery slope of censorship, and we have all lost some rights and freedoms due to intimidation from a group of radicals. This group of radicals, I might add, are among the most intolerant and thus hypocritical peoples in existence. So, the consequences are evident, as there are many examples worldwide today and historically of repressed populations. Therefore, I will always err on the side of caution (more freedom) as opposed to less freedom because history has taught us what happens when whe err on the side of less freedom.

In the past, millions have fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy today. There have not been many threats to democratic freedoms for decades, and thus an accompanying sense of complacency has developed. However, it would appear that all this is once again changing. The days where our freedoms are threatend may be returning. My alarm may seem like an over-reaction to some, at the very least I would agree it is premature for alarm. Yet I feel backing down will only postpone the inevitable and increase tension later on. I only hope we have the courage to stand up for our beliefs as those before us had.

Hypocritical censorship is a temporary solution, a 'band-aid' which won't hold for long. Shows like South Park and even the Simpsons can show and insult other religions prophets, yet one religion is excluded from comedic insult due to fear of retaliation from a group of irrational and hypocritical fundamentalists. People with singular, uneducated and irrational beleif systems will always be offended by what truly is harmless comedic banter. This is nothing new- they have always existed. I appreciate that islamic fundamentalism is a mere fringe group in the religion, but even the boycotting Danish products done by the more moderate and educated is an over-reaction and has no basis in logic. However, on a positive note, it is much more desirable than violence. Thus, although I may not a agree the aforementioned opinions held by even the more moderate and their logically flawed arguments, I will always defend their right to express themselves and protest peacefully. Furthermore, I will always defend the right to practice religion freely...any religion one chooses to follow (so long as said religion does not involve the physical harm of others). However, I will always protest religion involvement in politics- enjoying and exercising my rights to do so.

In summary, people believe what they wish in a free society. However, certainly it is essential to not force beliefs on others. If your religion states it is against publishing a character, then those in that religion should abide by those stipulations. However, those who are not members of said religion have no moral or legal obligation to uphold those (often strict) religious stipulations.


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Alright, it was only a matter of time before Trey Parker and Matt Stone tacked this topic.

South Park was recently censored due to an episode satirizing Scientology and some of it's more prominent members. Now, they have furthered this theme with an episode primarily addressing Islam versus freedom of speech.

If you have not seen it, I suggest downloading it (legally of course).

I realize that South Park is merely a cartoon. However, the cartoons in the Danish newspaper that sparked riots by fundamentalists throughout Islamic states. Moreover, South Park is far more offensive, and far more direct to the point in it's message.

I realize the population of this forum most likely isn't the typical demographic to watch cartoons for entertainment purposes or otherwise. However, South Park is quite proficient at providing social and political critiquing, and I find it quite clever and entertaining. I'm sure some might find the slapstick and toilet humour distasteful. But the points raised are valid. Just wondering what peoples thoughts are on this.
 

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Dr. Phalange said:
I realize the population of this forum most likely isn't the typical demographic to watch cartoons for entertainment purposes or otherwise. However, South Park is quite proficient at providing social and political critiquing, and I find it quite clever and entertaining. I'm sure some might find the slapstick and toilet humour distasteful. But the points raised are valid. Just wondering what peoples thoughts are on this.
You kidding me? South Park rocks! Actually, the demographic on SSC has proven to be quite young if you've seen some of the polls. It is likely that most people watch or have watched South Park at some point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Boris550 said:
You kidding me? South Park rocks! Actually, the demographic on SSC has proven to be quite young if you've seen some of the polls. It is likely that most people watch or have watched South Park at some point.
Ah, my mistake. I suppose I should have assumed the population here is younger, as they tend to be the more internet savvy.
 
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