South Park

South Park lambastes antiquated cab cartel with Timmy’s “Handicar”

South Park

Comedy Central’s “South Park,” well-known for its provocative social and political commentary, took a swipe at the taxicab cartel during last night’s episode, titled “Handicar.”

Timmy, wheelchair-bound and raising money for summer camp, creates an app-based ride service, whereby he picks up customers in a red wagon hitched to his motorized wheelchair.

During an exchange between a cab driver and a passenger at the beginnig of the episode, South Park captures the essence of why so many people dislike traveling by taxi.

“Excuse me, I think someone puked back here,” the customer says.

The driver asks, “You don’t like puke?”

“Could you turn the radio down and the air conditioning up, please,” the customer replies.

“No air conditioning. Too expensive,” replies the driver as he slams on the brakes, causing the customer’s head to hit the protective barrier between the front and back seats.

“Not enough people taking cabs. I don’t know what’s wrong,” the driver exclaims at the end of the ride.

This is the mentality of the taxicab hegemony. There seems to be no recognition of the lack of good service and very little desire to improve that service. Additionally, in several cities in the U.S. and abroad, cab drivers are protesting the expansion of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft by snarling downtown traffic. How tone deaf.

What South Park can teach us about current politics

South Park ran an episode in 2004 that revolved around an election of a new school mascot, the choices for which were a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich. Stan Marsh, one of the four main protagonists of the show, refused to vote and was subsequently booted from the fictional Colorado town.

Eventually, Stan came back to the town to cast his vote in the election, saying, “I learned that I’d better get used to having to pick between a douche and a turd sandwich because it’s usually the choice I’ll have.”

The episode wasn’t just brilliant indictment of the 2004 presidential election between then-President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), but also an American political system that presents Democrats and Republicans as the parties with the only answers to the United States’ woes.

Not much has changed in the 10 years since the boys from South Park were forced to choose between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich. Voters are still presented with the same options at the ballot box, often forced to cast a ballot for a party that they feel doesn’t best represent the American people.

Rasmussen Reports released a survey on Thursday which found that 53 percent of likely voters “think it is fair to say that neither party in Congress is the party of the American people.”

U.S. Embassy apologizes for free speech

If you’ve been paying attention to President Barack Obama and his allies in Congress over the last few years, then you know the appreciation for free speech is, well, non-existent. This problem isn’t limited to the Obama Administration or Democrats; after all, a Republican Congress and Republican president brought us one of the worst pieces of legislation in the last decade with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. However, the Obama Administration does bring us examples of contempt for free speech.

The exercise of free political speech is one of our bedrock principles in this country. Our Founding Fathers fought against the tyranny of King George III, who frequently sought to take the liberties of colonists and burden them with oppressive taxes. The Founding Fathers, using their natural right to free speech, fought back, condemning King George. With the Bill of Rights, they sought to recognize certain fundamental, natural rights to ensure that the federal government knew its bounds; among them was right to free speech.

The very clear wording of the First Amendment — “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” — hasn’t always prevented the federal government from passing laws to silence critics. Not long after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified, President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts into law, which made it a criminal offense to criticize his policies.

ICYMI: “South Park” pokes fun at Occupy Wall Street

It was a great episode, though Occupy Wall Street wasn’t the main focus of the storyline. To sum it up, Cartman was held South Park Elementary back from receiving good marks on a nationwide fitness test and every kid in the school was forced to do more exercise as a result of it. The kids ganged up on Cartman, who said he was the 1% being ganged up on by the 99%. The kids then take their message to the street and hilarity ensues:

Breyer’s contempt for free speech and expression

While I disagreed with Pastor Terry Jones and his church’s plans to burn the Koran, I disagree with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s determination that such an expression is somehow unconstitutional:

Last week we saw a Florida Pastor  – with 30 members in his church – threaten to burn Korans which lead to riots and killings in Afghanistan. We also saw Democrats and Republicans alike assume that Pastor Jones had a Constitutional right to burn those Korans.  But Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer told me on “GMA” that he’s not prepared to conclude that — in the internet age — the First Amendment condones Koran burning.

“Holmes said it doesn’t mean you can shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” Breyer told me. “Well, what is it?  Why?  Because people will be trampled to death.  And what is the crowded theater today?  What is the being trampled to death?”
For Breyer, that right is not a foregone conclusion.

“It will be answered over time in a series of cases which force people to think carefully.  That’s the virtue of cases,” Breyer told me. “And not just cases. Cases produce briefs, briefs produce thought. Arguments are made. The judges sit back and think. And most importantly, when they decide, they have to write an opinion, and that opinion has to be based on reason.  It isn’t a fake.”

“South Park” nominated for Emmy for controversial episodes

The two episodes of South Park that sparked so much controversy a couple of months ago have been nominated for an Emmy:

The censored “South Park” episodes that satirized the Prophet Muhammad picked up an Emmy nomination for outstanding animation program on Thursday.

The two episodes, simply titled “200/201,” were televised in April and came under a severe amount of scrutiny because some interpretations of Islam forbid visual representations of the prophet. As Dave Itzkoff reported at the time, the satire “elicited an ominous message from an Islamic group based in New York.” The group implied that the creators of “South Park,” Matt Stone and Trey Parker, would “probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show.” Mr. van Gogh was killed by an Islamic militant in Amsterdam six years ago.

The episodes were censored by the channel that carries “South Park,” Comedy Central, and they have not been repeated on television since April. They are also unable to be viewed on the show’s Web site, “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 our original version of the show,” the Web site says.

Draw Muhammed Day

See Video

This is a pretty good narrative, though of course simplified, of the controversy around depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.

Drawing Muhammad

The following was sent in by James Sapp, Jr. You can click the image to enlarge and see the detail.

Reason’s “Everybody Draw Muhammad” contest

As Michael noted a few days ago, the person that came up with the “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” idea backtracked because it “struck a gigantic nerve.” Alas, the folks at Reason are holding a “Everybody Draw Mohammed” contest:

The deadline for submitting work to Reason’s Everybody Draw Mohammed contest has passed; winners will be shown on Thursday, May 20.

All that remains is anticipation, both of the artwork that will be displayed and the possible threats of violence that will likely follow. Or should that be “the likely threats of possible violence”?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: On Muhammed, “Spread the Risk”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is brilliant:

Another idea is to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.

It’s really cosmically unfair that Ali is so gorgeous, incredible, articulate and intelligent. I really hope no harm ever comes to her.

Being offensive or derogatory to Muslims is not a good thing, and I’ll condemn anyone who does so. The best route is to be completely ridiculous, like the image Doug posted of Mohammed as a roll of string, a cup of coffee and a cherry. The average Muslim, when exercising common sense over ideology, will see how ridiculous threatening violence toward someone over such absurdity would be.

I’m glad, also, to see that condemnation is considerable throughout the political spectrum and the entertainment world, from Jon Stewart to The Simpsons. It’s a real improvement over the political correctness that followed the 2006 Jyllands-Posten Muhammed cartoon controversy.

Also check out the analysis from the Independent Institute.

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