THIS JUST IN: 17 Pulitzer-winning cartoonists 'condemn threat' against 'South Park' creators
Seventeen Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonists, including "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau and 2010 winner Mark Fiore, have signed a petition to condemn the "threat" against Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the Comedy Central show "South Park."
As released to Comic Riffs, the letter of condemnation says: "We, the undersigned, condemn the recent threats against the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, by the extremist organization, Muslim Revolution."
The Islamic group in question has also been called Revolution Muslim and produced the recently cached website RevolutionMuslim.com -- on which images of the fatally stabbed filmmaker Theo Van Gogh (a noted critic of Islam) appeared with the caption: "Have Matt Stone And Trey Parker Forgotten This?" (Comic Riffs reported this last week.)
The 17 Pulitzer cartoonists who signed the letter are: Nick Anderson, Tony Auth, Clay Bennett, Steve Benson, Matt Davies, Mark Fiore, Jack Higgins, David Horsey, Jim Morin, Mike Peters, Joel Pett, Michael Ramirez, Ben Sargent, Paul Szep, Ann Telnaes, Garry Trudeau and Signe Wilkinson.
Their letter goes on to say that "freedom of expression is a universal right" and "we reject any group that seeks to silence people by violence or intimidation." The letter cites the United States's "proud tradition of political satire" and affirms belief in the right "to speak or draw freely without censorship."
Signe Wilkinson, political cartoonist at the Philadelphia Daily News, tells Comic Riffs: "I feel more strongly than the statement -- and am particularly appalled by Comedy Central's lack of spine."
Comedy Central censored an episode of "South Park" last week that was to show Muhammad; the censorship came a week after "South Park" depicted Muhammad in a bear suit. Depictions of the religious leader are considered blasphemous to some Muslims. Stone and Parker said Comedy Central also censored the show's speech about fear and intimidation.
Last week, Seattle artist Molly Norris circulated a cartoon to show her support for the "South Park" creators -- she even "dedicated" the cartoon to Parker and Stone -- but then retreated from the "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" campaign that her cartoon spawned, telling Comic Riffs late Saturday: "I made a cartoon that went viral but [this campaign] isn't really my thing."
In writing about Norris this week, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker says the Revolution Muslim website postings about "South Park" were by "one Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee (aka Zachary Chesser of Virginia)." The Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism says Chesser, a recent George Mason University student, wants to start a Revolution Muslim chapter in Washington, D.C., according to a FoxNews.com report.
The Bay Area-based Fiore says to Comic Riffs: "Revolution Muslim's Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee sounds a lot less scary when you realize he's really just ... Zachary from Virginia typing on a computer."
Parker also wrote this week that Norris -- who, in a new cartoon, admits to questioning her own courage as the campaign grew viral -- "should be relieved of further duty or responsibility." In other words: Her Muhammad cartoon has done enough to spark a larger dialogue.
Now, 17 Pulitzer-winning cartoonists who know all too well the fires of political controversy are taking up that standard.
| April 28, 2010; 1:42 PM ET
Categories: General, The Political Cartoon | Tags: Ann Telnaes, Ben Sargent, Clay Bennett, Comedy Central, David Horsey, Garry Trudeau, Islam, Jack Higgins, Jim Morin, Joel Pett, Mark Fiore, Matt Davies, Matt Stone, Michael Ramirez, Mike Peters, Nick Anderson, Paul Szep, Pulitzer Prizes, Signe Wilkinson, South Park, South Park censorship, Steve Benson, Tony Auth, Trey Parker
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