I just declined to sign a petition on the South Park controversy. The petition, as it was presented to me, read:
We, the undersigned, condemn the recent threats against the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, by the extremist organization Muslim Revolution. Freedom of expression is a universal right and we reject any group that seeks to silence people by violence or intimidation. In the United States we have a proud tradition of political satire and believe in the right to speak or draw freely without censorship.
My reply to the request to sign was as follows:
Obviously I condemn the threats of violence, and obviously I support the right of cartoonists to draw whatever they want. But I rarely sign petitions because they never express exactly my thoughts on a subject. In this instance, what exactly in the cartoon was political satire? It seemed to me to be religious satire, which is not the same thing. And this statement seems to conflate censorship and intimidation. Again, not the same thing. The network did the censoring. And government censorship is not the same as publisher censorship. I could sign the first two sentences. And I could sign the last one. But putting them together seems to distort this situation.
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