Feds: "South Park" "warning" guy arrested
[This blog post has been updated]
The Virginia man who had issued those "warnings" to the creators of Comedy Central's animated series "South Park," saying they risked death if they showed the prophet Muhammad in a bear costume, has been arrested and charged with giving material support to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab.
Zachary Chesser, 20, was arrested Wednesday on charges unrelated to the online "warnings" that he posted to "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker over the show's 200th and 201st episodes, in which viewers were led to believe Muhammad was disguised in a bear suit -- only it turned out to be St. Nick in the bear costume.
According to records, Chesser, an Oakton High School grad, told federal agents he twice tried to travel to Somalia to join al-Shabab as a fighter.
Comedy Central declined to comment on Wednesday's arrest; "South Park" creators Stone and Parker also declined to comment.
The Viacom-owned cable network censored the two episodes of "South Park" when they were telecast in April. Verbal references to Muhammad were bleeped out, and all images of Muhammad were redacted with a large black strip on which was had been written the word "censored."
(In 2001, when Parker and Stone included images of Muhammad in an episode of "South Park," the network did not censor it. )
Ironically, the two censored episodes are nominated for an Emmy this year.
After that 200th episode debuted, a "warning" was posted on the Web site Revolutionmuslim.com, saying, "We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid...They will probably end up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show."
That's a reference to the Dutch filmmaker who was murdered in 2004 after making a documentary about violence against Muslim women. In its "warning" to Stone and Parker, the Web site illustrated its point with a photo of the filmmaker's body. The site also posted the addresses of Comedy Central's New York headquarters and that of the "South Park" production company.
After the "warning" was posted, Stone and Parker issued an angry statement complaining about the Viacom-owned Comedy Central's censoring of the program:
"We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode," the duo said in their missive, which they slapped on the show's Web site.
"Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle's customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn't mention Muhammad at all, but it got bleeped too," Stone and Parker complained.
Lisa de Moraes
July 21, 2010; 8:39 PM ET
Categories: TV News
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