If the war against Islamic extremism were left to Comedy Central, it would have been lost by now. The network's decision to censor last week's episode of "South Park" depicting Muhammad was an act of unilateral surrender in the face of violent jihadist threats.
"South Park" first depicted Muhammad in July 2001 in an episode in which representatives of major religions were envisioned as superheroes. No one objected. A second depiction in 2006 - intended as commentary on the 2005 controversy in which a Danish newspaper was threatened by Islamic radicals after running cartoons satirizing Muhammad - was censored. Last week's censorship was heavier still. "South Park" co-creator Matt Stone observed that this marked a cultural retreat. Censorship became "the new normal," he said. "We lost. Something that was OK is now not OK." His creative partner, Trey Parker, noted that if "everyone would have rallied together" after the first threats in Denmark, there never would have been a problem.