When the ever-offensive creators of the popular Comedy Central cartoon "South Park" recently featured the Prophet Mohammed in a bear costume, they provoked a veiled death threat from some Islamist fanatics in New York and set off a firestorm about free speech in the process. The cable network's cowardly response to Trey Parker and Matt Stone's perfidy – namely, censoring the show and bleeping out any reference to the prophet – unintentionally triggered the kind of backlash that radical, fascist, jihadists should have earned a long time ago. It's ironic that it took a cartoon to spotlight the issue so brightly.
As a Catholic, I have often been offended by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The same can be said by anyone who practices Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism or just about any other "ism" under the sun. The difference is that "South Park" could poke fun at Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Joseph Smith, David Blaine, or practically any other religious or cult figure, without any fear of repercussion. There is, of course, one exception. Muslim fundamentalists can't abide it when the prophet Mohammed's teachings are questioned, much less when the prophet himself is mocked. For a religion as certain that it has a direct pipeline to the absolute, unalterable Word of God as Islam is, too many Muslims are awfully – and too often violently – insecure about that point.