Catholic groups are up in arms about C4’s plans to air an episode of the cartoon show “Southpark”, which will depict a menstruating statue of the Virgin Mary.
Family Life International has gone so far as to set up a website to co-ordinate efforts to boycott advertisers on C4 and TV3.
You know what? I applaud them for it.
I watched almost the entire first series of Southpark and loved it. I believe in complete freedom of speech, with NO restrictions, beyond defamation and incitement to criminal activity. I’m not a Catholic and have no particular interest in the divinity or otherwise of Virgin Mary.
I applaud the Catholic groups involved, partly because they are standing up for their beliefs, but mostly for the way they are going about it.
The Virgin Mary is central to the Catholic faith. If I were a Catholic, I’d be livid that some cartoon was going to treat that which I hold divine, in such a disrespectful way.
But here’s the difference. The Catholics are not attacking the US embassy. They’re not burning cars or rioting. They’re not threatening to behead C4 staff or the shows producers.
What they’re doing is withdrawing their support from those who they believe are offending them.
This is the civilised way to deal with perceived offence. You back off. You do not threaten anybodies life or property. You take away what is yours.
Catholics have money-they are legitimately threatening to stop spending it with C4 and TV3’s advertisers. Catholics have “goodwill”-they are legitimately threatening to withdraw that goodwill from those who offend them.
That is the way a civilised society should work. Everyone should have the right to express whatever views one’s conscience (or lack of) dictates. Everyone else should have the right to ignore, boycott, criticise, debate or not debate, the person or persons stating those views.
I personally hope C4 sticks to their guns and airs the episode. I want them to resist all pressure, put principle before possible commercial damage and air what they see fit on their channel.
I also hope that Catholic groups continue to stand up for their beliefs in the legitimate and ethical manner they have employed thus far.