If you want a real history lesson, watch 'South Park'

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An eight-year-old boy, dressed as Hitler and warped by repeated viewings of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, leads a marching parade past the town synagogue. “Es is Zeit fur Rache!” Eric Cartman chants (“It is time for revenge!”). “Wir mussen die Juden ausrotten!” the crowd replies (“We must exterminate the Jews!”). This is the world of South Park, the animated satire that last week depicted the bloody suicide of the Queen, bringing predictable calls for censorship when the series is broadcast in Britain later this year. Her Majesty got off lightly. In the same episode, Hillary Clinton had a terrorist nuclear device cunningly planted within. The adverb is the clue.

The phrase most commonly used to describe South Park’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, is that they are equal-opportunity offenders. So, while Jesus hosts a lame Jerry Springer-style daytime television show, Satan is a wimp, bossed about by Saddam Hussein, his boyfriend. The South Park staple is to satirise all sides. George W. Bush is rarely flattered, but Osama bin Laden died in season five after a Bugs Bunny-style chase scene in which a joke was made about the size of his penis. Yet in a week when a government-funded report claimed that some schools no longer teach the Holocaust for fear of upsetting religious extremists, maybe the morality of the most offensive show on television is what is missing from our multicultural society. Instead of banning South Park, shouldn’t we feed its attitude into our curriculum?

Its writers might joke about the Final Solution (Mum: “Can Eric spend the night?” Cartman’s mum: “No, Eric is grounded for trying to exterminate the Jews last week.”), just as they have 9/11, Aids and the destruction of the rainforests, but they would also know what to do with fanatical bullies and Holocaust deniers. Parker and Stone are not cowards. The Historical Association briefing, commissioned by the Department for Education, cited a school in northern Britain that did not teach the Holocaust as part of its GCSE coursework for fear of stirring anti-Semitic sentiment among Muslim pupils. Give our kids the teachings of South Park any day.

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Randll Reese Besch - 4/9/2007

Yes, and bravo. More power to them.
What free speech is by definition.