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Isaac Hayes quits South Park gig over "religious insensitivity"

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Soul singer Isaac Hayes said on Monday he was quitting his job as the voice of the lusty character “Chef” on the satiric cable TV cartoon “South Park,” citing the show’s “inappropriate ridicule” of religion.

In a statement explaining his departure from the show, Hayes, 63, did not mention last fall’s episode poking fun at Scientology and some of its celebrity adherents, including actor Tom Cruise.

Rather, Hayes said the show’s parody of religion in general was part of what he saw as a “growing insensitivity toward personal spiritual beliefs” in the media, including the recent controversy over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

“There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs … begins,” Hayes said.

Yeah, funny how that sudden sensitivity toward personal spiritual beliefs took so long to develop, huh?

“In 10 years and over 150 episodes of ‘South Park,’ Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews,” Stone said in a statement in which he agreed to release Hayes from his contract. “He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show.”

Outlandish religious satire has been a mainstay of the show since its debut on the Viacom Inc.-owned network in 1997. The series grew out of two short films by Stone and collaborator Trey Parker — “Jesus vs. Frosty” and “The Spirit of Christmas,” the latter featuring a martial-arts duel between Jesus and Santa Claus over the true meaning of Christmas.

During the ninth season of “Park,” an episode titled “Trapped in the Closet” poked fun at Scientology, including depictions of celebrities with known ties to the organization, including Tom Cruise and John Travolta. One of the gang, Stan, scores so high on a Scientology test that church followers think he is the next L. Ron Hubbard, the late science-fiction writer who founded the religion. Hayes did not take part in that episode.

Let’s just see how long it took Hayes to build up this revulsion toward the religious insensitivity displayed in South Park:

Episode #108 – Damien: Damien, the son of Satan, shows up as a new student in South Park.
Episode #204 – Ike’s Wee Wee: A look at the Jewish practice of circumcision.
Episode #309 – Jewbilee: A Boy Scout-like gathering for Jewish kids.
Episode #316 – Are You There God? It’s Me, Jesus: Jesus offers up the miracle of a Rod Stewart Concert and God appears in his form as a hairy duckbilled rhinocerous-faced web-footed creature.
Episode #410 – Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?: The kids ask the Catholic priest about whether the handicapped kid who can’t say confession will go to hell.
Episode #411 – Probably: Cartman starts his own church and Satan sleeps with Saddam Hussein.
Episode #504 – Super Best Friends: Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Joseph Smith, Krishna, & Lao Tzu are portrayed as super heroes alongside “Sea Man”, an Aquaman rip-off.
Episode #608 – Red Hot Catholic Love: A look at the Catholic Church pedophilia scandal where the Catholic leadership is only concerned about how to get the kids to stop reporting the abuse, not actually ending the abuse.
Episode #612 – A Ladder to Heaven: The boys build a ladder to heaven to rescue the dead Kenny, where they find Saddam Hussein, and discover that the Mormons were the one true religion after all.
Episode #709 – Christian Rock Hard: Cartman starts a Christian Rock band.
Episode #712 – All About Mormons: A Mormon kid moves into South Park and the history of Joseph Smith and the religion are openly mocked in song as “dumb-da-dumb-dumb-dumb”.
Episode #804 – The Passion of the Jew: Cartman leads Evangelical Christians, motivated by The Passion of the Christ, in a Nazi-like parade to drive out the Jews from South Park.
Episode #904 – Best Friends Forever: Kenny dies (again) and ascends to heaven where he commands the armies of angels against the hordes of hell by using a special PlayStation Portable.
Episode #914 – Bloody Mary: A bleeding statue of Virgin Mary is discovered in the next town.

And, of course, the episode that Hayes has the problem with:

Episode #912 – Trapped in the Closet: Stan is recognized as the newest reincarnation of prophet L. Ron Hubbard as Scientology is satirized and famous Scientologists like Tom Cruise and John Travolta are mocked.

Hayes’ comments about the Mohammaed cartoons is a cop-out. For ten years now, he’s contributed to a cartoon just as mocking of Judaism, Protestant Christianity, Catholic Christianity, Mormon Christianity, and religion in general. And in America, we believe that nothing is too sacred to be mocked. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion can and should coexist. I’m mortified that the media in America would go so far as to defend the radical Islamists who are rioting about the Mohammed cartoons rather than defending the free speech rights and free press rights of the newspapers that printed them. Hayes’ resignation just shows that even the new-fangled religions are just as nutty as the ancient ones.

[Blasphemously cross-posted at Radical Writ]

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