Panelist and Fox News radio commentator Todd Starnes called on the White House to put a stop to Hollywood's constant humiliating of Christians, both in movies and in television shows like the Comedy Central classic which he accused of "denigrating all faiths."
Starnes made the comments as discussion at the Summit turned to the "Innocence of Muslims," the ameteurish short film that is the alleged catalyst behind a slew of deadly protests against American installations in the Middle East. "The big headline this morning is 'federal authorities investigate Christian filmmaker because of this film," Starnes told attendees, according to a video posted on RightWingWatch.org.
"We have the seen the administration come out and say, 'we condemn anyone who denigrates religious faith,' and they come out in regards to this anti-Muslim film," Starnes said. Well, that's well and good, but my question is, when has the administration condemned the anti-Christian films that are coming out of Hollywood?" Where are the federal investigations into shows like ‘South Park?’"
So far there has been no known investigation into the "Innocence of Muslims," a film arguably protected under the First Amendment. Los Angeles authorities did call the films' alleged director Nakoula Basseley Nakoula in for questioning, but only because his involvement with the movie may have violated the terms of his probation, the Associated Press notes.
The way Starnes talked about the parole probe, however, made it seem like the interrogation of the Egyptian-born Coptic Christian was government “intimidation” of a “Christian filmmaker," Salon reports. Starnes did not mention the fact that Nakoula is also a felon.
"This is not about a film, this about free speech!" Starnes said, to audience applause.
"South Park" creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are no strangers to criticism leveled by members of the religious right, among others.
Since 1997, the Emmy-winning animated series has worked hard to push the limits of comedy and the patience of just about everyone. The show does often focus on religion, although they have been equal opportunity in their satire, lampooning everyone from Tom Cruise and Scientology to atheists like Richard Dawkins, to Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad. (Notably, a 2010 episode about the Islamic leader was censored after the pair received death threats.)
Speaking with ABC News in 2006, Parker and Stone discussed their fascination with religion ("All the religions are super funny to me," Parker noted) and their mock commitment to patriotic ideals.
"Part of living in the world today is you're going to have to be offended," Stone said. "The right to be offended and the right to offend is why we have a First Amendment. If no speech was offensive to anybody, then you wouldn't need to guarantee it."