(TV) South Park “Bloody Mary” Episode
Date of incident: February 1, 2006
Category: Social Hostility / Intolerance
Attack against: Faith
Area of case: Media
An episode of the cartoon series “South Park” shows irreverent treatment of Catholic symbols.An episode of the cartoon series “South Park” shows irreverent treatment of catholic symbols, where a statue of the Virgin Mary begins to bleed out of her anus and people begin to flock around it to find a cure for their diseases. Pope Benedict XVI comes to investigate, and discovers that the blood is not actually coming from the statue's anus – but her vagina. Since “chicks bleed out their vaginas all the time,” this is no miracle.
The episode was aired on December 7, 2005, which is the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic observance related specifically to the Virgin Mary. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights condemned this episode for its treatment of the Virgin Mary. They demanded an apology to Roman Catholics and that the episode "be permanently retired and not be made available on DVD." In particular they also demanded that Joseph A. Califano, Jr., a member of Viacom's board of directors and a practicing Catholic, issue his own statement of condemnation.
Califano did later release a statement calling the episode an "appalling and disgusting portrayal of the Virgin Mary," and pledged to have it reviewed by Viacom's president and CEO, Tom Freston. Bishop William Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent a letter to Freston saying the network showed "extreme insensitivity" when it aired the episode. When Comedy Central re-aired all the episodes from South Park's Fall 2005 season on December 28, 2005, "Bloody Mary" was noticeably absent from the broadcast. Comedy Central responded to e-mail inquiries about the fate of the episode with the assurance that "Bloody Mary" has not been retired and would not be pulled from the DVD release. However, still missing are screen captures from the episode on Comedy Central's press site and the South Park section of comedycentral.com.
In February 2006, leaders from the New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Council of Christians and Muslims, and other religious groups together lobbied media conglomerate CanWest to stop a planned airing of the episode in New Zealand on the music channel C4. The network rejected the plea and aired the episode on February 22, 2006.
www.catholicleague.org (december 30th, 2005)
www.tv.com (december 7, 2005)