One of the men who had issued “warnings” to the creators of Comedy Central’s “South Park” back in 2010 — saying they risked death if they showed the prophet Muhammad in a bear costume — has been sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison.
Jesse Curtis Morton founded the now-defunct Revolution Muslim Website which he and another defendant, Zachary Chesser, used to deliver threats against Matt Stone and Trey Parker over their show’s 200th and 201st episodes, in which viewers were led to believe Muhammas was disguised in a bear suit — only it turned out to be Saint Nicholas in the costume
Comedy Central censored the episodes when they were telecast in April of 2010, clumsily wiping out the cartoon bear-suited Santa Claus from its scenes. This, in turn, caused Stone and Parker to issue an angry statement complaining of the censorship, which the Viacom-network did after Chesser and Morton posted that the cartoon satirists would likely be killed for their depiction (or not) of Muhammad.
After the 200th episode debuted, the Web site Revolutionmuslim.com posted a statement saying, "We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid. . . . They will probably end up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show."
That's a reference to the Dutch filmmaker who was murdered in 2004 after making a documentary about violence against Muslim women. In its "warning" to Stone and Parker, the Web site illustrated its point with a photo of the filmmaker's body. The site also posted the addresses of both Comedy Central's New York headquarters and of the "South Park" production company offices.
Strangely, in July of 2010, the television academy decided that those two censored episodes of “South Park” merited consideration for Outstanding Animated Program in that year’s Primetime Emmy Awards. Academy voters, however, decided not to award Comedy Central an Emmy for censoring its program.
Chessler, who had also attempted to travel to Somalia to join the al-Shabab terrorist group as a fighter, earlier received a 25-year sentence, the Associated Press reported.
Morton’s sentence came after he offered an apology, saying he had “contributed to a clash of civilizations” by promoting violence, the AP noted.
Prosecutor Gordon Kromberg said Morton’s stiff sentence was necessary because his site inspired a variety of would-be jihadis, including "Jihad Jane" Colleen LaRose; Antonio Benjamin Martinez, who plotted to bomb a military recruiting station; and Jose Pimental, who plotted to assassinate members of the U.S. military returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, the AP added.
Kromberg argued that Morton abused his free speech protections to call for the murder of those whose speech he found offensive.
"Make a TV show we don't like — we'll slit your throat,” Kromberg said, summing up Morton's philosophy, according to the AP.