A Russian TV channel trimmed a scene that makes fun of Vladimir Putin out of an episode of South Park last week. In the episode Free Willzyx, which aired here in 1995, the boys are trying to return a beached killer whale to the moon. (Don’t ask.) Naturally, they call Moscow for help (wouldn’t you?) and coincidentally get Putin on the phone just as he’s learned from his cabinet that Russia is dead broke. Assuming he’s speaking to some nutty American trying to buy his way onto a spaceflight, Putin agrees – for $20 million. He’s furious when the boys don’t have the money. “Goddamit, it is crank call again!” Putin shouts. “Kiss my ass, George Bush, this isn’t funny!”
Rosskomnadzor, the Russian version of the FCC, denies that it ordered 2x2, the channel that airs South Park, to edit the scene out. “We have never interfered with editorial decisions," a Rosskomnadzor spokesman told the Associated Press. To which I hope the State Department is going to scream, “Liar-liar-pants-on-fire!” Just last year, the agency threatened to pull 2x2’s license over a 1999 South Park called Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics. In that one, a character that my Reason magazine pal Cathy Young delicately referred to as “anthropomorphic human excrement” led Satan, Adolf Hitler and the rest of the gang in a good old Mitch-Miller-singalong of such classic carols as Christmas in Hell. The government backed down after a series of demonstrations South Park fans carrying banners that said, “Today they came for Kenny, tomorrow they’ll come for you.” Man, Makes you wonder what would happen if we turned Janet Jackson loose on Russian TV.