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Southpark: 11 Years of Exposing Drug War Fallacies

Submitted by David Borden on

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As Scott yesterday blogged, this past Wednesday Comedy Central aired an episode about children getting high off of cat urine resulting in the banning of cats in Southpark. The DEA gets called in to enforce the ban. At the end of the episode, Gerald (the man who leads a fight to prohibit cats) gets high himself off of cat urine. After being caught, he publicly states cats should once again be legal because “Cats aren’t the problem, we are the problem.”

The cat urine episode is based, in part, on reports that surfaced a few months ago about kids saving human feces, fermenting it, and then inhaling the gasses to get high. The show referred to the squirting of cat urine in one’s face as “cheesing,” likely a send-up of a hybrid drug that involves mixing heroin with over-the-counter cold tablets such as Tylenol PM. The mixture is snorted rather than injected like pure heroin.

The message here is that some kids will get high. If illegal drugs are inaccessible, curious youths will find other ways to alter their consciousness. Clearly outlawing cats is just as absurd as outlawing human feces.

However, this is not the first Southpark episode to deal with drugs, and I doubt it will be the last. The first episode concerning drugs was in season 4 entitled “Timmy 2000.” The episode discussed the overprescribing of prescription drugs to children, specifically Ritalin. In 2000, the overprescribing of Ritalin (a drug used for ADD) became a nation-wide concern. Southpark broached the subject by showing how dull all of the kids became when they took it, eventually landing them at a Phil Collins concert. A remedy made by Chef removed the Ritalin from their systems, and the children then realized that they openly chose to go an extremely lame concert.

A few episodes feature the character Towelie. Towelie is an engineered smart towel that appears whenever the boys’ conversation involves water. Towelie is known for always wanting to get high. But every time he does he runs into some sort of trouble. Mostly he forgets what he is doing or comes up with a bad idea. It seems to me that Stone and Parker use the Towelie character to illustrate that marijuana isn’t harmful; it just can make one forgetful sometimes and possibly leave one unable to decipher good ideas from the bad ones.

2004: the year steroid controversy engulfed the sports world and Southpark’s “Up and Down Steroid” aired. The episode depicted the dangers of using steroids when Jimmy turns to them to win top athlete in the Special Olympics. In the end Jimmy wins the honor of top athlete, breaking many Special Olympic records along the way, but also hurting the ones he loves. Eventually, guilt overcomes him, and Jimmy returns the medal presented to him by baseball superstars (and notorious steroid users) Mark McGuire, Jason Giambi, and Barry Bonds. He follows with a speech, stating that “Taking steroids is like pretending to be handicapped at the Special Olympics because you are taking all of the fairness out of the game.” Once again Parker and Stone brilliantly brought to light a serious and adverse issue.

During the same season, Southpark aired the episode “Quest for Ratings,” which depicted the dangers of cough medication (at least those containing dextromethorphan). Misinformed, some of the students drink cough syrup in order to come up with creative ideas to boost ratings for the Southpark Elementary’s News Show. After waking up with a hangover and without any ideas, the boys realize the dangers of cough medicine and agree to report on the use going on in school. They learned that getting high doesn’t necessarily aid in the creation of masterpieces; it isn’t until they are sober that the clever idea is thought up.

I am ecstatic that a popular television show continues to cleverly address drug issues. The show is truthful and is able to attract a large audience, and at the end of the episodes one of the children usually makes a speech about what was learned from all the crazy antics.

Kudos to Southpark for standing above the crowd.

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