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Southpark: 11 Years of Exposing Drug War Fallacies

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Editor's Note: Amanda B. Shaffer is an intern at StoptheDrugWar.org. Her bio is in our "staff" section at http://stopthedrugwar.org/about/staff

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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Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Jimi Devine's picture

good stuff

Awesome post and great (arguably fun) research

One more

My favorite South Park drug episode was the one where Stan's parent's hired someone to pretend that he was "future-Stan" who'd traveled through time to warn Stan about taking drugs.

Another Classic

Hey, thanks for pointing that one out. That was another fantastic episode that discussed drug use. Unfortuntately I couldn't put it in my post since I was concerned about making it too lengthy. But great catch, and thanks for informing everyone about another classic Southpark episode dealing with drugs. =) If you can think of any other notable episodes, keep 'em coming!

Amanda B. Shaffer

Excellent Article

To my driven, humorous, caring, smart, and nice girlfriend:

Fantastic article! I totally agree that South Park factually and successfully tackles controversial American issues--and has been doing so for years. The show is hilarious and brillant at the same time. Keep up the good work beautiful.

Love,

MD

wingtip

Nephew of Fresno police chief arrested on drug charges
The Associated Press
Article Launched: 04/01/2008 01:35:22 PM PDT
FRESNO, Calif.—The Fresno police chief's nephew and the son of Fresno police officer Diane Dyer.
has been arrested on suspicion of selling cocaine and OxyContin in nearby Clovis, police said Tuesday.

Damon Dyer, 27, was taken into custody on March 26 at a traffic stop in Fresno following a month-and-a-half-long investigation into his role in local drug sales, said Clovis police spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee.

Dyer is the nephew of chief Jerry Dyer and the son of Fresno police officer Diane Dyer.

Clovis officers later served a search warrant on Diane Dyer's home and found illegal drugs in her son's bedroom.

Damon Dyer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to eight felony drug charges, including narcotics sales, possession of prescription medication and steroids possession.

He was being held in the Fresno County Jail in lieu of $211,000 bail.

Steroids can be Healthy

By Christian_Peper____

I did not like the steroid episode because many studies have proven that steroids can be good for the health if they are legitimate pharmaceuticals.

The primary reason steroids are dangerous is one needs to buy them off the black market and this can lead to purity issues. In general hormone replacement therapy and even steroids prescribed to strength athletes has a positive effect on the health unless they are bought on the back market and are impure.

We must legalize steroids to increase the safety to those that use them. Individual sports still can test and prohibit them if they want but putting casual steroid users behind bars is wrong, wrong, wrong and hurts the innocent.

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