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South Park Conservatives: Snapshot of the Culture Wars
TechCentralStation.com ^ | 04-15-05 | Edward B. Driscoll, Jr.

Posted on 04/15/2005 6:33:31 AM PDT by Rhoades

One of the side benefits of presidential elections every four years is that it allows for fairly close readings of where America's culture as a whole currently stands. That's one reason so many books on the topic are released shortly after each presidential election's conclusion. One of the newest is Brian C. Anderson's "South Park Conservatives," the title of which will be familiar to Tech Central Station readers. The name is based in part on a piece that Stephen Stanton wrote for TCS back in 2002 called "South Park Republicans."

Anderson, the senior editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, uses fans of the popular -- and controversial -- Comedy Central animated series as a metaphor to describe the changing face of conservatism.

What Is a South Park Conservative?

"In my book", Anderson recently told me, "the term refers to a kind of irreverent post-liberal or anti-liberal attitude or sensibility, one very in tune with popular culture. But it's not a coherent, fully developed political philosophy. You do find this attitude among a lot of younger Americans, as I show in my concluding chapter, which is based on lots of interviews with right-of-center college kids."

Those right-of-center college students, for the most part, aren't Alex P. Keaton-clones, decked out in Ralph Lauren double-breasted navy blue blazers. They're more likely to look like every other college kid: jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts advertising their favorite rock groups. (On the other hand, as Anderson notes in his book, campus South Park conservatives usually smell better than their bathing-optional counterparts on the left). But there's one thing that South Park campus conservatives abhor: "Political correctness drives them nuts", Anderson says. "In interviewing students, for instance, it was clear how much the PC conformities of the campus Left turned them off."

The Media: Leftwing Overreach, Rightwing Pioneering

The "over PC-ing" of the media brings up a key aspect of today's culture wars. "One key reason the Right is, if not winning", Anderson says, "at least no longer losing the culture wars isn't the new media; it's the intellectual exhaustion of the Left, something that has become especially apparent in a post-9/11 era".

Last year, James Pierson of the WeeklyStandard.com coined a term called "punitive liberalism" to describe the post-1972 Left's belief that America was always on the wrong side of the key events in history, and therefore deserved to be punished. It was a worldview very different from the older, pro-American FDR/JFK-style of liberalism of the previous generation. It first began to be noticed in shows like M*A*S*H, where Alan Alda's Hawkeye could find little difference between America and the communist North Koreans and Chinese. By the mid-1990s, when he wasn't producing cartoons pushing radical environmentalism, Ted Turner commissioned a history of the Cold War for CNN, and its producer was quoted as saying that Turner demanded that the documentary series deal with the Cold War "unjingoistically," adding that Turner "did not want a triumphalist approach". In other words, Turner didn't want to emphasize why it was a good thing that America had won.

Meanwhile, television was transformed by the two competing PCs -- political correctness and personal computers. Excessive political correctness alienated many viewers; and the personal computer and a wide-open Internet provided a timely alternative. As a result much of TV's remaining audience has skewed into a decidedly older demographic.

Anderson credits New Yorker media critic Ken Auletta for tipping him off to this idea, which is most noticeable via TV's advertising. Anderson observes that "commercials on the Big Three network newscasts are frequently hawking drugs like Viagra and Mylanta, and the broadcasts themselves often focus on health issues. There's a reason for that emphasis on infirmity: the average age of a network news watcher is now 60; only about 8 percent of viewership is between 18 and 34. Ten years ago, 60 percent of adult Americans regularly tuned in to one of the network newscasts. Now it's only about one in three. And people have lost trust in the mainstream outlets."

As proof, he cites a Pew Research poll last year, which found "that just 21 percent of its respondents viewed the New York Times as a trustworthy news source -- a figure below that of Fox News, it's worth noting," Anderson says.

Anderson's book builds on an essay he wrote in 2003 for City Journal, in which he observed that the right had achieved parity with the left in terms of pop culture, through a combination of leftwing overreach, and the opening up of new media.

Regarding the latter, in the late 1980s, the repeal of the FCC's Fairness Doctrine, which had previously -- at least in theory -- required broadcast licensees to present all sides of a topic, allowed conservative talk radio to flourish. Because there was little room for conservatives on TV networks, a huge market opened up for talk radio, lead of course, by Rush Limbaugh.

Fox News joined the radio talkers in the 1980s. As Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Post's nationally syndicated editorial columnist once quipped, Rupert Murdoch launched the cable news channel because he perceived that a small niche market was being underserved: half the country.

The News Wars: Still Not Quite a Level Playing Field

The Internet allowed sites like National Review Online, the Weekly Standard.com, Reason.com, TCS, and several others to flourish. Most recently, the Blogosphere has joined them. In his book, Anderson quotes Jeff Jarvis, the creator of Entertainment Weekly, who also writes the popular BuzzMachine Weblog, who says that the end result of the Blogosphere's influence is that "News becomes a conversation. It's not finished and fish wrap when it's printed. That's when the public finally gets to ask questions, contribute facts, and add new perspective."

Of course, the legacy media still has one big advantage: its manpower. "The elite media", Anderson says, "have the power to send out squadrons of reporters to investigate, say, Tom Delay but not Kofi Annan and UN corruption, and that can still shape the public's perception of what's newsworthy, still can provide a narrative to the flux of events and issues." The ability to choose what to investigate and what to report remains a powerful form of information control for big media.

Anderson says that Fox's ability to shape the narrative is one reason they've been so influential, and so hated by many liberals. "As the conservative media critic Tim Graham put it to me, Fox arrived as a major professional news organization with the capacity to define the news as something other than what the elite consensus says it is. So the Swift Boat Veterans' charges deserved investigation; so Richard Clarke's conflicting views on the Bush administration's approach to fighting terror were relevant to assessing his credibility; so the troubles with our efforts in Iraq needed to be balanced against the real successes.

"Before Fox, nothing like this existed", Anderson observes. "The blogs can report, too, as we're seeing -- just ask Dan Rather -- by drawing on a kind of collective knowledge, so this has helped right the reporting imbalance somewhat. But there's room for a lot more. It's a real opportunity for aspiring journalists, I think."

The Culture War's Newest Front

With some measure of parity achieved in the media, what's the next front in the culture war? Academia of course, which is where Anderson chooses to end "South Park Conservatives" (before an index and a volley of footnotes, including -- full disclosure time -- me, for this TCS article).

Anderson's ultimate objective isn't to achieve some sort of ideological reversal, where conservatives dominate campuses in the same fashion that the left currently does. Instead, he's trying to ensure that academia "isn't a machine for left-wing political advocacy". Anderson says that students "are trending to the right on issues from how to view capitalism to attitudes about abortion and many view campus PC orthodoxy with abhorrence -- which is why so many of them love South Park."

Anderson concedes that reforming academia is going to be a long slog. "Changes are only just underway, and the prospects for any quick turnaround somewhat remote".


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bookreview; briancanderson; culturewars; generationy; genx; southpark; southparkrepublicans
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1 posted on 04/15/2005 6:33:32 AM PDT by Rhoades
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To: Rhoades
I think South Park jumped the shark. The last really funny episode was when the South Parkers went skiing.
2 posted on 04/15/2005 6:37:23 AM PDT by escapefromboston (manny ortez: mvp)
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To: Rhoades
"Political correctness drives them nuts..."

Amen.

3 posted on 04/15/2005 6:41:25 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Drug prohibition laws help fund terrorism.)
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To: Rhoades

South Park rocks bump!


4 posted on 04/15/2005 6:41:31 AM PDT by 68 grunt (3/1 India, 3rd, 68-69, 0311)
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To: escapefromboston

Did you happen to see the Paris Hilton one. The end was great, I never laughed so hard in my life!!!


5 posted on 04/15/2005 6:41:37 AM PDT by Luigi Vasellini ("Its for my brother he's got a nose like a vacuum cleaner" My favorite Roger Clinton quote.)
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To: escapefromboston
... think South Park jumped the shark ...

Nah, there's been some instant classics.

"Jumped the shark"? Like Limbaugh and Delay?

6 posted on 04/15/2005 6:44:27 AM PDT by 68 grunt (3/1 India, 3rd, 68-69, 0311)
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To: Rhoades
A good summation of the media wars.

I find it interesting that the right makes inroads into the MSM through cartoons. South Park isn't the only cartoon to take on the left--you've got The Simpsons and King of the Hill to name a couple.

When the definitive book on the history of America's culture war is written there'll be a whole chapter or two devoted to the use of art by the right to get their message out.

7 posted on 04/15/2005 6:44:55 AM PDT by randog (What the....?!)
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To: Rhoades

8 posted on 04/15/2005 6:45:38 AM PDT by Dick Vomer (liberals suck......... but it depends on what your definition of the word "suck" is.)
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To: Rhoades
"Anderson concedes that reforming academia is going to be a long slog."

Recognizing that a change is needed is half the battle. The ugly secret is out now and maybe parents will look longer and harder when selecting the place they will send their children to college. It's the good old Yankee way, boycott the offender! Capitalism works!
9 posted on 04/15/2005 6:45:58 AM PDT by SMARTY
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To: escapefromboston

I haven't watched South Park in years, but I must say, the South Park was the most offensive, foul, insane movie I have ever seen. I never laughed harder in my life. Plus, South Park usually has pretty conservative themes.
Maybe it's some sort of trap for the left, they tune in for the gross out comedy, only to be gently swayed by the undercurrent of conservative themes...


10 posted on 04/15/2005 6:49:43 AM PDT by Ragtop (We are the people our parents warned us about)
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To: Rhoades
In 1963, my alma matter -- UMass/Amherst -- retired undefeated on TV's "College Bowl" (one of just ten schools to do so). Today, the social sciences, humanities, and school of education at UMass/Amherst are laughing stocks of screaming lesbian hatemongers, PC storm strooper, and open admissions for anyone of "color." Bachelor's degrees are simply handed-out to students who finish four years of "individual concentration" in Victims Studies and Gender Oppression Studies. The Anthropology Dept. is headed by "Feminist Anthropologists," whateverthehell that is. Campus violence is constant, with rapes and assaults committed by "poor minority victims of a racist society," apparently admitted upon the basis of being violent and stupid. The real students in chemistry, computer science, and forestry management (yes, there are still some good schools there, struggling against the tide), keep their heads down and try to graduate without being lynched by angry mobs. It's pitiful.
11 posted on 04/15/2005 6:50:55 AM PDT by pabianice
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To: Ragtop

METALHEAD CONSERVATIVE RIGHT HERE!


12 posted on 04/15/2005 6:53:36 AM PDT by chris1 ("Make the other guy die for his country" - George S. Patton Jr.)
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To: escapefromboston

Point of order: the phrase "jumped the shark" has ITSELF jumped the shark...


13 posted on 04/15/2005 6:53:45 AM PDT by beezdotcom (I'm usually either right or wrong...)
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To: escapefromboston; EveningStar
"In my book", Anderson recently told me, "the term refers to a kind of irreverent post-liberal or anti-liberal attitude or sensibility, one very in tune with popular culture. But it's not a coherent, fully developed political philosophy.

I beg to differ. I believe it is almost, if not completely, a fully developed philosophy. South Park leans libertarian (small l) and is more conservative in ways than Republican.

As for jumping the shark, you have to be kidding. The one about the Schiavo case was enlightening and hilarious at the same time. This week's was pretty decent as well

14 posted on 04/15/2005 6:57:50 AM PDT by billbears (Deo Vindice)
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To: chris1

Rock On!


15 posted on 04/15/2005 6:57:55 AM PDT by Ragtop (We are the people our parents warned us about)
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To: Rhoades
"One key reason the Right is, if not winning", Anderson says, "at least no longer losing the culture wars isn't the new media; it's the intellectual exhaustion of the Left, something that has become especially apparent in a post-9/11 era".

The author initially disputes my own premise of New Media's monotonically increasing cultural clout, then apparently spends the remainder of the his editorial defended my position?

As proof, he cites a Pew Research poll last year, which found "that just 21 percent of its respondents viewed the New York Times as a trustworthy news source -- a figure below that of Fox News, it's worth noting," Anderson says.

Soros' Olde Media production of get DeLay just flopped, which further increases New Media's clout at the expense of Olde Media.

"The elite media", Anderson says, "have the power to send out squadrons of reporters to investigate, say, Tom Delay but not Kofi Annan and UN corruption, and that can still shape the public's perception of what's newsworthy, still can provide a narrative to the flux of events and issues." The ability to choose what to investigate and what to report remains a powerful form of information control for big media.

Conservatives call that setting an agenda. Easongate proved New Media's clout in setting an agenda.

With some measure of parity achieved in the media, what's the next front in the culture war? Academia of course, which is where Anderson chooses to end "South Park Conservatives" (before an index and a volley of footnotes, including -- full disclosure time -- me, for this TCS article).

The judiciary comes next, then Academia. After Academia comes movies created independently of Hollyweird. Conservative capitalists will actualize a Leftist dream of controlling the all 6 cultural influences: family, church, media, judiciary, academia, & entertainment.

16 posted on 04/15/2005 6:58:19 AM PDT by Milhous
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To: beezdotcom

"Point of order: the phrase "jumped the shark" has ITSELF jumped the shark..."

Not only that, but the phrase "'Jumped the shark' has itself jumped the shark" is at least on the ramp if not airborne over the tank.


17 posted on 04/15/2005 6:59:05 AM PDT by Trimegistus
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To: Trimegistus
Not only that, but the phrase "'Jumped the shark' has itself jumped the shark" is at least on the ramp if not airborne over the tank.

Indeed. It pained me even to say it - but when in Rome...
18 posted on 04/15/2005 7:01:11 AM PDT by beezdotcom (I'm usually either right or wrong...)
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To: randog

...and my favorite, Family Guy.


19 posted on 04/15/2005 7:03:38 AM PDT by Castro (Moses supposes his toeses are roses...)
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To: escapefromboston

South Park hasn't even entered the water yet, let alone jumped the shark.


20 posted on 04/15/2005 7:07:50 AM PDT by Phantom Lord (Advantages are taken, not handed out)
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To: Rhoades

BEEFCAKE!!!!!!


21 posted on 04/15/2005 7:25:14 AM PDT by ManMountain (In case of social breakdown remember Liberals... The other white meat.)
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To: pabianice

College Bowl? That may be a little before my time (born in 66). Do you mean televised debates? I do hate the genre(sp?), but that would be a great reality show. Right vs. left and let America vote on the winner.

I need to talk to NBC about this, a show about nothing.


22 posted on 04/15/2005 7:25:34 AM PDT by phugg
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To: pabianice

Many of our institutions of higher learning actually stiffle critical thinking. It's absolutely insane.

"In the absence of intellectual competition—other than the disputes between left and lefter—academia will continue to get it wrong over and over again." -some old thread that I saved.


23 posted on 04/15/2005 7:31:17 AM PDT by Sax
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To: Luigi Vasellini

The Paris Hilton was was not only hysterical but scary because it was so true (I'm the mother of an eleven year old girl).

The election episode was great too. It slammed PETA and P.Diddy and his inane "Vote or Die" campaign.


24 posted on 04/15/2005 7:41:25 AM PDT by Republican Red (DU: ''Reality sucks. That's the problem. We want another reality.'')
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To: phugg
College Bowl, "The Varsity Sport of the Mind", has a long and illustrious history on television, on radio and on campuses. It is the world famous game of questions and answers played by two teams of competing students. College Bowl has provided the arena for the fastest minds in school to demonstrate their great skills under the fire of varsity competition. At the same time, it has entertained millions.

From October 10, 1953 through June, 1957, College Bowl was on the NBC radio network under the sponsorship of Good Housekeeping Magazine. The moderator was in a New York studio, the students on their own campuses and the entire event connected via three-way phone and radio hookup.

On January 5, 1959, the College Bowl program became a network television show. The program's sponsor was the General Electric Company and the program became known as the GE College Bowl. It was first hosted by Allen Ludden, then by Robert Earle. It ran 26-39 weeks each year on Saturdays and Sundays until June of 1970.

**Above from collegebowl.com website. It was not dumbed down as most game shows.
25 posted on 04/15/2005 7:48:27 AM PDT by DeFault User
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To: escapefromboston

Nope, but that phrase has.


26 posted on 04/15/2005 7:57:05 AM PDT by eyespysomething (hmmm....)
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To: qam1; ItsOurTimeNow; PresbyRev; tortoise; Fraulein; StoneColdGOP; Clemenza; malakhi; m18436572; ...
Xer Ping

Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effect Gen-Reagan/Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.

Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.

27 posted on 04/15/2005 7:57:26 AM PDT by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: pabianice
Campus violence is constant, with rapes and assaults committed by "poor minority victims of a racist society," apparently admitted upon the basis of being violent and stupid.

AKA, "the UMass/Amherst basketball team"?

28 posted on 04/15/2005 8:09:27 AM PDT by randog (What the....?!)
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To: Rhoades

I am a PROUD South Park Republican.

I have never, and will never, vote for a Democrat (Well...That's not true...I've voted for a few local ones, but they don't count), so I am mainly "Broken Glass Republican". But, with some Libertarian leanings...As an example...

The whole Terri Schaivo thing freaked me out. I sided with her husband, who I believe was trying to carry-out her will. And Representative Delay's reaction freaked me out (Give me Newt Gengrich ANY DAY! Tom is an outstanding foot soilder, but his "Leadership" skill need honing a bit).

But because of those beliefs, I'll be called a "RINO". Again, even though I CAN'T STAND liberals, and will NEVER vote for a Democrat over a Republican.

Anyway...I understand what South Park Conservatives (Republicans) are, and I'm proud to call myself one.


29 posted on 04/15/2005 8:13:38 AM PDT by Dean Baker (Two wrongs may not make a right, but three lefts do.)
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To: phugg
College Bowl? That may be a little before my time (born in 66). Do you mean televised debates?

It was kind of a "team Jeopardy", where each team consisted of four (five?) college students from a particular college. The moderator would ask questions, and any team member could hit a buzzer to be the first to answer it and score a point for their team. IIRC, the team could confer for a few seconds before giving their answer.

30 posted on 04/15/2005 8:18:31 AM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: qam1

Please add me to your list. Although I was born in 64 (What the HELL am I supposed to be, by the way!!??), I've just recently grown-up.


31 posted on 04/15/2005 8:25:41 AM PDT by Dean Baker (Two wrongs may not make a right, but three lefts do.)
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To: beezdotcom

32 posted on 04/15/2005 8:52:32 AM PDT by Donald Rumsfeld Fan ("Memos on Bush Are Fake but Accurate". NYTimes)
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To: Rhoades
Between Rush and South Park, I've got all the humor I need. I do wonder if Stone and Parker actually realize that they are conservatives.


33 posted on 04/15/2005 8:52:57 AM PDT by Niteranger68 ("I am not a conservative because I am successful; I am successful because I am a conservative.")
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To: Rhoades; .cnI redruM; c21sac; 68 grunt; A. Patriot; ABG(anybody but Gore); Abundy; acad1228; adx; ..
SOUTH PARK PING!

For those who don't know how you got on this ping list: the initial ping list was created by copying member names from past South Park threads.

Please ping me with any South Park related articles. Thank you!

If you want on or off this ping list, please FReepmail me.

This is expected to be a low to medium volume ping list.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Create a South Park character of yourself.

34 posted on 04/15/2005 9:09:47 AM PDT by EveningStar
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To: Ragtop
Maybe it's some sort of trap for the left, they tune in for the gross out comedy, only to be gently swayed by the undercurrent of conservative themes...

Bingo.

35 posted on 04/15/2005 9:23:24 AM PDT by js1138 (There are 10 kinds of people: those who read binary, and those who don't.)
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To: billbears

I've found the last page of the will...


36 posted on 04/15/2005 9:43:22 AM PDT by BJClinton (Giuliani/DeLay 2008)
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To: 68 grunt

I am proud to be labeled as a "South Park Republican."


37 posted on 04/15/2005 9:47:23 AM PDT by Hunble
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To: escapefromboston

I think you may have missed the point.


38 posted on 04/15/2005 9:48:58 AM PDT by subterfuge
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To: Dean Baker
Anyway...I understand what South Park Conservatives (Republicans) are, and I'm proud to call myself one.

That was well stated, and I agreed with all of the points that you mentioned.

39 posted on 04/15/2005 9:49:26 AM PDT by Hunble
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To: Castro

40 posted on 04/15/2005 9:53:32 AM PDT by PBRSTREETGANG
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To: escapefromboston

I like the episode the other night when Cartman thought he was dead. Come on...that's funny!


41 posted on 04/15/2005 9:55:40 AM PDT by I'm ALL Right! (Welcome to my addiction.)
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To: I'm ALL Right!

Very funny. Especially when Cartman went in to scare the hostage takers thinking he was invisible.


42 posted on 04/15/2005 9:57:22 AM PDT by PBRSTREETGANG
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To: PBRSTREETGANG

"This is very weird".


43 posted on 04/15/2005 9:57:52 AM PDT by HairOfTheDog
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To: Rhoades
Ping, ping, ping.

One thing I would add to this is the fact that my whole adult life (I'm now 29) I've really befuddled friends of mine that are 'greenies' or quasi socialists. I listen to Limbaugh, read National Review, etc.

But I've always been into certain scenes that typically would be considered 'the left wing part of town'. College radio..indepedent music, etc. I read www.pitchfork.com daily.

I guess if I were to trim my music listening down to those artists that see eye to eye with me politically, I would solely be listening to modern country music radio. :)

44 posted on 04/15/2005 10:01:59 AM PDT by soundandvision
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To: escapefromboston

just the other night was pretty funny with Cartman thinking he was dead, and that only Butters could see him.
funny scene with Cartman trying to help free some hostages.


45 posted on 04/15/2005 10:02:06 AM PDT by isom35
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To: pabianice
Today, the social sciences, humanities, and school of education at UMass/Amherst are laughing stocks of screaming lesbian hatemongers, PC storm strooper

I am so glad I went to college outside of that standard campus environment. I got to go to class and study without any of those distractions.

46 posted on 04/15/2005 10:03:21 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: RacerF150

"I hate conservatives but I really effing hate liberals."
-Matt Stone (Mildly cleaned up to keep the mods happy.)

(He's registered as a Republican, BTW. Parker's a libertarian.)


47 posted on 04/15/2005 10:11:00 AM PDT by Starter (Hey, hey, hey. Island of seals.)
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To: Rhoades

I would definitely consider myself a south park conservative. The stereotype liberals have of conservatives is simply not true. Although a south park conservative usually leans more libertarian than a traditional conservative in my opinion.


48 posted on 04/15/2005 10:19:28 AM PDT by NJ Freeper
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To: PBRSTREETGANG

Sexy Party!


49 posted on 04/15/2005 10:36:23 AM PDT by Zeppelin (Ripping good laugh - http://www.zeronews-fr.com/flash/70s.php)
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To: isom35

I'm going to Heaven now for eternal bliss and $10,000....especially when Cartman went around apologizing. I think they can get away with saying some of the most absolutely wrong, politically incorrect, but funny lines because it's a cartoon. I didn't get anything out of the baseball episode last week though.


50 posted on 04/15/2005 10:37:41 AM PDT by billbears (Deo Vindice)
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