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(CNN) -- A recent episode of South Park featured a cartoon version of Steve Irwin in a bloody shirt with a stingray sticking out of his chest. There was an immediate backlash from Crocodile Hunter fans who think the show went too far. Australian newspapers quote a friend of Irwin's widow as saying Terri Irwin is "devastated Steve is being mocked in such a cruel way." But the creators of South Park are unrepentant. A spokesman said, "We have offended people in the past and will probably do it again."
We asked CNN.com readers what they think about the episode. Here is a selection, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.
I was a fan of South Park until this travesty. There is a big difference between social commentary and sadistic, unnecessary attacks. [Matt] Stone and [Trey] Parker have ceased to be clever and edgy and begun to be the schoolyard bullies of American television. Their publicist's statement that "regular watchers will not be shocked" is in error. I am shocked and put off completely. Now Terri Irwin has gotten word of the hateful cartoon and the damage is done.
There is a difference between controversial and disgustingly disrespectful. Where are the lines? In an effort to be "shocking" and push the boundaries of morality and ethics South Park has pushed itself right over the edge into not even being funny anymore. It seems that their only goal these days is to see how many people they can piss off, and are gleeful when it works.
The depiction of Steve Irwin in the latest episode of South Park is certainly morbid, but is it funny? I have long enjoyed the talent of Steve Irwin and was deeply upset by his passing, however I also find that humor is one of the best tools for grief. Lets ask ourselves how Mr. Irwin would have wanted us to react to his death. Anyone who has ever watched The Crocodile Hunter realizes that the man had a sense of humor, and preferred to keep things light hearted. While I myself would not have included Steve in the episode, I do not find that the writers of South Park have done anything wrong. In no way did they tarnish Steve Irwin's character.
Being a widow myself I think this kind of humor is way over the limits of tasteless. I love humor and I have watched South Park and laughed. This man's untimely death and the grief of his family should be off limits. Come on, is there no decency left in this world?
I am not a fan of censorship however I think it's sad sign of the times that people can be so callous and disrespectful to someone who has contributed so much to our world and done wonders for Australian tourism. Do the show's producers not even think about the damage they could do to [Irwin's children] Bindi or Bob if they ever saw this episode or found the picture on the front cover of a newspaper or a magazine? I am all for freedom of speech but there comes a time to step in and say enough is enough.
I think it's bloody hilarious, however it is a bit insensitive.
OK OK I love South Park; it's my favorite show. I admit this may have went a little far, but America needs this kind of humor, there's not enough of it. I feel like I'm going to hell for liking that part but it was pure genius.
A little irreverent humor is one thing. However, a total disregard for the pain of Steve's family, friends and fans is just not acceptable. There comes a time when the joke isn't funny or professional, and the writers become totally insensitive idiots. These guys have become just that.
I think it is absolutely disgusting and in extremely poor taste! It ceases to be funny, when you resort to getting laughs at the expense of a family's grief! This man is barely cold in his grave and his family and friends are still trying to come to terms with their loss! What part of this is humorous?? Shame on you South Park. A good and much loved man died here, he had an adoring wife and two little children, who were the love of his life and a deeply grieving dad! They now have to face life without him. How do you think that particularly insensitive episode will help them to do this?
It may be bad taste and insensitive but nevertheless is their right to say whatever the hell they want. This country is so caught up in political correctness that actually knowing that there are others out there who just don't care about being P.C. is a breath of fresh air. If you don't like it, don't watch it. Everyone else just shut up already. There are more pressing issues in the world than a South Park episode.
With humor, context is everything. Nobody seems to mention the fact that the joke in question was a meta-joke; Steve Irwin is mistaken for a person wearing a Steve Irwin costume, and is asked to leave the party because it's "too soon" to be making jokes.
I think that the South Park creators are juvenile morons who are so banal and infantile that they quickly seized upon the image of a mortally wounded celebrity to get attention for themselves like small egotistical tyrants.
As a regular viewer of "South Park" I did not find the episode featuring Steve Irwin shocking. They've done worse. Did I cringe? Oh yeah. I do every week. That's what I love about the show. No one and nothing is immune. So to all the people who were offended by the show, I can only say, "get over it!"
Crikey! Steve Irwin gets the "South Park" treatment.
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