With all the controversy & mock-outrage surrounding #RFRA and social media chit chat reaching critical mass, it’s easy for us to forget that South Park already covered the subject of Liberty and Tolerance back in 2001!
In this episode, “Stan, Cartman, Kenny, and Timmy have joined Mountain Scouts troop number 69 and are on their way to their first meeting. When they arrive, they find that their scoutmaster is Big Gay Al. The boys enjoy themselves at the meeting and decide that they like Mountain Scouts, but some parents fear that Big Gay Al will be a poor influence on the boys and that he may be a pedophile. After a lifetime of membership, Big Gay Al is thrown out of Mountain Scouts by the Head.”
In the end, Big Gay Al drops his lawsuit stating that he loves the Mountain Scouts too much to force them to shut down for not allowing him to be a leader. He hopes to later convince them to change, but decides to take the high ground due to the fact that the leaders in Mountain Scouts are good men that do a lot of good for their respective communities.
This is a profound episode because, in typical South Park fashioned, no group is spared from parody. It also demonstrates the notion of Liberty. Big Gay Al is not going to coerce anyone to accept him nor he will not apologize for being who he is.
Remember, this episode aired in 2001 when the notion of Religious Freedom and Gay Wedding Cakes/Pizzerias was merely a hypothetical. It was well ahead of its time but we could all take a page from it and learn how to live in community with those whom we disagree.