South Park has never been the sort of cartoon that will avoid offending people if it can help it, and judging by a tweet from the series’ official account social justice warriors could be the latest target.
“Safe spaces”, in the social justice lexicon, refers to environments which restrict free speech in a supposed bid to protect marginalised groups from the stigma or criticism they face in mainstream circles.
However it looks like they could be in for a rough ride from South Park’s creators:
Randy deals with uncomfortable confrontations at Whole Foods— part of Wednesday’s all-new episode “Safe Space”. https://t.co/dwDl9C74RF
— South Park (@SouthPark) October 19, 2015
In practice safe spaces can foster groupthink and engender sycophantic, masturbatory discussions between people who already agree with each other.
As the top entry from Urban Dictionary puts it, a safe space is:
“A place where college students can go if they have been subjected to ideas that differ from the progressive narrative. These safe spaces have pillows, soothing music and an understanding, sympathetic staff. Presumably, this allows them to recover from the trauma; free from any lasting damage resulting from exposure to ideas that conflict with their leftist professors.”
Even advocates of safe spaces criticised them for encouraging the prejudice they were set up to reduce. An entry on Geek Feminism Wiki says:
“Safe spaces often have intersectionality problems, for example trans women often report that they find considerable transphobia in spaces which are supposedly safe for women and feminists.”
Whilst the South Park clip deals with a cashier incident seemingly unrelated to the episode title, one can expect the shows writers to be critical of a movement that is antithetical to the offensive free-for-all that has made the cartoon so popular.
According to a press release, the plot is as follows:
“Cartman is the latest victim of body-shaming in an all-new episode of South Park titled “Safe Space”. Randy has to deal with uncomfortable confrontations every time he shops at the new Whole Foods. He feels exposed at every turn and it’s ruining his Whole Foods experience. Randy and Cartman are both seeking a safe space.”