Scientology Chef

Isaac Hayes, who’s been the voice of South Park character Chef for nearly a decade, is the butt of newspaper punchlines this week, after he quit the show over a recent episode mocking Scientology, Hayes’ religion. Show co-creator Matt Stone’s response was widely quoted, arguing that Hayes never balked at episodes mocking other religions, especially Christianity, though one could argue that in keeping with South Park’s militant middle-groundness, it’s not other religions exactly that are being mocked, but any believers, from Mel Gibson to environmentalists, who strays too far from the center of the road. A sampling of the media fallout: The Sydney Morning Herald and The Boston Globe cry hypocrisy; The Guardian calls Scientology a cult; and The Times Online notes that Hayes spoke about the recent Mohammad cartoon controversy as part of the context for his leaving the show.