It was probably inevitable. South Park, following in the footsteps of The Simpsons, has broadsided The Family Guy. Let me give you an idea of this controversy’s scale: This episode also involves cartoon images of the Prophet Muhammad. So you’d think THAT would be the flashpoint. But no. It’s Family Guy everyone’s talking about (at least, in this hemisphere).

The debate over Family Guy (is it, in fact funny?) rages on, rocking the hallowed halls of Slackerdom and Insomniopolis. Are its discursive, irrelevant cutaways and chockablock pop-culture references a post-Simpsonian breakthrough or, as Cartman alleges, a lazy cop-out? Is Stewie, the evil baby, hilarious or just awful? Are those those testicles on patriarch Peter’s chin?

If South Park is to be believed (it’s not, of course), even Ayman Al-Zawahiri is weighing in. (The ep seems to have been yanked from Youtube, but you can still watch it here.)

Personally, I go back and forth on Family Guy — mostly back. I’d never make time to watch it, yet when I catch it on Adult Swim, I cannot look away. I do think the cutaways are lazy. I think Peter’s oafishness has never coalesced into anything approaching a coherent character. Yet there is abundant wit, though it’s more like gag-writing than storytelling. I do like Brian, the talking dog, and the unfinished novel Stewie keeps ribbing him about.

But on the whole, I’ve got to agree with Cartman: The show traffics in irrelevance, and will never hesitate to sell out its story and characters for a gag, however weak or cheap.

So tonight, the saga concludes: Cartman’s headed to L.A. to scuttle the Family Guy episode featuring the Prophet Muhammad. He’s not concerned about political sensitivity; he just wants the show off the air. Kyle, a Family Guy fan and free-speech advocate, is trying to stop him. A tense nation is on the edge of its couch as paper cutouts and crude doodles war for supremacy. Samuel Huntington, I hope you’re taking notes: An epic Clash of Animations is in the offing.