Skip to comments.Now even swearing is illegal in Russia
Posted on 10/05/2004 1:51:33 PM PDT by struwwelpeter
|05 October 2004|
(Original Title) Government body begins to collect money for 'your mother'
We sent reporters Aleksandr Meshkov and Yuriy Snegiryov to the Belgorodskaya district - where on every street, in every home, a holy lexiconologic war is being waged. They found it easy to pretend to be drunken and disorderly, and were quickly arrested by police for uncensored swearing.
Inside the 5th precinct's gloomy holding cells, with their peeling walls and rusty bars, a brigade of Ukrainian guestworkers was silently marking time. They had been arrested at the scene of the 'crime', a construction site where they were working without papers. For three hours they had been obediently waiting their savior, in the form of the foreman who would pay their fine. Our courteous satraps kicked them from the bench and began writing up our arrest protocols as evil users of swear words.
"So, you were swearing on a children's playgound?" the sergreant hopefully began the interrogation.
"Well, yeah..." we agreed.
A sigh of relief came from both policemen.
"Alright, we'll write down that you accidently used bad words. Rashly!" the sergeant prompted.
"Ah-ha! The tenth time."
And so began the unhurried paperwork for our crime. One of the policemen's pen broke, and while he left for a another, the other cop's ink ran out as well. We couldn't resist, so we offered him our 'Parkers'.
"You don't mind? Signing your sentences with your own pen?" the cop said.
"We feel that this should be considered as agreement with the sentence," we offered.
"Well, show me your hands! No bruises or abraisions?" asked the cops.
"And so we'll write that down. What happens later, that's none of our business," they said. "But you should be out of here soon."
All the guardians of order had promised, proved to be nonsense. No one came to let us out in 15 minutes, their hospitality knew no bounds, and the prospect of spending the night in these barred apartments now hung over us.
We had hidden our creditials in special pockets while in the paddy-wagon, like undergound revolutionaries during a round up. We did not dare go without them: if they started to beat us, or worse, these would be our only hope of getting out of there while keeping both our health and honor intact.
"Take everything from your pockets!" We had awaited this command in fear.
On the table lay money, cigarette lighters, mobile telephones, keys, and - oh horror - a pile of Meshkov's business cards!
It's over! went through our curse-clouded minds.
But the police officer did not even glance at the cards. He began to turn Snegiryov's special lighter over in his hands. Once again cold sweat ran down our backs. The lighter carried a sword and shield crest, and the inscription: 'Main directorate of bodyguards MVD Russia'. One could 'burn down' a whole city police department with such a lighter. But the officers proved to be unscared, and did not read the inscription. They simply smoked and praised the pretty item after enterring it into the inventory. Now the door opens, and a wobbly old man enters on a crutch.
Baby in a dumpster
"Is the baby alive?"
"The devil only knows! I came right here!"
"Wait a minute, honored grandfather," the policemen said to the old man. "We'll sign in the Muscovites, then we'll drive over to the scene of the crime with you."
An hour went by. The old man began to worry. He paced the room and swung his staff about.
"It's murder!" the old man said. "I'm already 93, and I've never seen anything like it! If I'd known, no way I'd have come here!"
"Right away, right away, will get the Muscovites signed in and we'll go with you," answered the cops with their previous imperturbability.
After the third hour of paper torture, they asked us to sign, and gave us forms to take to the bank for payment of a fine of 500 rubels, from each of us. They let Meshkov go for five minutes to go to the bank, leaving Snegiryov as a deposit. The police detachment finally departed with the old man to look for the baby in the dumpster. Meshkov flew into the bank, addressing the long line with an alarming cry: "Let me ahead of you! My friend is sits in prison! I've got to rescue him!"
"What happened? They framed him?" an old woman depositer asks.
"Yes, for swearing, but he was wronged!"
And so the line made room.
... Meanwhile, the unit that had gone with the old man had returned to the precinct. The detectives brought their love of universal cleanliness to the streets of city. The dumpsters an hour ago had already been emptied, their contents sent to the city dump. Traces of the inhuman crime were lost. Perhaps the policemen could be satified with their love of calligraphy. Obviously, at the same moment when they were writing up our arrest protocols, honest sanitation men were also carrying out their professional duty.
The old man left even more empty then before - he cursed the entire Belgorodskaya police force. One can understand him: he was also doing his civic duty, he personally reported a crime, but instead of the assumed recognition, he had to weary himself in captivity. The detective had gone home to rest, and would not return until the next morning. But without investigation of the old man's statements, no one could let him go: he must spend the night in a cell! But not a single swear word left the old man's toothless mouth, since then he would be threatened with punishment according to "our" law.
While we were joyfully climbing the stairs to the second floor, we heard screaming for the chief's office:
"They're from Moscow? We got a call from 'Komsomol'skaya Pravda'. It their reporters. Let them go!"
Our colleagues from the Belgorodskaya section had gotten worried about us and raised the alarm to get us freed. This nobel telephone call almost ruined the operation. The flame of an invisible Bickford fuse swiftly bruned towards the office of the police chief. In another second our fake story will be torn to shreds, and then the cops - infuriated by our insolent fraud - would impose on us yet another criminal case. Goodbye to freedom, which was but a step away. But, nothing happened, and Sergey waved off the duty officer:
"Yes, they already paid the fine. We'll release them!"
Fate smiled upon us. The chief did not know where we were from.
"Why were you swearing?" the major asked us.
Interrupting each other, We confusedly told the officer about the loss of a girlfriend's address after a very bad day.
"Well, look. No more swearing!" he said, then the police chief gave us a brief educational lecture, and told us to go with God! And we, jumping down the steps, almost falling, ran to freedom. The sun was leaning into dusk. Life was beautiful! Only two events dimmed our happiness: somewhere, faraway at the dump, an unidentified baby lay, while nearby, in a cell, lay a weary, innocent, nobel old man, whom we could help in no way.
"Well, how can one not swear with such a life!" grimaced an old worker by the name of Pyotr. "The pay is two thousand, and you work like an ox. Try to hit something with this sledge-hammer. See, will you cuss or not?"
We tried it. And we swore for a long time.
Unfortunately, as usual, the most nobel beginnings turn into haphazards and pokazukha (Potemkin facades). We have no gripe with the Belgorod police. They dealt with us strictly according to law without being rough or taking liberties. But something else bothers us - this struggle against swearing has turned into a campaign for collecting fines. It's good for everyone: the police are stimulated, the poplulace does not swear in public, and the bureaucrats can give victorious interviews on the TV. But, before our very eyes, from this basin of morality a baby was thrown out together with the dirty water of cursing. The stimulated policemen could not tear themselves away from the 'monetary' protocol, in order to investigate a murder. From our money they also mananged to snatch away another 300 rubels. But their 3000-rubel pay requires them to search for bodies in a dumpster. Well, how can one not want to swear?!!!
As for the beer...I suppose Russian citizens can deal with that. Now if they try locking up the VODKA, it's Revolution time ;- )
There's got to be a Dale Earnhard, Jr. angle to this story....just give me a minute....
From the beer article: Pessimists are certain: the law will be only used when a patrolman needs some quick cash for pocket money, while the nihilism of the masses with respect to laws in general will grow even stronger.
At this rate....bad hairdos and talking will be added to the fine list.... LOL!
They will be fined $10,000 and docked 25 points in the Nextel Cup standings. ;^)
"Return the inhumane government!"
June 11, 1999
JOHN FLESHER, Associated Press Writer
With four-letter words ringing in their ears, jurors must decide whether a man illegally cussed a blue streak after tumbling out of his canoe or is wrongly being made into a fall guy.
The prosecution rested its case this morning in the trial of Timothy Boomer, charged with violating Michigan's century-old ban on swearing in front of children. If convicted of the misdemeanor, he could be jailed for 90 days and fined $ 100.
The defense began presenting its case later this morning after motions were argued outside the presence of the jury.
The trial began Thursday in Arenac County District Court, with three prosecution witnesses graphically repeating a string of expletives they said an enraged Boomer shouted after his Aug. 15, 1998, mishap on the Rifle River.
"He was screaming," said Kenneth Socia, the former deputy sheriff who ticketed Boomer. The tirade lasted five to seven minutes, during which Boomer yelled a particular word and its derivatives perhaps two dozen times, Socia said.
"The language was indecent, the language was vulgar, it was insulting," Assistant Prosecutor Richard Vollbach told the jury of four women and three men during his opening statement.
Defense lawyer William Street acknowledged his client may have uttered a profanity or two but said his companions on the weekend canoe trip would present a vastly different account of what happened.
"Timothy Boomer did not disrespect anyone's rights that day," Street told jurors, contending the 25-year-old computer programmer from the Detroit suburb of Roseville did not know children were nearby. "You cannot in good conscience label him a criminal."
The first defense witness called this morning was Boomer's fiancee, Courtney Kageff, 23, of Warren. She offered conflicting testimony, first saying that she didn't remember Boomer using any profanity.
"None that stick in my mind that I can remember to this day," she said.
But when pressed by the prosecution, she testified that she remembered him using some foul language, but didn't recall how many words he used.
"I don't remember what he said," Ms. Kageff testified.
When the court broke for lunch, the defense said it had five more witnesses to call. Attorneys said they hoped the jury would get the case this afternoon.
Street said Boomer was being unjustly blamed for years of misconduct by others on the river about 130 miles north of Detroit, a popular attraction for tourists from southern Michigan.
"Timothy Boomer should not be made a scapegoat for the boisterous behavior ... the rowdyism, the real crimes that some real disorderly people who do come in to use your Rifle River some days commit," Street told jurors.
Curious spectators and reporters packed the cramped basement courtroom for the trial - broadcast live by Court TV - in a case that has drawn nationwide attention as an example of the clash between free-speech rights and the struggle for a more courteous society.
Street is defending Boomer on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, which contends the 1897 anti-profanity law is unconstitutional and is promising to challenge it on appeal if Boomer is convicted.
Michael and Tammy Smith of North Branch supported Socia's version of events, saying they came up behind Boomer's canoe as it struck a rock, sending him into the water.
Instructed by the prosecutor and judge to repeat Boomer's exact words, a visibly uncomfortable Michael Smith yelled a string of expletives followed by, "I'm tired of this ... place. I want off this ... river. Get that ... canoe back here."
Boomer continued the barrage for several minutes as he trudged through the waist-deep Rifle River in pursuit of his companions, who were riding in five canoes tied together with bungee cords, Smith said.
Mrs. Smith told jurors she covered her 2-year-old daughter's ears and admonished her 5-year-old son not to listen to Boomer as her husband paddled around him and sped away.
"I think Mr. Boomer looked like he was going to hit somebody," Mrs. Smith said.
Socia, the former sheriff's deputy, testified he was among several officers patrolling the river the day in question. The patrols were at the request of businesses and property owners concerned about rowdy behavior along the river.
Socia testified that Boomer continued cursing as Socia wrote him a ticket, accusing him of ruining his vacation.
During cross-examination, Street asked Socia if there were attractive women in the canoes. When Socia answered in the affirmative, Street asked if he had ordered one of them "to stand up so you could check out her bathing suit."
Socia denied it as Vollbach angrily objected to the question.
But Street persisted, asking Socia if he had asked the women their ages and told them to rise "so you could see their bodies."
Judge Allen Yenior sharply ordered Street to drop that line of questioning, warning him at one point he was close to being cited for contempt.
Before the jury was called back into court this morning, Street asked the judge to declare a mistrial, but the judge denied it.
Street wanted to pursue the angle about the women in the canoes to demonstrate Socia's character: "Potentially the harassment of women," Street argued.
When Yenior denied that motion, Street replied, "I feel the court is biased in favor of the prosecution."
At least they had alcohol to drown their sorrows in those days....not looking good for that now....LOL!
At least they had alcohol to drown their sorrows in those days....not looking good for that now....LOL!
Do you think they really let the baby go?
I guess you're right.
I used to know a mad artist thespian sort who expressed utter horror if you asked him to please go read his book on the couch instead of taking up valuable space, lackadaisically turning pages of some art tome, at the kitchen table while everyone was tearing around with steaming pots and staple guns prepping for a party.
But the day I unexpectedly discovered a dead mouse in my St. Peter apartment and freaked out, he very calmly rose to the occasion and disposed of it for me.
I was kinda nonplussed at this wholly uncharacteristic initiative and equanimity on his part and thanked him profusely.
"My dear," he said, "a dead mouse is nothing once you've disposed of the dead infant found along the paths of your own garden ... as happened when I lived in Africa."
I guess it is all a matter of perspective.
I was driving to work this morning, listening to the radio, whena news story on it reminded me of this article. Seems a teenage boy in NC got a misdimenor and will do jail time for cursing at his teacher. Not just a fine but JAIL TIME. Guess we've got a few mots in our eye.