Skip to comments.How Pussy Riot Bamboozled the Media
Posted on 08/22/2012 4:31:56 AM PDT by Kaslin
If Justin Bieber or the Rolling Stones suddenly decided to stage an impromptu concert in a public place somewhere in America without a permit, would the authorities ignore it and shrug it off? Doubtful. Even buskers performing in the New York City subway system can't play without formal authorization from the city.
What about taking such a musical performance into a church? If Jennifer Lopez or Madonna just showed up in a place of worship, stripped down to their skivvies and started dancing around the altar, would that fly in any Western democracy? Not likely.
So why, then, are three young women in Russia getting so much sympathy from the mainstream media for doing precisely this inside a Russian Orthodox church?
Last week, three members of the activist group Pussy Riot were each sentenced to two years in prison for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. The group's members are part of a larger protest group called Voina, which has previously been involved in various acts of public nuisance, including group sex in a museum and shoplifting a whole chicken from a supermarket by stuffing into an activist's lady parts.
Voina and Pussy Riot are the Russian version of the Occupy Wall Street protest crowd. Their modus operandi is to use "art" in its various forms as a cover for acting like jerks and flaunting police warnings. They exploit the sentiment that artists worldwide generally should be given more behavioral license than the general public because they've historically pushed the boundaries of free expression.
One would hope that the public is able to tell the difference between Pussy Riot and, say, Voltaire -- who was thrown into a French prison for criticizing government and the Catholic Church in his extensive body of writing. Voltaire's career was writing, while Pussy Riot's entire career consists of hooliganism with a sprinkling of poor-quality "music" thrown in. Voltaire published several novels, plays, poems and essays, and in doing so, just happened to tick off the powers that be. Pussy Riot hasn't even recorded an album. Their credibility as artists is poorly established, unlike their activist background.
Boiled down, the Pussy Riot case is just another example of the social media generation's demand for instant gratification and attention in the absence of any sustained hard work. The protesters chose the shallowest form of subversion possible, their rationale apparently being that by doing a lewd can-can-girl number in a church, they can successfully overturn the government of a G8 country. That's some serious stoner logic.
The longer game of subversion would have required them to spend years working to get into a key position within the power structure, then influencing and subverting the system to change what they don't like. The effects of such an effort would have been more organic, credible and durable.
Or, at the very least, they could have practiced for several years to hone their "art" in the event that they were serious about being artists and not just serious about being hooligans. That's why Madonna can say all sorts of nonsense from a concert stage and constantly push the boundaries of free speech without getting arrested -- because she's actually earned the "artist" label and the leeway society affords it.
Somehow Russian President Vladimir Putin has been dragged into all this, presumably because this story is sexier with a Bond villain -- and because it's always preferable to hold someone else responsible for one's own bad behavior. Pussy Riot supporters claim that Putin has the long knives out for the band because they mentioned him in a song. The idea of Putin sitting around blubbering over being badmouthed by some girls in a YouTube video certainly undermines any evil image. The smearing of Putin as hypersensitive and vindictive would have been more credible had they intelligently addressed Putin's policies without breaking any laws, or associated themselves with a larger group of activists known for flaunting it relentlessly and treating it as a joke. Pussy Riot didn't keep its powder dry.
It's not as if Putin just invented the Russian law against hooliganism. The penalty of up to seven years in prison wasn't concocted especially for Pussy Riot. In fact, the same crime of religious hooliganism in Germany carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment -- a year more than the sentence Pussy Riot members received.
The Western media should save its tears for those who truly deserve them.
I could have gone all day long without that image in my head.
That "lady" has been just a bit too active, methinks.
This is true, and I fail to see why they have become heroes. I think their sentences should have been lighter (for a first time offense), but that’s just how Russian law is.
You don't tug on superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't tug the mask off the ole Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Vladimir.
I don’t have a lot of sympathy for groups who protest in churches. I don’t care much for PR’s “music” (I’ve never heard it anyway), I’m just think two years in jail for pulling a stupid stunt where nothing was damaged is a tad harsh. I wouldn’t like it if Dem protesters invaded the Republican convention to stage a protest, but I wouldn’t advocate two years in prison as a punishment. Three months of picking up litter or something like that would be a proper punishment.
Ha-Ha!!!! Great lines.
the crazy bloodthirsty muslims have been very good at playing the victim and playing both super powers against each other to keep them from focusing on the REAL evil in this world.. ISLAM!
That’s true. I actually think that one of the reasons there is so much media animosity towards Putin - who is undeniably harsh and a classic Russian “strong man” - is not because of his erroneous policies, but because Washington doesn’t like his strong anti-Islamic, pro-Christian stance.
Naturally, there’s a lot of nationalism tied up with this (and the Orthodox Church is as much representative of Russia as it is of Christianity), but what Obama really doesn’t like is that Putin tries to crack down on Islamic terrorists, who as we all know, are just innocent little freedom fighters who want to wear flowers in their hair...
You dont’ get two years in prison for stripping down to your underwear and dancing around the altar in a church. This was politically motivated. Just because we condemn the sentence doesn’t mean we approve of the way these women acted. I still view this as Putin’s Russia sending a message to the opposition.
Two years in a Russian prison ought to slack them up a little.
Occupy got a small fine and were on the street before the ink was dry on the paperwork. 6 months at hard labor would have taught those kids a lesson.
“....are just innocent little freedom fighters who want to wear flowers in their hair...”
Just they way they characterized the V.C., the
North Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge, Uncle Joe Stalin,
et al, ad nauseum....
A misdemeanor trespassing or disorderly conduct charge? Yes. A felony on the level of brawling in the street and smashing shop windows with garbage cans? No.
I think the author misunderstands the Western media. Infantile sexual acting-out in public, especially in churches, is the only type of freedom or “anti-government” activity of which they approve. They want the government to crack down on every other kind of freedom: freedom to operate a business, freedom of association, free exercise of religion, freedom of speech.
I’m no big fan of Vlad RasPutin - he looks too much like that mincy Daniel Craig, for one thing - but if these trash and their fans in the media and the Zero administration (but I repeat myself) are mad about this, his government has probably done the right thing.
Preety much not guilty
Before you call them and their protest shallow and ignorant, you should read their court statements.
They are anything but shallow and ignorant. Instead, they are classic Russian dissidents.
It is the author of this column who is ignorant and shallow. The author echoes Walter Duranty in sanitizing the persecution of these women on a charge of hooliganism, and pooh-poohing the idea that Putin’s depradations might give rise to any legitimate protest.
Putin’s government is a corrupt gangster government that murders its opponents with complete impunity and does everything possible to thwart US interests around the world. These women have lost their liberty by protesting it through artistic expression. But here is this column, and here are people on this board actually taking Putin’s side in the controversy.
I think poor Rachel Marsden got this story by the wrong end. Democracy, ok I realize Russia is not exactly our idea of a democracy, is a funny thing and governments are overturned for such silly reasons as a fearless all powerful leader concerning himself with the goings on of a couple of female singers who call themselves Pussy Riot.
Putin should have had the good sense to stay completely out of it. Who would have thought that a powerful president of the US would all over a bungled burglary in an apartment building?
He could turn around and commute their sentence
at some point and look like the hero.
If folks had paid attention, the protest was in an church because PR was protesting the close relationship between Putin and the Orthodox Church in Russia which has become more or less a branch of government (which historically it pretty much was before the Soviets suppressed them).
First off, they're nowhere near pretty enough to claim the "not guilty by reason of good looks" nonsense that occasionally shows up here.
Second ... that doesn't seem to work in Russia at all.
That Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of the authorities was clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putins former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyayev took over as leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be openly used as a flashy backdrop for the politics of the security forces, which are the main source of political power in Russia.
Sounds like these girls have a bit more acumen than the average OWS member did. What would the Tea Party do if the National Cathedral turned out to be nothing but a branch of Acorn.
Thank you buckhead!
The author of the article is clueless. Putin talking points repeated in the American press as fact.
Putin is destroying the last vestiges of real democracy, free markets and liberty in a country that has suffered for centuries under repressive regimes.
I do not like the group’s tactics but I am not sure they have any other real options. They have effectively exposed the brutality of the Putin government that no other freedom loving dissidents have so far been able to achieve. The Putin government is corrupt, intolerant, petty and
Whether or not you like these ladies’ tactics they should be commended for their bravery and willingness to confront tyranny and have suffered greatly in the process.
Their actions have had an impact. Now the whole world cannot continue to pretend Russia is freedom loving, open society that cherishes and protects individual rights and freedom. The mask of a civilized society has been ripped off and exposed the pettiness of this brutal, petty, corrupt and evil regime.
The girls are heroes.
I’ll support Pussy Riot long before I support the murderous dictator Putin.
he protesters chose the shallowest form of subversion possible, their rationale apparently being that by doing a lewd can-can-girl number in a church, they can successfully overturn the government of a G8 country. That’s some serious stoner logic.
Excellent observation. Sums up the entire OWS mindset, as well.
I saw a brief clip of these trollops at their hearing, and I noticed that one of them was wearing a big smirk. Given what I have read about Russian prisons, I would like to see how much smirking she is doing in a few weeks.
Well said, as usual.
By Jove, I think you've got it. More than a year is for felonies only, at least here. The charge didn't fit very well the crime.
Arg!! My eyes, blinded by the sight!
Well said, Buckhead, and good to see you again.
Maybe Garry Kasparov is respectable enough for the skeptics here?
The only surprise to come out of Friday’s guilty verdict in the trial here of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot was how many people acted surprised. Three young women were sentenced to two years in prison for the prank of singing an anti-Putin “prayer” in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Their jailing was the next logical step for Vladimir Putin’s steady crackdown on “acts against the social order,” the Kremlin’s expansive term for any public display of resistance.
In the 100 days since Mr. Putin’s re-election as president, severe new laws against public protest have been passed and the homes of opposition leaders have been raided. These are not the actions of a regime prepared to grant leniency to anyone who offends Mr. Putin’s latest ally, the Orthodox Church and its patriarch.
Unfortunately, I was not there to hear the judge’s decision, which she took hours to read. The crowds outside the court building made entry nearly impossible, so I stood in a doorway and took questions from journalists. Suddenly, I was dragged away by a group of policein fact carried away with one policeman on each arm and leg.
The men refused to tell me why I was being arrested and shoved me into a police van. When I got up to again ask why I had been detained, things turned violent. I was restrained, choked and struck several times by a group of officers before being driven to the police station with dozens of other protesters. After several hours I was released, but not before they told me I was being criminally investigated for assaulting a police officer who claimed I had bitten him.
It would be easy to laugh at such a bizarre charge when there are already so many videos and photos of the police assaulting me. But in a country where you can be imprisoned for two years for singing a song, laughter does not come easily. My bruises will heal long before the members of Pussy Riot are free to see their young children again. In the past, Mr. Putin’s critics and enemies have been jailed on a wide variety of spurious criminal charges, from fraud to terrorism.
But now the masks are off. Unlikely as it may be, the three members of a punk band have become our first true political prisoners.
[more at link, worth a click]
you do — it’s disrespect to the Church and is against the law in Russia.
Bullcrap. The Russian Orthodox Church has climbed into bed with Putin. This was a political protest, and Putin is cracking down hard on dissent.
It is truly amazing to see so many FReepers who either fail to see what is at stake here, or are enamored to be Putin apologists.
Whether they have climbed in or not is besides the point. There has been a law for years on a person getting jailed if they did such a thing in a Church.
Two years for simple trespass.
If you can't see that Putin is using this to crack down on dissent, well, maybe you need to read up on some Orwell or Solzhenitsyn.
I'm sure there were also laws against dumping tea into a harbor to protest taxation without representation.
However Pussy Riot is not a legitimate opposition, they're just anarchists
and, the law which remember has existed for some years is the law. This was not "simple trepass" as you state but disrespect for the Orthodox Church.
OK, what if an American denomination was deeply in bed with the Obama Administration in a hypothetical Obama second term and approved of Obama Administration crackdowns on dissent.
Would you disapprove of protestors going into a church to stand against that church's kowtowing to Obama?
I think too many people are taking sides for the wrong reasons here. Putin is trying to make this an affront to Christianity when it was a protest against his persecution against dissent and the Orthodox Church being in bed with him.
I see. So because you disapprove of their point of view, they are not legitimate, even if they are standing up to a tyrant and his toadies.
BTW, we don't have 'legitimate' in the First Amendment over here.
and, the law which remember has existed for some years is the law. This was not "simple trepass" as you state but disrespect for the Orthodox Church.
And what if that Church has allied with the corrupt Putin power structure, as Garry Kasparov has noted in the WSJ editorial I posted?
We've had a truther involuntarily committed in Virginia in recent days for what appears to be completely bogus reasons. I loathe truthers, but I also disagree with the tactics used by the state here, so I will disagree with the action taken even though I also vehemently disagree with the man's views.
If we go along with persecution against Pussy Riot because they protested in a church (when that church is making itself part of the fascism problem in Russia), then we lose the moral standing to fight persecution in our own countries as well.
Putin is using the Orthodoxy Church for moral authority to crack down on dissent. I guess for some folks, fascism is OK as long as the folks going into jail are the folks they disagree with politically.
What happens in Russia is their own business, as long as they are not trying to expand their empire like the Soviets did.
Perhaps if you read their court statements you would understand that the Orthodox Church is now the handmaiden of the Putin regime and that their protest, which you demean as a mere trespass without any political content, was actually directed at the corrupt relationship between the Church and Putin’s gangster government.
These women are not airheads. They are Russian dissident intellectuals with a direct lineage to Soviet Refuseniks. They are citing Dostoevksy and scripture in their Court statements to put their protests into the historical, theological and political context that gives them meaning. Your arguments are as valid as those of the prosecutors of all the refuseniks. They have general statures against offenses against public order that use to lock up anyone they don’t like. And you’re cheering them on.
I cannot believe the endorsements of locking them up I am reading on this page on a website that is supposedly populated by people who hold political liberty and free expression dear to their hearts. It is just stunning.
It is their name, I have been chanting it like a mantra since the story broke.
The last time we pretended European fascism wasn't our business, we ended up in a pretty big war defeating such.