Monday, August 20, 2012

They clearly are hooligans

Whenever groups of celebrities band together on a political issue, ignorance and empty words will soon follow. The international support for the band Pussy Riot is a perfect example, but the issue is more complex than simply saying it's right or wrong to arrest them.

A group of women went to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow wearing pastel ski masks and stomped around the altar singing a vulgar thrash song criticizing the church's cozy relationship with President Vladimir Putin. They got tossed out and were later arrested, convicted of "Hooliganism" and last week they were sentenced to serve two years for the stunt.

Judge Marina Syrova ruled Friday that the band members had "committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred." She rejected the women's arguments that they were protesting the Russian Orthodox Church's support for Putin and didn't intend to offend religious believers.

Here's where everything starts cracking up. Clearly this wasn't about hatred of the church, but of its embrace of Putin. That's a legit thing to complain about if it's true, so in that sense I agree with them.

But just look at the stunt they pulled. They were clearly making a large disturbance and deserve some form of punishment, despite the wishy-washy nonsense people try to spin to defend these tactics like this post on CNN:

...For What? Performing a peaceful protest song in a Russian Orthodox Cathedral that lasted less than a minute. 
Most agreed that the court wouldn't rule in the women's favor; they themselves had predicted a guilty verdict. Already, Russian authorities had unjustly detained these women, stealing them away from their families and children, and orchestrated a legal process that tiptoed the line on international fair trial standards.  
Say what you will about Pussy Riot: this might not be your kind of music. Their actions might offend you. But this doesn't change the fact that freedom of expression, in whatever peaceful form it takes, is a human right, and one on which the protection of other rights rests.

The song would have lasted longer if burly guards weren't on hand to pull them out. I hardly find that to be a "peaceful" song, but the content of the song is completely irrelevant because they did not have the right to be there. A moronic post from a Communist was mocked for opposing Pussy Riot only because they criticized Putin.

This silly idea of protests overruling property rights and trespassing restrictions is a talking point for Pussy Riot defenders. Just like how the ability for a city to close a park at night magically became illegitimate the moment Occupy Wall Street protesters showed up, modern liberals have fallen in love with the idea that breaking the rules becomes acceptable when someone staples a political message to it.

But does anyone really believe this? Would the supporters of Pussy Riot also oppose punishing a group of same-sex marriage opponents who stormed the stage of a gay rights conference and shouted vulgar political slogans? What about a group of young Republicans who ran into the pulpit of a black church to denounce President Obama with filthy limericks?

Clearly, a crime of some kind has been committed, and "hooligan" seems like an apt description. Two years in jail seems a bit harsh, so I'm willing to believe they got hit harder then they deserve because it was about Putin. It's ridiculous to demand they should be let off Scot-free. The only room for debate should be what level of punishment is appropriate.

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