Sport will lead to corrupt morals »« Swear words in a church

Uncomfortable with activist women

Michael Idov attends the closing arguments in the Pussy Riot trial.

…the hometown opinion on Pussy Riot is mixed at best. Even the liberal response has involved language like “They should let these chicks go with a slap on the ass.” Despite the rapid Westernization of the city elites, the rise of the vaunted “creative class” and the widespread distrust of the state-coddled Orthodox Church, Russians remain distinctly uncomfortable with activist women.

Pride parades remain banned in Moscow, while opposition leaders freely use the Russian word for “faggot” in public. The idea that liberalism is partly about upholding someone else’s liberty — including their right to do something that’s personally offensive to you — is an exotic and untested notion in Russia.

This allows Russian commentators to say or write things like “these women disgust me, they should rot in jail” without noticing the clear line between opinion and law that separates the first thought from the second.

It seems such a conspicuous line to fail to notice, doesn’t it. Is there a crime of “disgusting someone” on the books in Russia?

A case that should pivot on a specific legal question (“Does a violation of church protocol rise to the level of religious hatred?”) instead hangs entirely on emotions, including those of Patriarch Kirill I and President Vladimir V. Putin, that the judge and the prosecution appear to be trying to divine. The debate about the trial has also been full of pointless syllogisms: What if it was your daughter up there? What if they tried doing this in a mosque? What if someone came into your house and defecated on the carpet?

Snort. Pointless indeed. A public space like a church is not the same as “your house” and swearing is not the same as defecation. No carpet was damaged in the singing of Pussy Riot’s song.

Of course, if the defendants decided to convey over-the-top remorse (by falling to their knees, crying, etc.), then public opinion and even their legal fortunes would almost certainly turn. But Ms. Alyokhina, Ms. Samutsevich and Ms. Tolokonnikova remain cool, smiling and remote — a “Western” and “unfeminine” attitude. When you’re a woman in Russia, nothing but tears will do.

Policing the woman’s face again.

 

 

Comments

  1. jamessweet says

    This allows Russian commentators to say or write things like “these women disgust me, they should rot in jail” without noticing the clear line between opinion and law that separates the first thought from the second.

    In fairness, it is not clear (at least in the English translation) whether it is supposed to “these women disgust me so they should rot in jail”, as alleged, or if it’s “these women disgust me and they should rot in jail.” James Holmes disgusts me, and he should rot in jail… for instance… Because you know, opening fire in a crowded theater with an assault weapon is just like swearing in church…

    Fascinating article nonetheless.

  2. iknklast says

    “(“Does a violation of church protocol rise to the level of religious hatred?”)”

    To be totally accurate, I don’t think this is the question it should pivot on, either. The real question is what happens to liberty and freedom when the state feels compelled to legislate on questions of religious hatred? Why should the state protect the religion, even if it is religious hatred?

  3. ewanmacdonald says

    jamessweet, if the English translation isn’t important, maybe the plain description around it is?

  4. machintelligence says

    The Russians haven’t progressed quite as far down the road to democracy as we might have hoped.

  5. smhll says

    In fairness, it is not clear (at least in the English translation) whether it is supposed to “these women disgust me so they should rot in jail”, as alleged, or if it’s “these women disgust me and they should rot in jail.”

    Well, even if we assume the latter translation, is any support given to the conclusion that they should rot in jail? Any proof their behavior is criminal?

  6. F says

    Well, even if we assume the latter translation, is any support given to the conclusion that they should rot in jail?

    It isn’t a conclusion from being disgusted, it’s an additional item joined into one sentence via a conjunction.

    Not that I can come, via any means, to the result that “they should rot in jail”. Not sure how the original source could, either. Also, not sure what jamesweet’s point in bringing it up was, as it doesn’t matter from what process and facts the conclusion was drawn (from the disgust expressed in the first half of the sentence or somewhere else). OK, excepting it would make the second sentence of Ophelia’s comment not technically accurate in some fashion, but somehow I sense that was not what she was shooting for.

    My personal conclusion is that they should receive a ticket for trespass or noise violation if these are applicable, otherwise, apologize and drop the meritless case. (Some support would be really nice, too, but I find that unlikely.)

  7. jamesfish says

    They took a couple of steps down the road to democracy, didn’t like the look of the weather, and went back indoors.

  8. says

    “‘This is a trial of the whole government system of Russia, which so likes to show its harshness toward the individual, its indifference to his honour and dignity,’ said Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, one of the trio on trial. ‘If this political system throws itself against three girls … it shows this political system is afraid of truth.’

    ……………….************************……………….

    “…’Even though we are behind bars, we are freer than those people,’ she said, looking at the prosecution from inside the glass cage where she and her two bandmates, Marina Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, have spent the nine-day trial.

    “‘We can say what we want, while they can only say what political censorship allows.'”

    Punk rock is not to my taste, but the courage of these young women in the face of a political system that takes its inspiration from the likes of Ivan the Terrible and Joseph Stalin definitely is.

    http://www.theage.com.au/world/authoritarian-putin-is-the-one-on-trial-say-pussy-riot-20120809-23wxi.html#ixzz234EVM22z

  9. PatrickG says

    cool, smiling and remote — a “Western” and “unfeminine” attitude.

    Wait, I thought Western women were overly emotional.

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