Below are excerpts form an ongoing conversation on Facebook about Pussy Riot and their scandalous past, complete with links to some rather shocking videos of actions they have done previous to the rather tame incident that led to their arrest and conviction. I make a case for freedom of speech and the use of shocking statements to draw attention to social injustice. (The image above is by Henry Darger. )
You can view the entire conversation here.
Commenter “Мира Андонова” (name in Russian text):
Below is a little more of the best hits of ‘Pussy Riot’ aka the radicalized, anarchist so-called ‘Art Group’ Voina (WAR) that the Western Press has been fawning over so much. You do not need to read Russian to understand the photos and videos.
Previous acts of ‘protest’ of VOINA/Pussy RIot include a pregnant orgy in a biology museum, spraying cops with jars of their own urine, throwing molotov
cocktails at police cars, arson, overturning police cars (with the cops inside), masturbating with a chicken carcass in a grocery store then leaving without paying for it still up her vagina, throwing live homeless cats up against the walls of a McDonalds, spray painting a giant penis on a bridge, rolling around naked in front of pre-school covered in cockroaches, etc. etc…
‘Freedom of speech’ – does not extend to desecrating religious centers of worship, inciting religious hatred, or public sexual perversity in any country. What would the Westerners reactions be if such radicals broke into and desecrated St Paul’s, the Vatican, Mecca, or the holy sites of Buddhism, Shinto, Hinduism, or Native American Shamanism with their anti-religious and ‘political protest’, I wonder?
The lyrics of the ‘song’ this newly branded ‘rock protest group’ sang upon their intrusion into the Jesus the Savior Cathedral (and another church several days earlier) violating the quiet religious practice and rituals of the believers – was not merely a ‘political protest’, the lyrics were also a clear and unambiguous hateful attack against the Church and meant to be offensive to the Orthodox faithful. This is not a ‘protest’ – this is a HATE CRIME. It is absurd to crime to claim that desecrating a church and spewing hate and profanities at believers inside that church is part of freedoms of speech or protest.
When previous ‘protests’ were held in the street – as they have numerous time before, including illegally without a permit (required for such protests in the US and UK as well) in Red Square itself – nothing was done – they were not arrested, charged, or touched by the police. But to intrude upon the believers in their house of worship with their offensive attacks – crosses the line from protest to Hate Crime
We have rights to religious freedom in Russia that guarantee that worshippers have the right to practice their religion in their own house of worship without fear of attack or persecution, or the violation and desecration of that house of worship. This is especially sensitive in Russia – where there is a very real recent history of persecution of religious belief by non-believers, including the dynamiting and destruction of the very same Church – Jesus the Savior Cathedral – where this intrusion took place, which has only recently been rebuilt.
When anti-Semites have conducted similar attacks against Jewish believers in their Synagogues, they are rightly regarded as ‘Hate Crimes’ – does Russian Orthodoxy and it’s hundreds of millions of believers worldwide not deserve the same protections and considerations?
Liberals seem to have the most amazing tolerance for intolerance and hatred towards the religious. It is rabid and radical secularism and liberalism run amok, and become a messianic, totalitarian, jihadistic, and fundamentalist (anti-) ‘religion’ all its own…
In my opinion – and it is an opinion shared by the majority of the Russian population – this crime against the Orthodox Church should not go unpunished if only to deter future such hate crimes but also to educate those responsible on why what they did was wrong. Rather than a term of imprisonment, I think a lengthy period of community service and a public apology to the offended institution – the Orthodox Church and its believers would be most appropriate.
** Warning – most of these photos and videos are Very Very NSFW and may be offensive!!***
RM: What you say only proves that if Pussy Riot had intended to project hatred for the church they were well aware of the means to do so, but in fact their performance was carefully gauged and quite restrained. Using profanities in a place of worship should not result in a jail sentence under any circumstances, and no true Christian would advocate for these young women’s imprisonment. You say that you do not, yet your attitude is one that justifies the criminalization of their protest.
So I ask you: if this political and artistic statement fell under the category of hate crime, who are the victims? Some priests and old ladies had their prayers interrupted by a loud noise and bad words. OHHH NOOOOO!!! Some sanctimonious people who think questioning authority is bad were annoyed and offended! But nobody was beaten or harmed or terrorized or prevented from engaging in their faith. If anything lots of folks were called upon to consider a new way of applying their faith toward a good cause, and holding their religious leaders accountable for their political affiliations. That is not hateful, it is a wake-up call.
“Freedom of religion” is also being used by the “Right” here in the USA to justify all sorts of misogynous nonsense, on behalf of mainstream moralities that oppress dissent and stand in the way of progressive change. Those who are bullied, repressed and imprisoned for criticizing the powerful are the real victims of hate crime, not the powerful and their mindless minions who indulge in gestures of affront to conceal their own cowardice and collusion.
Next point: asserting guilt by association with or implication in past events does not hold up to scrutiny. These women were not on trial for those Voina actions you cite, and which they may or may not have had anything to do with, they were obviously on trial for being a little too effective at social protest.
What shocks me much more than anything Pussy Riot or Voina has ever done is the brutal aggression and suppression of dissent practiced every day by superpowers like Russia, China and the US. Now THAT is violent, criminal and offensive.
RM: I think the “orgy” in the biology museum is kinda cute. It would be helpful to be able to read the banner, but I still get the point: mating is a loving and creative act and is far more natural and positive than killing, but it is far less
acceptable to depict it in the media. We live in a culture that creates an icon of violence and hate, which we identity with masculinity and male power, but reviles the open expression of sexuality, which we identify with the feminine and female power.
Anyway I still fail to see how the (very different) church stunt is hate-filled or should be punished. Even if it was mocking and angry in tone, even if it accused religion of promoting misogyny, what about it promoted hatred? It’s one thing to say that going into the house of worship of an oppressed minority and mocking their religion is a hate crime. But when somebody who lives inside of a mainstream culture, criticizes the mainstream view, can that be considered crossing a line into hate crime, unless it openly promotes violence against individuals who profess that view, something of which I see no evidence? And isn’t the Orthodox church the mainstream religion in Russia? Wasn’t it at one time the state religion? Hate crime laws by definition are meant to protect minorities against being crushed and terrorized by the majority. There’s a point at which the majority has to suck it up and take criticism from its own misfits, and not get all “now I will crush you” about it– that is, if we live in a civilized society.
ES: There is 183 million in russia so should all of them who have objections have sex in public do who knows what with chickens, since the museum orgy 4 years ago what has changed..There is alot of wrongs in the world, 34 miner have been shot in south africa for striking, in bahrain someone was just jailed for 3 years for acts against the government, how many people do you think are in jail in USA being held without charged? If someone walked into a prayer in mosque singing and dancing they wouldn’t make it out! These girl that wear mask because they don’t want anyone to know who tey are but are happy to have public sex for the camera knew very will what they where doing. The final link above did you watch that, what is the point of disrupting a sunday service in this way, there are children in these services, what about these church goes right, or maybe they don’t have any, WAS PUTIN ELECTED BY VOTE, YES OR NO?…..is this civilized society? Do you really think these acts by pussy riots are going to change politics or anything in russia? in 18 mths these girls will leave jail, do playboy, interviews collect alot of money from all over and continue doing more ‘shock’ actions! Putin was elected by vote, glass boxes where used during the elections, yes thee was questionable points,yet in the hole this man was elected, objections are fine, breaking all the rules of society to no end are anothER! I don’t know about Kirill’s spiritual pornography, maybe you could give me a link, i live in nyc, where alot isn’t right there is total corruption everywhere!
JR: E.S, you mention the miners in S.A…. did you see that they have demonstrated in SUPPORT of Pussy Riot? They understand what those women are doing, as so many who are marginalized and subject to oppression understand. It’s the comfortable conformists who benefit from oppression who don’t.
RM: E.S., shocking people is a tactic. These artists understood that they were doing something sensational and appalling, and that was their purpose. Their actions have been intentional, carefully planned, and have achieved their objective in a wildly successful manner. It is incredibly difficult to shock people any more, but they did it. They got your attention, and they got the world’s attention, for the issues they wanted to call the world’s attention to. Without money, and without hurting anyone, they created a global media sensation and were able to present their ideas to the public. They did the impossible in the only possible way. When you ask “should all (Russians) who have objections have sex in public?” you speak as if their stunts were intended to be participatory, not to shock everyone in order to gain publicity for their cause. Obviously most people would never have the courage to do what they did, so your question is pointless. If they had done ordinary things that everyone would have done, it would not have worked.
Why do protestors get arrested? Because they know that the only way to get media attention drawn to the issues that the powerful are making every effort to conceal and ignore, is by forcing the authorities to act, and thus creating a news story. The underlying brutality of the system is revealed, and at the same time a forum for the issues that the protestors are concerned with appears in the media where none existed before.
Your reaction is natural. Having your attention rudely claimed is much more unpleasant than watching the hypnotic light show that we call culture. Just remember that if Pussy Riot were well behaved young artists called the Women’s Association for Feminism and Politics, nobody would ever have heard of them and it would be business as usual. Pussy Riot knew they had to do something drastic to get your attention, and mine. You don’t like what they did, but these artists are not sordid drunks or drug addicts, they are not mental incompetents. And they are not entertainers creating scandal to sell lipstick and disco beats. They are idealistic young people with a clear purpose. You say it doesn’t help anything to have rude remarks made about them and that this distracts from their message, but being vilified is an unavoidable aspect of courting this kind of publicity. The truth remains that Pussy Riot have embarrassed Putin on the global stage and drawn attention to the lapses in human rights that characterize his regime, and this is something that, believe me, has not happened before, certainly not in the United States. Anyone who supports human rights should applaud Pussy Riot and support them now.
E.S.: Ok RM ‘underlying brutality of the system is revealed’ SO?? is anything going to change! has it since the shock museum orgy? This underly brutality is everywhere, Mannlin is stll in jail in USA uncharged isn’t he, and so on and so on!!
i find it difficult to accept the continual sex acts, that achieve nothing but belittle russia woman..Do tell me what the woman in the above link is achieving trying to have sex with someone during mass, where a small child sees. Jacob do you really believe that everyone understands what these woman are doing? When inna cut down the cross are you tell me she was thinking about what she was doing! Most poeple don’t there just going with the flow and this time next week you won’t even remember these post. What did the chicken achieve?
RM: E.S., we are having this conversation, aren’t we? That is what has changed. Communication has been achieved, and communication is a powerful thing.
“Put away Putin” was the message and millions of people have now heard that message. It’s that simple: in human culture, communication is everything, it is what sets us apart from the brutes. It is the basis for all our activities. You can’t expect to see the results of that message in a day. But it exists in the world, and that is far better than it not existing. The fact that such a simple statement angered so many people is proof that it needed to be said.
BTW Bradley Manning, to whom I suppose you are referring, has indeed been charged and his court martial will begin next month. But his purpose has already been achieved. Of course we care what happens to him, but by making the Collateral Murder video public he has already changed to course of history. The US would still be occupying Iraq but for Manning and Assange. That is one result of communication.
Who can predict the long term effects of the increased awareness the actions of Pussy Riot have achieved? But if you doubt that inserting a message into the media stream has any effect then you aren’t paying attention to the priorities that those who have great power are spending a huge part of their resources upon. There’s a reason why they want to control the content and direction of the conversation. Before deeds come words and before words, thoughts. But words (and art and music) can change thoughts, and therefore they do have a profound effect on the course of public life.
Think about a world without freedom of expression, without Chekhov or Kerouac or Brecht. All great art was shocking, was an assault to public mores, when it was created. We cannot always point to a direct result of the works of great artists, but we do know for certain that a world without them would be poorer, less filled with imagination and compassion, and lacking in genuine, thoughtful awareness. You may look around you and see a world that is deeply flawed and say, “what’s the point? This person who is trying to change things is accomplishing nothing except to offend the ordinary man or woman and create negative publicity.” (Have you any idea how many people in history have said the same thing, and how inevitably their narrow views have been demolished by progress?) But great souls look around at that same world and say, “what can I do to make things better, if only by a tiny bit?” And without them, without their courage and ingenuity, we would be right to despair.
Usually the answers that creative and daring people come up with, to try and solve the problems of the world, are surprising and disturbing and maybe they don’t even seem to make sense to most people. But we know for certain, when we see the sweep of history, that it is only these surprising answers, these shocking and forbidden truths, that have the power to shift the tides of culture, and that a world without unconventional thinkers and artists would be a world where justice is far rarer than it is today. All too often the conventional majority in society is eager punish or kill the messenger, realizing too late that he or she was telling us exactly what we needed to hear. I say thank goodness for these brave souls. Thank goodness for Pussy Riot!