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elbanditoroso's avatar

"Pussy Riot" was convicted in Russia today of hooliganism and disrespect for the Church. How long will it be before we have similar prosecutions in the US?

Asked by elbanditoroso (15985 points ) August 17th, 2012

This has been in the news for months—the girl band Pussy Riot wrote and performed songs which were disrespectful to the Orthodox Church. And they were arrested and accused of hooliganism, which is sort of a catch-all Russian phrase for “doing something that the government doesn’t approve of”.

Today the three girls were convicted in a Russian court and could be sentenced to as many as three years in prison.

Will there be spillover in the US? Can you see a time when American ‘religious’ groups try to put American musical groups in jail for their lyrics and their philosophies?

One would think not (freedom of speech and all that) – but we already have WalMart requiring “clean” versions of Rap songs, and the FRC and AFA already wants to censor the movies we watch, so it seems like the door is open.

Should we be afraid?

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31 Answers

Qingu's avatar

Oh let me think. Never?

What evidence is there of increased censorship of US media? Walmart (a private company) demanding clean versions of CDs? (And do they still even do that? I remember that happening in the early 90’s.)

Who in the government is calling for censorship of media?

Why would there be spillover to the US? Does the US often emulate the Russian justice system? I mean this is like saying “They just chopped off a thief’s hands in Saudi Arabia… how long until we start chopping off people’s hands in the US?”

Now if you had asked about ISP’s censoring Internet content that runs through their pipes, that would be another matter.

ragingloli's avatar

The time frame depends on whether or not Mitt All-Blacks-are-cursed-with-the-mark-of-Cain Romney wins this election, and the religious right can continue to establish their theocracy at an accelerated rate, or whether he loses and they have to wait another 4 years.

wundayatta's avatar

When there is an official state church for America, we will see this kind of conviction. Not before.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Qingu – the religious right wing in the US reads the international news, too. If they see that they can use the powers of the state to punish a group for perceived ‘insults’ to their religion, they will see that the same technique can be used here. The right wing here may be insidious, but they are not stupid.

There are no immediate threats (other than the two I mentioned above), but I think we ought to be vigilant just in case groups in the US try to emulate the Russian action.

Qingu's avatar

@elbanditoroso, the religious right wing in America does what it does. I completely fail to see how news from Communist Atheist Russia will somehow serve as a motivator or cause for them to emulate.

Let me put this another way. Can you justify your assertion that there is any risk whatsoever of Americans seeking to emulate Russia in this matter? Are you also worried about the US emulating Shariah law in Saudi Arabia?

marinelife's avatar

Hopefully, never.

jca's avatar

What @Qingu said.

What Walmart does will trickle down to the US government?

ucme's avatar

I thought Pussy Riot was the working title of the next S&TC film.

ragingloli's avatar

@Qingu
So you already forgot the laws by repugs that forces women who want to have an abortion to get physically penetrated by a probe?
Or the Repug anti porn pledge, that romney signed, that binds them to attempt to ban pornography?
The repug attempts to redefine personhood, so that it would make certain kinds of contraception illegal?
The onslaught upon Planned Parenthood?
These pastors that proudly proclaimed that gays should be put in camps or even be killed outright?
The corporately funded “family values” hate groups that actively lobby against gay marriage equality and even supported the Ugandan death-for-gays law?

It is already happening in the Colonies, like it or not.

tedd's avatar

If some on the far right had their way it wouldn’t shock me.

But I suspect (and hope) never. If it ever did you’d see me rebelling.

Qingu's avatar

@ragingloli,

• Anti-abortion laws like you mention are repulsive, but are unrelated to censorship. Likewise the personhood/contraception thing.

• I am unfamiliar with this anti-porn pledge. I am skeptical that it will ever get enacted, based on the American public’s love of porn.

• I am obviously also repulsed by homophobia in the Republican party. But the things you mention are fringe even among Republicans, and the trajectory of gay rights is clearly on our side. I am not at all worried in the long or medium-term. And in any case I don’t see what this has to do with censorship either.

Look, if the question was “Are you worried about the Republicans being stupid authoritarian homophobes” I would have said yes, but that’s not what was asked.

ragingloli's avatar

“And in any case I don’t see what this has to do with censorship either.”
It is both religious oppression of opposition and those that are “different”.
Once the superstitionists consolidate their power, oppressive measure will not just be limited to abortion and gays, but will invariably extend to speech as well.
If you want an example for that, look at their attempts to slander Evolutionary Science, Global Warming Science, Stem Cell research, and their attempts to teach biblical creationism (under the mask of “Intelligent Design”) in science classes.

CWOTUS's avatar

The mind reels. Convicted of “disrespecting the Church” ... in Russia. Putin as Defender of the Faith.

Yeah, I guess End Times are upon us now.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Putin won’t rest until Russia is one big gulag camp again.

Qingu's avatar

@ragingloli, you’re preaching to the choir, dude. I just see those sorts of efforts as (1) orthogonal to the issues involving pussy riot, (2) not bolstered in any way by Russia’s actions, and (3) demonstrably on the wane.

FutureMemory's avatar

As if Russia has ever been a bastion of artistic or personal freedom in general…

zenvelo's avatar

While 2 years is excessive, they were guilty of trespassing and disrupting a religious service.

Remember that Pussy Riot ran up to the altar in a Cathedral, and had a guerrilla performance in the church. Even though it was anti-Putin, it’s not a free speech issue, the same thing would get them arrested and tried in the US if they did it in a Catholic church or at a Jewish synagogue.

But why does everyone say it should be okay in the US?

RareDenver's avatar

The media in the UK has concentrated on the fact that their sings are predominantly political and anti Putin and his Russian Mafia, sorry elected government. The songs were performed in an Orthodox Church but the angle here has been that it was the anti government messages more than the anti church messages that hit them in the predicament they are in now. Interesting how two countries media have reported the same case but with different leanings. One to the political and one to the religious.

Qingu's avatar

I don’t think performing a rude song in a church would get you two years behind bars in the US o’ A….

woodcutter's avatar

Never going to happen, unless there are other charges they bring that apply ,that are punishable by imprisonment.

blueiiznh's avatar

Fear Not!

my job here is done

PhiNotPi's avatar

I think that “hooliganism” as a criminal offense should be eliminated. It should be replaced with something more discriptive and limited.

The term “hooliganism”, which basically means doing something against (what the government calls) social standards, gives considerable leeway for people to call anything they don’t like as “hooliganism”. Since the Eastern Orthodox church is very prominent, this means that there will certainly be people (in general, but also government officials) who deem this band to be against social standards.

Since “hooliganism” is so open to interpretation, it opens the door for corrupt officials to convict people for doing whatever they personally don’t approve of.

CWOTUS's avatar

I agree with @Qingu on this, @zenvelo. It’s not that “it should be okay” in the USA, but it would be a civil infraction similar to “disturbing the peace” (assuming it was a one-time event, maybe two-times if the lighting wasn’t right the first time for the video). Pay a fine, time served, probation and/or a suspended sentence for the fine and minimal jail time.

These girls were in prison for five months just waiting for the damn trial. It’s excessive.

zenvelo's avatar

@CWOTUS @Qingu I did say it was excessive. But the first 15 or 16 posts seemed to be that it was their exercise of what in the US would be a protected right, and evidence of suppression of speech. While I think a weekend in jail or a fine would be appropriate, I did want to point out that this was not a harmless prank.

jca's avatar

I like that name “Pussy Riot.”

woodcutter's avatar

At least they get credit for time served so, the Russians…not total barbarians, huh?

Qingu's avatar

@zenvelo, it was civil disobedience against the government, in the building of the official state religion.

You’re right, it’s not a “harmless prank,” but it’s also not in any civilized or free society a criminal offense worthy of 2 years in jail.

Nullo's avatar

Ooogaboogabooga!

Seriously, @elbanditoroso, I don’t think that you have anything to worry about. Secularism in the United States is on the rise, and we are the ones that keep waiting for the legislative ban-hammer.

DominicX's avatar

@FutureMemory Freedom, no. But sometimes I wonder if that constant oppressive climate in Russia is responsible for the some of the amazing art that has come from there, like the music of Shostakovich…not that I’m saying it’s a good thing, I’m just wondering.

As someone who is ethnically almost entirely Russian and has relatives there, stuff like this really bugs me…and I don’t see the situation in the US nearing the situation in Russia any time soon…

woodcutter's avatar

Sort of reminds me of the Dixie Chicks…sort of…except the jail part. Whatever happened to them?

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