Friday, February 22, 2013

Amnesty International and Pussy Riot

I get e-mails from Amnesty International, and most of the time, I support them.  I don't give them money, because they do support abortion, but every once in awhile, I'll sign their petitions, because mostly, they work to free political prisoners, who, for the most part, are working for change in places where corrupt governments are in power, and doing it in a respectful, peaceful way.  This is not exactly the case for Pussy Riot:
File:Pussy Riot by Igor Mukhin.jpgPussy Riot is a Russian feminist punk-rock collective based in Moscow. Founded in August 2011, it has a variable membership of approximately 11 women ranging in age from about 20 to 33, who wear brightly colored balaclavas and use only nicknames during interviews. They stage unauthorized provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations, which are edited into music videos and posted on the Internet. Their lyrical themes include feminism, LGBT rights, opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they regard as a dictator, and links between the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin.
On February 21, 2012, five members of the group staged a performance on the soleas (Part of the sanctuary in an Orthodox Chruch) of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Their actions were stopped by church security officials. By evening, they had turned it into a music video entitled "Punk Prayer - Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!". The women said their protest was directed at the Orthodox Church leader's support for Putin during his election campaign. (Wikipedia)
Today, I got this in my e-mail: "Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, (...) were sentenced to two years in a penal colony for their participation in a February 2012 protest action by the feminist punk-rock group Pussy Riot at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.  These two women, both mothers in their twenties, were detained solely for their peaceful expression of their beliefs. They are Prisoners of Conscience."

"Their peaceful expression of their beliefs?"  I'm sorry, but I disagree.  You can't just walk into a holy place and do whatever you want.  Had they walked into a mosque and done this, and been taken away by guards, no one would be protesting now.  But sure, we can go and do whatever we want in a Christian Church.  I don't think so.  Freedom of Speech does NOT trump Freedom of Religion in this case, nor the right of that religion to defend it's holy places.  If they want to protest in balaclavas, fine.  Let them do it in the public square, not in a place that other people consider sacred, where they can be with God in a special way, in a way not possible elsewhere, a place that demands respect, not sacrilege.

Two years in jail is, I admit, somewhat exaggerated, but hey, here in Canada, we jail pro-life protesters for simply peacefully protesting OUTSIDE of abortion clinics.  None of them actually go INSIDE that most holy, sacred temple of death, and certainly none of them have put on balaclavas and disrupted the saving work of abortion providers with loud wails of punk guitars.  I wonder how many years in jail they'd get here, if they ever tried that...