The Yardstick Case Of Pussy Riot

Avatar

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

Related Post Roulette

69 Responses

  1. Old Cold War Joke:

    American: In America, nothing would happen to me if I march up to the White House and scream “Fuck you, Ronald Reagan!”

    Russian: In Soviet Union, nothing would happen to me too if I march up to the Kremlin and scream “Fuck you, Ronald Reagan!”

    Plus ça change…Report

  2. But it seems to have not occurred to them that the best way of dealing with these protestors would have been to dismiss and ignore them.

    Indeed. Not to minimize what these young women are going through, but this whole brouhaha is giving them far more exposure than they almost certainly would have had otherwise. If that video gives an accurate impression, there were about a dozen people in the church when they staged their protest. Left alone, it would have probably seemed pretty unimpressive to most people, is my guess.Report

  3. Avatar Glyph says:

    If the video footage of the gal speaking from prison is easily viewable inside Russia, they have screwed the pooch here.

    I don’t care how ‘manly’ Putin looks, most people will side with the pretty girl. Especially the young people. I am strangely optimistic that this whole episode is growing pains.Report

  4. Avatar damon says:

    Gee, a statist gov’t smacking those they don’t like and using the “legal” system for it’s own political gain and to punnish those who disagree. Nothing like that could happen here…

    oh..wait…Report

  5. Avatar Glyph says:

    Burt, cynicism is the way to bet, but if the footage (wait for the end of the linked video, then click on the – um, striking – brunette) is as accessible and appealing to the average Russian as it was to me, Putin is toast.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

      ugh, this was supposed to be a reply to Burt at 12:36.Report

      • Avatar Vertov in reply to Glyph says:

        The idea that Russians will just see the pretty girls and tilt to them to more liberalized notions of justice sounds way too much like the old “DEMOCRACY WHISKEY SEXY” thing from the Iraq War, this idea that non-Westerners will see our enlightened attitudes toward sex, freedom, music, lifestyle, etc., like what they see, and automatically side with us. My link below suggests its more complicated than that.

        The hippies had pretty chicks, and that didn’t sway the whole country to their side.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Vertov says:

          A quibble: Russians are “Westerners,” wouldn’t you agree? Ethnic Russians, Byelorussians, and Ukranians are descended from Scandinavian explorers and settlers, so they look like other Europeans. While the Russians are right to see their nation as its own center of geopolitical, cultural, and economic gravity, Russia’s dominant cultural and economic linkages to the outside world (e.g., Christianity) are significantly stronger to Europe than they are to Asia.

          The lesson here is that just because one is generally of the European cultural milleu, does not necessarily mean that one embraces the values of liberalism. European culture gave birth to fascism, communism, and monarchy by divine right too.Report

          • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

            Ethnic Russians, Byelorussians, and Ukranians are descended from Scandinavian explorers and settlers,

            To some extent, but mostly from the same Slavic roots as Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, etc, who also look like other Europeans, because they are, in fact, Europeans.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Vertov says:

          I’d argue that the hippies made very significant changes to the country, many of them good; and that the pretty chicks were a large part of the how/why of that.

          They are not siding with us (there are no American divisions in Moscow AFAIK); they are siding with (Russian) youth and beauty and freedom, over old and ugly and authoritarian.

          I could be wrong & overly optimistic (this is rare for me). But I think the long-term trend will bear this out regardless of what happens in this particular case. Even if these young women are locked away for a long time, they will become martyrs to their contemporaries.Report

  6. Avatar Vertov says:

    I agree the whole thing’s appalling, but that’s necessarily how it’s viewed in Russia:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2012/07/31/what-do-russians-think-about-pussy-riot-the-answer-might-surprise-you/

    The polling date in the link above suggests that a good majority want some kind of punishment for Pussy Riot, and that their view of the Orthodox Church has barely changed.

    It appears that there isn’t quite the hunger for liberal democracy that you or I would hope would exist in Russia, Burt. I may think that’s a mistake for Russia, but I’m not Russian, nor do I live there, especially not during the miserable immediate post-Communist era, where most Russians learned to be wary of leaders bearing the mantle of “liberal.”Report

  7. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    It appears that there isn’t quite the hunger for liberal democracy that you or I would hope would exist in Russia, Burt.

    Pity.Report

  8. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    The Orthodox Church never seems to learn, does it? They backed the Tsar to the hilt and their churches were turned into stables. Now they back Putin to the hilt, conniving with his regime as they connived with the Tsar.

    Watch and see. There will come a day of reckoning. There’s always a problem when a Cult of Religion like the Orthodox Church meets a Cult of Personality like Putin’s. At some point, the Church will find out, to its horror, what happens when the Church gets too cuddlesome with the State.Report

  9. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    In the US, they would, for much milder criticism, be disappeared from commercial radio. Because we get liberal democracy.Report

    • You lost me with those last five words, Mike. I presume you’re referring to the Dixie Chicks. The government didn’t imprison the Dixie Chicks for six months and put them on trial for lese majeste of George W. Bush. They got disappeared from commercial radio because broadcasters feared consumer boycotts, not because they feared the government.Report

      • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

        That is, because a single large broadcaster, who because we don’t really need an FCC controlled a ridiculous number of stations, banished them because what they send offended its CEO personally. But he’s not a government official, so no harm done.Report

        • So of course you’re similarly upset at ABC because its subsidiary, ESPN stopped hiring Hank Williams, Jr. after his intemperate remarks concerning President Obama. No, you’re not? Actually, I didn’t think so.

          I disavow Broderism here, because my point isn’t “both sides do it so that makes it okay.” My point is, “It’s not the government doing it, so that makes it… not the government doing it.” That really does make a difference.

          So yes, ABC was within its rights to do what it did. You don’t like ABC trying to silence ol’ Hank? Don’t watch Monday Night Football. Love football but can’t get it anywhere but ESPN on a Monday night? Play Madden 2012 instead. No, it’s not the same thing but sometimes you’ve got to make a choice.

          And yes, Clear Channel was within its rights to pull the Dixie Chicks off of its play lists. Don’t like it? Don’t listen to Clear Channel stations. Are there no stations in your area that aren’t Clear Channel that play music you like? Listen to a Dixie Chicks CD instead. Clear Channel doesn’t control your iPod.

          And yes, even Chick-fil-A’s corporate leaders are within their rights to donate to whatever looney-bin pray-the-gay-away groups they want for whatever obnoxious reason they want. Don’t like it? Don’t buy their chicken. Are there no other places in town to buy fast food? Tough. Tough for me, too. I liked their chicken a lot before I learned that they aren’t just devout, they divert their profits to causes I abhor. Now, I find that a salad is a healthier choice anyway.Report

          • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

            I’m confused. Did ABC control a large fraction of country music airplay, or are we talking about two completely different situations?Report

            • Way to miss my point, dude.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Maybe he got the point, but just doesn’t like it.

                He’s boycotting you.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I think you missed mine. The point isn’t that private actors can act, it’s that when they have sufficient power, the result isn’t that different from non-private actors acting.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                You should see Putin when he chairs his Home Owner’s Association meetings.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kolohe says:

                It’s Putin’s front-yard sunbathing that really gets my goat.

                The lawn chair, the speedo & gold chains, the baby oil, ‘Trololo’ playing on a loop on that damn 80’s boombox – it’s too much.Report

              • I understand that some private actors exercise significant control over the marketplace and I’m not fundamentally opposed to the idea that the government can impose certain “play fair” rules like antidiscrimination-in-employment laws.

                But are you also suggesting that Clear Channel not be allowed to pull the Dixie Chicks from its lineup, under pain of sanction or seizure of editorial control of its assets? Or maybe we require it to play one Pussy Riot song for every Justin Bieber song they play?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I thought “we don’t need an FCC” was clear enough. If we had one, and it wasn’t more concerned with preventing monopoly control of what we used to call the public airwaves than with people God forbid getting a split-second view of a woman’s nipple, Clear Channel wouldn’t have enough power to matter.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                The Dixie Chicks’ albums during and after the controversy all went gold or platinum.

                How much power does Clear Channel really have?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Enough that the albums during and after their disappearance from the radio sold considerably fewer copies than the earlier ones.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                And these reduced sales are totally Clear Channel’s (who I have no love for, in the least) fault, rather than due at least in part to increased downloading across the board + the loss of some of their more conservative fans?Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Scratch downloading, since that part is controversial, but doesn’t the fact remain that *everyone’s* album sales have declined?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Enough that the albums during and after their disappearance from the radio sold considerably fewer copies than the earlier ones.

                Eh, post hoc ergo propter hoc? Not that it couldn’t have been at least part of the cause, but I’d note that their actions were offensive enough to a certain segment of the country music audience that the actions themselves surely caused a drop in sales, and that audience reaction could have caused big problems for Clear Channel if they’d kept playing the Chicks. You’re assuming Clear Channel had the power, when it could be that reduced sales and reduced airplay were a consequence of audience power.

                As well, you’re assuming a 10 million selling album implies future equally good-selling albums, but the evidence from the bulk of the music industry doesn’t support that claim. Any number of bans peak in popularity then decline somewhat. And there’s damn few artists out there who wouldn’t be delighted to put out a two million-selling album, as the Chicks did after the controversy. And that includes some who had 10 million sellers at one point in time.

                I’m not lauding Clear Channel, mind you, just saying that causality in this case is likely less clearly attributable to them than you’re claiming.Report

              • It’s difficult to overstate how much fan reaction had to do with it. I was a country music fan at the time, in a red state where country music is popular. It honestly wouldn’t have occurred to me to blame ClearChannel for what happened. They owned one of the three commercial three country music stations in the city that would have played the Dixie Chicks (the classic country station, for instance, wouldn’t anyway). Infinity owned one and Cox owned one. The Dixie Chicks disappeared from all three. They did start getting some airplay on college stations, though.

                Ultimately, the rub was this: Country music fans were angry. The people most inclined to support what she said are those disinclined towards buying country music anyway. Regardless of what ClearChannel did, the gap in overlap between support for what was said and listening to country music was bound to cause some serious problems.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Good Lord, I’m not making any of this up.. The connection between radio play and album sales is well-established, as is the fact that Clear Channel controlled an enormous amount of the market.

                And there’s damn few artists out there who wouldn’t be delighted to put out a two million-selling album, as the Chicks did after the controversy.

                “They already made a lot of money, why do they need more?” isn’t your usual side of the argument.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Mike, let’s assume that’s all true and is also the main cause.

                I assert that word-of-mouth and advertising (which is what playing a song on the radio *is* – it’s an advertisement for an album, right?) have a well-established connection to the sale of Chik-Fil-A sandwiches.

                Will you be similarly exercised when a media conglomerate chooses to stop airing Chik-Fil-A ads, either because they disagree with Chik-Fil-A’s stances, or because they believe their customers do, and Chik-Fil-A’s sandwich sales drop as a result?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Mike,

                I think you misunderstand my point about 2 million album sales. My point is that there are a lot of artists who never follow up well with a hit album, without there being any foul play by any actor. Those artists would count a 2 million copy album as hugely successful.

                So when an artist follows up a 10 million copy album with a 2 million copy album, it’s not at all evident that the decline is someone else’s fault. They might, in fact, simply be among the fortunate few that manage to continue that level of success.

                As to Clear Channel’s action, let’s assume they did continue to play the Dixie Chicks. Legions of irate uberpatriotic country fans (the type of orgasm while hearing “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue”) jam the lines screaming about how anti-American they are, conservative blogs start blasting them, and advertisers start shying away.

                What should Clear Channel do? Should they continue playing an artist their listeners hate? Should they take a financial loss so the Dixie Chicks maybe won’t? Do they have some kind of obligation to keep playing the Dixie Chicks to an audience that hates them?Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                OK, I’ll say it again.

                I don’t mind if a company responds to the market.

                I don’t mind if a company tries to anticipate the market.

                I do mind when a CEO uses a company’s assets to further his partisan ends (as should anyone who believes in capitalism, because it’s a clear breach of fiduciary responsibility, though for some reason when Republican CEOs do it they get a pass from Forbes et al. ) but I realize there’s not much to be done about it, given the current state of corporate governance (i.e, there is none.)

                I do mind when a company is allowed to amass monopoly power, because they’re going to abuse it.

                And I get what Will is saying. Realizing what a clusterfish the Bush administration was before 2006 is the 21st century version of premature anti-fascism.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Hello, is this thing on? 🙂

                Anyway, Mike, as I mentioned I have no love for Clear Channel (I worked in radio during their rise to power), and unlike James I am not so sanguine about monopoly (or near-monopoly) power and its abuses.

                Actually James, that reminds me…I forget which thread it was, but IIRC you were skeptical from an economic POV that ‘true’ monopolies arise very often. If you ever get a chance I would love to hear some more on this topic, because on this front I am sympathetic to Mike’s position, in that I think busting up monopolies should really be pretty much the FCC’s ONLY job.

                Do you think they never (or only rarely) arise?
                If they do arise, do you blame government action, or inaction?
                If they do arise, what is the best way of dealing with them (including inaction), and why?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I don’t like soft definitions of monopoly. Wil gave an example of Clear Channel owning one of three pop country stations in his market. That’s not a monopoly. If country music fans really wanted to hear the Dixie Chicks, surely one of the other two channels would have played them. And if there was enough demand, they would have taken market share from the Clear Channel station.

                One true thing that too many people refuse to accept is that “large market share != monopoly.” Having a large market share does not necessarily mean you have significant power in that market–you may only be able to have that market share because you are very careful to keep meeting customer demand. The more the large market share company does not respond to consumer demand, the less likely they are to be able to maintain that share.

                The fragility of size has been demonstrated by company after company, from Woolworths to Montgomery Ward to Commodore Computers to Sharper Image to GM to Sears to Polaroid to Bethlehem Steel to Blockbuster Video. Even that alleged monopoly Standard Oil began losing market share immediately after its creation. In 1899 they had 90% of the refining capacity in the U.S. By 1911 when it was broken up by the government, that share had already fallen to 64% and was on a steady downward decline. U.S. Steel, another alleged monopoly, had 61% of the market when it was formed in 1901 fell to 39% within about two decades. American Sugar Refining held 98% of its market in 1893, declining to 25% by 1927.

                This truth will be rejected by those who cannot conceive of size as not equaling power. That’s why we continue to be at loggerheads.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Glyph,

                Very rarely, and then nearly always just a “close-to” monopoly, not quite a complete one. Kingsford, for example, has over 90% of the charcoal market. I have a friend who claims the valve company he used to work for controls over 90% of the U.S. market for valves (under different names, though, so it’s hard to track down and verify, but let’s assume he’s right).

                What makes a monopoly rare? Because a monopoly can raise prices and cut back on service, innovation, etc. Where else you gonna go, eh? But that increased profit attracts competitors who want a piece of the action. Unless there are significant barriers to entry, those competitors will come in. The most common barrier to entry is laws that restrict competition, not natural barriers found in the market.

                A common argument is that the monopolist will just lower its prices and undercut the competitor until they are driven out of business. This is one of those ideas that seems to make sense, but which has little actual evidence to support it. It’s believed widely by non-economists, but widely disbelieved by economists. First, how often can a company afford to play that game? The excess profits it’s usually making will keep attracting hopeful competitors; a predatory pricing strategy is not a one and done game, but one that has to be played repeatedly. Second, price isn’t the only factor driving consumer decisions; quality and customer service does, too. Meanwhile, the price competition benefits consumers, and prohibiting a company from engaging in price competition robs consumers.

                If predatory pricing was a successful strategy, then Microsoft ought to have won the browser wars with it’s free browser. But clearly Internet Explorer doesn’t have anything approaching a monopoly market share.

                Speaking generally, I don’t think the government should get involved in dealing with anti-trust unless violent or fraudulent activity is occurring. If Kingsford responded to my effort to start a competing charcoal company by burning it to the ground (something they’d presumably have the expertise to do), that would be outside the lines, obviously. If a cell phone carrier switched me back to their service against my will, that would be outside the lines. But those things are readily dealt with by existing laws against force and fraud. About the only area where, off the top of my head, I can see a real need for specific anti-trust regulation is to scope out collusion.

                But absent force and fraud, in general the only way a near-monopoly can maintain its position when there are no significant barriers to entry is to act as though it does face competition–it has to avoid the temptation to jack up prices and skimp on customer service, innovation, etc. The really crazy thing is, not acting like a monopolist and actually behaving as though there is competition can get a country in trouble. As one of the stupidest Supreme Court rulings ever said (paraphrased), “It wasn’t inevitable that Standard Oil would keep innovating and finding new ways to reduce costs so that it could reduce prices.” Yes, in the bizarro world of American anti-trust, behaving competitively can be an illegal act of engaging in anti-competitive behavior.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Hmmm, even in the examples you list, I would presume that size DOES mostly equal power. For at least a time, anyway.

                But if I can rephrase the rest of what you seem to be saying – is it your take that even what appear to be monopolies, or near-monopolies, will collapse (or shrink) naturally in a free-market system, by dint of being too massive/slow to adapt when the smaller hungrier competitors move in?

                IOW, even if something looks like a monopoly, within 2-3 decades it will probably collapse anyway, so any cure you try to apply may be unnecessary and carry unwanted side effects?Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Whoops, I took yr reply to Mike as one to me. Now that I have seen both replies, I think I get where you are coming from. Something to chew on. I am not sure if I am ready to accept it totally yet but thanks for the explanation.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Glyph,

                Most likely so. I think it was James K who once pointed out to me that back in the ’50s J. K. Galbraith (I believe it was) created a list of companies that were too big to fail (not so big we had to bail them out, but companies that he thought could not fail in the market). The story goes that most of them are gone, or at least very dwindled. (I haven’t been able to find this list, though, so take that with a grain of salt.)

                And while it’s an indirect measure, a comparison of the top 20 Fortune 500 companies in 1970 and in 2010 is informative.Report

              • JamesH,

                Even granting what you say, and I am on board with some (but not all) of it, I think there are real reasons that we don’t want this to apply to commercial radio. Namely, that radio stations are inherently limited by spectrums. And as such, it is the case (as far as I am aware) that there is a zero sum component. For every station that Clear Channel owns, that’s one less station that somebody else can own. Ditto for Infinity and Cumulus. Given that we are dealing with a limited resource, I don’t see why we can’t either (a) severely limit the number of stations any given conglomerate can hold or (b) have requirements for those that we give wide berth to.

                On the second score, requiring that they broadcast radio stations to limited markets seems like a fair deal. Not that I am biased or anything, being in a market with all of three FM stations.Report

              • Avatar Fnord in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                “If predatory pricing was a successful strategy, then Microsoft ought to have won the browser wars with it’s free browser. But clearly Internet Explorer doesn’t have anything approaching a monopoly market share.”

                It may well be that predatory pricing doesn’t work, but I don’t think that’s a particularly good example to make the case. As you point out, we now have plenty of competition, but it seems that free is the equilibrium price for an internet browser. That might make it a bit of a special case.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Wil,

                Possibly. Since we’ve declared the airwaves public property (and let’s just accept that rather than delving into whether that’s the best way or not), we certainly can regulate those who lease the airwaves. That is, it’s legitimate to do so (for most anything short of regulations that bump into the First Amendment), whether or not any particular regulation is wise.

                But we can also let technology help. The increased ability to subdivide the broadcast spectrum due to digital could help with this problem (I don’t know enough about it to know if we set up the process right or if we just rewarded existing firms), and of course satellite radio can be a huge boon, too.

                One of the things to watch out for in anti-trust cases is whether the relevant market is properly drawn. I’d argue that any arguments about the radio market that don’t include satellite radio as part of the relevant market are inaccurate (or, depending on the motivations of the person drawing the lines, purposefully biasing).Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I don’t think I’ve ever seen an account of how to make spectrum work if the airwaves are not public property. How exactly do you imagine that would be set up?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I’m not sure I understand the question. If I do, my response is to treat the spectrum like any other government-owned property and auction off the individual frequencies, just as though they’re lots of government owned land. Then standard property rules apply; you can lease, sell, buy, and subdivide them (if technologically possible, and this creates an incentive to figure out technologies to do so), and government punishes violators of those rights. E.g., if I broadcast on WGN’s frequency in their area I am guilty of trespassing, just as if I started building a house in your backyard.

                I think much unintended confusion comes about by assuming that the spectrum must be different because it’s not material, like land is. But property is really nothing more than socially sanctioned rights to make use of a particular resource. Resources can be material or non-material.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I had assumed you meant something more drastic than having private firms buy spectrum from the government instead of renting spectrum from the government.Report

              • JamesH,

                I can agree with everything you say except:

                I’d argue that any arguments about the radio market that don’t include satellite radio as part of the relevant market are inaccurate (or, depending on the motivations of the person drawing the lines, purposefully biasing).

                I truthfully don’t put much stock in satellite radio. Most people can’t get it without a significant initial investment. Poor market penetration without significant market concentration. Most of the stations are owned by SiriusXM itself and, if not, owned by a conglomerate of some sort. It’s not nothing, but it’s not much.

                Internet “radio” has some promise as an alternative. Particularly with the possibility of impromptu “stations” that Spotify/Rhapsody/Pandora/LastFM provide. There’s a lack of penetration there, to be sure, but what they (presently!) lack in penetration, it makes up for in flexibility. More penetration and availability is needed. Will it happen? It actually depends on, of all people, cell phone carriers.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Has anyone ever charged for a web browser? Netscape Navigator started out officially having a price tag, but there were so many ways to get them to waive the fee that I never heard of anyone paying for it. [1] Lynx, Mosaic, IE, Mozilla -> Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari, etc. are all free.

                1. Individuals, anyway. Some companies are sticklers for only using fully licensed software, and might have paid. But Navigator was never a significant revenue stream for Netscape; it was there to gain mindshare for their server products.Report

              • Opera charged for the longest time (or so it seemed). You could get it free as adware, but that was really annoying.

                My personal view is that Microsoft’s OS share did indeed contribute to its dominating the browser market for the longest time with its inferior product. That they eventually lost (ironically, right about the time that their product became good) doesn’t win back all of those crappy-browser hours lost.Report

        • There is a larger broadcaster, but there is not a single large broadcaster. There were a lot of upset fans. Country music fans didn’t want to hear their music. Even so, they entered the rotation of a couple local college/public stations that had, up to that point, never played country music.

          That, and they weren’t thrown in jail. A rather crucial distinction.

          (I say this as someone who wishes that radio stations were not as consolidated as they are. Not that it matters since I don’t listen to radio anymore anyway.)Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to MikeSchilling says:

      In Soviet Russia, bad analogies are as you.Report

  10. Avatar M.Z. says:

    I’m doubtful that in other eras in the US that the commandeering of a church to speak against the government would be seen as a 1st Amendment issue. Our liberalization of the understanding of protest was an artifact of the Civil Rights era. That other countries who lack our history don’t appreciate that is not surprising. I confess that I too find it odd that commandeering a church is church is seen as advancing the commonweal.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to M.Z. says:

      I should have responded to this yesterday, sorry. Commandeering the church is why even in the free-speech-respecting U.S. of A., Pussy Riot would be looking at righteous trespass and disturbing the peace charges. It doesn’t matter why they comandeered the church or what they said when they did it. Trespass and disturbing the peace are appropriately classified here as misdemeanors — minor crimes.

      No, they shouldn’t have done it. But at the same time, they don’t deserve to lose seven years of their lives for doing it. No one was physically harmed by what these ladies did, after all. A fine, community service, time served or a light sentence — enough punishment to demonstrate that society considers this sort of thing intolerable, but also a response appropriate and proportional to the crime itself.

      The fact that they face such a heavy charge for an act of this nature is a strong indication (to me at least) that the content of their speech, rather than the trespass involved in making it, is the true reason they are being prosecuted. That is something that (we hope) in a nation that respects the individual right of free speech, a grownup would step up to the plate and say needs to be excised from the official response.Report

    • Not on point, but I love the new gravatar image, James. Especially the little one-eyed green amoeba — nice detail.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to James Hanley says:

      Is that the brain slug talking?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott says:

        Actually, it’s a serious question. As a former devoutly believing Christian now turned near-atheist agnostic, I have a real interest in the way Christianity interacts with culture and politics.

        It seems to me that a serious reading of the NT would suggest that the proper Christian response is predominantly is to turn the other cheek; not get angry, not call the police, not file a lawsuit, but invite them to the after-service potluck.

        But it also seems to me that such a response would be truly newsworthy, whereas the getting angry and calling the police would be the response we would most expect to see.

        One way to interpret that is to call Christians hypocrites. That’s not really my take. What I wonder about is why this is the expected outcome–why religion doesn’t seem to have a stronger, more reliable, effect of causing people to truly be in the world but not of it. Why is it so hard for people to really follow the demands of their faith?Report

  11. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Note: http://perevodika.ru/articles/21747.html

    If someone could translate the comments, that would be super-cool.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *