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Pussy Riot vs Julian Assange -
To each his own Hero and Villain

By The Saker

August 17, 2012 "Information Clearing House" Two high profile freedom of speech cases are unfolding these days, the one of the Pussy Riot sentencing in Moscow and the granting by Ecuador of political asylum to Julian Assange.  I would argue that both cases are in many ways if not similar, then at least comparable to each other.  After all, in both cases we have college drop-outs breaking the laws of major power and in both cases the offenders have become something of a symbol of resistance to the power of the state and the right to free speech.  There are also some very important differences between these two cases, crucial ones, I would argue, which would also make it reasonable to view these cases as not similar, but rather polar opposites.

So in order to organize this issue in my mind, I decided to make a little table comparing and contrasting the Pussy Riot and Julian Assange cases.  This is, of course, hardly an exhaustive comparison.  Think of it rather as a "back of the napkin" kind of quick review:
 



 
Pussy Riot Assange
Origin Russia Australian
Persona Collective & anonymous Personal individual
Crime Proven hate crime
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALS92big4TY


 
Alledged unprotected sex Alledged espionage
Ideological motive Remove Putin from power, “3rd generation feminism”, homosexuality Open society, anti-war, information freedom, free press
Potential penalty 2 years medium security (sentenced) Life supermax (in USA)
Defence tactic Deny responsibility Claim responsability
Legality In line with mainstream law:
http://mercouris.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/pussy-riot-2/


 
Unprecedented application of law
Supporter Western governments
Western elites
Russian elites
Russian government
Worldwide opinion
Western elites
Past activities Voina Performance Group:
http://kaifolog.ru/2010/08/27/poshto-pizdili-kuru-22-foto.html


http://plucer.livejournal.com/281211.html?nojs=1


 
Hacker & free software developer
Education College drop-out College drop-out

 
And yet, looking at this table, I find myself wondering how a Russian "performance group" (that is what they call themselves) like Pussy Riot became the almost instant mega-hero of so many Western public figures.  Do you think that I am exaggerating?  Then check out this list of Pussy Riot supporters I found on Wikipedia:

Kate Nash, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Cornershop, Faith No More, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, Patti Smith, The Beastie Boys, Refused, Zola Jesus, Die Antwoord, Jarvis Cocker, Pete Townshend, The Joy Formidable, Peaches, Madonna, Genesis, Tegan and Sara, Johnny Marr, Courtney Love, Iiro Rantala, Propagandhi, Anti-Flag, Rise Against, Corinne Bailey Rae, Peter Hammill, Kathleen Hanna, Björk, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, British comedian Stephen Fry, Reykjavík Mayor Jón Gnarr and Warren Kinsella.  A letter of support from 120 members of the German parliament, the Bundestag, was sent to the Russian Ambassador to Germany, Vladimir Grinin. The letter referred to proceedings against the women as being disproportionate and draconian. On August 9, 2012, 400 Pussy Riot supporters in Berlin marched wearing colored balaclavas in a show of support for the group.

To this, I would add the very intensive and, frankly, totally over-the-top coverage of the Western corporate media of the Pussy Riot trial.

Amazing, no?  Could it be due to the quality of actual "musical performance" (called "punk prayer") which got these ladies arrested?  Well, judge for yourself:


 

 
 
And to get a full "appreciation" for their artistic "talent", here is the translation of the lyrics:

 
St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!
Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners are crawling and bowing
The ghost of freedom is in heaven
Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains
 
The head of the KGB is their chief saint
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend the Holy
Women have to give birth and to love
 
Holy shit, shit, Lord's shit!
Holy shit, shit, Lord's shit!
 
 
St. Maria, Virgin, become a feminist
Become a feminist, Become a feminist
 
 
Church praises the rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
In school you are going to meet with a teacher-preacher
Go to class - bring him money!
 
Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, you better believed in God
Belt of the Virgin is no substitute for mass-meetings
In protest of our Ever-Virgin Mary!
 
St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!
 
 
While I cannot disagree with some of the ideas contained in this screed (the Moscow Patriarchate is, indeed, both highly corrupted and totally controlled by the Kremlin, and "Patriarch" Gudaev is a scoundrel and crook of the worst kind), it is rather obvious to me that the real intention of this performance is not to denounce any wrongs, but to achieve a maximum shock effect.  In fact, the Pussy Riot collective is nothing but the latest re-packaging of the infamous "Voina" ("war" in Russian)  performance group which became famous by such "events" as organizing group sex flash mobs in public museums or having sex with a frozen chicken in a supermarket. You probably think that I am jocking, right?  Nope, and to prove this, I am (reluctantly) posting these (deliberately small sized) photos of these "events" here.  And if you think that I am exaggerating something, you can click on these photos for a better view of these "events" or you can even follow the following links for a full series of large, non-pixellated, and rather nauseating photographs:

 

 
http://plucer.livejournal.com/281211.html?nojs=1

 
 

If the first of these events was supposed to be some kind of statement about (then) President Medvedev, the second one - entitled "why was the chicken f*cked" and "tale about how the c*nt fed the war" - did not even carry some vague message of any kind.
 

It is rather obvious these ladies, whether packaged as "Pussy Riot" or as "Voina", have no other message and no other purpose than to offend, disgust or shock.  Their sole stroke of genius was to add to their usual sex-centered "performances" an anti-Putin and anti-Orthodox message.  Here, they really struck gold as that got them an overnight hero status in the West.  And that, in turn, says much more about the West, than about these sexually frustrated and otherwise dysfunctional women.

Indeed, while the western elites are lining up behind Pussy Riot, a putatively civilized western country like the UK is acting like some kind of comic-book Nazi regime, writing threat letters to a sovereign country like Ecuador:
 


 

For all the diplomatic verbiage wrapped around it, this is a crude, mobster like, letter of blackmail.  Furthermore, and as I already mentioned in my commentary yesterday, there is absolutely no precedent in recent history to the kind of behavior shown by the UK in this matter.  In fact, ALL of the Assange case is one never ending exercise in bending and abusing the law for the purpose of persecuting Assange: from the ridiculous allegations of non-protected sex, to the Interpol Red Notice, to the categorical refusal of the Swedish prosecutors to interview Assange in the UK, to the British refusal to give any guarantees of non-extradition and, finally, the the British threats to storm the Ecuadorian embassy - its all totally without precedent.
 

Compare that, again, to the case of the Pussy Riot prosecution in Russia which is very much in line, or even less severe, than what is considered the norm in most western countries (check this excellent and detailed legal analysis by Alexander Mercouris for more info).
 

It is true that what is at the core of both issues is free speech.  It does not matter whether speech is intended to be political or in support of some noble ideal, or whether free is used to offend, insult or shock.  Speech is speech regardless.  However, why is it that the western elites do not support all forms of hate-speech like they do support Pussy Riot's?
 

Would anybody seriously suggest that if these ladies had organized their performance in, say, a French synagogue, the western elites would all rise up in their defense?  Of course not.   So what is going on here?
 

Furthermore, speech is not the same as opinion.  If, at least in theory, western societies do not limit the expression of opinion, they all limit the freedom of speech be it for national security reasons, repression of hate crimes, liable laws, etc.
 

So let's cut through the crap here and set the record straight: the West's support for Pussy Riot is not due to to their opinions about Putin or the Moscow Patriarchate (such opinions can - and are -  frequently and freely expressed in Russia), and neither is it due to some unconditional support for free speech, which the West also restricts (much more so than Russia, I would argue).
 

The sad truth is that the West's support for Pussy Riot is, in reality, nothing more than yet another expression of its rabid hatred for anything Russian or Russian Orthodox.  And if that means erecting a small group of sexually dysfunctional women into a banner for freedom, so be it!  And that if that also means looking away from the obscene and outrageous persecution of a real hero for freedom like Julian Assange by the US Empire and its vassals - then so be it also!

In a paradoxical way, Pussy Riot are a perfect symbol of what the West stands for, just as Julian Assange has become a symbol for what Russia - and all the other nations on earth which refuse to submit to the US Empire - stand for.
 

I see some poetic justice here, a form of karma, really.  The modern, post-Christian, pagan, West, with all its boundless hypocrisy and arrogance, has sunk to a gutter level of ideological warfare, openly supporting the sick and pathological and persecuting the noble and courageous.  I also find it quite beautiful that a small country like Ecuador has dared to do that which all the otherwise self-enamored countries of Europe could not: show some true courage, dignity and self-respect.
 

Truly - to each his own hero and his own villain.  
 

Epilogue (provisional):
 

So Pussy Riot got themselves two years in jail.  I would have preferred that they be given 5 years of community service (you know, actually doing something halfway productive for their fellow Russians),  but that would immediately turn into yet another media circus, so I guess the judge made a good call.
 

As for Assange, his future will depend on the courage, or lack thereof, of the rest of the Latin American countries.  Ecuador cannot, by itself, prevail in a contest of wills against Uncle Sam's Poodle, but if this case sufficiently polarizes the public opinion in Latin America, the resulting public outrage might have some financial consequences for the UK and that might well force it to find some civilized and mutually acceptable solution to this embarrassing situation.  It would be nice if Russia or China also helped, but I am not holding my breath here - these two are not known for their altruism.
 

One more thing:

I apologize to anybody offended by the crude photos I posted today.  First, I assume that we are all adults here, but more importantly, and just like in my two articles about the "homo-lobby" (here and here), I feel that it is important to show things for what they really are and not just stick to abstract concepts.  It is one thing to discuss "sexual diversity" or "freedom of speech" and quite another to see a half-naked "man" with feathers or a woman publicly sticking a frozen chicken into her vagina.  A crude, disgusting, pathological and grotesque reality needs to be shown for what it is, and not for what its supporters want it to be.


 
The Saker

PS: for a good laugh, check today's BBC "coverage" of the sentencing in Moscow.

PPS: Here is the Ukrainian version of support for Pussy Riot:


 

Topless Protester Cuts Down Cross in Kiev

Activists from the Ukrainian feminist group Femen cut down a wooden crucifix in the center of the country’s capital, Kiev, on Friday in support of members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot whose trial on hooliganism charges comes to an end today.

A video posted online showed a topless blond Femen protester wearing red shorts, with the words “Free Riot” scrawled across her chest and arms, cutting the cross with a chainsaw and then pulling it down using a rope pulled by two other activists, and then posing with her arms extended crucifix-style.


The cross was put up on a high hill near Kiev’s downtown Independence Square during the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution to commemorate the victims of political repression under Joseph Stalin.


“By this act, Femen is calling on all the healthy forces of our society to mercilessly cut out of our brains the rotten religious prejudices which dictatorships rely upon and which prevent the development of democracy and women’s freedom,” the Segodnya daily quoted the activists as saying.

The Saker - www.vineyardsaker.blogspot.com

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