Pussy Riot is a feminist punk rock protest group based in Moscow, Russia. The group, which consists of about 10-15 women, plans and performs provocative “guerilla” performances in public places, hat are then edited to music and put on the Internet. In 2012 five of the women performed in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The group was stopped by church security, and the footage was turned into another “music video”. This one was titled: “Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away”. The members claimed their protest was against Orthodox Church leaders and their support for Putin during the time of his election.
Soon after the protest, three members of the group were arrested for “hooliganism” and taken into custody. As they were denied bail, the three women remained in custody until their trial a few moths later. The group was found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and sentenced to two years in prison. Amnesty International jumped on the case, and has attempted to get the women released from prison. Amnesty International states that the right to freedom of expression protected the Pussy Riot’s protest, and that the Russian authorities have to release the women. Pussy Riot has become revolutionary mascots for the masses of protestors in Russia.
The trial was unfair and unnecessary. The only reason Pussy Riot was prosecuted was because of the religious zealots calling their political protest a “hate crime”. No one was injured during the protest. It might have been disruptive to what the church was doing, and perhaps hurt some delicate feelings, but it could hardly be considered a hate crime. Freedom expression allows us as people to say what we think and express our opinion. Pussy Riot was doing just that when they staged the protest at the church. They were simply trying to make a point, not commit an act of violence of any kind. The explanation for the conviction, was slurred and mumbled, and no objection was made against the protest being called a hate crime. However, the court listened intently to the complaints of “morally damaged” victims descriptions of being “traumatized” by bare shoulders and “unladylike” behavior.
Amnesty International states that the courts decision is a major blow to freedom of expression in the country. The organization believes all three women to be prisoners of conscience. This means that they were likely imprisoned solely due to their political views, and for the non-violent expression of there beliefs. Protests have popped up in cities all around the world, including Moscow, New York, Oslo, Edinburgh and others. There is a website called Free Pussy Riot that has a list of all the intended protest sites and times. Several people have been arrested in New York at a protest in front of the Russian consulate for simply wearing Pussy Riot related masks.
Freedom of speech is one of the most important aspects of our culture. Having the ability to express yourself in however you see fit, given it is no harmful to others. To have this right taken away from people that were protesting peacefully, simply because some religious officials were offended, is very troublesome to the outlook of freedom of expression. Are we allowed to express ourselves, but only if no one is offended? If this was the case, hardly anyone would be allowed to express themselves. Everyone has a different opinion of what is right and what is wrong, and thus we all have different things to be offended about. If we were trying to appease everyone, then there would be no such thing as freedom of expression.
There would also be no change in the world. We expand our ideas and change in order to accommodate the different views of the population. When someone doesn’t agree with something, they can meet with like-minded people and form a protest. If the movement gathers enough support, it can make a change in the way things are done. However, if no one is allowed to express an opinion, just in case it might offend someone, the nation will become stagnant. There will be no change.
Do you think Pussy Riot deserved to be convicted?a