?

Log in

No account? Create an account
jordan179
August 17th, 2012
06:16 am

[Link]

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
The Persecution of "Pussy Riot" -- Enjoying the Hate Speech Laws Yet?
As some people are now finding out, the Russians have just convicted the members of a (rather silly) politically-oriented feminist punk rock group, "Pussy Riot," and may sentence them to years in prison.  Their crime?  Carrying out a "punk prayer" against Putin the Poisoner at a Moscow cathedral.

It's no surprise that Putin would use any excuse to imprison his critics, but some people are missing the key significance of this event.

From Dylan Stableford, Yahoo! News "Russian punk band found guilty of hooliganism"

Three members of Pussy Riot -- a Russian punk band and feminist collective that mocked Russian president Vladamir Putin during a "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral--have been found guilty of hooliganism driven by religious hatred and offending religious believers a judge ruled.

Note the key clauses here:  "driven by religious hatred" and "offending religious belief."

This is not mere verbal decoration:  it is the reason (in law) why the members of Pussy Riot are looking at years (rather than a few days or weeks) in prison for what would normally be considered the equivalent of "disorderly conduct," an infraction or misdemeanor in most sane legal codes.  Their "hooliganism" is judged worse because it's "driven by religious hatred," and it is in itself a crime to "offend religious believers."  And it is these vaprous "crimes" which enable the judge to impose much harsher sentences.

When one makes it possible to outlaw an opinion or makes it illegal to merely offend others, there is no guarantee that only the opinions or the others in the minds of the advocates or legislators will be those the State chooses to condemn or protect.  Any time one makes this possible, one hands the State a weapon with which to suppress dissent -- and punish dissenters -- of which it chooses to disapprove.  And, since it is always in the last analysis the State, which is in turn driven by the interests of a majority or at least significant plurality of the citizens, who decides how to interpret and enforce these laws, the State will inevitably orient their power to support its own Establishment.

Laws which in the minds of those who passed them were meant to protect minorities and non-conformists will therefore inevitably be used to persecute them.  This should have been obvious from the moment of their proposition -- it was to me -- but then many people think in terms of (claimed) intentions rather than in terms of (likely) institutional consequences.

And so we watch, as a little more of Russia's hardwon freedom dies.  We shouldn't feel so superior:  "hate speech" laws are already in force in Europe, and Putin's just shown the European Establishments how to use them.  Right now they may condemn him, but soon they'll copy him.

Let's hope that the First Amendment to the US Constitution continues to keep us safe from such legislation.

Current Location: Oakland, CA
Current Mood: worriedworried
Tags: , , , , , ,

(73 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:lather2002
Date:August 17th, 2012 01:21 pm (UTC)
(Link)
"Hate Crimes" already in force in the USA are but a first step towards "Hate Speech" crimes. Just sadly saying ...
[User Picture]
From:argghh
Date:August 17th, 2012 01:32 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The real irony here is that russian law has a the paragraph that really should be in use here. It is called religious offense and is punished by fine, public work or up to 15 DAYS in jail.

Hooliganism should not be applied here at all, but regardless how often or how loud the lawers and the organisations tried to call for justice, they were ignored.

So no, it's not how you should use the law, Putin shows how you twist and break the law, how you ignore the law.

This process breaks any illussion that might be left that there are any working laws in Russia.
[User Picture]
From:lonewolf545
Date:August 17th, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Anybody still had illusions that the law meant anything in Russia?
[User Picture]
From:marycatelli
Date:August 17th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Disturbing the peace is also a crime in democracies. The problem is that in a context-neutral statute, it would never carry such penalties.
[User Picture]
From:jordan179
Date:August 17th, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The key phrase here is "driven by religious hatred." In America, that motive would not carry much weight one way or another. In Russia, it ties with the vague sometimes-minor sometimes-serious charge of "hooliganism," which has before and is now being used to suppress dissent. It works because the punishment is so variable and indeed arbitrary.
[User Picture]
From:spiffystuff
Date:August 17th, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think it's quite a stretch to try to apply russian suppression propaganda logic to the US.
Not to say it isn't horrible and I thank you the notice of the band's plight and Putin's continued repression of the people :(
[User Picture]
From:marycatelli
Date:August 17th, 2012 03:30 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Why not? Isn't increased penalties for "hate crimes" the very pith and essence of "hate crime" legislation?
[User Picture]
From:pathia
Date:August 17th, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hate crime laws are an imperfect solution to counteract things like 'gay panic' defenses.

'I was so angry that this black man was near me, I lost it and I beat his head in with a baseball bat'

'I was so angry that this gay man was near me, I lost it and beat his head in with a baseball bat'

The latter of these defenses could result in a lighter sentence in parts of the US (and if you go back a few decades so would the first excuse).
[User Picture]
From:spiffystuff
Date:August 17th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC)
(Link)
A trranical goverment will usually find a pretext for their injustice, but that reflects more on the government than the pretext. From the sound of it, these women were really being punished for disparaging putin (which is not officially against the law), than for the trumped up "hate crime", and so I don't really see how it illustrates why "hate crime" laws are inherently rotten as if there were none, some other pretext would be found.
I'm not a huge fan of "hate crime" laws though I suppose there is some logic to thinking crimes premeditated to harass and intimidate are more severe than those which are isolated - although even that I am dubious of. But argue against them on that basis rather than because this time it happened to be the particular instance of abuse in an insitution with a long history of abuse of all laws.
[User Picture]
From:jordan179
Date:August 17th, 2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think it's quite a stretch to try to apply russian suppression propaganda logic to the US.

The reason why "hate speech" laws haven't been enacted in America is because they clearly contradict our First Amendment. They have been established in various European countries, where no such protection exists, and they have been used or even enforced on more than one occasion against dissidents, even influential dissidents such as Geert Wilders.

"Hate crime" laws have been enforced against Americans, because one must first commit some other crime for them to apply to sentencing. This is right on the margin of violation of the First Amendment, because the deed itself is illegal but the motivation should not be.
[User Picture]
From:spiffystuff
Date:August 17th, 2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I do agree hate speech laws are nonsense, unless perhaps it starts falling into "insighting" territory (ie, saying people ought to go murder someone, that they will be rewarded for doing so, etc). It's a "slippery slope" and all but there is a point where words are a prelude to violence.
I'm not a huge fan of "hate crime" laws either as I can't help but think all crimes are either motivated by hate or profit, and one does not seem particularly more dangerous or prone to reoffend than the other.
[User Picture]
From:polaris93
Date:August 18th, 2012 01:53 am (UTC)
(Link)
"Hate crime" is a special case of what George Orwell presented as "thoughtcrime" in 1984, and opens the door to legislating the general case of thoughtcrime, which is anything the government says it is. This is why the idea of "hate crime" is so dangerous: it puts us on a very slippery slope toward total government control of everything.

Edited at 2012-08-18 01:54 am (UTC)
From:blue_sky_day
Date:August 18th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC)
(Link)
The main difference is which ideological camp is trying to suppress opposing speech; the suppression of speech (or potential suppression) is the same.

Try looking at the UK or Canada, if you want something more culturally close to the USA.
[User Picture]
From:igorilla
Date:August 17th, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC)
(Link)
And so we watch, as a little more of Russia's hardwon freedom dies

The Russians need no freedom, they need a boot to leak and grovel
From:actonrf
Date:August 18th, 2012 04:24 am (UTC)
(Link)
To me I see no difference when the ACTUP gang invaded desecrated American or those on both side who churches. I have mixed feeling that the sentence be to stiff but many countries do have laws stricter than the US.

I think while there are valid point against hate crime laws, I still see this a s just a crime and your argument as a red herring. It be a protest but its till a crime. no different the Occupy Wall Street especially in Oakland.

Finally this is not a free speech constitution issue, the fist amendment doesn't give right to desecrate private religious property. The First Amendment does not protect crime.

I have to admit my own bis being a devout Christian, our church had feces smeared on the doors and my truck was broken into my favorite giant Hello Kitty plush and other item stolen so was our deacon's car broken into.

Fantastic Worlds. Powered by LiveJournal.com