A sad day for freedom of expression in Russia?

Today, a Russian court sentenced three women to two-years in prison for “hooliganism.”

These three women – members of the group “Pussy Riot” – went to the altar of a Russian Orthodox Church in masks, dancing, singing mock prayers to the Virgin Mary to remove Putin from office, and doing multiple signings of the cross. The church was open to the public, and there were gates surrounding the altar, as well as church members and employees in the area.

Here is a video of the alleged “hooliganism,” which you should watch first before reading on:

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This blog post was mostly inspired by my brother’s tweet (not singling him out negatively because his opinion is a popular one – subscribe to him!), where he said:

Anyone who believes in freedom of expression should be alarmed by today’s events in the Soviet Union, I mean Russia #pussyriot @CDReed

The fact of the matter is that – even in the United States – there are rules against trespass like this. For instance, did you ever wonder why Westboro Baptist Church (of “God hates fags” fame) doesn’t just walk into funerals or gay pride parades and protest there?

Criminal trespass.

Now, this being said, most trespass claims are not prosecuted unless there are repeated trespasses or another crime was committed during the trespass. And, even then, one is probably looking at most at a 1-year sentence, so I would agree that the sentence of 2-years seems rather harsh.

However, if you are very sympathetic of these three women, how sympathetic are you if I change the scenario a bit?

In the details that I described above, replace “Pussy Riot” with “Westboro Baptist Church” and replace “altar of a Russian Orthodox Church” with “grave of a fallen soldier.” Replace “singing mock prayers to the Virgin Mary to remove Putin from office, and doing multiple signs of the cross” with “singing a ‘God hates fag enablers’ poem while pretending to shoot each other with fake guns and pretending to fall and die.” Replace religious bystanders (nuns, etc) with family members of the fallen soldier.

These three women – members of the group “Westboro Baptist Church” – went to the grave of a fallen soldier in masks, dancing, singing a ‘God hates fag enablers’ poem while pretending to shoot each other with fake guns and pretending to fall and die. The grave was open to the public, and there were gates surrounding the tombstone, as well as family members of the fallen soldier.

Is this “freedom of expression” that should not be prosecuted?

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