Thursday, 16 August 2012 00:00 GFP Columnist - Basil Venitis
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Global pressure mounts on Putin to set Pussy Riot free. A Moscow kangaroo court will declare the verdict on our beloved heroines tomorrow. A global riot in support of Pussy Riot is scheduled tomorrow in most major cities of the world.

Blasphemy is publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion. It's scary to think that a progressive state would drag out antiquated laws to suppress freedom of speech. Sometimes you have to shake your head and wonder how in this day and age a law that supports prosecuting detractors of a two millennia old fairy tale is allowed to be on the books.

­Prosecutors demand Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich each spend three years behind bars for their prayer, performed at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February.*

Blasphemy violates no one's rights. To cave in to intimidation and not publish anything religulous freaks feel is offensive is to surrender the crucial principle of free speech. This clash is about respecting man's right to express his views, however unpopular, in the face of religious attempts to subordinate that right to mystical dogmas. Instead of appeasing the mobs who call for executing anyone offending their faith, the West must support those who share its political ideal of free speech.

On Wednesday, activists gathered outside Christ the Savior Cathedral. Each held a character printed on paper; the characters formed a Bible quote Blessed are the merciful. Cathedral brutal guards advanced on the activists to disperse them. Many activists were injured and the protesters had to summon the police to deal with the cathedral's over-enthusiastic security forces.

Blasphemy laws are silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentivizes religious outrage, and because Islamic States are already using the wording of blasphemy laws to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level. Blasphemy laws are unjust, because they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilized society, people have a right to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.

Balaclavas are popping up everywhere - London, Paris, Berlin, Helsinki, New York, Vienna, Athens. Pussy Riot copycats descend on several cathedrals with punk prayers. On Friday, a simultaneous protest is planned in 200 cities worldwide as the court announces its verdict.

Secular society is rejected by religulous freaks. They demand a special position, insisting on special consideration of their religulous feelings. But this is incompatible with freedom of speech, where one must be ready to put up with insults, mockery, and ridicule. Journalists should treat religulous freaks the same way they treat atheists, cultists, spiritualists, spirituals, politicians, philosophers, scientists, artists, and businessmen, integrating them into the Graecoroman tradition of criticism and satire, because they are part of society, not strangers. Blasphemy is including, rather than excluding, religulous freaks.

German MPs sent a letter to the Russian ambassador calling the five months the band members have spent in custody and the possible prison terms a draconian and disproportionate punishment. Obama has repeatedly voiced his concerns over the case.

American actress Alicia Silverstone has also personally addressed President Putin. The case has caused a global outcry and many international musicians, including Madonna, Sting, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, have appealed for leniency. Jesus taught forgiveness, but Kirill teaches revenge. Kirill wants to crucify Pussy Riot! With a patriarch like that, who needs devil? Shame on you cruel Kirill, and shame on you Putin for encouraging this tragicomedy. We hold Kirill and Putin responsible for the lives of Pussy Riot heroines.

Jon Gnarr, the colorful mayor of Reykjavik, capital of Iceland, wheeled through a parade in the city, with a Pussy Riot outfit in a bright pink dress and balaclava, and with a banner urging the freedom of Pussy Riot. Gnarr paraded through the city dancing on the roof of his trailer, followed by the city band performing Pussy Riot songs.

The kangaroo court is being very one-sided, slanted towards the prosecution, which is motivated exclusively by political bias. The women look thinner and paler than they did when they were jailed. The heroines declare they were protesting against Kirill's political support for Putin and had no animosity towards the church or the faithful.

Amnesty International asserts Pussy Riot heroines must be released immediately and that the prison terms they face if convicted are wildly out of all proportion. They dared to attack the two pillars of the modern Russian establishment, the Kremlin and the Orthodox Church.

Deputy Premier Dmitry Rogozin harshly criticizes Madonna's political statements in support of Pussy Riot. Rogozin declares that every former whore with age seeks to lecture everyone on morals! Madonna used a balaclava mask and had the name of the band Pussy Riot written on her back in black ink, in order to demonstrate her support of three heroines. Rogozin attacks the artists and society figures who sign letters in support of Pussy Riot, calling the supporters sugar daddies and the Pussy Riot heroines poor cows.

Rogozin's attacks are reinforced by the religulous Union of Orthodox Flag-Bearers who burned Madonna's poster in front of the Christ the Savior Cathedral. These religulous morons say that as Madonna posed sitting on a throne for the poster she was desecrating the throne and thus desecrating the institute of kingdom. Besides, the throne on the picture was shaped as a cross and thus Madonna desecrated the church itself. The Orthodox Flag-Bearers burn posters with pictures of Pussy Riot.

*Image Courtesy of DayLife - Members of the all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (R), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (C) sit in a glass-walled cage during a court hearing in Moscow on August 17, 2012. A Moscow court today handed a two-year jail sentence to the three feminist punk rockers who infuriated the Kremlin and captured world attention by ridiculing President Vladimir Putin in Russia's main church. Various leaders of the European Union called the Russian court's sentencing excessive and disproportionate. - Getty Images


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