A punk band from Russia was found guilty of hooliganism. If it were the late nineteen-seventies in America, this would be a promotional event. Instead, we in the international community view it as a signal of Russia's intolerance of dissent. The three members of Pussy Riot were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow's main cathedral calling for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia against Vladimir Putin, whose intolerance of dissent was precisely the thing for which they were protesting. The band now faces two years in prison for their performance.
It's been a while since any band in America was sent to prison for their act. Artists in general have a pretty wide berth, given all that wild talk about freedom of speech and expression. Even the performance art of glitter-bombing isn't getting the response it once did. Perpetrators of such insurrection are regularly detained, questioned and then released, only to roam the streets looking for new, unsuspecting targets for their confetti.
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest had these words to say about the punishment of Pussy Riot: "While we understand the group's behavior was offensive to some, we have
serious concerns about the way these young women have been treated by
the Russian judicial system." Mister Earnest did not refer to the band by name. That would be ugly. Almost as ugly as last November, when the Senate voted to let the
military detain terrorism suspects on U.S. soil and hold them
indefinitely without trial. You don't have to be in a punk rock band. You just have to be an alleged terrorist. What are we? A bunch of hooligans?