For months and months the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot has dominated the news in various ways. Pussy Riot is an all-female band based in Moscow. The members all wear balaclavas when they are performing, because they are protesting against the Kremlin and against the Putin-led government and were and are afraid of the police arresting them. On March 4th, it has happened. The group performed, on February 21st early in the morning, in the Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow, Christ the Savior, and three members were subsequently arrested. Maria Alyokhina,24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova,22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich,29, spent the last seven and a half month in a prison in Moscow being tried for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. Yekaterina Samutsevich was released on appeal, while her two band mates were convicted and sentenced to two years of prison camp respectively. Putin claims that the sentencing was not politically motivated and that he had no voice in the sentencing process. He even goes so far as to claim that he had no knowledge of the group before the video shoot in the Cathedral. This claim seems hardly to be believable. Putin normally knows pretty well what is going on in his country and especially in Moscow and most especially if it involves an entire group of young people, most of them in their twenties and maybe thirties, who are consistently protesting against the government. Continue reading “Pussy Riot – or what is (religious) freedom to you?”
Newspaper and pages are currently impressed with the melancholoy story of two stangers (Joanne Lee and Steve Lumb) who met on a suicide discussion forum and subsequently met for the first time in order to fulfill a suicide pact, dying together in a fume-filled car.
Of course the circumstances of these deaths are incredibly sad and we should have sympathy for those affected by their demise. However, when individuals like the understandably distraught father of one of those now dead call for the banning of newsgroups and forums focused on suicide on the grounds that they provide an opportunity for depressed individuals to be both encouraged to end their own lives and instructed on preferred methods, they’re simply mistaking the medium of communication for the message. Continue reading “Banning Discussion of Suicide?”
(Cross posted in Religion Compass Exchanges)
‘Speaking with Forked Tongues: The Rhetoric of Right Wing Extremism Today’ –
International Symposium Held at the University of Northampton Reads Between the Lines
On the 26th of June 2009 a one-day international symposium on the language of far-right movements was held at the University of Northampton. The symposium’s title, ‘Speaking with Forked Tongues: The Rhetoric of Right Wing Extremism Today’, duly recognized and drew attention towards a major shift in the way organisations and groups of the far right in various countries present themselves and their policies to the public. Fascist and right wing groups parading and marching in our city streets, wearing distinctive uniforms, are no longer the usual picture, nor does the problem of right wing crime exhaust itself in a few skinhead thugs kicking in heads of immigrants and homosexuals, or setting fire to their homes. While the statistics on politically motivated crime in several countries show a sizeable number of right wing crime, the theorists and political leaders of the far right deliberately aim to style themselves and their organisations as sensible political forces speaking the truth to the people, and opposing the established ruling political elites, who are supposedly betraying the interests of their national communities Continue reading “The Rhetoric of Right Wing Extremism Today”