Girls gone wild

I had not really paid any attention to this particular brouhaha in Russia until the words "Pussy Riot" tumbled from the pursed lips of Judy Woodruff, doyenne of the Newshour. On the TV screen were three attractive young women, members of a punk rock group, smiling and rolling their eyes in a Moscow courtroom. They had just been sentenced to two years in a penal colony for "hooliganism." Their offense: dancing and singing in front of the iconostasis of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior protesting the return of Vladimir Putin and his endorsement by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.To the rest of the world the real offense is the suppression of free speech by the Russian government. Okay, they're baddies, let's agree on that. But wait! If we switched continents, and the three sweet things had danced and sung on the altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral or Westminster Abbey or the bimah of Temple Emanuel, they would have been arrested for trespassing, sentenced to a week in jail, but hardly lauded by the likes of the Newshour. And wouldn't the commentary have been more skeptical that this was an effective way to rally the mass of Russians against their authoritarian government?

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

Also by this author
Truth & Resignation

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Must Reads

Politics
Religion
Books
Collections