John O’Sullivan’s Defense of Pussy Riot

We try to give both sides of the story at CLR Forum, so here’s a link to thoughtful defense of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot by National Review‘s John O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan writes that he initially had no sympathy for the members of the band, but that he has changed his mind on reading their in-court statements. In his view, the Pussy Riot protest has been misunderstood by critics as an anti-Christian act. (It’s a misunderstanding the band’s supporters apparently share: activists cut down a memorial cross in Kiev, and Madonna stomped on a cross at a recent concert, to express their solidarity). If you read the statements, O’Sullivan argues, Pussy Riot comes across as a group of sincere and thoughtful Christians who are protesting the corruption of the Orthodox Church and its subservience to Putin.

O’Sullivan’s defense is interesting, but I don’t really buy it. The members of Pussy Riot, who have been known to stage public orgies in museums, haven’t shown a lot of interest in Christianity before. The translations of the statements I’ve seen on Rod Dreher’s site throw in a lot of stuff besides Christianity and seem, well, adolescent in their insistence on the speakers’ authenticity and intellectual importance. (Anytime speakers compare themselves to Socrates drinking the hemlock, you’ve got to be a little skeptical).  Being juvenile is no reason to be in prison, of course; the authorities should have fined the members of Pussy Riot and let them go. It’s a stretch to see them as Christian martyrs, though.

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