Pussy Riot and a How-To for government

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To recap: The Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church are using their joint power hand in glove and the art collective and political protest group Pussy Riot held a “Punk Prayer” protest in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They sang and danced in protest and were, although disruptive, nonviolent.

3 members of the group were arrested, charged with “hooliganism” and sentenced to 2 years in prison. Which is ridiculous and an abuse of state power.

I will state right out front that I admire Pussy Riot and other protesters who issue challenges to a harmful status quo, who challenge political power and/or religious dogma.

But I am not arguing that people should be allowed to disrupt other groups meetings without any legal repercussions, either. After all  if majorities could ruin minority gatherings anytime they wished, tyranny of the majority would be stating the case mildly.

So what would be a sensible way to approach such an issue? How about this:

If the protest is violent, charge the protesters responsible for violence. Treat as you would any other violent crime.

If the protest is nonviolent but disruptive, charge the protesters with disturbing the peace, charge them, give them a court date and release them on their own recognizance. At the court date, the judge can let them choose between forms of community service.

If the protest is nonviolent and minimally disruptive (protesters are not preventing normal communication or activities within a space, etc. beyond their mere numbers) ignore them, you’ve got nothing. Leave them alone unless the situation changes.

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