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Antitheistic. Long. Perplexing. Offensive. Whatever.

Warning: This blog does not cater to your whims. If you are offended, then I am not obliged to care. It ain't personal until otherwise stated.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

To Russia, With Scorn – A Case of Dogma Encroaching on Human Rights; Yes, The Pussy Riot Controversy

I most certainly missed the memo on the issue, when special privileges were being awarded to the religious orthodoxy in Russia at the peril of the essential human rights of everyone else who has no ethical or moral obligation to respect or honour the tenants of any esoteric religious hogwash, should they chose to do so; it is their human right (The United Nations, 1948). If the late and great, Christopher Hitchens, were still around, he would be mopping the floor with every apologist who would dare embrace the ignominious task of dignifying the Russian legal system's treatment of the band, Pussy Riot, for mere political protest where the increasingly state-dominant religion was also – deservingly so – slandered. I had initially chosen to remain quiet on the subject, but after having read this excellent post on the My Secret Atheist+ blog (My Secret Atheist+ Blog, 2012), I am motivated to have my own say on the subject. By the dead God's carcass, I am going to devote a paragraph, or several, to this issue where all sense of common decency has been sacrificed in a single-handed desolation of the human rights convention!

The story's fast becoming a chapter of old news in light of just how much else seems to go wrong real fast in the world of the fast and furiously powerful. However, I was eager to make some comments when it went viral over the atheist page on Facebook. Unfortunately, by this point, much of the discussion was already hijacked by self-entitled theocratic pundits insisting that not only do they have a right to practice their personal delusion of choice, but they also have a right to force the rest of us to respect their theological sentiments. These individuals truly lack the kind of common sense that is required to avoid conflating the notion of respecting people's right to any given religion with forcing other people to respect the actual religion in question.

Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, finds itself at the heart of all this drama for offending the sensibilities of Russian church dictum, and attacking this religious institution's present cosy relationship with the ruling political mob. I refer to them as a mob, because in this day and age, their legal system had the gall to sentence members of this band to a two-year incarceration in the name of appeasing this elite club of theocratic-fascists who have the special right to not only be offended, but to have others penalised for bringing them mere offence (BBC, 2012). As it stands, human rights have taken a back seat – and have even been sacrificed – to the goals of religious appeasement.

“Fuck your human rights, bitches! You just messed with the state-dictate and their soon-to-be religious status quo of support! The hounds of hell shall be unleashed upon you heathens!” - An Appropriate Summary

I would consider it a noble effort that before we talk about human rights, we should really quiz some of these supposed 'heads of states' on just how well they comprehend the convention on human rights. It seems that they like to take the freedom of religion aspect so far and wide that it practically decimates every other article in the process (The United Nations, 1948); they're essentially transforming the right to religion into an imposition of religion upon the rest of us, leaving us with no choice but forced servility under threat of legal ramifications. We have essentially let a bunch of extremists hijack all progress, and then like efficient  extremists, completely decimate what human rights we have struggled to achieve over the last century.

Individuals have a right to practice and observe their personal beliefs, by themselves, and with others who agree to share in such practice. They are not free to impose their customs and theological courtesies upon the rest of us who are not obliged to care for, or respect, the actual religion; our duties as members of a free and progressive society end at allowing them their right to practice what they wish to practice. We only respect the right, not the actual belief! Now in return for this neutral, non-imposing courtesy, the rest of us non-believing heathens are free to practice what we practice, and if any of that happens to be diametrically offensive to someone else's beliefs, then they are free to be offended, and we are not obliged to care, or make hasty retreat – matter closed. Human rights are essential rights for people to exist as who they are without stifling one another; special privileges introduced into this equation to protect the emotions of certain groups grossly extends past such parameters of neutrality and begins encroachment upon the rights of others. This is a simple example of human rights as they stand, and not as the shoddy parody that they've become in today's world where malicious political elements are free to pick and chose what they want in order to support their tyranny while leaving out everything else that might be at absolute odds with the same tyrannical thesis.

This is absolute state-terrorism on the part of Russia. It carries political ramifications, and places a great deal of power, coercion, and theological abuse in the hands of an archaic institution such as the Russian Orthodox Chruch, which is quickly beginning to rival the dogmatic reach of Wahabist state doctrine in Saudi Arabia. Suddenly, the religious elite are awarded vulgar levels of appurtenance that allows them to do something about being merely offended. The system is granting these special few a level of dominion over their own fellow humans by allowing their cultural sensitivities priority and permit to trample over the very personal sanctity of others in a fascistic mission to impose censorship in the name of a non-falsifiable hypothesis: God. Apparently, in the eyes of God's chosen establishment, we are now mere animals for being unbelievers – our right to express a lack of faith doesn't merit an acknowledgement, let alone some level of protection against such virulent intimidation and state-endorsed assault.

“Why don't we turn our attention to that thread of hypocrisy that has penetrated The United Nations? I think that we should.” - A Thought

Aside from being a sceptic, I regularly drift into outright cynicism; world affairs often leave a lot to be desired, with even pettier excuses to merit the problems incurred. However, I will for one brief moment, give this moronic interpretation of modernity and human rights a sincere benefit of doubt. Perhaps the intentions are noble; perhaps in pursuit of generating tolerance, political figures and individuals with power have lost sight of the forest for the trees. Now, having done this -- having spent more time trying to manipulate religious parties into getting along, the policy-pushers have essentially ostracised a major bracket of agnostics and sceptics who not only feel politically excluded, but are also falling under an insidious wave of onslaught from various religious orthodoxy. So much for protecting all sects of society.

As it stands, rather than defending human rights from a source of neutrality where beliefs – in the absurd and otherwise – aren't required to be protected, but rather, people are to be protected from the dangerous, venomous dictates that stem from such beliefs, we have a trend towards protecting beliefs, and extending their reach beyond self-practice into a territory of sheer infringement upon outsiders. I have written about this in the past; human rights isn't about protecting religion and assigning it executive power; such progress is about defending minorities of all walks – religious and non-religious – from being persecuted by ideological, and by extension, religious dogma. This logical blunder, which is still tolerated and allowed to continue, should have been called out and should have become evident to the individuals who're playing a part in perpetuating said blunder.

I already touched on this subject in 2010 when I addressed the blasphemy law proposition. We already know that the UN – as an organisation – is contaminated with the tarnished presence of fork-tongued scum from Islamist countries, who carry with them, a very dubious agenda to not only award religion a specific spot of privilege that trumps human rights, but also disgraceful policy that deviates attention from serious issues within the Islamic creed that are at absolute odds with the civilised world. It is bad enough that nearly a billion individuals find themselves ideologically oppressed under such heinous theocratic harassment; now we're actually contorting essential rights to appease these glorified bullies?! This is either the product of professionally disgraceful short-sightedness, which I doubt, or the ominous undertone of malicious elements in policy making and execution. Unfortunately, despite the benefit of doubt, my cynicism and general disgust with the vermin that the UN allows into its sanctum wins out, and much to my own dismay.

“And what of that eccentric punk band that no one had heard of, who ended up pissing off the Russian church and its elite dictators, who in turn brought down the wrath of their man-made God – government, in this case – upon these errant heathens?! Now in jail for two years for mere political and theological dissent in the most passive and speech-expressive of mannerisms. All because a bunch of megalomaniacs in robes and collars got offended!” – Harsh Truths

It's high time that we stop sailing aimlessly in a sea of false gestures, and actually do the one thing to eliminate ideologically driven human intolerance, by becoming intolerant towards such heinous policy where political process becomes a lap dog for Draconian cultures set to oppress, diminish, and destroy every crucial aspect of human thought, freedom, and progress.

Russia's had one hell of a sordid history over the last century or so, and it's a damn shame that they're now quite possibly at the forefront of resurrecting another branch of the dark ages. A travesty permitted only by a cancerous political hierarchy that has allowed their legal and political systems to be seized by religious zealots, who're focused on imposing their tyranny; subverting human dignity and enlightenment by executing their malicious proselytism of contemporary culture and human rights in name of their monopoly over the all-eternal mute and absent dictator: God.

This saga, I hope, will go down as a brief, but utterly shameful reminder to the people of Russia that their leadership is now generously prostituting itself to a religious status quo that has always existed and corrupted much throughout Russian history. It's a shame for the people, and an even bigger shame for the rest of the world as we stand by idle, not even daring to make that pivotal gesture of support and solidarity against such a sickening attack on freedom of conscience; we have allowed in this day and age, the passing of something that should not be tolerated. We are witnessing the violation of very basic human rights for the sake of protecting and finding common ground between the monotheistic charlatans who're driven by delusions of divine grandeur. It's quite frightening, actually; imagine what will happen once these parties that lay sole claim to a one and only, malicious and capricious God, finally find common ground. The prospects of everyone else – who would dare to refuse servitude under such barbarianism – seem very dire under such a terrifying trend.

“Rather than make apologies, and remain reticent on the question behind the real issue of religion's subversion of human rights in the context of modernity, we should approach and prioritise this issue of society and human dignity from the right corner – human rights. These essential rights should take absolute precedence over all other forms of orthodoxy, cultural sensitivities, and theological oppression. People belonging to a special club of ideas are entitled to be offended if someone doesn't agree with or respect those ideas, and that's where it ends; they have no special place to penalise those that dare to dissent.  
More importantly, we shouldn't waste more of our time pandering to the mediation process between religions and their fanatic elements, when we should actually be protecting people from the fallout of these very elements that have human rights violations almost hard-wired in their design. People don't want their beliefs protected when they already have all the rights to practice any element of their choice. What they want is protection from other beliefs that might impose upon their very fundamental existence or differing views. Unfortunate indeed that the Russian justice system, instead of protecting its citizens, is actually becoming the very force that violates their basic rights and dignity. We have gone beyond patent intolerance and straight into the down-right ironic with this modern-day re-enactment of medieval savagery that has no place in a post-enlightenment era, let alone the bloody twenty-first century!” – The Closer

I am going to finish by taking a quote from the My Secret Atheist+ Blog post on this subject, “Who's interested in Human Rights?” Better yet, I'll couple this excellent quote with another quote that is often floating around inside my circle of malcontent folk, “Sure, they've got their human rights and right to religion, but what about our human rights?” As a collective, we have a rational, and utmost humanistic moral prerogative to emancipate all forms of human rights articles from their present incarceration under the purpose of serving religious convenience. There should be no tolerance for such nonsense -- as has been the unfortunate case with Pussy Riot's sentencing -- in this day and age, let alone the offensive treading around, and embarrassing defence of the subject by representatives of other world powers who are too busy playing meaningless cultural diplomacy. I am sorry, but a few neutered, generic sentiments of passive condemnation are not doing the case for human rights any kind of service.




References


BBC (2012, August 17). Pussy Riot members jailed for two years for hooliganism. BBC News - Europe. Retrieved August 25, 2012, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19297373

My Secret Atheist+ Blog (2012, August 22). Pussy Riot and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird: Looking out for the interests of Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. My Secret Atheist+ Blog. Retrieved August 24, 2012, from http://www.mysecretatheistblog.com/2012/08/pussy-riot-and-canadian-foreign-affairs.html

The United Nations (1948, December 10). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations. Retrieved August 25, 2012, from http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

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