Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In defence of the right to not be offended

The Russian parliament is going off the rails.  They recently passed a bill that will make it a fineable offence to teach anything about homosexuality to people under 18, which would be crazy even if it would somehow work, which it won't.  They also passed a bill making it illegal to offend the religious feelings of the faithful.  That is to say if a church thinks it is offensive to eat a doughnut then eating a doughnut is now punishable by up to three years in jail.  Madness like this confuses me deeply; can't religious people see that this is going to be used against them?

Churches change and what is fine now may be prohibited by doctrine later.  Giving the power to make things illegal to any random religious official means that anything anyone does can be illegal and no amount of consulting the legal code or precedent can change that.  It is very much like freedom of religion in that while religions are all a big mess and are also fundamentally mistaken about reality it is critical that freedom of religion be maintained.  Not maintaining freedom of religion means that someday you stand a good chance of facing down the law just for the beliefs you hold no matter what those beliefs happen to be.

Unfortunately in a totalitarian state under a brutal despot like Putin there isn't much that can be done about it. You can protest but he controls the government; you can vote against him but he will cheat, you can fight but he controls the military.  Short of a bloody full scale revolution or Putin dying and some kind of serious reformer winning the next election (good luck, what with the system Putin has put in place) Russians are just stuck with disasters like this where the thought police are ready to imprison them for any disobedience.  Giving more power to the mad dictator is not going to make the gays go away and it isn't going to restore the 'glory' of the church.  It is just going to make it easier for the oppressors to wield their power to crush all those who might oppose them.


  1. Yeah, I think the good news here is that Russia is pretty much a dictatorship anyway so these laws make little difference since anyone who offended the government was going to be put in jail anyway.

    (Good news!)

  2. Well, although it is true that people who offended Putin would be jailed randomly now people can be jailed randomly by cops in any part of Russia for any reason. A person in a random village in remotest Siberia can be lawfully charged for offending their local priest even if the government doesn't care at all.