Sunday, April 22, 2012

We Hear You Have Been a Naughty Girl: Constructing Deviance

I recently ran across this little ditty online dateline Moscow ( According to this article the powers that be in the Russian Orthodox Church are calling for the "correction" of members of the anti-Putin punk band eollective Pussy Riot for their "defil[ing]" "of the holy shrines", presumably by this they mean the Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow where Pussy Riot held a protest against Putin, and the "good name of the Church", by which they presumably mean Pussy Riot's contention that the Orthodox Church in Russia had long been a supporter of Vladimir Putin who Pussy Riot and others regard as someone who stole an election. I am not sure why the Church would regard this as defiling the good name of the Church since the Russian Orthodox Church has long been a supporter of Vladimir Putin as anyone familiar with contemporary Russia knows including, presumably, Russian Orthodox Church leaders. Some Russian Orthodox went beyond calls for "correction" urging that the members of Pussy Riot be burned alive or shot. The fate of the members of the band, as I write, lie with the Russians Criminal Courts where the members of the band are being tried for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. The 90% conviction rate of the Court doesn't bode well for Pussy Riot or for freedom of speech in increasingly theocratic and frightening Russia.

What is, of course, really going on here is yet another act in a very long play. It is the same old story about how societies and cultures construct conformist cultures. It is not only authoritarian or totalitarian societies that construct of "normal" and "deviant". Notions of what is "normal" and what is not are as characteristic of capitalist countries and democratic countries as they are of communist countries, dictatorial countries, authoritarian countries, and totalitarian cultures. The manufacture of "deviant" "others", in other words, has more to do with the construction of "mainstream" and "orthodox" and their antitheses "counterculture" and "heresy", culture, than with economics or politics. As history shows all societies, sad to say, construct what they think of as "normal" and what they think of as "deviant" and tend to push "deviants" toward conformity either through persuasion (the carrot) or coercion (the stick).

Natalia Antonova, Pussy Riot Are Scapegoats for Russia's Political Crisis, 7 June 2012, The Guardian,

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