This is not about the music. This is about the freedom to make music. This is about the freedom to protest against government and religion without fear of prosecution or persecution, also known in the U.S. as the First Amendment.
This is Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk band. I don’t understand any of the lyrics, but I know what this song is about. It’s about being young and angry and passionate, about caring enough about the world you live in to get up and do something about it. These girls felt powerless, so they decided to get some of the power back by telling everyone else to fuck off. That’s what punk was, once: one giant fuck you to society, so-called morality, consumerism, and politics. This is actually really good punk rock–angry and funny at the same time. Right now, Russia is reverting back to what it was during the Soviet days, and a lot of people there don’t like it. They don’t like the way Putin seems to be creating a totalitarian state and consolidating his own power. I don’t like it either.
This is Pussy Riot protesting at a church in Russia, protesting the way the Russian Orthodox Church seems to be getting into bed with Putin. This is also them getting arrested for it. Now in the U.S., this might have resulted in some charges like trespassing or disturbing the peace or protesting without proper permits. It would have been resolved with a slap on the wrist–maybe a fine and some community service or a suspended sentence. In Russia, it gets you two years in prison. (There’s a nice little article at Slate that not-so casually mentions the consequences when religious institutions are allowed to influence civil law, and reminds Americans what’s really at stake when churches start sticking their judgmental noses into civil and Constitutional rights. Like the right not to be religious.)
Be grateful for the First Amendment, boys and girls. Be grateful that churches do not currently make federal law, and do EVERYTHING in your power to stop that from happening. The Founding Fathers made it very, very, very clear that the United States of America is not a church state; they knew firsthand the dangers of creating laws based on religious morals. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. Civil law is COMPLETELY separate from church law. Period. There is no argument otherwise. And if someone wants to claim otherwise, remind them of what the First Amendment actually says:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Then tell them to shut up.