Russia Cracks Down on Satirical Art

Never accuse Russia’s leaders of having a sense of humor: St. Petersburg police have raided an art gallery and seized four paintings that ridicule Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders. The principal offender was this painting, which shows Putin in a negligee combing (or something) Dmitry Medvedev’s hair; click to enlarge:

Apparently the St. Petersburg raid wasn’t a completely lawless act, like when an American policeman confiscates a citizen’s camera:

Russia does ban “insulting representatives of authority.”

Which shows why Russia is not a true democracy, but rather the same backward czardom that benighted nation has been for centuries. Here in the United States, “insulting representatives of authority” is the highest form of patriotism. Right?

Well, unless maybe you are a rodeo clown. The announcer of the bull riding event at the Missouri State Fair was mildly mocking of Obama–very mildly–as the video of the event shows:

Of course, here in the United States the authorities can’t crack down on you because you “insulted representatives of authority.” Not officially, anyway. On the other hand, they might put the word out so that you receive hundreds of death threats, not because you “insulted authority” but because you did something “racist,” whatever that means these days. “Racism” appears to be simply a means of outlawing any criticism directed at the Obama administration, or, as in the case of the rodeo clown, a failure to pay sufficient respect.

The Russian art gallery had its paintings confiscated, but as far as we know, the owners haven’t gone into hiding because of death threats. Nor, to our knowledge, have they suddenly been audited by Russian tax authorities. Come to think of it, while I would never suggest that Russia recognizes anything like our own civil liberties, the gap does seem to have narrowed lately.

Here is a bright line, however: our government, unlike Russia’s, would never raid an art gallery that displayed paintings mocking our president. Of course, no art gallery in America would think of ridiculing Barack Obama; so this is one freedom that remains secure. For now.

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