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Lessons From Pussy Riot

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Fuck Obama! I don't mean that at all. If I could vote for the man ten times this November, I would.

But if I did mean it, I could write it, here, in America, without fear of government reprisals, censorship or jail.

I know: It's almost prosaic to talk about freedom of speech. Not the outer edge definitions, expansions and limitations that come out of Supreme Court decisions, but regular, meat and potatoes freedom of speech. To most of us, it's no more exotic than running water (another first world privilege we take for granted).

But seeing that picture of Pussy Riot behind the glass in court, chilled me, shook me, messed me all up.

As Americans, we rarely feel powerless. We know we can protest, call our congressmen, tweet. We can get a reaction. We can, and will, effect change. Looking at those three young musicians, knowing that we are powerless to help them, imagining what it must be like for them -- women who were born into the brief moments of a free Russia -- to see it all get closed off, locked away, I am left breathless.

Yes. We have troubles here. Just look at whatever may be written above or below me on the site. But the very fact that we can debate them, yell about them, fight for them, means that we have hope. Which is like oxygen. As long as you have it, you are alive.

I cannot imagine how young Russians today have that oxygen.

One more thing: Fuck Putin!

That one I did mean.