There are times when you wish both sides could lose, and not just in the old pre 2012 season days when Rangers seemed to play Celtic every other week and the rest of Scotland anathematised both teams. Football is a sport and all sports are artificial constructs and unfortunately football is so constructed that both teams cannot lose in the same game.
As usual Shakespeare, one of England’s three great contributions to world culture, expressed it best when he has Mercutio cry out “A plague on both your houses.” In real life, as in Romeo and Juliet, there are occasions when it is to be hoped that both side lose. Thankfully sometimes this happens and justice is done. We saw an instance last week in Russia. Putin and Pussy Riot both lost.
Putin, as all autocrats do, overreacted and it seems has added fuel to the fires of protest and rebellion in a country which has never known democracy. His harsh treatment of the punk band will only serve to increase resistance to his rule. Putin has lost.
Pussy Riot lost by being sentenced to two years in prison, which does seem excessive. Nevertheless, such is the support they will garner in Russia and the West it is likely that they emerge from this in better shape than Putin.
What is passed over in the furore is the double standards of so many in the West.
Just because Riot Pussy have been supported by Paul McCartney, Madonna, Elijah Wood, David Walliams and a host of other performers does not make them criminals. It was their actions which did that. What most in the media are unwilling to recognise is that what they did would have been a criminal offence in any western country, including Britain. They entered a cathedral, disrupted worship and performed an obscene song aimed at the Church, its leader and Christianity in general.
Thankfully, despite the efforts of Tony Blair and New Labour, we do not have a crime in Britain of religious hatred, but we do have a crime of disturbing the peace, and this was such a crime. Just because the perpetrators don fancy dress and choose to yell their abuse of the Church in a song does not make it any less abusive than if it was speech personally directed at an individual.
If someone were to write that Paul McCartney was a tired old man with no voice left who was trading on his past glories they could be defended on the grounds of justified artistic criticism. If, however, they were to write that Paul McCartney had unnatural relations with a goat he would have a perfect right to take them to court. McCartney would not accept that this was meant as humour, just a line in a song, or could be defended under freedom of expression. He would be right, as would the goat.
Unfortunately what is obvious about offences to performers, politicians, other public figures, even other religions, sudden becomes less clear when applied to Christianity. Christianity, in any of its forms, is fair game.
Ofilli’s half naked Holy Virgin Mary painting employing elephant dung, Serrano’s photograph Piss Christ, Koh’s plaster statue Risen Christ depicting Christ with an erection, these and many others have all been vigorously defended on supposedly artistic grounds. That they cause offence is seen by our elite progressive opinion formers, not as something to be regretted, but as something to be lauded, as long as it is only Christians who are offended. The casual but pervasive Christophobia of Western progressives becomes increasingly apparent.
(England’s other two significant cultural contributions are the game of cricket and Stilton cheese.)