So much media coverage of the cause celebre Pussy Riot trial and verdict last week. Live coverage of the verdict on BBC News 24 and almost all of the reporting was sympathetic to the defendants political activism and critical of the soviet style charges, courtroom and sentence which was considered ‘disproportionate’. Maybe our much-derided mass media have suddenly decided to report the treatment of anarchists and feminists fairly.
However, in the same week two anarchists returning from the St Imier congress in Switzerland were detained under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 at Heathrow and subjected to intimidation and interogation. http://libcom.org/news/uk-anti-terrorist-police-detain-anarchist-federation-member-16082012 No media coverage whatsoever.
The facebook rioters in Dundee last year, currently incarcerated for a riot that didn’t occur, received no positive media coverage and no show of international solidarity either.
As Chomsky and Hermann pointed out in their classic analysis of media , Manufacturing Consent, each reported story has to fit into the propaganda model of the dominant elites. Thus, opponents of Putin are victims of a repressive, Evil Empire Soviet-style regime, whilst anarchists in Britain are dangerous subversives and extremists not deserving of civil rights.
The position in the US media is similar and some radical commentators have associated the overwhelmingly positive coverage of the Pussy Rioters with US geo-political goals in isolating and destabilising a regime which opposes US hegemony in many spheres.
It is worth asking how the US media would treat similar actions taken in, say St Patricks cathedral in New York. Though tazered and gassed by the NYPD, Occupy protesters have, after all, elicited very little sympathy from the mainstream US media over the last year or so. Neither have the 11 student activists and one lecturer who are threatened with goal and huge fines over anti-bank protests at the University of California. http://davisdozen.org/
Whilst none of the above should stop us demanding Free Pussy Riot or Down with Putin, and deriding the whole concept of blasphemy as a crime, activists should focus on the real issues of hierarchical power and erosion of civil liberties not just in Russia but right across the world and point out the sheer hypocrisy of the western media and political reaction.