One of Americans’ most cherished—and most misunderstood—rights is the right of free speech. American politicians and news media lead the public to believe that there’s little free speech in Russia. I’ve contemplated this for some time, but it came rushing into my consciousness again recently as I watched a program on a major Russian TV network called The Darwin Code: Curse of the Apes. In America the “unscientific” view of creationism is mentioned in public schools and universities only to be scoffed at. It has become clear to me that in some regards Russians enjoy greater liberty to express themselves publicly than do Americans.
If Americans wish to be critical of the limitations of free political protest in Russia, we should at the same time examine the state of our own house.
Join our weekly newsletter and be the first to know about upcoming contests, freebies & exclusive discounts! Most of us are at least vaguely aware that there are limits to public free speech, but how many of us stop to consider how these boundaries have radically shifted? Last year the state-run channel Kultura aired a series of lectures by a professor of philosophy and religion from Moscow State University. It is the exception indeed where a non-evolutionary view can be presented to public schoolchildren as an alternative. I know some Russians who have spent time in America, who marvel at how “politically correct” Americans must be in their discourse. We need to be aware of how many aspects of our free speech have been pushed into a corner, and how that corner may be growing ever smaller. I was just in Latvia, and in a main area of Old Riga, those opposed abortions had a display which would never be allowed on public property in any US city, and even if it were, it would be vandalized, and be roundly condemned in the media.


Until the last several decades, it was acceptable, for instance, to tell jokes about minority races, women, and handicapped persons.
The point is that such a program aired on and was produced by a mainstream, non-cable, non-religious TV network.
At the end of a lecture in which he had outlined the history of Christian thought, a young woman asked him, “What about humans’ descending from apes?” The professor explained that there’s no evidence for this and gave his reasons, and then affirmed his belief in the Genesis account of creation. In Russia there is also free political speech, but, like “politically incorrect” speech in America, political dissent is limited to certain venues.
In America the pressure for that “correctness” is increasingly felt even in the churches, where pastors and laity alike sometimes must tread lightly when expressing agreement with the Bible’s teachings about creation, the role of women, or homosexuality. It’s always a matter of debate where free speech must be curbed for the greater good of society and where it must be allowed. Using a mixture of facts, hypotheses, suppositions, and legends, it attempted to show that Darwin’s theory was promoted for political reasons, that the Masons lay behind its propagation, that Darwinian evolution was the root of the totolitarian movements of the 20th century such as Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia, that some evidence suggests that apes descended from man, and that the apes are unhappy with the suggestion that man came from them.
In some places they teach religion in the schools, from a Russian Orthodox standpoint, allowing Muslims and others to opt out. By now most of America has heard of the feminist punk-rock group who “performed” in an Orthodox cathedral, and of the harsh prison sentence the women received. Speech bubble to design stickers, labels, banners, badges, icons, comic book panels and logos. Americans need to understand this if they want to grasp the real significance of news and events in post-Soviet Russia.
While Americans are free to express disagreement with the theory of evolution, this is pretty much limited to churches, religious media, and private educational institutions. A number of years ago, one of the young church women here, a graduate in biology from Novosibirsk State University, got the science faculty to arrange a lecture from an American Lutheran professor on creationism.


A public university professor may use as many four-letter words as he wishes in his lectures, but may lose his position over a single real or perceived racial slur. In the secular American media, evolution carries the day as established fact, even though it’s a theory. I simply cannot imagine anything like this airing on National Public Broadcasting, America’s nearest equivalent to Kultura—even though NPB isn’t government run, as is Kultura. One of our Lutheran clergy has had some success in arranging lectures in public schools about Christianity.
Such things are almost unheard of in America, and nearly always subject to legal challenge.
The girls could have voiced their dissent in some other public forums with fewer or no consequences. It’s just possible that some mainstream cable network would carry an anti-Darwinian documentary as paid programming, but probably not. Yet they chose their venue deliberately, hoping that it would cause an international scandal, which it did. Dissenting groups who wish to hold political rallies can do so if they go through the right channels and obtain the proper permission to gather and demonstrate. Representatives of opposition parties in parliament constantly express their disagreement with the policies of the government, at election time even harshly so.



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