Wednesday, June 17, 2009

There are bigger f**kwits...

There are bigger fuckwits than Latvia's parliamentarians, but given time, our Lithuanian (or leiši, a kind of very mild Latvian racist term for the folks to the south) brethren may well lose that honor. The Lithuanian parliament has passed a law forbidding "favorable" discussion of homosexuality. which, in classic chilling-effect terms, forbids any discussion at all. It brings back old Latvian prejudices of an ignorant, impoverished rabble of provincial peasants (a la Lithuanian/leišu beggars wailing by the church -- a folkloric Latvian phrase -- gaudo kā leišu nabagi pie baznīcas). The law seems to have passed with an overwhelming majority. These folks really believe in this kind of repression.
Alas, Lithuania, formally, is a modern European Union member state, just as Latvia is. But Latvia, too busy with its intractable economic disaster (and spinning the wheels of a downward spiral with frantic budget cuts) would probably do the same. Certainly, Riga's near future deputy mayor, Aunārs Šlesers -- hey, I meant Ainārs :), Latvians will get the joke of that Freudian misspelling-- will try to ban any activities discussing sexual minorities in his city-state.
Meanwhile, with drafting its own anti-gay-speech law on the back burner, Latvia has enough trouble with one of Sweden's leading dailies, Expressen, demanding in an unsigned (a view of the paper's editorial board) editorial to Stop Latvian Censorship Now.* The paper refers to a law that forbids spreading false information about the national currency and the financial system. One of Expressen's recent guest opinion writers, the Latvian economics lecturer Dmitrijs Smirnovs, was arrested last fall for warning, in a public forum reported by a regional newspaper, that people should not keep their money in Latvian lats or Latvian banks. For this, he was detained for two days by the Latvian Security Police, in an action that made them a renewed version of the Soviet KGB.
Expressen now writes that Sweden's Finance Minister Anders Borg should make financial assistance to Latvia contigent on a repeal of Latvia's restrictions on free speech. "Instead of devaluing the lat, Latvia has devalued the freedom of expression," the Swedish daily wrote.
One can only agree. After all, the Smirnovs case was the reason for starting this blog. There is still reason to continue it.

* link in Swedish

4 comments:

Valdis Melderis said...

Never has understood, who added "racism" to that leishi term. It has always been name for people living south of Latvian border. Leishmale (Leishi side of Latvia) is being used even in one of the most popular soviettime songs "Cielaviņa" :)

Brian Worley said...

Juris,

Just read your post. I am an American living in Latvia. I would love to email you, but I didn't see the option. So I hope you might contact me. I have a website, www.exminister.org which has my email. I'm very interested in human rights and etc., hope to hear from you!

Lingüista said...

It would be a pity to let Latvia fall into chaos. Sometimes it seems Latvia has the same kinds of problems that Russia has... are Latvians after all that similar to Russians in political culture? Or are the more "extremist" and "anti-freedom" attitudes caused by the current crisis? (After all, crises always help extremist parties: people's anger is easy to redirect.)

What, oh what can be done? I wished I could somehow contribute to an effort at making Latvia a better place.

And Lithuania too?! I guess these guys think about homosexuality what the West these days thinks about pedophilia. Not a very good sight. Latvians (and Lithuanians) are apparently still at the level of "homosexuality is so contagious (delicious?), if it is displayed publicly we'll all be perverted and become gay too..."

Tor Hershman said...

Wow, I guess no one there can legally speak well of
The King James Bible now.