Russian 'Foul Language' Ban Echoes Soviet Spirit

Russian 'Foul Language' Ban Echoes Soviet Spirit

Russian President Vladimir Putin is continuing his war on freedom in Russia. First he shut down independent media outlets, passed a law banning “gay propaganda,” and now there is a ban on profanity in the arts.

The law does not define “profanity,” but “profanity” is not allowed to exist in “literature, theater, film and recorded music.” A panel of experts will decide what constitutes foul language and hand out fines if a violation occurs.

Offenders will face fines – as much as 50,000 roubles (£829; $1,400) for organisations, or up to 2,500 roubles (£41; $70) for individuals.

Books containing inappropriate words will have to carry warnings on their covers. A company or store may lose its license if employees or packaging do not warn customers of foul language.

Another law will put bloggers on the same level as other media outlets, leaving them to face the same penalties for use of foul language.

Under another law also signed Monday, bloggers with over 3,000 daily pages views will be subject to hefty fines for using profanities beginning in August, when they will be effectively equated with media outlets.

Artists are not thrilled with the law. Foul language is a staple in the majority of songs by Russian bands and theater.

Putin is ex-KGB and said the fall of the Soviet Union “was a major geopolitical disaster of the century.” As president, he is merely staying in lockstep with old Soviet leaders. Leon Trotsky, a Marxist revolutionary and founder and first leader of the Red Army, despised profanity. In May 1923, he wrote “The Struggle for Cultured Speech” and defended a law passed by workers to stop swearing or else face fines.  Here are a few quotes from his article to justify censorship in Russia (emphasis added):

Abusive language and swearing are a legacy of slavery, humiliation, and disrespect for human dignity–one’s own and that of other people.

The fight against bad language is also a part of a struggle for the purity, clearness, and beauty of Russian speech.

But our proletariat has not had sufficient schooling in elementary reading and writing, not to speak of literary education. And this is the reason that the now governing working class, which is in itself and by its social nature a powerful safeguard of the integrity and greatness of the Russian language in the future, does not, nevertheless, stand up now with the necessary energy against the intrusion of needless, corrupt, and sometimes hideous new words and expressions.

To preserve the greatness of the language, all faulty words and expressions must be weeded out of daily speech. Speech is also in need of hygiene. And the working class needs a healthy language not less but rather more than the other classes: for the first time in history it begins to think independently about nature, about life, and its foundations–and to do the thinking it needs the instrument of a clear incisive language.


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