Ugh. It’s perhaps appropriate to point out first that Ed Koch is 87 years old, and politically irrelevant in the way that only a man who has been out of office for over 20 years can be. Koch is also a man that thinks that he, single-handedly, “restored the pride of New Yorkers.” So, he is, at best, a grandiose blowhard and, at worst, a senile grandiose blowhard. I mean, he also thinks that Newt Gingrich is a “leader, and unafraid to tell the truth,” and was pretty confident that Obama would be facing a Gingrich/Romney ticket. So, in short, Koch is not afraid to be wrong. And, wow! Is he ever wrong a lot!
His latest issue to sound off on is the arrest and imprisonment of Pussy Riot. While both the American public and the media’s opinion has been pretty consistent in its disgust with the treatment of the three women who were arrested following a performance inside a Russian Orthodox Church, Koch has decided to be a dissenting voice, a beacon of light for those of us who are surrounded by the darkness we call “freedom of speech,” or something like that.
In an essay on the Huffington Post, Koch expresses “shock” at Pussy Riot supporters, including the White House and the State Department, because he sees the issue, not as a matter of free speech, but as one of religious hatred, which, coincidentally, is what the sentencing judge in Russia said as well. Koch compares this to when he “was mayor in 1989 and the AIDS activist group Act Up, unjustifiably angry with John Cardinal O’Connor, invaded St. Patrick’s Cathedral and interrupted the mass, throwing the communion wafers — which for Catholics are the actual body of Christ — to the floor.” He points out that the members of Act Up that were involved in that demonstration were arrested, though none were sentenced to any jail time. Clearly, he wishes they had been. Religious hatred makes Ed Koch so mad! Also, Koch happily points out, just because we Americans value and retain the right to free speech, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world has the same rights! There’s no free speech amendment in Russia! And good for them, am I right?