The Power of the Media

A French-Canadian writer who graduated from McGill’s Slavic Studies program (the one whose Canadian chair sat under a huge portrait of Putin in his office while she studied there) was so inspired by the love of Russia by her McGill studies that she decided to visit. And encouraged friends to go with her.

Last week, she arrived in a small Russian village and approached a group of Russian mouzhiks hoping to express her love of Russia and practice her Russian. The mouzhiks beat her and her friend into a bloody pulp. Reason? The mouzhiks heard her accent and figured out she’s a foreigner. They hear daily on TV that foreigners want to turn Russia gay. So they piled on the poor woman and her friend with screams of “we don’t need no stinking gays here in Russia!”

When Russian reporters interviewed the woman, she defended herself by saying she doesn’t even have any gay friends. So it’s unfair she should be brutalized for spreading gayness. The woman’s friend had two ribs broken and has serious brain trauma. He is so traumatized that he refuses to go back to Russia to testify against the mouzhiks. So they won’t face charges.

True story.

13 thoughts on “The Power of the Media”

  1. What gets me is…. lack of preparation and basic street smarts. I used to be in a position where I would sometimes greet new arrivals and help get them acclimated to Poland. That always included groups of people to stay away from.

    Poland is mostly ridiculously safe (unlike Russia….) but you do need to know who to not start conversations with and who to shut up around (as in any country). It would never occur to me to approach a group of men in the remote countryside to strike up a conversation…

    (Once acclimated to a place or mileiu things can be different, I was involved in research once that sometimes involved me informally socializing with pretty rough guys (drinking vodka out of sight of passers by, you know the deal) and more than once I realized I was the only one who’d never been in prison…. but I knew what I was doing and had been slowly introduced into the group and I usually paid so they weren’t going to kill the goose….)


      1. I’ve only read E.E. (an early short novel) and enjoyed it though I’m not sure if it’s your kind of thing (there’s a paranormal event or two).
        She’s won awards before in Poland and I know people who really like her and she tends to piss off the right people (like the current government).


          1. I wouldn’t call it fantasy (and that’s just one story in which a possible paranormal event was a mcguffin to set the characters in motion)…. I should probably try to read something more recent by her, it’s one of those things I keep telling myself I should do and somehow don’t…


            1. I heard that the novel she got the prize for is about fluidity. But I heard it from a colleague who is kind of an idiot, so I’m not sure I can trust her.


      1. That’s wild. I learned this word reading Tolstoy in English. Recently I actually met a pair of them, walking up to a nice park in Riga and not realizing that to the east, not so far away, was a jail. They started yelling after me and initially I thought — this is like getting catcalled in Lat Am or Spain as it used to be — and then, no it is not, and they are yelling in Russian not Latvian, and they are far more macho than anyone I have ever seen, including a Rhodesian ex-mercenary in Peru that was the former Most Macho Ever!


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