protester in Red Square

Don't try this at home!

| A protester in Moscow took off all his clothes in Red Square, sat down on the cobblestones, and nailed his scrotum to the street.

According to the New York Times article on the protest, timed for Russian Police Day, police were nonplussed; their reactions ranged from walking away to covering him with a blanket. Eventually an ambulance was called to extricate the man, Petr Pavlensky, who declined to be hospitalized and was instead jailed.

Which raises an interesting question: What do you say to a naked man with his junk spiked to the street? How's it hangin'? is clearly inappropriate. And it's not like you could help him up without serious collateral damage. "Do no harm" would seem to be a pertinent maxim.


Pavlensky has a history, it seems, of dramatic protest. On one previous occasion he sewed his mouth shut and stood outside a cathedral; on another, he had himself wrapped in barbed wire and delivered to the steps of the St Petersburg legislature.

I was at first repulsed and dumbfounded that anyone would do such a thing. But then I remembered the crucifixions practiced by certain fervid Christians on Good Friday. Precedent is cold comfort — I'm still repulsed and dumbfounded.

man on cross
man on cross

Political protest I get. Getting nailed to curry favor with an imaginary god is beyond my comprehension.

Pavlensky deserves, I guess, grudging respect for his willingness to sacrifice himself, bodily, for his causes. But really, this carries piercing too far.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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