Members of the Slovenian alternative rock band Strelnikoff are in danger of going to prison for 5 years. Their offense? Releasing their CD entitled Bitchcraft, which has on it's cover an image of the Virgin Mary holding a well-fed rat in her hands. The Roman Catholic Church reacted negatively, of course. In the Catholic weekly paper Druzina (Family), Archbishop Franc Rode said, "Mother, what did they do to you?", and that Slovenian Catholics were deeply wounded. The Young Christian Democrats and State Prosecutor Anton Drobnic, who is a leading member of the Christian Democratic Party, demanded that the government prosecute the members of Strelnikoff because of this "offense against religious sensibilities." They then demanded that the records be banned and confiscated, threatening a boycott if they were not. The band was interrogated by the police.
Archbishop Rode, whose sermons on abortion were sampled by the band, organized a special mass to ask forgiveness for the blasphemers. At the mass, which drew over 7,000 people, Rode preached that "believers continually suffer under the enormous burden of insults." It has reached the point where Janez Markes, a writer for the political magazine Mag, called for the members of the band to be lynched and that they "should not seek the protection of the police if someone throws a Molotov-bomb at them during their concert" on national television. Other articles simply ask for a ban and a long prison sentence for the members of Strelnikoff.
At the moment, two petitions are circulating, both of which strongly demand that the group be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Catholic weekly newspaper Druzina, at the urging of Archbishop Rode, opened a website on the Internet, where young believers could express their anger at Strelnikoff's actions. It was closed due to the pro-Strelnikoff stance of many of the responders, who were ostensibly in favor of freedom of expression and speech. Fortunately, the band is half-heartedly supported by President Kucan who, according to AP reports, said "We should react with acts and words of tolerance and cooperation . . . we shouldn't react with suppression and censorship." According to Vasja Ocvirk, a member of Strelnikoff, it appears that the District Attorney will not press charges against the band, but State Prosecutor Anton Drobnic "probably will, because he is one of the instigators of this whole witch hunt."
With the rise of the Christian Right here in the United States of America, the separation of church and state is being threatened daily. What is happening to Strelnikoff in Slovenia is eye-opening and sobering; it could be a glimpse into the future of the U.S., especially if the Christian Right has it's way. There are many bills being introduced by legislators around the country, the content of which seeks to demonize music and popular culture in general. Anything that is new, original, or seeks to question the status quo is immediately deemed offensive and attacked. Does that sound familiar? It is quite similar to the tactic being used in Slovenia by the Christian Democratic Party against Strelnikoff. What is happening in Slovenia should serve as a reminder to the citizens of this country that our right to freely express ourselves is sacred and should be fought for tirelessly. Without it, we would exist in a virtual police state, dominated by the oppressive and repressed Christian Right, where every belief, idea, opinion and action is examined thoroughly. And that is a very frightening thought indeed.
To contact those who are opposed to freedom of expression in Slovenia, and thus anti-Strelnikoff, use the following:
The Christian Democratic Party (SKD) and the Young Christian Democrats:
The weekly newspaper Druzina:
http://www.druzina.si/english/index.htm (the English site) AND http://www.druzina.si/mail.htm (the mail page of the Druzina)
To contact the editor of Druzina:
The members of Strelnikoff have been victims of a campaign, where they receive offensive letters and even dead rats in the mail. They strongly request that you send no offensive mail to their opponents.