August 17 in freethought history…

animalfarmAugust 17, 1945 – George Orwell’s novella Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, the allegorical tale of an animal uprising on a typical farm, is published in London. Along with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm is widely considered one of the greatest English-language novels of the 20th century.

August 17, 1979 – The film Monty Python’s Life of Brian is released in the United States. A satirical comedy about a hapless Jew born on the same day as–and constantly mistaken for–Jesus Christ, the film was picketed in the United States and banned in Ireland, Sweden, Norway and parts of the United Kingdom. Life of Brian was a box office success and is widely considered one of the best comedies of all time. The song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” which appears near the end of the film, has become one of the most popular requests for funerals, and a performance of it was led by Python Eric Idle at the Closing Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

August 17, 2012 – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich, members of the feminist punk rock protest group Pussy Riot, are convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” by a Russian court and sentenced to two years in prison. Their conviction stemmed from an incident on February 26, 2012, at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, in which the women, wearing brightly colored dresses and balaclavas, staged an impromptu performance protesting the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of Vladimir Putin. Many Western leaders expressed disappointment, and the women’s imprisonment sparked an international “Free Pussy Riot” protest movement, but domestically Putin enjoyed overwhelming support and even doubled down on suppressing free speech in the name of protecting “religious feelings.”

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