One-armed man arrested in Belarus for clapping

The headline says it all: after the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko passed a law making it illegal to clap (because dissidents began using applause as a form of protest), his cops began rounding up and arresting people who applauded, or stood near people who were applauding, or thought about applauding...

Anyway, once it became clear that clapping was dissent, clappers were rounded up. And like all thuggish regimes this one was not too particular about who it arrested. That included Konstantin Kaplin, who said he was convicted of "applauding in public" despite fairly conclusive evidence of innocence: he's only got one arm. "The judge read out the charges [and] the police affirmed that I was applauding," said the one-armed man. "The judge looked ashamed of herself," he said, but imposed the fine anyway.

A journalist was also quoted as saying that a deaf-mute had been charged with "shouting antigovernment slogans," but there was no independent confirmation of that.

One-Armed Man Arrested for Clapping [Lowering the Bar]

(Image: APPLAUSE, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from princesstheater's photostream)



    1. They also arrested a man in a wheelchair for playing hopscotch.  Naturally he protested, but the judge told him he did not have a leg to stand on.

        1. Evolution of the character of the  gawky idiot in a suit that’s a little too small.

          Ish Kabibble >> Young Jerry Lewis >> Pee Wee Herman

          1. Strictly speaking, Jerry Lewis precedes Ish Kabbible since he started performing at age five.

      1.  The poor guy had intended to fund his legal battle using his venison farm as collateral, but that was confiscated, leaving him without a stag to lend on.

      1. “……..In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable what then?”

  1. Someone, anyone, in that courtroom should have asked that judge “what’s the sound of one hand clapping?”

  2. The funny thing is why totalitarian regimes pass laws to legitimize persecution — and in the end simply frame people like this. If you are a dictator and want to throw people in jail, why even bother? That’s a lot of work.

    1. Because very few dictators have the parsnips to not pretend they run a “nation of laws” and that the rule of law is what is really making them do these terrible things.

      “I am just enforcing the will of the people as passed by the People’s Assembly” gives them a theoretical leg to stand on along with the “We must have order or the terrorists have won” and my favorite, sadly from the U.S. “It is unpatriotic to protest the new security laws as they are intended to fight terrorism and a free people must have limits on their freedom to be truly free.” (Paraphrase of multiple Presidential speeches from one Bush or another.)

  3. A one-armed man can clap his hand against, say, his thigh. He can also clap his hand against somebody else’s hand. Thus, one-armed men are indeed capable of clapping, assuming an only slightly liberal definition of what it means to clap.

    1. This.  I – despite having tow arms and hands – almost never clap hand to hand.  I usually use hand-to-leg or hand-to-table (common at university, I guess).

      Standing up it’s simple to clap hand-to-breast.

      1. That’s just being properly cautious.  You don’t want any clap damage if you’re gonna be towing with those things.

      1. If I’m holding something, I use my chest. I find it’s better to make a fist out of my hand and then thump my chest. If it’s an extended applause, though, I feel the need to start attacking audience members.

        1. If I were awaiting an applause, and people started beating their chests, I’d be freaked out. Is this a regional thing maybe?

          It makes sense, I just never see it.

    2. Yes, but trickery aside – one person may clap. But doesn’t applause, a communal activity, need more than one person? Are we sure of the translation of the law? The intention seems to be more anti-applause than anti-clap. The distinction is important for whereas it would seem impossible that a one-armed man could break an anti-clapping law, he might break an anti-applauding one.

  4. Reminds one of the Georges Brassens lyric that might be roughly translated “every man’s hand is raised against me, except, of course, for the amputees'”.

  5. Good old Belarus.  I feel like they are doing a service to Europe. They are there as a constant reminder that living under an authoritarian dictator sucks, and that you shouldn’t do it.  At least China has the decency to spread the authoritarian power around a little and makes a fair attempt at improving the lives of their people, if for no other reason than because they are afraid of 1.5 billion pissed off peasants.  That piece of shit Lukashenko doesn’t even pretend to give a shit about the people who is brutally suppressing while robbing the nation of what little resources it has left.  

  6. I believe we are looking at this upside down. This is a great story of clever people re-inventing what protest means. They seem to have turned the old phrase, “the best revenge is living well” into a form of political protest. Applause is just one tactic. The young Belarusians also have flash mobs where everyone will suddenly be strolling around the square eating ice cream. Or they will quietly walk around smiling at each other. It’s genius!

    Digital communications allows them to redefine for each other, the meaning of applause, or eating an ice cream. These redefinitions constitute a kind of shared culture – the social glue that binds people together – which is necessary before there can be any kind of coordinated political action. The same dynamics exist for global citizens, who would see huge gains in power both locally and globally if we used the internet to redefine what things mean and synchronise ourselves to say, “no” at the same time.

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