Lessons For Brittney Griner
Perhaps Griner’s experience in Russian prison will bring back a sense of gratitude to the American government.
The WNBA has garnered more attention over the past week than it has in its entire 26 year history. Brittney Griner is currently on trial in Russia.
Griner, who was arrested on the count of smuggling drugs into Russia, was detained on February 17. After her flight landed from New York, Griner was passing through the Sheremetyevo Airport when ” a working dog from the Sheremetyevo customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage,” according to the Russian Federal Customs Service, and further customs inspection “confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance.”
Griner was charged for the importation of drugs to Russia. This offense can lead to up 10 years imprisonment. On Thursday, she pleaded guilty to the charges brought against her, though she added that she had no intent on breaking the law.
In May, the Biden administration announced it had determined Griner was being wrongfully detained in Russia. There has been much speculation regarding Griner’s return to the U.S. since then. Griner’s guilty plea is crucial because Russian officials stated that no prisoner swap will take place until the verdict has been reached. However, there is a name that has been floated around by Russia: Viktor Bout, nicknamed the “Merchant of Death.”
Bout received his 25-year sentence in 2012, where prosecutors described him as “among the world’s most successful and sophisticated arms traffickers” who delivered weapons to groups he suspected were going to kill Americans. Brittney Griner (WNBA player) seems to have made a lopsided trade for Viktor Bout “Merchant of Death”. That’s not just my opinion, but the opinion held by some DOJ officials as well.
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Those calling for Griner’s freedom have made some outrageous claims. Take, for instance, Cari Champion at CNN who said, “If she’s not free, we’re all not free. Everyone is responsible. Excuse me. It’s not that we are all breaking Russian law right now. No matter if her sentence was “just”, she violated Russian law. Further, that conception of just is our conception of just, not Russia’s. Which brings me to my last point: Brittney Griner protested the national anthem in 2020, claiming “I personally don’t think it belongs in sports,” and that it is “a song that didn’t represent all Americans when it was first made.”
She’s simply repeating statements she has made in recent times about America’s national anthem, and the institutions that govern it. Now she’s in an awkward position and is asking for freedom from those institutions. Cari Champion responded: Brittney is wrong. I’m free because I live in a country that allows me to be independent. Champion’s statements are in keeping with the liberal concept of freedom that is centered on abstract concepts about human rights. Brittney Griner is not able to define “human rights”, as she lives in a country that does not recognize them through the constitution or the rule of the law.
Perhaps Griner will feel a renewed sense of gratitude after her time in Russian prison. It is possible that it will also make Griner reconsider Russian law violations.