All-star American basketball star Brittney Griner has been in a Russian prison for over 140 days despite the fact she’s not a criminal. And despite the fact she’s not a criminal, she pleaded guilty this week and admitted wrongdoing in packing smoking cartridges in her luggage that contained less than a single gram of hashish oil. It wasn’t even hash. It was ish.
The seven-time All-Star center for the W.N.B.A.’s Phoenix Mercury now faces ten years in a Russian prison. She is being used as leverage for Vladimir Putin in his negotiations with the west.
After Russia illegally invaded Ukraine, the democratic world shut off most trade and set embargoes on Putin’s fascist state. Throughout the world, Russian oligarchs are having their yachts seized. The economy in Russia wasn’t strong to begin with but now it’s teetering on a total collapse. So, Brittney picked a bad time to go to Russia.
Brittney’s plan was to play in the professional Russian basketball league during the WNBA’s offseason. She’s one of the biggest stars in the WNBA and makes around $227,000 a year playing for the Mercury. By comparison, the average NBA salary is over $7 million a year. There’s been speculation over how much effort would be put into freeing a basketball star unfairly imprisoned in Russia if that star was Lebron James…but Lebron James would never have to supplement his income by playing in Russia. NBA players who spend the majority of their career riding the bench would never have to supplement their income by playing in Russia.
There’s not enough outrage and demand in this country to free Brittney. There was more noise being made to free the other Britney from her father controlling her life and business.
Britney Spears is white and blonde. Brittney Griner is nearly seven feet tall, has dreadlocks, is covered in tattoos, black, and is a lesbian. Unfortunately, there’s a large percentage of our population who hate LGBTQ as much as Vladimir Putin.
Note: Another cartoonist will now use the Britney/Brittney comparison for a cartoon now that I’ve made it in this column.
Last Wednesday in Phoenix, the city where Brittney Griner plays and won a WNBA championship, a rally was held for her in the Footprint Center, the Mercury’s home arena which seats over 17,000 people. Only 300 people showed up. How many would have shown up if the player Putin was holding hostage was the Suns’ Chris Paul? Probably at least a few more than 300.
Brittney Griner is not the only American Putin is holding hostage. Paul Whelan has been in a Russian prison since the Trump administration, which should be noted since Trump recently claimed that if he were still president (sic), Brittney would have been freed by now. Sure.
It’s believed Brittney pled guilty to speed the process along and further negotiations between the United States and Russia for her release. Keep in mind that Russia’s judicial system isn’t exactly like ours.
There’s been talk of a prisoner swap with Brittney being traded for Viktor Bout, a Russian who has been imprisoned in the United States since 2012 on a 25-year sentence for conspiring to sell weapons to terrorists planning to kill Americans. During his sentencing, prosecutors called Bout “among the world’s most successful and sophisticated arms traffickers.” He is known as the Merchant of Death.
It’s a lopsided deal to trade the Merchant of Death, who was participating in a terrorist plot against Americans, for a very tall black lesbian whose only crime was carrying a little hashish oil in a vape cartridge. At the very least, Paul Whelan should be included in the trade.
Brittney wrote a letter to President Biden saying, “I’m terrified I might be here forever. Please don’t forget about me.” While receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Biden this week, U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe wore a white suit with the letters “BG” on it for Brittney Griner. She later posted on Instagram, “BG, we love you.” She also posted “BG is being used as a political pawn and we need to bring her (home) immediately. This plea doesn’t change that @potus needs to and is working hard to get her home.”
We can’t forget Brittney Griner. Bring Brittney Griner home now.
Music note: I listened to the Kaiser Chiefs while drawing today’s cartoon.
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