Swedish Activists Troll Russia with The (Way Gay) Singing Sailor Underwater Defence System
Arguing that weaponry and war have a less than stellar track record in conflict resolution, the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society has launched a subsurface sonar system in the form of a hip-swiveling, brief-wearing, neon-flashing Singing Sailor named Fred to ward off hostile and possibly homophobic Russian submarines reportedly encroaching in Swedish waters. Last October, reports of sub sightings off the Stockholm Archipelago prompted a week-long, £1.7 million series of naval patrols, Sweden's biggest military operation since the end of the Cold War, as well as warnings from the Swedish Prime Minister of "the enormous risks (posed by) such violations,” threats to "defend our territorial integrity with all available means,” requests to beef up the military budget, and plans to form a national security council.
The SPAS, which bills itself as the world's oldest peace organization, came up with the idea of The Singing Sailor in response to the uproar over what they call the "submarine sightings," urging their government "to think in new ways instead of falling back on territorial defense, conscription and rearmament...If weapons and war worked, there would have been peace a long time ago." They also wanted to call out the political and physical violence increasingly facing Russia's LGBT community under the Putin administration's 2013 discriminatory laws banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” The goal of the waterproof box bearing Fred, they say, is to offer unexpected or possibly illicit visitors not military threats but "a warm welcome." It features a sailor dancing up a storm to techno music amidst neon hearts; below, a sign says in Russian and English, "Welcome to Sweden - gay since 1944" - the year Sweden legalized homosexuality. The box also emits a message in Morse code: "This. Way. If. You. Are. Gay." The activists lowered it into the Baltic Sea from a fishing boat on April 27. So far, no sub sightings reported.