Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Sochi Winter Olympics: My Two Cents

I have somewhat conflicted feelings about the upcoming Olympic Games in Russia and the virulently, violent anti-gay laws there. Some folks say we should boycott the games, but that only punishes the athletes who’ve worked and trained, sometimes their entire lives, for an Olympic medal. Some people say we should boycott Stoli—personally, I have long been a Ketel One man—but isn’t that just punishing the Russian people and not the Russian government? There are some who say we ought to move the games from Russia, but that seems an almost impossible task at this late date—the games are just six months way; is that enough time to ready another venue, even the Vancouver site of the last Winter Games?

But one thing I do know is that we need to, as a people, a country, and a world, demand that this nonsense in Russia end. Being gay is not a crime; saying the word gay is not a crime. We need to stop this before it becomes another Nazi Germany and The Gays are rounded up and killed while we look on in horror, doing nothing.

Think I’m exaggerating?

The new law in Russia—similar to the section 28 law passed by Margaret Thatcher’s government in England in 1988—bans the dissemination of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation" towards under-18s and imposes fines on anyone convicted. You can be fined, or jailed, or worse, for just being gay, for just saying the word, for just coming out as gay.

The legislation has caused many people to demand action in Russia before it becomes another Nazi Germany—this time persecuting, and murdering, gays and lesbians. Last week the International Olympic Committee said it had obtained assurances from the Kremlin that competing athletes would not be affected by the law, but now we’ve learned that is not the case; any athlete who is gay, supports the LGBT community, from any country, is subjected to being arrested and fined and jailed, and maybe worse, in Russia.

It is not a safe place for the LGBT community or its allies.

And, if we continue to let this stand, if we stand by and talk and do nothing else, we are basically becoming co-conspirators to the murder, torture, imprisonment, of gays and lesbians in Russia.

We let this happen once before and millions of Jews were murdered.

Are we going to sit back and let it happen again? Being gay isn’t a crime; being gay should not be against the law. How many LGBT Russians are living in fear that they might be arrested for simply being themselves?

And how are we, as a people, a country, a planet, going to feel if we do nothing?

As I said, a boycott affects the athletes; pouring Stoli down a drain is a symbolic gesture that is a waste of time. Cancel the games; tell Russia that no one is coming; tell Putin that we won’t stand by and clap and cheer as he sends gays and lesbians to their deaths.

Move the games, even if it takes an extra year to find a new venue, or ready a pre-existing one. Move the games and let the athletes compete without fear of persecution, and then, as a people, a country, a world, stand up to Putin and Russia and tell them we will not let this happen.


Not again. 

7 comments:

the dogs' mother said...

It is still stunning that this issue isn't an automatic disqualification for Russia right now. I think it will come down to what causes Putin to loose the most face - an unqualified statement to stop their persecution or have the Olympics taken away from them.

Ron said...

Bob,

I'm conflicted to as to what to do to let Russia and Putin know that we will not condone Russia's actions towards the LGBT community. For the past six months I've been reading a series of books written by Holocaust survivors. No matter how many books I read on this subject, I still can't wrap my brain around that very little was done by other countries to stop the persecution and systematic murder of Jews and other minorities during the Nazi reign. And you know the Allied counties knew what was going on. However as Edmund Burke said "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

I'm not sure if boycotting the Olympics is the answer. Actually what the problem is not only Putin but the Russian people who believe that homosexuality is a "Western thing." A disease that they have to contain. The impetus for these new Draconian laws come from rural Russia. Much like our rural areas in this country, those people don't believe gays exist in their country. As incredibly stupid as it sounds, they really believe that homosexuality didn't exist before the Western influence. What they don't realize is that gay men and women are everywhere, the only difference being in certain areas of their country (and ours), they have the power to keep the LGBT community in the closet, especially in the far rural areas. In our country in the South, gays are more out in the big inner cities like Atlanta and Asheville. I'm rambling on here so I'll bring this to a close.

I think what we should do is let the Johnny Weirs perform in all their flamboyance in the Sochi Olympics and fuck any Russian or their small minded populace who doesn't like it. Cause a confrontation. That's what should have happened during the Nazi reign. Then good men did nothing and you see what happened, the deaths of millions. That is what is going to happen now if good men do nothing. Our country cannot just look the other way as if nothing is happening. This is big, bigger than even the Muslim threat. And what is so ironic is that so many ignorant people are so fearful of gays. Why do we cause so much fear? That is a question that I have never been able to answer.

R.J. said...

Russia can kiss my ass. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. The problem? Where are the straight allies there?

There is not much we can do here short of Obama breaking a treaty with Russia because Russia doesn't care.

I'm going to boycott the Olympics. I don't want to see Johnny Weir or anyone else become a martyr.

Ask the Cool Cookie said...

My thoughts are this. We can protest all we want, but until the Russians get rid of that motherfucker Putin, no gay person is safe in Russia.

If all the nations of the world want his to look like a fool, they need to fly the Pride flag during the opening and ending of the Olympics, at every medal ceremony and they need to let this needledick jerk that we aren't going to drop this matter.

But if you don't go, you lose that platform. And until he's gone, this issue isn't going away.

Ask the Cool Cookie said...

And there are Russian judges that sit in on the sports that attract the Johnny Weirs, et. al. And we need to let the IOC know that we aren't going put up with ANY bullshit from those russian judges when it comes to gay people.

Biki Honko said...

I am also torn about boycotting the olympics. Those athletes have worked their entire lives for possibly only one chance to compete at this level. To call the olympics off, would be beyond mean.

Nothing will change until the Russian population wants it to, including ousting Putin.

While the games must go on, how about boycotting ATTENDING the games? Without the huge inflow of money from all those that attend, it will be seen as a monetary flop, hopefully causing the IOC to not place their games in an anti-lgbt country next time.

www.DiatribesAndOvations.com said...

Unfortunately, the Olympic Games are big business around the world. The amount of money involved is unimaginable.

That being said, "money talks" and keeping it from speaking in Russia appears to be the right thing to do.

I will personally boycott the Sochi Olympics and all of the sponsors involved.