September 15th, 2013
Ya know, you reach a point where you realize that it’s all just words, that the defense of gay rights has become less about gay people and more about the chance to pat yourself on the back. And nothing has illustrated this more to me that the recent “controversy” over Russia’s horribly oppressive anti-gay laws.
Oh, the international community is Raising Concerns. And leaders are Talking Sternly. And the International Olympic Committee is having meetings and getting Assurances. And everyone is oh so very very very concerned that Russia not … well, let’s not be too specific about what they’re concerned about.
It doesn’t seem to be free speech rights. The IOC is very clear that they don’t want to change Russia’s law. And every newspaper – other than gay media – uses the word “propaganda” or “youth” every paragraph so as to make sure that everyone knows that this is perhaps a tiny bit concerning but not really all that unreasonable. Because propaganda and youth, you know.
And they’ve heard our concerns and, goodness gracious, we can’t have conflict. Conflict is bad. And the Olympics is a time of coming together and getting along and setting aside differences.
So maybe it’s just best that we shut up.
The corporate sponsors of the Olympics have become concerned that their name and product will be associated with civil rights violations. And they’ve expressed concern to the IOC, who passed that on to Russia. And the response: (msnbc)
A senior IOC official said Monday that sponsors, especially U.S. sponsors, are concerned about the law and are “afraid” of the potential fallout at next year’s Olympic Games. “I think this could ruin a lot for all of us. We have to be prepared,” marketing commission chairman Gerhard Heiberg said. “We can see many ways this could happen. I heard a lot from the sponsors, especially the American sponsors, what they are afraid of could happen.”
IOC President Jacques Rogge allayed any fears of possible demonstrations in Sochi and said the committee will remind athletes to refrain from protests or political gestures during the Games. “The constitution of the Russian federations allows for homosexuality,” Rogge said. “And we have received strong reassurances that this law will not affect participants in the Sochi Games.”
And so what is the official position of the IOC? That which Russian assigned them.
The head of Sochi’s organizing committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, said that the law which bans “homosexual propaganda” would not affect the games as it would not apply to Olympic athletes, fans and media. He said the law has been misinterpreted by protesters and activists, and urged the IOC to communicate the message to “those who are still trying to speculate on this very transparent and very clear topic,” that Russia does not ban homosexuality.
“It’s very important to have your support to stop this campaign and this speculation regarding this issue,” Chernyshenko said.
We’ve been told that there are no reasons for concern. No one will be arrested… unless they break the law. Unless they, as Olympians, make any statements of any type, verbal or otherwise, that express anything other than contempt for gay people or gay rights.
And that is far far more inclusive than the mainstream press is emphasizing.
Take, for example, the arrest of Dmitry Isakov, who held a sign “Being gay and loving gays is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is a crime!” Not exactly the most radical statement, but in Russia that’s propaganda.
But the real interesting part of Isakov’s arrest was not the message. (Buzzfeed)
Police filed the charges on the basis of a complaint from a teenager in the northern Arkhangelskaya province who had seen Isakov’s protest online.
Oh yeah, the internet is fair game. But we have nothing to fear. No sirree, we can rest assured that as long as an athlete has never, ever, made a statement in opposition to, say, beating gay people that can be found in the media or online, then they have nothing to fear.
And Russia need not even be the bad guy. The IOC will happily punish any athlete that makes a “political” statement, because of Rule 50: “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted”. Ah, there’s that lovely word again, “propaganda”. And the IOC has made it very clear that Russian President Putin gets to define that term.
Oh, and our “allies”, the representatives from enlightened nations to the IOC, they have our back, right? Nope. (USAtoday)
Dick Pound of Canada weighed in on the issue a bit more pointedly. He called the law “disgusting” but said athletes need to respect their status as guests in Sochi. Pound said national Olympic committees should warn their athletes about the consequences. “You say to your kids, ‘If you screw around with this we’ll send you home.”
And if an athlete challenges such a mandate? “If there have been lots of warnings, there’s no excuse for it,” Pound said. “Then it becomes a provocation.”
Yes, yes, it’s horrible that the official position of a nation is that your existence is illegal – and let’s be honest, any law that makes declaring one’s existence to be illegal is nondifferentiable from one that makes one’s existence illegal – but just be good little faggots and shut up. Don’t rock the boat. We have big important international cooperation here and a mutual congratulatory event and don’t you dare raise any issues which might disprove our display of consanguinity.
Hey, if you just be invisible, we’ll let you play.
Oh, and look at how wonderful we are for raising your little issue. See what an advocate of civil rights we are and such firm negotiators too; We convinced Putin to give “assurances”. You should pat us on the back!
And the US rep is no better:
American Anita DeFrantz, who was elected to the influential executive board on Tuesday, said punishment for small statements such as nail polish sounds a bit much. It also raises complicated questions. What if someone’s rainbow pin is just a good luck charm?
Surely we can allow a good luck charm, so long as it isn’t in support of the humanity of an oppressed minority. Cuz if you support humanity, then it’s only reasonable to send you home.
And meanwhile at the United Nations, a symbolic statement has allowed politicians another chance to look wonderful while doing nothing whatsoever.
There is a tradition at Olympics time for the host nation to write Olympic Truce, a resolution calling for friendly competition and the cause of peace. And this year Russia included a clause promising to include “people of different age, sex, physical capacity, religion, race and social status”.
It was pointed out that there was one group missing from that list, people of different sexual orientation.
Well there was no way – no way at all – that Russia was going to include people of different sexual orientation. So our “allies” brokered a solution; the language was changed to “promote social inclusion without discrimination of any kind.” And we can all pretend that this includes gay people, even though we know with absolute certainty that it does not. (NYTimes)
“I think it’s a very good outcome, and I think the Russians want to have a consensus to adopt this,” said Iakovos Iakovidis, a Greek representative to the United Nations, who was one of several officials in support of revising the statement. “I think people will be happy with this.”
No, Iakovidis, I’m not happy with this.
It’s bovine manure. It’s a bogus make-happy effort to do nothing while pretending to say something. It’s zero, nothing at all.
Meanwhile Bach and Rogge and Heiberg and Pound and DeFrantz and Iakovidis haven’t gotten around to noticing the latest Russian legislative proposal, taking away the children of gay parents. And when that passes, and it will, we can predict the result. “We are very concerned but Putin has given “assurances” that no athlete’s children will be seized (if they leave them at home). So shhhh, don’t rock the boat. We have a mega-billion dollar industry, ummm sporting event, to put on here and we really don’t give a flying fig about what Putin does to your type of people.”
But we Raised The Issue. And gosh, maybe we should get a medal for being On Your Side. And for Looking Out For Civil Rights.
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