Vodka isn’t enough


I’m confused.  In a little less than 6 months, Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Leading up to those games, Russia has criminalized homosexuality and legalized state and informal terrorism against LGBT citizens.

And all we can think of in return is dumping our Russian vodka before the games begin?

We have seen all this before.

In 1935 the German government of Adolf Hitler re-criminalized homosexual activity:

“As part of a massive rewriting of the criminal code, Nazi jurists revised Paragraph 175. Issued on June 28, 1935, and put into effect on September 1, 1935, the revision emphasized the criminality of both men involved in “indecency.”

“Even before the new law went into effect, Nazi courts expanded the range of so–called indecent acts beyond the single offense prosecuted under the old law. By 1938, German courts ruled that any contact between men deemed to have sexual intent, even “simple looking” or “simple touching,” could be grounds for arrest and conviction.

“New language added as Paragraph 175a specifically imposed up to ten years’ hard labor for “indecency” committed under coercion, with adolescents under the age of 21, and for male prostitution. Individuals victimized by acts punishable under these new provisions could be—and were—prosecuted as criminals according to Paragraph 175.

Paragraph 175 was an important part of the Holocaust – the Nazi criminalization of non-arayan and other people that lead to the organized mass extermination of over 6 million people by the most inhuman and extreme means.

The laws that established the grounds for extermination – like Paragraph 175 – were firmly in place and acted upon as the Nazi dictatorship implemented its plans to host the 1936 Summer Olympics at Nuremburg.

And the 1936 Olympics became a testing ground for world reaction, as documented by the United States Holocaust museum’s collection on Sport and Nazification:

“Soon after Hitler took power in 1933, observers in the United States and other western democracies questioned the morality of supporting Olympic Games hosted by the Nazi regime. Responding to reports of the persecution of Jewish athletes in 1933, Avery Brundage, president of the American Olympic Committee, stated: “The very foundation of the modern Olympic revival will be undermined if individual countries are allowed to restrict participation by reason of class, creed, or race.”

“Brundage, like many others in the Olympics movement, initially considered moving the Games from Germany. After a brief and tightly managed inspection of German sports facilities in 1934, Brundage stated publicly that Jewish athletes were being treated fairly and that the Games should go on, as planned.

“Many American newspaper editors and anti-Nazi groups, led by Jeremiah Mahoney, president of the Amateur Athletic Union, were unwilling to be duped by Nazi Germany’s hollow pledges and lies regarding German Jewish athletes. But Avery Brundage maneuvered the Amateur Athletic Union to a close vote in favor of sending an American team to Berlin, and, in the end, Mahoney’s boycott effort failed.”

Turning back to the Russian Winter Olympics, a boycott seems like a non-starter, for both good and bad reasons.  And like the rest of you, I don’t have any more vodka to pour out.  So what now?

Not only does it look like Russia will get away with staging a Potemkin village games that hides the terror of it’s anti-LGBT laws behind two weeks of winter fun and tourism promotion, it shows the lack of coherent options for protest in the face of the power of the Olympic movement.

But surely there are some answers rolling around in the mass of sponsorships, human rights, media cartels and reportage and state representation?  Surely, there is something effective that can be done to shine a light on this new emerging fascist state?

The goal is obvious: portray the extent of Russian state terrorism against LGBT people and demonstrate that this is the thin edge of the wedge.  And it is not acceptable to democratic people.

That effort failed in 1936.  It shouldn’t be allowed to fail this time.







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12 Responses to Vodka isn’t enough

  1. RS says:

    I don’t support a boycott of the Olympics as others have suggested. What I’d like to see is every country marching into the opening and closing ceremonies waving their nations’ flag, and a rainbow flag.

  2. raven says:

    Human rights trump everything.

    Russia is testing the world.

    Does the world need an elitist spectacle more than it needs human rights?

  3. Scotty on Denman says:

    As a distraction from one of the most corrupt, outrageously expensive Olympics yet, the LGBT provocation in Russia seems to be working pretty well.

  4. Dan Schubart says:

    The horror of the idea that some people want to bring the Olympics back to BC is beyond contemplation. The Olympic Movement is anti-people and needs to be boycotted on all levels. It is my hope that the LGBT community will enlist the support of a broader constituency to steer us into saner paths than the ruinous flutteringly fawning spectacle of gross expenditure and elitism that is the Olympics.

  5. None of the Above says:

    It’s really simple. The gay athletes (and all other athletes) should go to Sochi, compete, and then absolutely flaunt gay rights in the face of the Russian organizers. Think of the black glove podium protest in Mexico City in 1968, but much more fabulous and colourful!

  6. raven says:

    None of the Above,

    Oh, I think the Putinizer Bunny would take out his wrath on the powerless once the media went home.

  7. Nonconfidencevote says:

    I have always thought the Olympics were an obscene spectacle enabling jingoistic ‘host” country’s to “show the world” how “great” their country is……
    What seems to happen in most Olympics in most host countries is.
    Olympic organizers line up to the trough.
    Politicians line up to the trough.
    Big Business lines up to the trough.
    Athlete’s are inevitably caught cheating.
    Advertisements are pounded into the skulls of all and sundry.
    The Olympics end and the Host country’s taxpayers are stuck with a bill they didnt ask for, didnt want and didnt have a voice in.

    I feel sorry for the average Russian citizen that will be stuck with this horrendous legacy. Vladimir Putin is the most self serving, corrupt, autocratic dictator Russia has seen since Stalin. He has snubbed his nose at the squawking western media and govt. leaders for years. His personal involvement in theses Olympics ensures his Swiss Bank account will bulge to even greater heights.
    My prediction.
    The US will pull its athletes out from performing at the last minute for “security reasons”.
    Hopefully other western leaders will grow spines and follow suit.

  8. eastendleo says:

    Hey! “Scotty on Denman,” what the hell does “the LGBT provocation in Russia” mean?
    Did you perhaps mean ‘LGBT protests against unconscionable oppression and the terror being visited upon them?’ or, what?
    “provocation?” WTF? Is this a word you’d reach for if Russia reverted to it’s historical mean and criminalized it’s Jewish community that then protested?

    Right now you are coming off as a bigot.

    I hope that is not the case and is just the result of thoughtless word choice.
    Care to clear it up?

  9. Scotty on Denman says:

    Hey! leo!…Huh? You really don’t know what provoke means? How’bout “bigot”?

  10. raven says:

    On CBC Cross-Country Check-up this afternoon:

    Should the Olympics be used as a venue for protest?

    Guest Host Andrew Nichols sp?

  11. e.a.f. says:

    Getting the O. committee to move the O.s is not going to be possible. They are a bunch of people who are more interested in their own gratification than anything else. They knew what Russia was like when they awarded them the games. Moving the Games to B.C. is an option or to one of the Scandinavian countries. However, it is most likely best to have the games scheduled as planned. Then go and display your position on GLTB rights.

    When atheletes are on the podium they can wear pride colours. In the opening ceremony they can wave pride flags. See what the Russians or the O. committee will do. There won’t be much because the cameras of the world will be there. If all the athletes take a position, throwing them out of the games won’t work. There won’t be any games.

    If the games are moved Putin will not be amuzed. However, he will be able to take the position, he stood strong on his “principals”. If people go and then celebrate LBTG rights it will be a tad awkward for Putin. It will be right in his face. It could be turned into the first openly LGTB Os.

  12. Arleigh Chase says:

    The only pressure points I can think of are the sponsors. A campaign of “We won’t buy from companies that support homophobia” may get Putin to reverse course. I’m thinking of the pressure the orange juice industry came under after Anita Bryant opened her nasty mouth. The only other avenue would be to notify the broadcaster – I believe it’s NBC in North America – that we won’t watch their coverage while these laws are on the books.

    I was shocked that Russia would enact this kind of b.s. while attempting to convince the world of its advancements in the 21st century. Talk about undermining their own message.

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