Vladimir_Putin_12020

Russia, LGBT Rights, The NHL, and the 2014 Sochi Games

With the NHL season still about two months away from starting in earnest, and the the Olympics in Sochi still six months away, here in the down-iest of summer down time feels like a good enough time for this subject to be addressed now that the dust has settled from the release of the national team roster invite lists. It’s been bubbling under the surface for a while, and is only sure to boil over as time inches closer to the opening ceremonies, and that’s Russia’s flagrant LGBT rights violations, and how it’s going to affect the NHL’s participation in the Sochi games.

To say Russia has had an uneasy relationship with good taste of late would be putting it mildly. From the Pussy Riot imprisonment, to giving Edward Snowden political asylum, and now their revolting codified anti-LGBT stance, it hasn’t been a good PR year for them.  But for the purposes of this discussion, the long and the short of it is that Russia reserves the right to imprison anyone speaking out in favor of LGBT rights, which has had the effect of emboldening hate groups in the country.

What makes this situation unique as compared to the generally agreed upon human rights issues in China and their hosting of an Olympic games in 2008 in Beijing is that for the first time a marquee sport is directly affiliated with a LGBT rights group, after the NHL and Patrick Burke’s You Can Play officially partnered earlier this year , and flies directly in the face of this very high profile Russian law.

The question then becomes what the NHL is to do about this conundrum. While one school of thought is that a sporting event of this magnitude isn’t a place for “political agendas” to be pushed, the other, correct side of the issue is that equal treatment for all isn’t a “political agenda”. Furthermore, the marginalization of any one group is in direct opposition of the Olympics’ stated core values of equality, camaraderie, and sportsmanship (oh, and making money for its chairpeople while leaving host cities broke as shit).

A wide-scale boycott of the games isn’t going to happen. The players as a whole fought very hard for the privilege of Olympic participation, and they generally revere representing their country on the international stage with the highest regard, and some meatballs would say more so than for the teams that actually pay them, especially those sneaky, soft Europeans. But it would not be shocking, however unlikely it might be, to see an individual athlete forgo a spot on his national team in light of these developments.

Another option is to attend the games, and proudly don You Can Play shirts and hats in post game locker room interviews, or even go so far as to go out of the way to mention how reprehensible the treatment of the LGBT community in Russia is at the risk of being arrested. It would certainly be refreshing to see people of influence actually risk sticking their necks out to an unreceptive audience, and would separate those on YCP’s roster who actually believe in the cause from those in it for the public relations.  But asking anyone to sit in a jail cell in a (likely) foreign land is a tall order for a follower of any cause, and certainly isn’t what the YCP rank-and-file likely signed up for.

The third, and sadly most likely outcome is that of grit teeth and bearing it for the two weeks in Russia. There will not be any questions asked of the matter during the games, lest an intrepid reporter risk imprisonment his or herself, and even should questions arise upon a return to business in the NHL, the LGBT demographic might not be large enough to make the league and its players answer for their hypocrisy and tacit approval of Russia’s policies.

Partnering with You Can Play has now put the NHL in a virtually no-win situation thanks to Russia’s backwater, bigoted laws, and unfortunately, how this is handled may derail the efforts You Can Play has made and cause the NHL to peel back a little. And as a reprecussion, it might also cause the league to become a little gun shy in future philanthropic initiatives, even ones as obvious and correct as this one. Either way, this situation needs to be handled delicately in order for the league and its players to come out of it with positive opinions from the general public, but based on their PR track record, it seems unfortunately unlikely.  Let’s all hope we’re proven wrong.

  • Joe DeTolve

    The term “International Incident” comes to mind and with hockey players in Russia you probably arnt too far away from many of those once the sun goes down and vodka is acquired. Nothing would make me happier than to see both Hockey Canada and USA Hockey and whatever country would like to join, incorporate their gear with “YCP” Judging from the asinine ways of the IIHF and the IOC and their stance on uniforms this would probably be difficult (USA can’t wear their cursive script, because its technically the logo for an organization or something) Also remember the Ryan Miller mask’s shenanigans. Bring on the Sharpies and white stick tape!

    • ExOnMS

      Every time I see your name I think of Crazy Joe Davola.

      • Joe DeTolve

        Ha! My nickname from my Fiance’s father.

    • DJ

      The US can’t wear the “USA” logo suggesting the stripes on the flag, because it’s the logo of USA Hockey. The Olympic rule prohibits the wearing of national federation logos during the Olympics (remember how the US women’s soccer team wore jerseys without a logo in London).

      • Joe DeTolve

        I knew it was something like that and yes I remember this now. the 2010 sweaters were awesome but for some reason I love that cursive..

  • MattC86

    Good summary and good points. This makes me so incredibly angry, but as you well pointed out, it’s not like the IOC is actually about anything other than the IOC and gettin’ paid. I wish there was an out NHL player who could parade around after winning gold with his country’s flag on one shoulder and the rainbow flag on the other, but I’ll have to settle for something less than my own gayed-out version of the Black Power salute.

    I just ask that we don’t lose sight of the real victims here. Even if the French or Japanese team was replaced by a gay hockey association team in drag, no player or tourist is going to go to jail or be accosted by the Russian government (though what some hate group might do is another issue altogether). They wouldn’t dare. But the very fact that the IOC and other bodies have the assurances of the Russian government that no LGBT athlete or spectator will be subject to the law is proof-motherfucking-positive that the laws are a flagrant fucking violation of human rights. And LGBT activists, who will undoubtedly stage protests in Russia during the Olympics, will continue to be cracked down upon.

    If all the talk of rainbow stickers on helmets or You Can Play shirts for everybody or whatever all fizzles out because that overcompensating third-rate piece of shit tyrant Putin promises no foreign LGBT people will be subject, that would be a real fucking shame, and reveal a pathetic hollowness to what the league and many of these individuals claim to stand for.

    • DesertHawk

      I think it’s really unfair to say that someone’s position is hollow because they may not be willing to end up in a Russian prison for openly advocating that position, especially from the safety of our relatively open and accepting society.

      • MattC86

        I think if nobody does anything it will be very weak because they’re not going to end up in jail. The Russians will not jail an Olympian for saying something about Russia’s treatment of LGBT people.

        • DesertHawk

          I think it’s really easy to say that, when there’s 0% risk of us being the ones who end up in jail. Fear is a real motivator/demotivator and fear of an outcome, doesn’t mean that your beliefs aren’t true. Russia has been a bit nutso lately, and while I wouldn’t expect them to jail an Olympian, I’d never say it was guaranteed not to happen.

          • birdhead

            On the other hand, there are some openly gay Olympians out there who could probably use some solidarity. I agree with you that it’s foolish to assume Russia is kidding – especially with the IOC saying that they may sanction Olympians who make any kind of political statement – but I also think that if, say, half of Team USA wears a rainbow pin, they probably are not going to be arrested. On the other hand, if gay Olympians are left alone out there, they very well might be.

          • DesertHawk

            I’m not saying the athletes shouldn’t do anything, I’d like to think I’d have the stones to stand up and do what’s right. All I’m saying is you can’t disparage someone’s belief in something just because they’re aren’t willing to take a risk that you think is negligible, from the safety of your home. I’m a fairly devout Christian, and if put in a position where claiming my faith could mean my life, I should say that I am and suffer the consequences. Whether I’d actually be able to do that, doesn’t have any bearing on my belief.

          • 10thMountainFire

            This. Upboated this.

        • 10thMountainFire

          Agree. They’ll just toss more Russian LGBT in jail.

      • 10thMountainFire

        For me, the Western athletes’ statement, whether in the form of a symbolic or verbal protest, would be speaking for those who ARE imprisoned and tortured in Russia for being homosexuals. So in that regard, it takes some fuckin personal courage… something you and I have watched untold men and women exhibit in uniform. And seeing it as a soldier has often almost brought me to tears. One gesture could really touch the world on the subject. That’s when people make history… history is doing the hard thing when it’s inconvenient. Again, you and I know better soldiers than we who have given that measure for us.

    • 10thMountainFire

      From my point-of-view way over here, the Russian LGBT community has no voice… and that’s why it’s important for those that support their basic rights as human beings to use our voices for them. I agree 100% with your post… symbolic gestures do not solve the problem and more Russians may end up imprisoned, tortured, or killed as a result of the gestures. For me, though, the fight is always worth it when you’re speaking about the rights of human beings to be free from oppression on the basis of who they are.

  • 334Rules

    I have a Kaner Team USA sweater. I may have to afix a rainbow flag to it and wear it throughout the Games. A admittedly hollow gesture, to be sure, but perhaps it will help me to feel like less of a tool while watching (and of course I’ll be watching) the Games.

    • AirTrafficAJ

      That’s a great idea.

  • krome

    Perhaps the ‘best’ (practical) statement is along the lines of Jesse Ownes and the ‘Hilter Games’ in Germany before WW II.
    The NHL has made its position pretty clear. Now go and play the games (and excel) without engaging openly on the issue.
    The fact that orientation is not obvious in the way that race is makes it less compeling, but I think the route is still a valid one.
    When the press starts with the inevitable questions, the players can say that “the league seems to have adopted a pretty clear position on this…and nothing more needs to be said”. Those in free countries can do the research and see the league’s stance. Those in non-free countries are pretty much screwed no matter what the players do or don’t do – and anything the players do likely hurts the locals they are hoping to support (and probably does them no good). It is easy for us here in free countries to be ‘in your face’ about whatever issues we wish – but we need to be careful about being Western open when not in Western countires so as not to get the similarly minded in non-free coutries hurt (or killed).

    • Z-man19

      So kinda like how no one said shit to Hitler in 1936 and ten years later some 7 million people were buried or turned to ash for no other reason than they weren’t equal to the rest of us? Yes, we should all keep our mouths shut lest someone get injured.

      • 10thMountainFire

        I love you.

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        Double that number…. Nazi atrocities on the Eastern Front are not so well documented.

      • krome

        This may well be a matter of getting them certainly hurt/killed now, or risking hurt/kills later.
        What does the gay community in Russia want done? They’re the ones who suffer (currently, sooner and/or later).
        I don’t think we should be choosing for them.

        • Z-man19

          I don’t want to speak for anyone, but I’d rather die because someone spoke up than because no one did. If no one speaks now, when is the right time? Wait til the appropriate number of people have been arrested, beat up, or killed? What is that number? Do you think if no one says anything, the problem will just solve itself?

          • krome

            I don’t know that number, or what the Russians who’d be getting hurt/killed think about it. I think we ought to know that before we start getting them hurt/killed.

  • StealingHappyHour

    I’d imagine a sweet movie could be made if the CIA somehow recruited Patrick Kane to be a secret agent in Sochi.
    Mission 1: Win the Gold Medal
    Mission 2: Capture Snowden

    • Jeff Lebowski

      Mission 3: Make Out With Putin

      • chidiver

        Correction…make out with Putin’s wife and girlfriend..at the same time.

        • Jeff Lebowski

          …and then Putin swoops in and picks up Kaner, placing him side-saddle on his horse as they ride off into the mountains for a totally not homoerotic camping trip.

          http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/11/02/putin_horse-a5750e2a0a256620d3a9f62497b06c9a98cf1bc9.jpg

          • 10thMountainFire

            Anyone else notice how absolutely fuckin miserable that horse appears to be with Putin on his back?

          • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

            Whinny… “Started out as a boil on my back, doc.” // Whinny.

          • Fleshrifle

            Vladimir saved my family from a rogue Siberian tiger by bitch slapping the tiger until it asked for mercy. And then he threw the Tiger over his shoulder, took off in his Mig29 to go make out with several Russian hotties. I said thanks and raised my rainbow flag after he left (out of fear of what he would think)

            -VVVD – “Vat Vould Vlad Do?” Kick Ass, Take Names and Repress Everyone Else (incl. most of my friends and neighbors here in San Francisco)

        • StealingHappyHour

          Putin’s wife is hideously ugly, so she’s perfect for Kane.

  • marchfirst

    How does granting asylum to a whistlblower in fear for his life equal open hatred of the GLBT community ?

    • http://www.thecommittedindian.com/ Matt McClure

      Just saying that they haven’t been strangers to international controversy of late. Apologies if that was a vague equivocation of a value judgement on both actions.

      • 10thMountainFire

        As someone who fucking goddamn hates Snowden, I saw where you were coming from. Very clearly.

      • Why

        Always a tough one for anyone writing. You want to get across that you’re aware of the other controversies Russia’s been involved in but it’s not the thrust of the article. I will say I’m with XMF on this one (it seemed pretty clear you were saying “these are three controversies Russia’s been involved in” and not “these are three equally repugnant actions Russia has taken.”) but kudos to you for clarifying.

    • 10thMountainFire

      1. Snowden is not a whistleblower. He’s a leaker. There’s a difference.
      2. Snowden only ‘feared for his life’ insofar as he’s watched entirely too many Bourne films. The US would have forced him to stand trial just like Manning.

      He wasn’t ‘granted asylum’ so much as he was welcomed as an asset by the Kremlin. With open arms and wide grins.

      Yeah, yeah I know. I’ll fucking stop.

      • cliffkoroll

        How about Daniel Ellsberg?

        • 10thMountainFire

          With all due respect, most Americans with an opinion on this issue are misinformed.

          Snowden has lied to the entire American public and is a massive hypocrite. Yesterday he chastised the NY Times for ‘failing to challenge the government during the Iraq invasion’. He chastised the newspaper company from a microphone at a Russian state-controlled media station with asylum granted by a man that has killed journalists for disagreements. You’re backing the wrong horse in Snowden. He’s a high school drop-out and an Army wash-out that has fed America a wheelbarrow of bullshit.

          I know we’re going to get told to halt it right here so I’ll just stop.

          • cliffkoroll

            His past is…checkered to be sure, but this misses the point.

            What’s wrong with chastising the NY Times? I was in the minority of Americans who thought, yellow cake or not, that invading Iraq was a bad idea. Isn’t this what set Obama apart from his Democratic rivals?

            Anyway, Ellsberg (and Jimmy Carter) both stand behind Snowden, but for most liberals, real civil liberties aren’t on the radar, which is all taken up with group rights. Oh well.

          • 10thMountainFire

            For the sake of clarity, I was a grad student at the time and I opposed the invasion of Iraq as well.

            But I don’t buy the liberal-conservative paradigm. It’s been used to divide us up into more easily targetable markets for politicians and lobbyists. Too many people, like myself, hold disparate views that occupy both sides of that ‘spectrum’. Socially, I don’t get involved in anyone’s life politically. On issues of foreign policy, I’m a traditional ‘Realist’; I favor pragmatism in our policies towards our interests in the international system, I don’t believe in promoting democracy with force, and I believe states around the world essentially act in their own self-interests and their behavior is predictable… and balance of power as well.

            But that leaves me alone on both ‘sides’. So I just live, you know?

      • Why

        He’s a whistleblower and a leaker. For a guy who likes to say “Nuance is not your enemy”, it sure seems like nuance is your enemy in this case.

        • 10thMountainFire

          Donnie, you’re out of your element.

          • Why

            Movie quotes aside, Snowden was going to be put on trial in the United States. And he was likely going to lose. Russia offered him a place where he wouldn’t go to jail and now he’s spouting the party line. He’s a “whistleblower” (because no one would have any clue about the NSA spying programs without him) and a “leaker.” The fact that you really like a movie that came out in 1998 doesn’t change that.

          • 10thMountainFire

            You’re incorrect.

  • Daze55
    • birdhead

      jesus, he’s changed his tune. I am also impressed by the change.

      • Fleshrifle

        It would be awesome if he’d win the Gold and skate around with an Olympic flag and a Rainbow flag.

    • girlphoenix

      what i really learned from that article: wow am i reeeealllllly behind in my figure skating fandom. johnny weir got married?

  • cdz3210

    As repulsed by it as I am, it is their law. Every individual invited to Sochi needs to accept it. If they feel that strongly about it, they can stay at home. The same goes for people here, I’m sure some of the people posting here will boycott viewing any Olympic coverage because of this ridiculous law.

    • 10thMountainFire

      Actually, no they don’t.

      Each country is there as a guest for The Games. Any country can decide (as many, including the US have intimated) that this is unacceptable.

      I believe there will be something short of a boycott but loud enough to ring in Putin’s ears (and that of the Russian people) for quite a while. I’m looking forward to it.

      • cdz3210

        It’s more reality than cop-out. I doubt Putin really cares about what the western world thinks of him and his government and I’m pretty sure that a high majority of the Russian people will even be aware of the controversy. My guess is that Putin pays lip service and give some empty promises to appease the critics. Once the games end, it’ll be back to business as usual. (This worked great for the Chinese in 2008)

        • 10thMountainFire

          Putin will start caring when he starts losing support in the UN at future Security Council sessions where he requests votes to affirm his right to do dirty work in places like Dagestan to ‘root out terrorists’.

          • cdz3210

            In order to keep those votes, I think all that Putin needs to do is remind the Security Council that Dagestan and Checnya are home to some extreme Muslim groups and that Dagestan is the probable training ground for one of the Tsarnaev brothers. (aka the Boston Marathon Bombers) All I hope for is that the government and people of Russia realize how unjust their treatment of the LGBT community is and they decide to rescind their law.

          • Why

            Isn’t the larger problem that Russia has no tradition of actual free speech? I’d be willing to bet that various other forms of “propaganda” (otherwise known as political dissent) is treated very harshly even though I may be misinformed. The Pussy Riot jailings are a pretty good example.

          • 10thMountainFire

            The geo-strategic value of Russia’s ability to project its power in the form of military action and diplomatic pressure on its near-abroad is its most effective means of resuscitating its ambitions to be a global power. This speaks to Putin’s history of using natural resources (natural gas and oil in the case of Europe) as a weapon against certain regions and military power (in the case of Georgia) in others.

            In Russia, nationalism is the flavor of politics. The codification of anti-homosexual feelings essentially justifies these hyper-nationalist groups in targeting innocent homosexual Russians. That’s why many sports fans (such as many of us here) believe some sort of gesture in solidarity towards that oppressed community is essential at The Olympic Games.

  • Adam

    Why is it assumed that all players agree with LGBT or the position that the NHL has taken?

    • FakeASeizure

      I seriously doubt anyone is assuming that, but those players and organizations who have made a public showing of their support for the LGBT community should own up in some fashion or another.

    • MySpoonIsTooBig

      No one is saying that all players agree with anything. However, there are two conclusion that any reasonable observer can draw.

      1: Any player that has willingly appeared in a You Can Play PSA, particularly the ones that did so when You Can Play was just getting off the ground, probably supports the message of equality that You Can Play espouses. This group includes a lot of current NHL athletes from multiple countries, many of whom will represent their countries in Sochi.
      2: The fact that the You Can Play initiative entered an official partnership with the NHLPA likely means that a significant portion of the PA’s membership supports equality. This doesn’t mean that everyone’s on board, but the partnership doesn’t form without support from a large swath of the union.

      • Why

        Interesting. The main message I got from “You Can Play” was that players should be judged by what they do on the ice not who they fuck. I’m just not sure you can say agreement with that position means that players necessarily support any other LGBT position.

        • Z-man19

          What other LGBT position is there? Who they fuck is the issue, is it not?

          • Why

            For starters, “marriage equality” isn’t necessarily included in that statement.

          • birdhead

            marriage equality (and YCP’s pathetic refusal to take a stance on it, because of course it doesn’t at all affect my working environment if my coworkers don’t think I should be allowed to get married, just so long as they don’t call me a dyke while they’re explaining that) isn’t at issue though, it is literally the acceptance that it doesn’t matter who you fuck. Saying “it doesn’t matter who you fuck” is explicitly counter to the Russian laws in question. so you can take it that people who broadly support YCP would implicitly oppose the Russian legislation although, of course, that doesn’t mean they’re interested in doing something about it.

          • Why

            That’s the weird thing. I know people that are flat out against public displays of affection but don’t care who you fuck in your bedroom. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but trying to extrapolate core beliefs based on one opinion is usually a fool’s errand.

          • birdhead

            The law imposes significant fines of up to $31,000 for providing information about the LGBT community to minors, holding gay pride events, speaking in defense of gay rights, or equating gay and heterosexual relationships.

            (source, emphasis mine). (ETA: I just read the rest of the post at the source which I recommend you don’t do if you don’t like graphic details about horrible hate crimes. yuck.)

            So, specifically, this law bans saying things like “it’s OK to be gay” or “people in same-sex relationships can be just as good at hockey as people in opposite-sex relationships”, because that is equating same-sex and different-sex relationships. In other words, it explicitly bans activity of the sort YCP has engaged in – I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that YCP promotes the gay community to minors, since part of the point of YCP is to encourage young gay athletes to not quit on their sport. (NHL athletes who support YCP have also marched in pride parades.)

            If you’re against same-sex PDA but not against different-sex PDA, you probably do care what happens in people’s bedrooms, you just don’t want to admit it. (You-general, not you-you.) There are many people who claim to be OK with gay people as long as “it’s not shoved in my face”, and perhaps some of them have participated in YCP PSAs, but it seems unlikely to me because “don’t shove it in my face [by talking about your family or your identity]” is actually an inherently anti-gay position and I have trouble believing that those people are lining up to give pro-queer PSAs. In any case, it’s immaterial, because the Russian laws in question appear to be (I don’t speak Russian!) significantly more wide-ranging.

          • Why

            First, thanks for the quick research. I actually am interested in this and even that little bit of further clarification was cool.

            With regards to your last paragraph, I’m not sure that whether “it’s an inherently anti-gay” position matters. Fundamentally, YCP managed to avoid nearly all political backlash by sticking to a core belief that nearly everyone had no problem getting behind. You’re asking them to take a slightly more controversial position and it’s only natural that you gain some support among the base and lose some support among neutrals when that happens. The funny thing to me is that “If you can play, you can play” isn’t pro-queer as much is it is pro-hockey. If you love the game, you’re going to want the best players possible playing it, even if you fundamentally hate who they are as a person.

            And I’m not sure that “it’s ok to be gay” or “men who have sex with men can be just as good at hockey as men who have sex with women” meets the definition you describe above (unless a minor hears it). Russia can always go nuts and start jailing people that aren’t clearly breaking the law (or the translation may make prohibited behaviour larger) but the law doesn’t seem to go that far.

          • birdhead

            You’re asking them to take a slightly more controversial position and
            it’s only natural that you gain some support among the base and lose
            some support among neutrals when that happens.

            Oh – actually I haven’t advocated for that. (I’m not sure what is the best thing to do for gay people in Russia, gay athletes, Olympians, etc. In fact, I am sort of paralysed by uncertainty. I try to take my cue from the people most affected but there are widely diverging views coming out of Russian queer groups about the appropriate responses so … paralysis.) What I’ve been trying to respond to is your suggestion that, even if we can assume that a majority if not most NHL players basically support YCP, we can’t assume that they would oppose this specific law (in principle, I mean, not in action). I think there is a pretty strong indication that supporting YCP does mean a kind of basic level of support for the existence of gay people. “If you can play, you can play” is the catchphrase, but what YCP actually asks people to do is to accept gay team mates – to accept that they have a right to play and not to be hassled for their sexuality. That’s a statement in favour of gay rights – the right to participate in social activities without being discriminated against.

            It’s certainly possible that a lawyer could wiggle out of the idea but I would say that YCP is undeniably against the spirit of the law.

          • birdhead

            although I should add at this juncture that I am 1000% sure that there are athletes who fully support YCP and even marriage equality who are utterly uninterested in making any kind of statement in Sochi. YCP itself, by the way, has already taken a position on the laws, which is pretty thoroughly “against”, although also against a boycott (no shock there considering the source).

          • Why

            Absolutely. But you’re still arguing that it’s “implicit” that people that support YCP would be against this type of law (or for marriage equality, etc.). What I’m trying to tell you is that with regards to moral beliefs, it’s foolish to start assuming what else a person believes based on one position. It’s the same sort of thinking that results in longish posts about how pro-abortion rights people should also condone baby killing and anti-abortion rights people are only concerned with keeping mother’s in poverty. What you find implicit isn’t always what other people find implicit.

          • birdhead

            Supporting the work of YCP is explicitly supporting gay rights (and since YCP opposes this law supporting YCP is explicitly opposing the law but that position is new). I suppose you can explicitly support gay rights while also thinking it’s OK to legislate to prevent people supporting gay rights but I think that is quite a stretch.

          • Why

            I just don’t think people break down that easily into teams (pro-gay rights v. anti-gay rights). To give an extreme example, “should gays be accepted in hockey?” is an entirely different question than “should 12 year olds be taught about gay sex?” To give a different example, I think it’s entirely possible to support same sex marriage without believing that marriage commissioners who have religious objections should be forced to perform the ceremony.

            You’re conflating two different “gay rights” and I think that’s an error. You figure I’m stretching. Fair enough.

          • birdhead

            Yes, but “should gays be accepted in hockey without harrassment” is still a question of gay rights. The law doesn’t ban the promotion of only certain gay rights; it bans the promotion of *all gay rights*. From marriage equality to professional hockey.

          • Why

            Ok, I didn’t realize you’d taken that sentence literally (or have read something that I haven’t).

            Here’s a bet for you (and I’ll admit my ignorance of the Russian language going in): Your second sentence is wrong. I’d be willing to wager that the Russian law doesn’t ban a group from saying “Gay guys shouldn’t be sodomized with beer bottles and beaten to death just for being gay.”

            You posted an editorial. I’m not knocking you, I’m just noting what we’re dealing with. Let’s be clear, a law that says “Gays cannot campaign for marriage equality but can campaign against violence against gays” would catch people who are defending gay rights (as the author of your post puts it).

            If I’m missing another link, please let me know.

          • birdhead

            Here’s a couple via NYT:

            Gay rights advocates disagree, saying the law is vague and can be used
            to arrest anyone who appears to support gay rights.

            And McClure linked to ThinkProgress:

            The law essentially bans any display that promotes or acceptingly
            acknowledges the existence of homosexuality; imposing a sort of “Don’t
            Ask, Don’t Tell” policy upon the entire country.

            Let’s be clear: gay rights activists in Russia are not preoccupied with marriage equality the way that Western gay rights activists are. When Russian gay rights advocates say the law can be used against people who support gay rights, they do mean things like the right to be protected from violence, the right to not be fired because of your sexuality. same-sex marriage does not appear on this list of campaigns by a Russian LGBT organisation, for example.

            If I can summarise your argument, you speculate that the law doesn’t affect the negative rights of gay people (i.e. the right to not be beaten to death) but only affects people who wish to promote positive rights (the right to participation in sports, the right to say that being gay is normal). But YCP promotes positive rights. It’s not “you can play (if you’re closeted)”; it’s “you can play (and be out)”.

            Do you think YCP’s message and activities would be illegal in Russia under this law? You seem to be saying that you don’t.

          • Why

            That’s a weird formulation of negative and positive rights (generally speaking, the right to free speech is positioned as a negative right by people that use that language, the right to be free from hate speech a positive right ) but I’ll play along.

            The list you link to is as vague as the law. You’re right that marriage equality doesn’t appear on the list. Neither does the right not to be fired because of your sexuality. It’s a Rorschach test filled with buzz words, not an actual list of goals.

            As for ThinkProgress, I’m going to need them to show their work if that wasn’t an attempt at a metaphor.

            My position above is merely that I’d be surprised if the law bans any defence of gay rights. My guess is that it bans certain positions from being taken. Negative and positive rights don’t figure into the discussion at all, unless you want to use the inherent difficulty in placing rights into those categories to call everything that the law denies a “positive right” and everything that the law still allows a “negative right”. It’s a useful rhetorical trick that many groups have had success with in the past.

            And I’m not sure that the “You Can Play” campaign itself would be illegal under the Russian law, although other activities of the organization might be. Unfortunately, like nearly every speech law I’ve ever seen, this one appears exceedingly vague and its nearly impossible to determine what activities would actually be prosecuted.

          • birdhead

            The formulation is probably odd because I don’t really believe in the concept of negative or positive rights but hey. So essentially what you’re saying is: “I don’t really believe that the law Russia passed could be as punitive as Russian gay rights activists say it is. Instead, I’m going to assert with little or no evidence that when it says that it has banned the promotion of gay rights it doesn’t mean the right to freedom from violence or the right to participate in sports while openly gay, but it probably does mean the right to marriage equality.”

            I don’t really see how “bans any display that promotes or acceptingly acknowledges the existence of homosexuality” is a metaphor, by the way. That seems fairly literal to me.

          • Why

            Whoa there. No one has any evidence on how the law will be enforced. That’s why the gay activists say the law is vague and cite behaviours it might ban. I’m not alone on speculating this one. For instance, a poster above stated that the law would ban any promotion of gay rights, despite the fact that there is no evidence that such a situation is the case. That poster was you. I suppose I could go on a long rant about what you’re basically saying, but I tend to prefer to talk to the people who are talking to me and not the invisible people who say other things and are easier to win arguments against.

            The metaphor was the “don’t ask, don’t tell” portion but if you’re looking at the next quote, you (intentionally?) missed the a pretty crucial modifier before starting your quote. “Essentially” generally means “don’t take the next thing I say literally.”

          • 10thMountainFire

            You seem to be going a long way towards mitigating criticism of the Russian government passing these laws. Why is it that you believe somehow the rest of us are misinterpreting their intent or the motivations behind the laws?

          • Why

            I believe people, and especially politically people, tend to overstate the “evilness” of people they disagree with. I believe that people will generally still come to the conclusion that Russia’s laws are shitty without anyone having to resort to hyperbole and speculation to describe the laws. And I believe that a lot of people see “repression of gay rights” as an important cause, so important that they’ll believe or spout virtually any position without taking a moment to examine if they believe the things they are saying are true. After all, they’ve got an important cause to protect.

            I don’t see any evidence of some of the claims some people are making about these shitty laws. I think the laws are pretty much in line with Russia’s attitude towards political dissent. And I’m a little flummoxed that people don’t seem to have a real problem with the fact that Russians can’t speak their minds (“Meh”) until Russian gays can’t speak their minds (“WE SHOULD BOYCOTT”).

          • 10thMountainFire

            Some of us have extensive study of foreign policy, specifically with regard to Russian comparative government and security policy and our ‘opinions’ are less opinions and more analysis of policy and the impact of those Russian policies on US interests.

            Additionally, some of us see the targeting of minorities in Russia as indicative of an effort to create a political support mechanism based on nationalism and the marginalization of non-Russians.

            Further, some people are homosexual in the United States and have worked hard towards equality here… believing that they owe the same dedication to those suffering in other countries.

            Not all of us are just opinions on the internet.

          • Why

            Look man, if you want to pull rank, I’m going to need to see a CV. And it’s really cool that you think “analysis” and “opinions” are different.

            And yes, the Russian government is attempting to marginalize people that disagree with them. That’s not new. The extreme tactics? That’s also not new. Especially in Russia. They (the politicians there) don’t like actual free speech, same as most politicians. Luckily for Russian politicians, Russia has never really valued free speech.

            And congratulations on working hard in the United States. However, if you only care about basic principles when the people that need them fall into one of the groups you deem important, I tend to think your principles are a little fucked.

          • 10thMountainFire

            1. I’m not showing you a CV. Yes, analysis and opinions are different. If you have no academic study of Russian Comparative politics/security, US foreign policy and national security, or international relations more generally, why are you bitching at me? That’s why yours is an opinion; it’s not academically-accredited work that postures as analysis. That’s not ‘pulling rank’. It’s stating that when someone becomes a codified expert in a certain field it’s because of dedicated study and academic acceptance of the person as an expert in his/her field. Don’t get butt-hurt because you’re not an expert on this subject unless you are. I don’t argue with high school teachers or administrators about secondary education because I’m not a secondary educator.

            2. If you’re not going to take my word for it, that’s fine. I was illustrating the point that some of us are speaking on this subject for a number of different reasons that don’t include ‘I’m on the internet and I have an opinion on this news story’. If you missed that part, re-read my post where I lay out where some of us are coming from here.

            Your comments on ‘Russian politics’ are cute. And so simpleminded that it almost appears as if you wrote them in crayon. ‘…Russia has never really valued free speech…’ So you’ve polled all Russians, ever? Because I’m pretty sure Pussy Riot supporters would disagree with you. My position, aside from the homosexuals that are being unfairly targeted with yes, ‘draconian’ laws, is that this is a campaign to inspire a nationalism in Russia that will spark support for Putin’s effort to resuscitate Russian imperial ambitions, assert control over the foreign and domestic policies of its near-abroad, and flex its geo-political muscle in the face of an enlarged NATO membership to include some of those former near-abroad. It’s a complex topic I’ve spent a good part of my life researching and studying in academic institutions. I’m sorry if you’re upset that you’re not as accredited in this field as you would prefer in order to win the argument. I have studied and continue to study international relations and national security and foreign policy. I have spent a significant amount of time on Russia, Eastern Europe, the former Russian near-abroad, post-Soviet Russian security policy, and development of regions from Latin America to Africa and Southeast Asia. That’s as good as you’re going to get from me on the CV demand.

            And if you think my principles are fucked, that’s your opinion. But I also don’t give a fuck what you think of my principles. I’ve earned the right to maintain them without your permission.

          • Why

            1. I’m doubting your posts in this forum are “academically accredited.” Come to think of it, academic peer review of political posts on hockey blogs tends to be shoddy in general. I am also not recognizing you as “codified expert” until you can show me what code says you are an expert and that you qualify. Although on second thought, maybe I should. I’m a doctor and have decided you are insane. Don’t ask me to prove it to you, just accept it.

            2. “Other people have different experiences than you” does not equal “you should not express an opinion.”

            3. (2 continued?, whatever you get the point). You have correctly deduced that I have not polled all Russians ever. I did notice that the members of Pussy Riot went to jail for a protest. I’ve also noticed that Russian laws tend to provide harsher punishments for political dissonance than most Western Countries. And there was that Stalin thing. I hope you’ll excuse the broad strokes. If your point is that I should not say anything about Russia’s general lack of protection of free speech unless I can show that every Russian agrees that the lack of protection is a good thing, I disagree. In fact, I’ll say it again Russia does not protect political dissent and that is not new.

            4. That thing I wrote above is my opinion (or if you would prefer “analysis”. After all, I have extensive experience in studying human behaviour). I never claimed it was your opinion. That would be silly of me.

          • 10thMountainFire

            I just listed in general terms what my academic background is. I’m not going to send you a goddamn CV just to sate your appetite to know where I have attended graduate school and where I am now.

            We’re totally off-topic now. But I noticed you’re pretty argumentative on this topic with a few others here.

            Frankly, our personal exchange has exhausted my entire interest in continuing to assert that many of us feel the IOC is being unprofessional about this issue and Sochi. I’ll just end my participation here.

          • Why

            You believe I’m being argumentative? I’m not denying that but have you ever heard the phrase “pot meet kettle?”

            It’s also great that you’ve exhausted your interest in continuing to assert that thing you just continued to assert. That’s very difficult to do. However, as a doctor I must advise you to get some sleep.

            And yes, if your claim is that I shouldn’t disagree with you because of your qualifications, I need to see those qualifications. On an unrelated note, I also doubt whether there is any qualification that allows you to conclusively determine whether Putin hates gays, is misguided, or is planning another step on his quest to repatriate Eastern Europe. If I were you though, I would not take that doubt seriously because I will note that I have not studied academic accreditation at a university. Maybe “Peering into People’s Souls and Divining Their True Intentions” is part of the general curriculum now.

          • birdhead

            I’m sorry to keep having to ascribe what you feel are straw men to your position but it’s very difficult for me to do otherwise since I have no idea, and have not for some time, what you’re actually getting at. That is why I have tried to summarise your arguments, in the hope that you would clarify them. Instead we seem to have become bogged down into speculation about something neither of us is qualified to speculate about (what the law says and how it is likely to be applied), which I ought not have started to do and will now give up. I am sure the law is exactly as precise or vague as it needs to be in order to be convenient to legislators and law enforcement.

          • Why

            It’s relatively simple for me. If we’re going to talk about the law, we should acknowledge what the law does and doesn’t do. As bad as the law is (as I understand it), I think it would be pretty surprising if the law banned any promotion of any rights for gays. In order to make that point, I’ve listed some things that it might ban versus things that it might not. I’ve always noted that I’m not sure what the law bans and I’m merely guessing. I’m not driving at anything more complicated than that. I hope that clarifies my position.

            The larger discussion, as I understood it, was whether people involved in the YCP movement would dislike this law (or more generally, would support other LGBT movements). As part of the larger discussion, we discussed the actual effects of the law, to the best of our knowledge. I didn’t find your position that confusing, I merely thought you and some of the people you were linking to were saying things about the law that weren’t necessarily true.

    • Bullitt315

      Russia is an evil country because they won’t let people speak their minds about homosexuality and will put them in jail. Of course, in America if you speak your mind about homosexuality and it isn’t in lock step with the progressive view of it, you’ll end up in sensitivity training or lose your job. To progressives, tolerance means “Accept everything I have to say and if you disagree with me you’re a bigot” without any sense of irony.

      • birdhead

        gosh I’m so sorry your workplace doesn’t believe harassing coworkers about their personal life is OK, that must be really hard for you

        • Bullitt315

          Straw man

          • birdhead

            bullshit it’s a straw man. sensitivity training? lose your job? that shit is expensive for any organisation and they don’t pay for it because you’re heroically standing up against modern groupthink, it happens to you because you’re an asshole and a dinosaur who thinks it’s OK to take your ~opinions about ~homosexuality and make life unpleasant for people around you. That is to say, organisations only do it when it’s more expensive for them not to – because they don’t want to lose other employees. Please, if that’s a straw man, go ahead and describe for me the situations in which you or people you actually know have been fired or forced, screaming and desperate, into the terrible, terrible brainwashing and torture that is sensitivity training (in order to, presumably, locate your or their empathy muscle and attempt to develop it).

            (Meanwhile, there are plenty of US states in which you actually can be fired for being gay or trans. Damn that modern groupthink.)

  • cliffkoroll

    Possibility four: the agenda of the typical NHL player bears no resemblance to that of the New York Times.

    • Why

      Are you suggesting that the main goal of Canadian hockey players during the Olympics will be to win a gold medal and not to change Russian laws? For shame sir, for shame.

  • 10thMountainFire

    I went to war with homosexual soldiers. They put it on the line for this country in some of the most extreme combat one can imagine in recent decades. I watched valor and heroism that a few homosexual soldiers exhibited for our country. So, for me, courage required in Sochi pales in comparison. But…

    I hope some gay American and Canadian athletes can summon some of that courage to make a statement of some kind that rattles the cage of the policymakers in Moscow… so that the draconian (not even a sufficient word) tactics used against homosexuals in Russia recently can be effectively eliminated by pressuring other countries to demonstrate their opposition to these policies on the world stage. Because by sitting by so idly and copping out with ‘well, Russia has a right to do what they want…’ is complete bullshit. If you are one of those that propose not making waves, you should understand that there are lives at stake in Russia at the moment. It takes one man or woman with balls and guts to stand up and do/say something… likeminded people will follow a true leader.

    ‘Evil prevails when good men do nothing.’ -Edmund Burke

    • cliffkoroll

      I’ma say for sheer over-the-top hyperbole “draconian (not even a sufficient word)”, by virtue of its pithiness, wins out over McClure’s more verbose effort. Many worthy entries though.

      • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

        Over-the-top hyperbole? Holy. That’s the most excessive kind.

        But also, draconian doesn’t only mean Draconian.

        • cliffkoroll

          If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times: don’t exaggerate!

          Seriously, you’re going with the “I’m referring to the definition of draconian associated with the time-out my parents gave me, not, you know, the code that called for capital punishment for petty offenses. By that standard, this is much worse” argument?

          Humpty Dumpty said it best: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, nothing less, and nothing more.”

          • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

            Heh … ya, there’s Draco, I know. But ya, it doesn’t only mean the capital punishment stuff; there’s a softened definition for the word, too, that’s more just “cruel” or “harsh,” or in this case maybe “repressively harsh,” which is the truth. I’m nit-picking, but so were you so it’s allowed.

          • Why

            Aren’t all laws “repressively harsh?”

          • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

            Seriously? Not to my mind, no, not at all. Seatbelt laws, helmet laws, speeding, etc., etc., aren’t at all what I would term repressive, and certainly aren’t harsh. And laws forbidding murder, etc., I wouldn’t consider harsh because they’re (usually) commensurate with the transgression.

          • Z-man19

            Now if they outlawed gumball wagering, that would be repressive and harsh

          • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

            Every one of these “subtle” posts designed to remind me you’ve won a few gumballs from me–with every post comes one less assurance about what may or may not have touched those gumballs once I finally give them over to you.

          • Z-man19

            you don’t actually think I’m going to chew them do you? They are going on the mantle next to my other trophies

          • Why

            So there you go (semantically at least). You’re looking at proportionality and what should be considered a crime, not harshness. Any punishment designed to act as a deterrent is designed to repress that behaviour.

          • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

            Okay, sure. All laws are, literally speaking, repressive. I don’t know what you’re arguing here. The adjective “repressive,” to me, tends to suggest unwarranted subjugation … in a sense it’s heavier than the verb “to repress.” But again, I have no idea what you’re arguing–I thought my tiny point was clear, that there are two valid connotations for draconian.

          • Why

            I was just getting involved in some nitpicking. I was also slightly worried that, when it comes to gay rights to free speech in Russia compared to free speech for other Russians, the discussion tends to look like this:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOq881WLdF0

          • 10thMountainFire

            Some homosexuals in Russia have been tortured and some have been killed for being homosexual. I think ‘draconian’ is an appropriate word to describe the government policies that drive this sort of behavior by citizens.

    • MattC86

      Thank you.

    • StealingHappyHour

      Not that I don’t agree your goal here, but isn’t it likely the Russian people actually *harden* their position upon being lectured by a bunch of foreigners in their own country? Almost like some sort of “rally to the flag” type of thing. I would think acts like that would actually strengthen Putin’s hand.

      I can only imagine the American public’s reaction had some European gone on record against the anti-Sodomy laws which were on the books in many places in the US during the ’96 Atlanta games.

      I understand the urge to make a statement…but you know, unintended consequences and all that.

      /awaits flogging

      • Fleshrifle

        For some Russians, sure they would be ‘hardened’. But as with most things, there is a large majority that haven’t fully sided with ‘one side’ or the other. Speaking out on behalf of a repressed minority ‘hardens’ and supports the repressed. And it helps people without a strong opinion to make their own judgements.

        • StealingHappyHour

          “There is a large majority that haven’t fully sided with ‘one side’ or the other.”

          I’m not so sure about that claim. This states a whopping 73% of the Russian public support *any* of the government’s attempts to curb homosexual rights. I read that as saying many Russians would even support the government going beyond what it’s already done.

          I’m not sure where this large, undecided majority your speaking about is located. In the United States, that was certainly the case. The fence sitters in Russia simply don’t appear to exist.

          I’m not saying no attempts should ever been made to change the minds of these people and I certainly don’t want it to sound like I side with them….I’m just beyond skeptical that any sort of demonstration on the part of the athletes will positively influence the numbers below, and in fact, fear the exact opposite will occur.

          http://www.thepublicopinion.com/news/associated_press/national/europe/article_758e676b-6349-51c7-8f6e-7030f3ff87b3.html

      • Z-man19

        What if Ovechkin was one that spoke out?

        • Why

          What if Ovechkin spoke out in favour of the laws? Everyone seems to be in favour of athletes taking political stands until and unless the athlete disagrees with them.

          • 10thMountainFire

            If Ovechkin spoke publicly in favor of the law, that could potentially be the catalyst for someone like Sean Avery (admittedly, a douchebag but on the right side of the issue we’re discussing here) in the NHL to stand in opposition to him… giving light of day to the protest side.

      • 10thMountainFire

        I see your point on pragmatic grounds. But analyzing this issue, there isn’t much room in an alternative direction. There are specific times in history where future assessments will judge the people harshly for recognizing the moment as pivotal but failing (or refusing) to find the moral courage to stand up and stop the madness of the policy. Seeing this through the lens of a foreign policy analyst, this is clearly one of those times in my personal opinion. The question for me is always ‘how will history judge us in recognizing a horrendous policy but failing, for whatever excuse is given, for challenging the policy?’

        Human rights are almost always seen through that lens by historians. Think Abraham Lincoln’s conversion to the idea of outlawing slavery, the issue of Jews, Slavic people, Roma, homosexuals and others targeted in 1930s Germany, and dissidents in China from Mao onward. Just my opinion, though.

  • fromheretoinfirmary

    Would love it if any Olympic athlete to spoke up on this issue in any way – be it by donning the YCP logo or taking a more active approach. An NHLer doing it would make me even prouder of the NHL and its players for their progressive views on LGBT rights, at least compared to the other “major” sports.

    That said, I’m not sure I understand the last paragraph of this article, specifically as to how NHL players’ possible silence during Sochi would cause the NHL to take some steps backward regarding its stance on LGBT rights, “derail their efforts”, or “peel back a little,” as McClure put it. The NHL has made their views on the issue quite clear, so how does their players not actively advocating during their time in Sochi affect them and their position? What else is there for the NHL to say?

  • Commit88

    You really think people should boycott the olympics or not represent their country because Russia doesn’t like gays?

    • putmeinthemadhouse

      theres a difference between disliking some people and instituting legislation to actively oppress said people…

    • MySpoonIsTooBig

      Way to boil down the entire debate to a single superficial, inaccurate statement phrased as an incredibly condescending question. As putmeinthemadhouse pointed out it’s not about disliking anyone, it’s about the fact that a country has just formally legalized bigotry. I could not possibly give 2 shits about who or what you or anyone else likes or dislikes. No one is saying that you need to like everybody, the point is that the simple fact that you don’t like someone does not give you the right to strip them of their basic rights and dignities as a human being.

      • Z-man19

        keep preaching it Frank

        • 1benmenno

          Amen

          • Z-man19

            Are we now Spooners, followers of MSTB?

          • 1benmenno

            Spoonerists. We follow the doctrine of good sense that is Spoonerism (not to be confused with the linguistic error bearing the same name).
            May all our spoons be too big rather than too small.

          • Z-man19

            if we are gonna spoon, I’m the big spoon

          • 1benmenno

            Personally, I’d rather not cozy up to your lovin’ spoonful . . . not that there’s anything wrong with that.

      • 10thMountainFire

        Your spoon may be too big but your post is just the right size. Upboated.

        • mightymikeD

          I love you. And Frank

      • Why

        Legalized bigotry happens everywhere but Russia appears to have put that unstated principle on steroids. Like I tried to say below, Russia’s problem isn’t that they don’t let gay people speak their mind. It’s that they appear to not let anyone who doesn’t tow the party line speak their mind.

        But there’s nothing inaccurate or superficial about the question. Russia has been shitty to a lot of a people for a long period of time. The Olympics are being held there despite that. A lot of people appeared not to have a problem with that type of treatment until gay groups were one of the groups that were told to shut up.

        • MySpoonIsTooBig

          Completely disagree that there is nothing inaccurate or superficial about that bogus “question”.

          Superficial: framing Russia’s blatant human rights abuses as “Russia doesn’t like gays”. Boiling down the entire issue to that is the very definition of superficial.

          Inaccurate: In boiling down the complex issue to such superficiality, the statement is rendered entirely inaccurate. Yes, there have been talks about boycotts or other protests, but it has nothing to do with who is liked or disliked in Russia. As I said above, I don’t give 2 shits about who anyone likes or doesn’t like, that’s not the issue here. If Vladimir Putin doesn’t like gay people that’s his prerogative, it’s dumb and closed-minded but it’s none of my business who or what he likes or dislikes. That’s not the problem. The issue arises from the Russian government deciding that people who they do not like do not deserve the basic rights and dignities of being a human being. And that’s a BIG fucking problem.

          I get what you’re saying about Russia being shitty to a lot of people for a long period of time. I agree that that is problematic. Historically and to this day the way that they have treated dissidents, political activists, or other people that they disagree with has been abhorrent. It’s all the more reason why they should have never been awarded the Olympics in the first place, but that’s a different argument for a different time. The point is that the simple fact that Russia has long been a regular abuser of human rights does not mean that we should not be talking about the fresh round of human rights abuses they’ve just legalized.

          • Why

            I’m probably beating a dead horse, but my point is simply that Russia takes extreme steps to silence dissenters all of the time. To me, the current outrage is about the fact that the dissenters that are being silenced are gay. For all the admissions that Russia’s behaviour towards other groups and people is abhorrent, I don’t think we’d see the same amount of editorials if it was a different group being repressed.

            That’s why I think “Russia doesn’t like the gays” is an accurate assessment of why some people support a boycott. The abhorrent behaviour and human rights abuses are constant.

    • mightymikeD

      who the fuck upboated this? Name & Shame time

      • mightymikeD

        actually, I can see the names.. Cliff? Discuss?

  • mightymikeD

    My 2 Cents (Euro).. because I have been giving this a lot of thought, is that there needs to be as much noise made about this in the run up to the Games, and afterwards rather than actual protest at the event itself.

    A point that Patrick Burke made in one of his interviews, was that, ultimately, the IOC should not be awarding the Olympics to countries with laws that contradict its Charter.

    That’s a whole big can of worms, of course and not helped by the fact that the IOC is possibly only equalled by FIFA in terms of corruption. One for smarter people than me to hammer out. It won’t be a whole big help to the beleaguered LGBT folk in Russia right now, but if, after the controversy over China, Sochi and the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar, we get moving down that road to where these countries will no longer get the big international sporting events then some good will come of participation. Won’t be watching myself, I’m afraid.

    • StealingHappyHour

      You said what I was trying to say in my reply to Fleshrifle below. Good stuff.

    • 10thMountainFire

      Could not agree more.

    • Why

      McClure kind of hit on an important point above. I’m not sure that getting these “big international sporting events” is necessarily good for the host country.

      • mightymikeD

        just lived in London where that White Elephant cost us a ton of money.. so I get yer point .. but countries love that prestige..

  • Why

    I’m always hesitant to jump into political discussions on a hockey blog (and McClure, as much as I like your writing, this is a political discussion no matter how much you’d like to frame it as something else).

    Free speech, at least in any meaningful sense, appears to be dying a slow death. The perspective of Canadian courts seem to be don’t worry about speech, we’re not going to punish you unless it’s really bad. Then people who aren’t you decide what’s really bad on a case by case basis. Watch what you say, or they’ll tell you after whether it was permissible. Potentially after a long and expensive legal battle.

    And good news, Russia’s on the other side of gay rights and appears to have ramped up the punishment and the vagueness of the laws. I don’t read Russian but if the CBC is right on the wording, “propaganda promoting non-traditional sexual relations” is a classic case of writing a law that clears up nothing and makes it nearly impossible to determine what speech is allowed. Am I still allowed to say I enjoy blowjobs? How about threesomes? Is the enforcement of this law going to be strictly anti-gay (or anti-gay marriage)? Will people get a knock on their door, a phone call saying “you really shouldn’t say that or we’ll have to step in” or is straight to the hoosegaw?

    I don’t know if players are really knowledgeable enough on the subject to mount any sort of protest that’s thoughtful. It’s also my understanding that the IOC is very, very touchy when it comes to wearing anything that reflects badly on the IOC. To some degree, it’s interesting to see Canada’s shitty laws get turned around on the same types of groups that got these shitty laws passed in the first place.

    But these types of laws are still shitty and I feel sorry for the Russians that have to live under what is apparently a ramped up version of them. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/08/11/sochi-olympics-ioc-reform.html (for wording of Russian law).

  • justforkicks

    I think what a lot of people are not seeming to get is what you said here: “emboldening hate groups in the country,” which has led to attacks, assaults and worse on adults, teens, whether they are straight or just allies, right out there in the open, and from what I have seen has lead to repercussion to the latter instead of the former. Just look around online, pictures and accounts, all of which are seriously scary and disturbing.

    • 10thMountainFire

      That’s how I read it as well. Condemning an entire group and effectively de-humanizing that group catalyzes those on the margins of society to focus their anger and frustrations more effectively on innocent groups of people.

      Codifying that de-humanization, as the government of Russia has done, effectively offers legal cover for those groups on the margins (in Russia, it is often nationalist-inspired groups taking advantage of a poor Russian economy in the wake of the Shock Therapy economic policies of the Yeltsin era) to take violent action out on the homosexual community in this case.

      • justforkicks

        yes, exactly! and those groups are taking that cover and running with it. And given how far things have already gone, its terrifying to think of much further it can and will go with inaction.

        • 10thMountainFire

          For me the next logical next step is the mass imprisonment of groups and dissenters in Russia. At that point, one can’t help but start to find historical parallels to gulags and internment camps. ‘Prison’ is a camp by any other name when you’re talking about targeting specific groups of people for detention for who they are rather than what they’ve done to violate the law… which is why Putin supported the codification of the illegality of homosexuality… now he has the legal foundation on which to detain homosexuals.

          In this, he’ll find an easy scapegoat for the problems Russia faces and nationalism will be the gas in the engine.

          • justforkicks

            Unfortunately, that makes complete sense. Not doing anything about this now is only going to lead to escalation of that nature if not worse. (Stephen Fry actually posted on his website and if i remember correctly, made some similar points)

          • Hags

            Yes, this is why this law is so scary. During the 1930s, Hitler seized on the feelings of anti-Semitism in Germany to use Jews as a scapegoat, and eventually that slippery slope lead to a place where pretty much all dissenters and “unfit” people (the Poles, Slavic peoples, Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally/physically handicapped etc.) were slaughtered by the Nazis.

            Putin is doing the same thing in Russia by seizing on the feelings of homophobia throughout the Russian public. This law can be used to silence dissenters of all kinds and use the excuse that the dissenters are pushing (to quote the Russian law) “non-traditional sexual relationships.”
            Perhaps the scariest part of all of this is that unlike Communist Russia of 30 years ago, this new Russia (which is more fascist than anything) has quietly transformed from an economic backwater into somewhat of an economic power mainly due to an abundance of natural resources that they have been to finally able develop. Combine that with the obvious military power they have and well, it’s a downright terrifying situation.

  • justforkicks

    I just read that the IOC said that they plan to stop any athlete for showing support (be it a rainbow pin to hand holding) for the LGBT, and any who do could be disqualified or lose their accrediation (so along with the fine, jail time, or deportation that russia may lay out). Wow, just wow.

    I didn’t say it before but great post McClure

    • 10thMountainFire

      Well… they gave The Games to a tyrant riding a nationalist bronco. Now they’re deathly afraid that the very tyrant they did business with will act like the tyrant he is.

      Again, the IOC is more concerned about violence at the games so instead of standing on human rights, it essentially condemns the homosexual community in Russia to sub-human status and states, ‘well, sorry about that… but The Games are just more important than the imprisonment, torture, and societal marginalization you’re enduring. Good Day.’

      Gotta love it. Appeasement never goes out of style for those that lack personal courage.

      I’ll say this, though: this sets the stage for a particularly dramatic show of solidarity by a brave individual or group at the games to stand defiant protest not only of Russian oppression against homosexuals but in the face of institutionalized appeasement by a committee that runs an institution that used to be a symbol of nations coming together in the name of sport.

      • 1benmenno

        I’m hoping for a gay Jesse Owens scenario.

        • 10thMountainFire

          When you implement rules designed to quell protest, you set the stage for a more dramatic one. I’m thinking along the same lines as you.

          • 1benmenno

            Right. Nothing says fuck you like winning.

          • 10thMountainFire

            Patrick Kane is very good at saying ‘fuck you’ by winning.

          • 1benmenno

            Kaner has a way of shutting up his critics. And if they keep talking, he can always plug his ears with his two Stanley Cup rings. (To borrow another Patrick’s phrase.)

        • VanDorp’sMullet

          Could happen in figure skating… not to stereotype.

          • 1benmenno

            I was thinking the same thing . . . but would prefer the biathlon (ski and shoot Putin’s shirt off).

          • pompoon

            In fairness, Johnny Weir is one of the most well-known openly gay athletes, and has a shot at making the US figure skating team…so it might not be stereotyping to say that

      • justforkicks

        every single one of your posts is completely on point and articulate. I again 100% agree, and I really hope we do get the show of solidarity by a large group (and more athletes coming out having the same perspective that johnny weir does).

        • 10thMountainFire

          It would be an awesome moment to see multiple countries joining in the same protest. Something the Canadian, American, Czech teams, etc could wear on their uniforms as they came onto the ice, etc.

          • justforkicks

            that would be very powerful for sure

          • 10thMountainFire

            It just occurred to me that the President and some political leaders on the other side of the aisle from him are possibly thinking the same thing: ‘Putin is putting America in the position to be the unabashed Good Guy on the international stage again almost all by himself.’

          • justforkicks

            i really do hope so, I don’t even want to think about the chance that the olympics come and nobody comes to that conclusion

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            Now if they can just figure out some way to turn that outcome into forcing Russia/China to remain on the petrodollar, it could actually happen.

      • VanDorp’sMullet

        IOC, thy name is Neville Chamberlain.

        • mightymikeD

          that’s an insult to a great statesman (no, really)

          • VanDorp’sMullet

            No offense intended. I am (obviously) no authority on Chamberlain, but his reputation as an appeaser of Hitler is sort of inevitable. The historian David Dutton said it pretty succinctly: “Whatever else may be said of Chamberlain’s public life his reputation will in the last resort depend upon assessments of this moment [Munich] and this policy [appeasement]. This was the case when he left office in 1940 and it remains so sixty years later. To expect otherwise is rather like hoping that Pontius Pilate will one day be judged as a successful provincial administrator of the Roman Empire.”

      • mightymikeD

        Je t’adore

    • Why

      As always, fuck the IOC. If somebody wins a gold medal and says something, I’m still considering them the gold medalist.

      • 10thMountainFire

        Also, fuck Raffi Torres.

    • Why

      It’s probably bad form but with all the speculation here I’m picturing a Great Escape scenario where Shanny has to try and break out six players from a Russian jail so they can compete in the playoffs.

      • 10thMountainFire

        Not a problem at all. Bettman would just call Putin and order their prison time reduced. Call it the ‘Raffi Torres Amendment’.

    • VanDorp’sMullet
  • VanDorp’sMullet

    I have thought that the awesomest (yes, not a word, I’m aware) thing ever in the history of man would be for every single Olympic athlete to announce that they are all gay before the Olympics. What a fucking bind that would put Russia in… they would either have to totally abandon (at least for the Olympics) their policy and lose face internationally (more than they already have), or they would have to arrest all the athletes or bar their entry into the country thus rendering utterly useless the billions of dollars poured into construction jobs, etc. as well as the lost revenue from tourists, media, etc. etc. Even if neither of those really panned out, it would at the very least be a complete embarrassment to Putin and his idiotic policy.

    • 10thMountainFire

      I sort of live in the realm of foreign policy analysis and I like the gesture you’re proposing.

      For me, I assess the American population would be very supportive of the president were he to announce ‘the United States will not be participating in the Olympic Games in Sochi for a number of reasons, foremost among them is their failure to protect the rights of Russian citizens on the basis of their sexual orientation.’

      Given many anti-Obama individuals’ hatred of Russia on the grounds that it gave asylum to Snowden and essentially a black eye to the US, politics could make for very strange bedfellows on this issue.

      • Why

        Really? Tom the speed skater can’t compete at the only major event he’ll ever qualify for because you don’t like Russia’s laws? And you think the majority of the Americans would support that?

        • 10thMountainFire

          Because as a nation we place a lot of our foreign policy on human rights. Yes, China was admitted to the WTO despite their human rights violations and with acquiescence from the Clinton Administration. I am aware of examples to the contrary of my point.

          However, as I stated, the issue of homosexuals being targeted in Russia and the codification of their marginalization violates standards of human rights conventions and regimes throughout the world, of which the US is often the engine behind the drive.

          Countries have boycotted Olympic Games before, notably in 1980 after the Soviet Union sent military forces to support the Afghan communist regime in Kabul, Afghanistan. Yes, I am aware that this is a conflict inside the country. But when the IOC is having to issue guidance warning athletes that they are not free to express themselves at the games, the United States administration may believe there is a line where they won’t tolerate both the stifling of dissent and free expression in conjunction with the anti-human rights policies targeting homosexuals.

          Add the Snowden affair and subsequent anti-Kremlin sentiment in political circles in the US and you have a lot of potential support for a US boycott.

          I’m not saying it will happen. I’m saying it’s possible.

          And yes, Tom the speed skater competes at the games representing his country. If his country’s leaders believe that it is detrimental to US interests to send athletes to Sochi, they can boycott. It’s that simple.

          • Why

            Interesting. I’m not sure you’re wrong but I’d enjoy seeing a poll on whether or not there is support for boycotting the Olympics. I’m pretty positive the athletes would be pissed though. And I’m pretty sure that people tend to like athletes more than politicians.

          • 10thMountainFire

            I am not sure if support is even necessary to execute the boycott, as it were. I’m not informed enough on the topic to make a comment.

            But it has nothing to do with ‘like’. Citizens wouldn’t vote on the topic. The President or Congress or whoever has the authority would make the decision. You don’t get a vote on everything.

          • Why

            Sorry man, I’m replying specifically to your estimation that the American people would be supportive of the president if he organized a boycott. I doubt it.

            If your claim is that the president and congress could do it anyway, you’re right. He certainly could. I’m just saying that most people wouldn’t like it.

          • 10thMountainFire

            Why do you doubt it?

          • Why

            I’m being trolled, right?

            Again, people tend to like athletes more than politicians. And I’m pretty sure “Obama stops Tim from going to Olympics because Gay Rights” isn’t going to be a popular decision. Except among the people who were going to vote Democrat anyway.

          • 10thMountainFire

            Yes. Disagreeing with you is trolling you. That’s exactly what’s going on. Clearly, from the posts below where the rest of us lay out our personal beliefs with regard to this topic, it’s all to troll you. You caught us.

            And I stated that this is a Republic, not an infinite democracy… meaning the President has executive powers to decide almost unilaterally on some issues that athletes cannot participate in certain events representing the US. I’m not sure of the laws in Canada because I am not well-informed on Canadian law and government.

          • Why

            I was specifically referring to the fact that I can’t understand if you just like a position or actually believe something. That could be my mistake.

            It’s just weird to me to read the above. You say that people would likely support a boycott lead by the president, I say I’d like to see a poll showing that. You laid out reasons for why you think a boycott would be popular, I responded pithily with a reason it wouldn’t. You then decided it doesn’t matter what people would support. I told you that your initial post had said people would support it. Then you asked me why I didn’t think a boycott would work (you know, that same thing we’d already talked about). Either I’m tired and misunderstanding what you’re trying to say, you’ve picked a rather confusing style, you’re baiting me or I’ve missed something.

          • cdz3210

            In 1980, it was Jimmy Carter who made the call and I remember a lot a people being pissed about it because guys like Tom the speed skater missed out on their chance to participate in the games.

            As for a boycott, I’d be shocked and quite frankly beyond pissed if we were to boycott. Especially after going to China in 2008. Their Human Rights record is so much worse than any thing the Russian government is doing today.

            Another thing, as I stated somewhere in here, I find Russia’s treatment of the LGBT community repulsive and as fucked up as it is, it’s a law in their country. What I have found disturbing is how it took until 2010 for the upper echelon of our military to decide that open LGBTs were allowed to enlist and considered fit for duty. Their “Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell” policy seems to parallel what Russia has in effect

          • 10thMountainFire

            Good comment. I disagree with you on the DADT v Russian policy insofar as the institutionalized refusal to accept openly gay men and women as members of the US military while wrongheaded and ultimately unethical, did not threaten to imprison homosexuals for being homosexual. Yes, it marginalized homosexuals from employment with the US military, that much is true. But I do believe there is substantial daylight between the now-defunct policies of the US Defense Department governing servicemembers and potential servicemembers and Russian federal law governing Russian citizens.

          • cdz3210

            You’re right. It isn’t parallel but it was close. Either way, I’ve never been able to comprehend why there is so much hatred and discrimination based on how one human is attracted to another.

      • cliffkoroll

        Your assessment is, I think, WAAAAAAY off base.

      • Paul the Fossil

        Gosh I’d have to say that that scenario seems wildly improbable.

        There are very few Americans who hate Russia today anywhere near as much as they loath homosexuality and/or hate Barack Obama. Or put another way there are far more American voters today who would take pretty much any position in foreign affairs in order to oppose an Obama decision, than who would even consider looking past their hatred of him because of something having to do with Russia.

        Meanwhile granted that the U.S. balance has shifted, a lot and quite fast, regarding viewing gay people as normal human beings. However this being a huge country that still leaves tens of millions of citizens who regard homosexuals as abominations against God and all that they believe to be right. They are a minority now, sure, but a substantial one still. And they are a loud and politically-active minority.

        Meanwhile no national poll taken in the last five years has placed Russia as among the top ten issues that a lot of American voters are most worked up about, nor has that topic been among the major issues in a national election for a couple of decades now. And among those Americans who do still view Russia as a top current threat/issue, some of them have mixed feelings about the Snowden affair in particular. (Not about Snowden or his actions really but about the NSA programs that have come to light.)

        So…if this president made that announcement it would simply be more fuel for the same blind rage against the fact that he is president. Virtually zero Obamahaters would give it even a second thought is my prediction.

        • Why

          And you’re only looking at people that generally oppose the president. Watch what would happen when a boycott was organized and a gay Olympians started talking about their opinions of a boycott. I’ve got a suspicion many would not be in favour.