Hypocrisy on the Sochi Olympics

I’m surprised the nobody’s commented on this yet. So I guess I will, even though I’m the sort of person who doesn’t give a damn about sports. And Moderators, I hope you won’t move this thread to the Sports section - this is really about the politics, not women’s figure skating or bobsledding.

So what I’m seeing from the Western countries is a lot of hypocrisy concerning the Winter Olympics games in Sochi. All kinds of finger-wagging at Putin’s Russia, and boycotts no less by Obama and other Western leaders.

The supposed justification for all this is because Russia doesn’t have gay marriage (yet), and passed a law making it illegal to “propagandize in favor of gay marriage.” Also, Putin is a dictator.

While I am not a fan of Putin (and I criticized him heavily for what he did to Pussy Riot), I can’t help but see a lot of hypocrisy. Less than half the countries attending these Olympic games have legal gay marriage. There are some countries (mostly Muslim, but also fundamentalist Christian) where gays are executed. Even the USA only got a sort/of legal gay marriage last year when the Supreme Court struck down the DOMA - actually less than half the US states legally permit gay marriage, but with DOMA struck down they are forced to recognize such marriages performed in other states. I’m not sure what the current law says in the UK because I haven’t been following it closely, but I’m certain that there was no legal gay marriage in the UK when they had their own Olympic games two years ago, and yet nobody was boycotting them then.

As for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, I didn’t see nearly so much hand-wringing at the time over China’s political prisoners, or press censorship, or lack of political freedoms (at least Russia has elections, however imperfect), not to mention no legal gay marriage in China (or in Taiwan, come to think of it).

Putting aside gay issues for the moment and focusing on human rights in general - I can’t help but think about the fact that the USA has more people in prison than any other nation on Earth, including both China and Russia. There is also the little inconvenient fact that Edward Snowden is currently free in Russia, while there is little doubt he’d immediately be arrested if he set foot in Western Europe or the USA. And then there is Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and other less well-known whistleblowers who are/were in jail or hiding because the US government didn’t want the public to hear what they had to say.

But it certainly is horrible how gays can’t get married in Russia, and Putin is a dictator. Maybe we should consider a preemptive nuclear strike, at least on Sochi.

Ideally, sports and politics should be separated. In practice, that never happens. But if the host country has to be a shining beacon of freedom and democracy, rather few countries could ever hope to host the games.

Again, I scarcely give a damn about sports, and don’t care who wins the most medals. I would not even mind if we did away with the Olympics entirely. But I find the hypocrisy surrounding these games most fascinating. I seem to recall an old expression:
“It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.”

Putin is also hosting the games there just to show case he has total control over the Caucasus, and Chechnya is no longer a problem. Oh, Putin has Chechnya under control by starting the second Chechen war, causing at least 50,000 civilian casualties.

I seem to recall a little war in Iraq with civilian casualties estimated somewhere in the 100s of thousands, and also recall the UK’s (admittedly secondary) role in that, but no Russian boycott of the UK’s Olympic games.

But at least the Iraqis now enjoy freedom and democracy, though no gay marriage yet.

I’m actually inclined to agree with you here. Russia is easier to bully than China, notorious for “getting its feelings hurt.” Everyone fears being kicked out of China, so journalists choose their words carefully and businesses just stay quiet. The mass bashing on Russia, I think, its proof that it’s quite a few steps ahead of China in that it’s allowing a certain amount of free speech.

I somehow doubt all Olympics before this year went off without a hitch. What we’re seeing is the mainstream media embracing the immediacy of the Internet. Bizarre toilets and broken light fixtures aren’t making it to the newspapers this year, just as they wouldn’t have four years ago, but they’re being shared like crazy over Twitter and Facebook.

Just watched the Sundance documentary Dirty Wars. Obama’s rogue death squads are every bit as infamous as anything Russia is up to these days.

  1. The criticisms about Russia’s gay rights records are coming from individuals and groups that also criticize gay rights violations in other countries, including their own.

  2. Though most modern countries are seeing increases in freedoms for gay people, Russia is an alarming example in which such freedoms are being stripped away with alarming speed, which is why it’s been in the news and is the target of massive criticism. This is as opposed to a place like Saudi Arabia, where gay rights have been dismal yet unchanging for a long time. Gay rights abuses in Saudi Arabia are severe, and the fact that such abuses are opposed by gay rights groups goes without saying. But it’s not news. It’s olds.

So there is no hypocrisy there.

You must as well be a vegetarian in India and start moaning at the Americans for eating steak. It’s their culture, that’ll be their answer.

Nobody forced the Olympic and World Cup committees to select these places, it’s all about the $$$.