Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Gay Russian Vodka

A small group in front of San Francisco City Hall today at noon was protesting recent "gay propaganda" legislation in Russia outlawing any advocacy of gay rights in that country. It's not a particularly good sign when there are more media than actual protestors, as was the case today, but at least word is getting out, in between the ritual dumping of clear liquids from Russian vodka bottles around the world.

The king of all social media, George Takei, aka Star Trek's original Sulu (or maybe one of his ghostwriters), has just published a blog post urging the 2014 Winter Olympics be moved from Sochi, Russia to Vancouver, Canada which was the host in 2010. He writes, in part:
"There have been urgent calls for boycotts of the Olympics and of Russian exports like vodka. These are understandable: It just doesn’t seem right to see any of our dollars flowing to that nation. But a boycott of the games would punish athletes who have trained for years to participate, and a boycott of Russian vodka isn’t going to effect the kind of change needed. Besides, with Russia’s confirmation that it will enforce its law, our LGBT athletes are in real danger, and their safety must be paramount.

Many believe that such a call to move the Olympics out of Russia goes too far. Would this be their opinion if the law instead called for the arrest of any Jews, Roman Catholics or Muslims should they display any sign of their religion, such as a wearing a yamaka or praying while facing Mecca? Discrimination in any form is a blight upon the Winter Games, and it must not be tolerated.

NBC and the corporate sponsors of the Olympics should be paying close attention, too, and should get behind the “Move the Olympics” movement now, while there is still time to do so. If the Winter Olympics proceed in Sochi, Russia, all of the goodwill they have spent millions to build will evaporate in noisy protests, boycotts, and terrible publicity. I personally will be beating this particular drum loudly, as will many other LGBT actors, activists and allies. Trust me, if you are a corporate brand, you do not want to be associated with the Sochi Olympics."


Unknown said...

Hi Mike,

This event was a presser, not sold as a large crowd protest, so I disagree with your contention that it's never good when there are more media than activists or people to speak.

You wouldn't complain that there were more reporters than elected officials if a Supe or two were to hold a presser on a Tuesday at noon.

That aside, thanks for showing up today, snapping a few shots and getting up this post to the web. It all helps maintain and build awareness of the troubles, to say the least, that the gay Russians face.

Civic Center said...

Dear Michael: I see a lot of protests, with and without media, in front of City Hall, and I was simply noting that the media outpopulated the protesters this afternoon. It looked like a weird little echo chamber.

Nancy Ewart said...

I wonder if Snowden getting asylum in Russia will be more effective in moving the Olympics out of there than any other kind of protest. I agree that the athletes should not be punished; we did this once before (1984????) and I don't think it made any difference in the long run. But while I agree with moving the Olympics back to Vancouver or some other more democratic city, they were also held in China and that's a deeply authoritarian country - persecuting anybody who they think stands out. Gay, straight,various new sects, dissidents, ethnic minorities who protest - they get thrown in jail and seldom surface.

I wish the world was a kinder and simpler place.

janinsanfran said...

My initial reaction to the push for some sort of action against the Russian venue for the winter Olympics was unsympathetic. (I have a young friend who just might get to go ...)

But as I dig into it, I do support a vigorous reaction, perhaps more against the Olympic authorities who seem utterly willing to let the Russians engage in bigotry, than directed at the Russian state. More here. The Olympic Committee should denounce the law loudly and repeatedly. If they won't, they are the appropriate target. Hypocritical scum!

CeramicsAnnual said...

I agree with George Takei-
I understand boycotting certain aspects of a culture, but to boycott everything that comes out of a culture can oftentimes be even worse than the action that started the boycott. Russia has had it hard enough. Why not single the wrongdoers out and educate them?

Poppa Zao said...

Whoever wrote the post should learn the word is yarmulke, not yamaka. It's also not pronounced like yamaka, but YAHR-mul'-kuh.

Civic Center said...

Dear Poppa Zao: I wondered about that myself. Thanks for confirming my suspicions.