Okay, quick peak behind the 990wbob curtain here. Somehow, on the heels of my pro Olympics rant a couple weeks back, I drew the "cover the whole gay angle at Sochi" straw when this week's assignments were being given out. And at first I was excited. This is a story with deep social impact that everybody's talking about. Add to that the fact that I love to pick a Libertarian battle and get up on my soapbox for a few hundred words and I had the makings of an easy post. But then I started really thinking about how I felt and what I wanted to say and I've gotta' be honest, I still don't know what to make of this one.
Please don't misunderstand, I am an ardent supporter of the full spectrum of gay rights. The bill signed into law last summer (is that how it even works in Russia?) is offensive on its face and an affront to the concept of Liberty. To even frame this as a "gay rights" issue devalues the very person-hood of the human beings caught in the middle of this mess. These are, after all, people with the same natural rights to live and love that all of us expect and demand.
Now, this is probably a great place for a little clarification and back story. The aforementioned law behind all this doesn't ban homosexuality outright or anything like that. What it does is ban "homosexual propaganda" and make it illegal to “spread information about non-traditional sexual behavior” to people under age 18. To put it into American Constitutional parlance, what we're talking about here is an issue of free speech. I'm not trying to diminish the stakes, just framing them properly.
Which brings me to the crux of my dilemma. Russia, the godfather of totalitarian socialism enacts a law limiting expression and free speech and we're, what, surprised? Am I the only one that remembers the Cold War? This is Russia. IT'S WHAT THEY DO! Out of all the countries in the world they're like number three when it comes to being a dick to their own people. That's the bronze medal.
Case in point, on the day of the Opening Ceremonies four gay rights activists were arrested for protesting the games in St. Petersburg, Russia. They weren't arrested under the new law, so it's not that they were spreading pro gay propaganda. And they weren't charged with the Russian equivalent of disturbing the peace. Their crime was that they were engaged in an unsanctioned protest. Yup, they didn't have a government issued license to protest their oppressive government.
It seems like as the Cold War drew to a close the Russian bear retreated into her cave to nurse her wounds and the western world turned inward, self assured of our total victory. The "rightness" of our way of life had prevailed as we knew it inevitably must. In dispatching so significant a threat to Enlightenment era philosophy, we'd severely undercut the arguments supporting communism. As proof we watched the Soviet Union dissolve and repopulate the map of Eastern Europe and Western Asia with nascent democracies holding open elections for the first time in decades.
Are we going to insist on FULL reform granting the Russian people true Freedom. Are we going to turn our white hot glare on some of the injustices against civil rights here at home or in other places abroad where homosexuals are being imprisoned or worse? Or is this one of those "Like" it on Facebook, talk passionately about it at parties for a month and then move on deals?