A while back there was some news coming out of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding a ruling on marriage equality. I shared my thoughts on the topic in a very well received blog post. Well it seems that our cold war adversaries on the other side of the Bering Strait have a few thoughts on this as well.
Unless you’ve been severely news deprived over the last month you will know that Russia has passed anti-gay laws that could land a person in jail if they are caught promoting a “non-traditional” lifestyle. There have been protests, there have been riots, and more than a couple countries (Canada and the U.S. included) have waggled a mean finger in their general direction. Now, there’s a movement (albeit a small, and from what I can tell, largely ineffective one) to have nations boycott the Olympics taking place in Sochi Russia in February 2014.
While I think that it’s a nice notion, I don’t happen to think it would have any real impact on the situation. If every nation failed to show up then we’d have a story, but we all know that that’s more fantasy than the idea of a Beatles reunion. At least one reporter has an opinion on this and goes into great detail about past boycotts and their utter ineffectiveness. So, given that a boycott won’t happen, and even if it did it wouldn’t make a lick of difference, what can we do?
Well, I suggested in the comments on that article that the Canadian (and American) governments make a slight change to our respective flags – temporarily, of course – such that whenever a medal was won the Russians would have to hoist something like this to the rafters:
As unlikely a scenario as this is, I thought that this would produce the absolute best results. It would mean that the Russian Olympic Committee would have to willingly display gay propaganda – to the entire world no less – and it would not put any one athlete at risk.
For a brief moment I thought that I was a genius. Until it occurred to me that there was about as much chance of that happening as that aforementioned Beatles reunion. In mentioning it to a co-worker he had an even better idea: change the equipment! Can you imagine the entire men’s and women’s hockey teams staking around with laces on their skates and tape on their sticks that look like this?
Regardless of what form of protest would be considered the best, one thing I know is that if everyone stays silent on the issue then we fail. Individual athletes will step up, I’m sure of it, but they will be a very small voice in a raging sea of white noise and Russian propaganda – and they will be putting themselves at great personal risk. As much as those small voices matter, this needs to be tackled on a much larger scale.
In his inauguration address in 1961 John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” My fellow humanitarians, I’m turning that quote around and asking my country to show a little courage and do something for us. If they won’t, then I’ll turn and ask the Olympic Committee to step up. If they won’t then we’ll just have to see how many of those small voices we can get together so they can show the leaders of the world how to actually make a difference.