Olympians get first taste of Sochi’s ’unique’ hospitality…
7th February 2014, 8:02 at 8:02 am #248522
There’s definitely a lavatorial theme. At the Grand Prix, will the grandstand seating be on toilet seats?7th February 2014, 10:43 at 10:43 am #248523
@magnificent-geoffrey hadn’t heard the reports about the British and Canadians yet, all I’ve heard was that the spokesman of the Belgian delegation said the Americans were blowing things out of proportion.
To get one thing straight, I am pro-gay rights, however I don’t approve of the constant bashing of Russia for their homophobic policies, there are more countries in the world were gays are denied of their rights and are beaten up by neo-nazis who have run out of other minorities to beat up. These countries are for instance Uganda were a Belgian is now being accused and prosecuted for being gay, he faces life in prison. The Americans themselves are not without sin when it comes to this subject, several states still deny homosexuals the right to marry. In some southern states they are beaten up. This is not an Russian exclusive, the world needs to act against all forms of homophobic violence and not focus on Russia, because it is the easiest thing to do and does not solve the problem at all.7th February 2014, 11:34 at 11:34 am #248524
We have been getting quite a bit of early coverage of the Olympics, because there are quite a few Australians in the first events, and I saw a shot of the Olympic precinct from the broadcast centre that was of two white lines running in parallel. I had no idea what it was – it looked like a bicycle path. And then I realised that it is the Sochi circuit. It is built to FIA regulations, which dictate the minimum circuit width, but the effect was that the rough outline of the circuit looks like a Scalacterix circuit in the middle of someone’s living room.7th February 2014, 17:36 at 5:36 pm #248525
The Americans themselves are not without sin when it comes to this subject, several states still deny homosexuals the right to marry. In some southern states they are beaten up.
No, they’re not. I’m not sure what propaganda machine you’ve heard that from, but that simply doesn’t happen. I live in the “Redneckest” state of them all (Alabama), no more than 10 miles from where Top Gear was (not really) attacked. I can not recall a homosexual getting beat up for the heck of it in the last 7 years, which is as long as I’ve lived in this state…7th February 2014, 19:33 at 7:33 pm #248526
@braketurnaccelerate There is no propaganda machine that is feeding me. I’ve spoken to several gay people that have visited the united states, several of them have stated very clearly that while visiting some southern states they were approached by several people who didn’t take very kindly to them being gay, being aggressive and beating them when didn’t leave their presence fast enough. There is a simple fact that some states are not as progressive and that the people there are hiding behind their religious and conservative beliefs.
America is still not a safe haven for gays!8th February 2014, 1:26 at 1:26 am #248527
Everyone has criticised the laws as homophobic, but there is a cultural dimension at work here. Russia is extremely conservative, and homosexuality is barely tolerated, much less accepted. The Kremlin evidently feels that there is the potential for national embarrassment if someone decided to make a statement.
You will note that the biggest critics of the laws come from the most progressive nations, who do not seem to realise that other countries have their own cultural values. At their heart, the laws essentially make it illegal to discuss homosexuality to anyone under the legal age of consent. The IOC expressly forbids athletes from making political statements, so it should not be a problem. Personally, I find it more horrifying that people think it is okay to demand that a nation suspend its cultural values (Russia has close ties to the Orthodox Church) while the world watches on so that a handful of athletes and supporters can feel more comfortable. There is nothing in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that grants the right to freedom of sexual orientation, and being gay is not going to make an athlete any more or less competitive. While people who are gay should be free to walk around without fear of prejudice, it should not come at the cost if embarrassing an entire nation in front of the world.
To me, this whole thistinks of one nation trying to force its own set of ideals onto another.8th February 2014, 2:01 at 2:01 am #248528
While people who are gay should be free to walk around without fear of prejudice, it should not come at the cost if embarrassing an entire nation in front of the world.
That’s what I tell my slaves everyday, my freeing them could ruin my PR significantly :/
I really don’t have the time to discuss cultural relativism right now (that’s the thing where there are no objective moral values, you people that know nothing about the world and need an explanation for everything), but if you want to go down that route the very notion of moral relativism allows me to criticise someone’s else’s values however much I like, otherwise it collapses back to objectivism…8th February 2014, 2:25 at 2:25 am #248529
I did not say that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. I just said that while gay people should not be made to feel uncomfortable for the sake of Russia’s happiness, Russian people should not be made to feel uncomfortable for the sake of the gay community’s happiness. It never ceases to amaze me that people will defend a minority and think nothing of trampling on the majority, then rationalise it by claiming that if they support the majority, then the minority will get trampled.
But thank you for zeroing in on just one part of my argument and neglecting the three key points:
1) The laws forbid people from advertising homosexuality to minors. Homosexuality has no legal status in Russia, and minors are under the legal age of consent. You do not walk down the street talking to children about being gay; this law simply criminalises it.
2) The IOC forbids athletes from making political statements. In 1968, they stripped two competitors of their medals for the infamous “black power” salute. Hell, Muhammad Ali threw away his gold medal after he was refused service at a bar after he won it, and the IOC refused to replace it for over thirty years. Putin introduced these laws for similar reasons – two women kissed on the podium at an athletic event, which caused uproar in Russia because it exposed children to something that was seen as perverse.
3) Being gay does not make you a better competitor, trainer, supporter, spectator or media presenter.
This is not moral or cultural relativism. This is me pointing out that you cannot fully satisfy either side without stepping on the other’s toes. If the gay community wants everyone to recognise their right to be married, then is it too much to ask that the gay community recognises that not everyone is going to be okay with that?8th February 2014, 7:12 at 7:12 am #248530
It never ceases to amaze me that people will defend a minority and think nothing of trampling on the majority, then rationalise it by claiming that if they support the majority, then the minority will get trampled.
Holy crap… Someone gets it. You’re my hero for the day PM.8th February 2014, 8:16 at 8:16 am #248531
It never ceases to amaze me that people will defend a minority and think nothing of trampling on the majority, then rationalise it by claiming that if they support the majority, then the minority will get trampled…..and the rest of your post
Finally, a rather decent way to word it, thanks @prisoner-monkeys!
Although having said that I still don’t think it should be illegal to talk about homosexuality to children – bl**dy impolite is enough of a limit, I think.8th February 2014, 9:24 at 9:24 am #248532
There is a time and a place for that discussion: in a classroom as a part of a state-approved curriculum, or as a frank discussion between parent and child. On the street or on the podium at Sochi is *not* appropriate.8th February 2014, 10:49 at 10:49 am #248533
I just said that while gay people should not be made to feel uncomfortable for the sake of Russia’s happiness, Russian people should not be made to feel uncomfortable for the sake of the gay community’s happiness.
Why not? People who are in a minority community have a right to not be persecuted against. You don’t have a right to live your life entirely free of any form of contact with homosexuality just because it makes you feel uncomfortable.
I recognise that there is a case to be made for respecting certain cultural attitudes (such as not having alcohol on the podium of a grand prix in a nation which is predominantly Muslim), but there is discrimination against homosexuality, like we still have in many Western countries, and there is active persecution towards it, which by all accounts is taking place in Russia on a daily basis in places.
We call out white people in the US who are uncomfortable with the idea of having an African American president all the time, because we as a society now accept that being uncomfortable with someone else purely on the basis of their race is something that refuse to accept or tolerate. Why should we be accepting of people who refuse to accept other people in their society and actively persecute them purely because of their sexual orientation?
I don’t see anything wrong with people making political statements around the Olympics when those statements are directly in line with the Olympic Charter itself, which a nation is expected and obligated to adhere by when they accept the responsibility of hosting a Games.
“Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
This is me pointing out that you cannot fully satisfy either side without stepping on the other’s toes.
Of course. That’s always the case in this issue. But should we really be willing to accept a ‘we’ll agree to disagree’ status quo when one side is advocating for equal treatment in society with heterosexuals and the other side just doesn’t want to treat these fellow human beings equally at all? It reminds me of the Apartheid situation in South Africa – people aren’t willing to be respectful of both positions when one of them doesn’t want to treat another group of people as equal human beings.
If the gay community wants everyone to recognise their right to be married, then is it too much to ask that the gay community recognises that not everyone is going to be okay with that?
I think everybody recognises that. But the point is, just because we recognise it doesn’t mean that we should be accepting of it when ‘not being okay with it’ basically means ‘we don’t want to give this particular group of society the same rights as us and treat them as equals’.8th February 2014, 11:21 at 11:21 am #248534
Tell that to the athletes the IOC stripped of their medals in 1968. Race relations was a major issue at the time. The two athletes made a racially-motivated statement on the podium. The IOC was not impressed.
One of our snowboarders is openly gay, and it is amusing to watch the media trying to bait her into saying something inflammatory. The journalists get very frustrated when she downplays the issue, saying she does not feel uncomfortable at all.
I appreciate that gay athletes should be allowed to compete without fear of prejudice. But I think it is downright wrong to demand that two hundred and fifty million (or more) people put aside their culture for the sake of a handful of athletes. We are not talking about some prevailing cultural trend here – Russia’s conservative attitude stems from its relationship with the Orthodox church, which has existed for hundreds of years. It is a fundamental part of their cultural identity.
At the London Olympics, one of our swimmers was tipped to win, but came second. When he got on the podium, he sulked. I felt humiliated by it. The reason I bring this up is because a lot of my Russian friends felt the same way when those two athletes kissed on the podium at the athletics championship. So we are not talking about a handful of people feeling mild discomfort about the idea of homosexuality, but outrage and humiliation on the world stage.
Like I said, there are no sports where being gay is an advantage. Most people who are gay do not feel the need to draw attention to it at every opportunity. They have no distinguishing features that immediately mark them as being gay. They are simply being asked not to embarrass their hosts by drawing attention to it inappropriately.8th February 2014, 12:36 at 12:36 pm #248535
This is not a matter of minority rights being an inconvenience for the majority, it’s a matter of someone’s likes and dislikes. My dislike of blonde people is not a legitimate reason to discriminate them by law – never mind the fact that it propagates a culture of bigotry and violence. Simple harm principle applies here.
Also, ‘on the street/podium that discussion is inappropriate’ – I guess freedom of speech doesn’t rank too highly either? To the contrary to what you said before you are arguing purely from Russia’s cultural values. I say screw that, everyone is permitted to express their opinion and behave in a manner one sees fit, whether that’s in Antarctica or Western Europe. If people don’t like your behaviour they’ll point it out, deal with it. There’s no reason to show reverence for Russia and their culture if the culture stands for nothing I believe in.8th February 2014, 13:29 at 1:29 pm #248536
That last sentence says it all, really. I find that attitude of “I do not agree with it, so it does not deserve my respect” to be shameful.
You clearly have no understanding of what culture is. It is a set of collective ideals held by a group of pepole that are shaped by our values, attitudes and beliefs. Values are qualities that we consider to be worthy of being held up as ideal. Attitudes are our approach to these qualities, whether we value them or not. Beliefs are certain fundamental ideas that we consider to be true. Values, attitudes and beliefs work together and often reflect one another. They are shaped over time. Russia’s attitude towards homosexuality stems from the peoples’ relationship with the Orthodox church, which, as the name makes clear, is orthodox.
An often-overlooked argument surrounding rights is the idea of responsibilities. For every right, there is a corresponding responsibility. For example, you have the right to free speech – but you have the responsibility not to shout “fire!” in a crowded theatre unless there is a fire. Sure, you are exercising your right to free speech, but at the same time, you will likely cause a stampede that will result in death and/or injury, and “I was exercising my right to free speech” is no defence. In your case, you have the right to say that there is no need to respect Russian culture, but when you wake up and the painkillers wear off, you have the responsibility to admit that you probably had it coming.
It is pretty obvious that you have never met anyone from Russia and that you have no grasp of their culture.
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