I’m not comfortable with an Olympics that is being used as a propaganda tool by the Putin regime. Of course you know who else used the Olympics as a propaganda tool. All in all, I agree, for once, with Charles Lane when he says the Olympics aren’t worth it. Let sports have their World Championships and so on. Those don’t promote nationalism the way the Olympics do and they don’t serve the aims of despotic rulers’ propaganda campaigns as easily.
But we’re probably stuck with them for now. I hope that this Olympics at least promotes awareness of the awful situation that gays face in Russia. I find the details of the stories of torture videos too awful to contemplate, let alone read, but I was able to make it through this Kos diary on Jeff Sharlet’s GQ article (not available online yet) on gay life in Russia (Sharlet visited St. Petersburg and Moscow for the article, so the reporting is often firsthand). It’s pretty sad:
There are countless smaller, bristling moments, with names presumptuous (God’s Will) or absurd (Homophobic Wolf). There are babushkas who throw stones, and priests who bless the stones, and police who arrest the victims.
The ideas, meanwhile, are American: the rhetoric of “family values” churned out by right-wing American think tanks, bizarre statistics to prove that evil is a fact, its face a gay one, this hatred is old venom, but its weaponization by nations as a means with which to fight “globalization — not the economic kind, the human-rights kind – is a new terror.
There are three faces of homophobia in Russia: that of the state, that of the Orthodox Church, and that of the fringe. And yest they’re one– a kind of Trinity. The state passes laws, the Church blesses them, and the fringe puts them into action. The state is the mind of hate, the church now, its heart, the fringe is made up of its many hands. Some use the courts, some use fists. There are street fighters, and there are polished men and women who attent international conferences on “family values.”