Friday, February 7, 2014

Why I'm Not Boycotting the Olympics

A lot of my friends are boycotting watching the Olympics. Some are opposed to the anti-gay law passed in Putin's Russia and the oppression of the LGBT community. Some are opposed to the desecration of the site where Circassian people (who are native to the Sochi area) were massacred in order to build ski slopes. Some are opposed to the senseless killing of dogs, mostly strays, so that they don't bother those attending the Olympics. Some are opposed to Russia's hideous human rights record in general. I am opposed to all of those things. They are all horrible and the Olympics should never have been held in Russia. I blame the IOC for choosing sites in countries that have no respect for human rights and that is where protests should be focused.

I am not boycotting. I watched last night. It was on broadcast TV (I have neither cable nor satellite) so there is nobody anyone can count or any way bean counters can tell that I watched for ratings purposes. Nobody in Russia benefits from my watching. Advertisers can only make a negative impression on me by cashing in on the Olympics so they won't benefit either. I love figure skating and I support Team Israel and Team USA.

I enjoyed watching the first part of the first ever figure skating team competition. The Canadian couple of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford is awesome and had an amazing performance, as did Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. Scott Hamilton called his performance "sick".

I also think NBC and Bob Costas deserve huge kudos for their coverage of the anti-gay law. First, they spent a lot of time on the subject and called a lot of attention to it. Their two Russian analysts were amazingly good. One, Vladimir Posner, the former Soviet spokesperson, said it best: "Russia is a homophobic country." The law has the support of 85% of the population. He also made clear that Putin doesn't give a damn what anyone in the West thinks. Posner also pointed out that Putin is "an autocrat, not a democrat" and that the protests against the law are by "urban, liberal intelligentsia" and not the masses, who are, as he said, homophobic.

That kind of coverage does Putin and Russia no favors, and it was smack in the middle of prime time between figure skating and skiing segments. I'm glad I watched it. The anti-gay law was presented in an entirely unfavorable way. I'm sure the bigots in the audience hated that coverage.

What I am doing is using a rainbow flag with the Olympic rings as my Facebook profile picture to show solidarity with the LGBT community in Russia, and I urge everyone who cares about human rights to do the same.

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