Flipping the script on Russia’s anti-gay persecution

“In everything,” the Golden Rule says, “do to others as you would have them do to you.” Simple in theory, but often very challenging in practice.

The easiest way to check ourselves — to evaluate how well we’re living up to this — is to flip the script. What if I were you and you were me? What if we were them and they were us?

This is something we should be doing all the time. “In everything,” Jesus said.

It’s what Thers does in a recent post discussing the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia:

The International Olympic Committee cannot guarantee the safety from state persecution of any athletes or spectators — gay, or even just perceived as gay.


Would there be any question whatsoever of the United States of America participating in an Olympic Games hosted by a country that refused to guarantee the safety of Christian athletes or spectators, or that had passed laws against Christians similar to those Russia has imposed against homosexuals?

I think Thers may be overestimating American Christians’ capacity for solidarity with Christians in other countries, but it’s still an excellent point.

If Russia declared open season against Christians the way it has done against LGBT people, then American Christians would be calling for the Winter Games to be relocated to Canada. If one of our best figure skaters was a flamboyant Christian and he faced the threat of imprisonment just for showing up at the Olympics — a very real threat now facing Johnny Weir — there would be loud demands for guarantees of his safety and for repeal of the laws that made his very existence a crime.

That is how American Christians would respond if Russia were persecuting Christians the way it is now persecuting LGBT people. But that is not how American Christians are responding to the persecution of LGBT people.

American Christians fail the test. We’re breaking the Golden Rule — disregarding the whole of “the law and the prophets.” We are failing to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

But it’s actually much worse than that.

American Christians are not simply failing to speak up against Russia’s persecution as they would if such a thing were happening to their own tribe. American Christians are praising Russia’s persecution.

• “The Russian government is right,” said Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. “Heterosexuality is God’s design. Policies that encourage young people to think this are good ideas.”

• “I applaud the Russians for taking a stand,” said Bill Owens of the National Organization for Marriage.

• “The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute said it ‘admires’ Russia’s latest anti-gay moves; Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality lauded Russia for rejecting ‘America’s reckless and decadent promotion of gender confusion’; and the Illinois-based World Congress of Families has scheduled its 2014 conference for the Kremlin.”

• “Russia could become a model pro-family society,” said anti-gay evangelist Scott Lively.

So it’s not just that these American Christians are failing to stand up for others as they would have others stand up for themselves. These American Christians are also cheering for the persecution of Russian gays.

But it’s even worse than that.

This cheering isn’t from the sidelines — these American Christians are contributing to and participating in this persecution. Bryan Fischer’s remarks above were made during his interview with Vladimir Putin’s state-owned “Voice of Russia.” Russian officials are citing American Christians in order to validate the alleged morality of this persecution.

But it’s still worse than that.

Because while cheering for and participating in the persecution of LGBT people in Russia, these same American Christians are loudly complaining that they are themselves the victims of persecution.

And yet that’s still not the worst of it. It gets worse than that.

These American Christians promoting the persecution of LGBT people in Russia are loudly complaining that they are themselves being persecuted — and they blame LGBT people for this imaginary persecution.

That’s not just failing to live up to the Golden Rule. That’s not just breaking the Golden Rule. That’s crushing the Golden Rule beneath your shoe, setting fire to the crumbled remains of it, then pissing on the ashes.

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  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    Dear America Hating Assbags –

    Love it or leave it.

    -No Love t(‘_’t)

    *edit* Did I say that right? I’ve always wanted to use that line but it’s not something I get to practice very often >_>

  • Turcano

    They could go join that profoundly ungrateful French director. Could (and should), but won’t, because even though the Iron Curtain fell 22 years ago, Russia never stopped being a shithole.

  • Redcrow


    We don’t need them here.

    I’m trying not to go into a Hulk mode, and it’s really hard. I hope you’re not implying that your homophobes should come here live with our homophobes so they could make our lives even worse? Because it’s not enough that they’re already work together against us? Because *Americans* are the ones who are *really* oppressed by our fucking laws, not we?!

    Please, tell me I misunderstood you.

  • dpolicar

    There are places in the world that even U.S. homophobes could improve.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    To be honest, I can’t think of any such place. I mean remember, some of these jerkwads are the ones who have been helping push the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda; so it’s not like they’d be a moderating force anywhere in the world; you can’t really go much further than executing people.

  • dpolicar

    It’s often useful to distinguish between “some of them” and “them.” But even the worst of them can irrigate saplings in the Sahara, for example.

  • Daniel

    Like where?

  • dpolicar

    See my reply to mistformsquirrel below/above.

  • Michael Pullmann

    The bottom of the Marianas Trench?

  • dpolicar

    I’m not really a fan of homicide, if that’s what you mean, but more generally there are certainly useful and cool things to do there.

  • Hexep

    Send them here, to our glorious socialist Middle Kingdom. Soon enough, they’ll say something they shouldn’t say – probably about our Patriotic Christian Organizations – and then, whoops! Off to the asbestos mines.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    Yes you’ve misunderstood me, but I can understand why.

    I should explain – Anyone left of center in the US for the last 40 years has heard an incessant whine from the far right elements here that if we don’t like things as they are in the country* we should leave. Now of course that’s ludicrous – this is our home, and being a democracy we have every bit as much right to be here and express our views as they do.

    The funny thing is – as they’ve started to lose ground politically for the first time in 40 years, they’re doing EXACTLY what they accused us of doing; and so I’m poking fun at US conservatives and their general douchebaggery by repeating one of their favored lines at them in reverse.

    Put in simpler terms – I’ve been told to ‘get out’ of my own country for half of my lifetime… I think you may understand why I’d relish the opportunity for a little tit for tat. It’s not meant as a serious suggestion or anything.

    *And doubly so if we point out how some other country is doing something better than we are; like say… Canada having a better healthcare system.

  • Redcrow

    Okay. Thanks for clarification.

  • Vermic

    As a child of the late Cold War, I never thought a day would come when “If you don’t like it here, move to Russia” became a thing to say to conservatives, yet here we are in 2013 and it’s happened. History is a twisty snake indeed.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    That’s really what I was after. I’m fairly young – I was born in 1983 so I grew up mostly as the Cold War was ending/over; but that hasn’t stopped conservatives from saying all sorts of idiotic stuff to me since I became a liberal in my late teens.

  • MikeJ

    By “flipping” the equation, it looks like you’re implying gay people aren’t Christians. Which I’m sure isn’t your intent, but only because I don’t take a proof text approach to reading this blog.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    I can see exactly why it might look like that but reading it that way would be wrong. The issue at hand is that the Bryan Fischers of the world see Christian and gay as mutually exclusive categorizations.[1] As such, when arguing with them a useful technique is to say, “What if you were in their shoes?”

    For Fred and the majority of the regulars on this particular dock in blogostan the categories of Christian and gay aren’t mutually exclusive. The people in that camp might have more sympathy with Christians or more sympathy with gays or have equal amounts for both, depending on any number of factors, but but they’re more likely to recognize that persecuting anybody for any reason is wrong and, as such, won’t need to have this particular script flipped.

    The only situation I can think of where that wouldn’t work is with someone who recognizes that there are gay Christians but who really, really hates one category or the other. Flipping the script there might be useful, but they might also hate the one category so much that it overrides their fellow-feeling for the other category. For that type of person…I got nothin’.

    [1]For the Fischers it’s helpful to realize, too, that they make a further distinction between “Christian” and “real Christian,” or as we call ’em around here, Real True Christian (RTC). This adds a different calculus, since they’ll deny that, say, Methodists are really Christians until they need to make the point that Christians are the majority or someone, somewhere does something that inconveniences a Methodist and it can be loudly trumpeted as persecution. So they might hate Methodists because Methodists are (largely, from what I recall) okay with gays, but the moment a tin-pot dictator says, “We’re not going to allow Methodists to freely practice their religion here,” Bryan Fischer will be telling everyone who will listen about all the evils of said tin-pot dictator.

  • Jim Roberts

    It’s not flipping the script from gays to Christians, but from gays to Fischeresque Real True Christians.

  • dpolicar

    Some of whom, incidentally, are gay.

  • Jim Roberts

    Not anymore – just ask them.
    (You’re right, of course, but that’s the harsh thing about human conflict – it’s never a matter of two people on two clearly defined sides. There’s never two sides of the same coin, really, just a bunch of tarnished pennies arguing over which is the least damaged*)
    *There’s a terrible pun in here about “being the change” that should be beneath me, except that I just made it.

  • Zed

    I’m sure that for Fred (and any decent human being) of course gay can be Christians, but for the Real True Christians(TM) which are cheering Putin they most certainly can not

  • Lori

    “Russia could become a model pro-family society,”

    And monkeys could fly out of my butt, but it’s not likely.

  • AnonaMiss

    Actually I don’t think monkeys could fly out of your butt. Unless they were very small monkeys or you have a very large butt.

  • dpolicar

    Very small monkeys are unlikely, but not impossible.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    A baby lemur, perhaps?

  • VMink

    “I like big chimps and I cannot lie?”

  • Daniel

    “a very large butt”

    So… a barrel of monkeys?

  • Daniel

    In Russia, consensual sex between adults, including incest, is not a crime.[24][28] However, under the Family Code of Russia, persons who are
    related lineally, siblings, half-siblings, and a stepparent and a stepchild may
    not marry.[29]

    Wikipedia seems to think they’re pretty pro-family.

  • The_L1985

    Indeed! Why, you can marry your aunt, do unmentionable things to your sister, and it’s all totally legal!

    “Keeping it in the family,” indeed.

  • Daniel

    Unless you’re her sister or her niece, of course. That’s just wrong.

  • WingedBeast

    You’ve got to remember that when they talk about family, they mean “The Family”, as in only one with no others.
    Some of us mean pro-family as in “families” because there are a lot of ’em and they all look so different from each other.

  • Jenny Islander

    As someone said, ” ‘Family values’ really means that only certain families are considered valuable; all other families are considered worthless.”

  • Lori

    The thing is, Russian policies aren’t good for The Family any more than they’re good for families. Which makes sense since the policy is not designed to help The Family, let alone families. It’s designed to help Putin and his cronies.

  • Jeff

    “Would there be any question whatsoever of the United States of America participating in an Olympic Games hosted by a country that refused to guarantee the safety of Christian athletes or spectators, or that had passed laws against Christians similar to those Russia has imposed against homosexuals?”
    Well, Christianity is illegal in China and Christians there certainly faced persecution circa 2008 (as well as into the present). Were you on record in 2008 calling for a boycott of the Beijing games?

  • Baby_Raptor

    Where did Fred, or the passage he quoted, call for a boycott of the games?

  • Lori

    Fred didn’t. I did. I also didn’t think the games should have been held in Beijing.

  • Jeff

    Lori, I’m going to surprise you by somewhat agreeing with you. But I wonder if a full-on boycott is really fair to the atheletes, and, more importantly, whether it would actually accomplish very much. American non-participation would, in theory, deprive the games of substantial revenue due to heavily reduced American media participation, BUT, I believe the broadcast rights are sold years in advance, so the IOC already has NBC’s billion dollars (or whatever), whether NBC broadcasts the games or not. It seems that, to have any real effect, we’d have to announce a boycott immediately upon the announcement of the site selection, which happens, what, 8 years out? So maybe the better thing is for individual athletes to opt out as a matter of individual conscience; it seems a lot for a government to ask them to give up something they’ve trained their entire lives for, for the sake of what will probably ultimately be a merely symbolic gesture.

  • dpolicar

    I wonder if a full-on boycott is really fair to the athletes

    A boycott of Olympic participation damages the athletes. It might be fair or might not, depending on what provisions it makes for compensating the athletes for those damages.

    the broadcast rights are sold years in advance… to have any real effect, we’d have to announce a boycott immediately upon the announcement of the site selection

    Not really. This would be necessary to have an immediate effect, sure, but successful boycotts often have real effects that aren’t immediate.

    If we successfully boycott a movie because it has X, we don’t prevent that movie from being made; to do that we’d have had to announce the boycott immediately upon the start of production.

    But successful boycotts can nevertheless have a real effect on the amount of X in movies, because movies are not made in isolation from one another. There’s a larger system, and events related to one movie can have an effect on later movies. In fact, this is routine and uncontroversial.

    The same is true of the Olympics.

    So maybe the better thing is for individual athletes to opt out as a
    matter of individual conscience

    That option certainly always exists. The question at hand is unrelated to that, though; it is whether we collectively choose to take this step as a matter of our collective conscience.

  • Jeff

    Dave, I agree, even symbolic boycotts can serve a purpose, but I don’t think in this case that boycotting is likely to change the Russian policy, or to prevent the IOC from holding the games in countries like Russia and China in the future.

  • Lori

    But I wonder if a full-on boycott is really fair to the atheletes,
    and, more importantly, whether it would actually accomplish very much.

    Yes, it would probably be unfair to the athletes and I think that’s regrettable. On the other hand, it’s not fair to LGBT athletes that they’re being put in the position of having to risk their personal safety to participate in the games when their straight competitors don’t face the same level of threat.

    It’s also unfair in a way to leave it up to athletes’ individual consciences. It puts them on the hook for someone else’s screw up (Russia for being so shitty and the IOC for first awarding them the games and then not being able to protect the athletes). It ends up having the perverse effect of rewarding people, with medals & the recognition that comes with them, for not being decent enough to mind that Russia is violating the human rights of LGBT folks.

    Then there’s the fact that “it’s so unfair to the athletes” is pretty much the cry every time the host of the games pulls some appalling shit and people suggest that it goes against the supposed point of the games to have such a regime in charge of them. It’s not like repressive governments don’t know that’s what will happen. In fact they count on it and use it.

    I assume that the IOC does already have NBC’s money, so it isn’t going to suffer an immediate huge economic hit if there’s a boycott. However, having countries boycott the games because the IOC awarded them to yet another government run by total shitheads and then couldn’t protect participants would be a nasty black eye for them and could drive change within the organization when it comes to choosing host locations.

    I also think that there is value beyond the symbolic in standing up and saying “This is not acceptable.” I don’t think a boycott is going to happen, but I think it should. I think the world should stand up and turn its collective back on Putin’s government. I think we should be saying very clearly and loudly, if you continue this business of choosing a small, socially powerless group and persecuting them for political gain you’re going to be a pariah nation. We’ve been down this road too many times and we’re not going down it again. Enough.

  • Daniel

    I had an argument with my dad about this just the other day- because of the athletics in Moscow- and his view was that it was unreasonable to ask the athletes to boycott because Russian law is none of their concern.
    My view is that before the games take place, some symbol should be agreed upon that athletes wanting to protest can show in the stadium. The Russians have said the law will not have any effect on foreign sportsmen/women and part of the law is against “gay propaganda”. So what I hope to see is athletes camping it up on the podium, rainbow flags being carried on victory laps, and maybe lavender gloved salutes on the podium. Instead of boycotting, turn the whole thing into a massive mardi-gras.

  • Lori

    The most recent word that I’ve seen from the guy in charge of enforcing the law was the statement released yesterday. Unless there’s been a reversal since then*, the current state of the issue is that the law will be enforced during the games and athletes, team staff and spectators are subject to the law. IOW, camping it up could get someone arrested. So basically, no one can safely to it unless everyone does it.

    *Which is possible since either parts of the Russian government are seriously at odds with each other on what to do about the games or they’re all on the same page and muddying the waters in an attempt to stave off a boycott or other negative consequences. I’m inclined to suspect that latter. They’ve been stalling for months to keep the games from being moved and now they’re stalling to try to limit a boycott.

  • Daniel

    I didn’t know that.

    The last I heard was late last week when the Russians were very keen to exploit other people’s disinterest in things that won’t directly affect them. That’s why they said that for the Moscow athletics they wouldn’t be taking legal measures against any athletes who were, or who knew, or who had no problem with homosexuals. It was cynical and deliberately done to make people go “well they’re not going after us so who cares?”

    But thanks for the depressing update.

  • Lorehead

    It’s easy for me to say that athletes should civilly disobey the law and dare Russia either to allow a public demonstration of pride and solidarity or to force the issue by arresting an athlete. I’m not risking arrest, and I’m certainly not in shape to compete in the Olympics. But if no one does, then the world condones what’s going on in Russia.

  • Lori

    Eh, I don’t think it’s fair to put responsibility for whether or not the world condones what Russia is doing on the shoulders of some unidentified athlete who needs to risk arrest in a country where being arrested is a bad experience. If the world, like Jeff, values an (oh-so-convenient) concern for athlete careers and “national pride” too much to boycott the games then we need to own that, not push it off of on some athlete to take one for the team.

  • Jeff

    Lori, I suspected that civil discussion with you was probably ultimately going to derail, and while I’m unsurprised by this dip into intellectual dishonesty on your part, I’m disappointed by it. What I said, clearly and consistently, was that it’s much to ask of our athletes and our country to deprive ourselves of the benefits of our particpation /in the name of an empty symbolic gesture/ and /if we are not also doing the bigger and more tangible and substantial things that might actually effect change/. It’s basically the equivalent of a Congressperson saying “I’m for gun control”, but then he votes against gun control — what good did the statement do?

  • Lori

    Jeff, your consistent sanctimony is why I really had no interest in discussing this, or anything else with you.

  • Jeff

    I don’t think that finding someone distasteful is an appropriate justification for misrepresenting them, and while you’re entitled to your distaste, once again you’re missing my point. You said that my, and others’, concern for the athletes is “convenient”, strongly insinuating that I, and others, are just using this as a prop, when the /real/ reason we don’t support a boycott is because really, we have no problem with gays being killed. Now I care about this, not because I’m concerned with your opinion of me, but because I think it’s detrimental to our ability to problem-solve as a nation when it’s not possible to discuss something without one side blipping to “you just want gays/women/the poor/whomever to DIE!” Of course, I’m the first to admit this does happen on the conservative side, as well.

  • Jeff

    Lori, once again, I don’t entirely disagree, but the problem that two of the three largest powers have policies that we find problematic seems so much bigger that the question “why do we conduct so much business with these countries?” seems to dwarf the question of “should we show up when they get a turn at hosting the Olympics?”
    It’s not just the athletes that are deprived by a boycott; success in the Olympics is a source of national pride and unity, and goodness knows there are many other places where we can find that these days. You’d be right to say that this, too, is less important than the persecution that citizens of these countries face. But at the same time, I really don’t think participation in the Olympics constitutes explicit or implicit endorsement of those policies, and that if we condemn certain policies, there are probably more important and more effective steps we need to take to make our disapproval known and make it bite.

  • Jeff

    Ugh, that first sentence is a mess! Sorry about that, it’s hard to write coherently in this small text box…

  • LMM22

    American non-participation would, in theory, deprive the games of substantial revenue due to heavily reduced American media participation…

    You’re thinking of this wrong. The Olympics may have a *huge* amount of money associated with them, but almost everyone sees them as an expression of national pride, not as a way to make money.

    If the US were to pull out — and if the US boycott were to inspire other boycotts by equally powerful nations — that would be a *huge* slap in the face to Russia. It’s not about financial gain at this point. It’s about national prestige. The money is secondary.

  • Jeff

    Well, I think that’s the very question — if other countries adopt policies we don’t like, what is the best way for us to persuade them to change those policies? “Not showing up when they host the Olympics” may be one such way, but does it accomplish very much? I think maybe it just punishes ourselves more than it slaps the host country in the face. Of course, there’s the related question of how to persuade the IOC not to let countries with problematic policies host the Olympics, but presumably such arguments have been made and disregarded, so ultimately, any participation in the Olympics whatsoever would have to be seen as endorsing the IOC’s decision to occasoinally hold the Olympics in problematic countries. In other words, consistency probably requires you to support a permanent boycott of the Olympics in perpetuity. Not that that’s necessarily what you’re calling for.

  • dpolicar

    Well, I think that’s the very question — if other countries adopt policies we don’t like, what is the best way for us to persuade them to change those policies?

    That’s certainly a question.

    Another question is, if other countries adopt policies we oppose, how do we avoid endorsing those policies when interacting with those countries?

    Not showing up when they host the Olympics is one such way. There are certainly other ways, some of which are more effective. These are not mutually exclusive.

    any participation in the Olympics whatsoever would have to be seen as endorsing the IOC’s decision to occasoinally hold the Olympics in problematic countries

    Nonsense. It can be seen that way, I suppose, but it certainly doesn’t have to be, and in fact I suspect most people would not see it that way.

  • Jeff

    I guess my point is, if our beef is with Russia hosting the Olympics, why are we taking it out on ourselves (by depriving ourselves of participation) rather than on the IOC that allowed Russia to host, and why do we want to have anything to do with the IOC in the first place? Why don’t we just opt out of the Olympics altogether? I think the answer to that question is probably the same as the answer of why we participated in the Beijing games and why we’ll ultimately participate in the Sochi games.

  • dpolicar

    Why don’t we just opt out of the Olympics altogether?

    Presumably, because we want to participate in the Olympics.

    If you’re asking why we want to participate in the Olympics, you’re asking the wrong guy… personally, I don’t care in the least, and probably wouldn’t notice.

    I think the answer to that question is probably the same as the answer of why we participated in the Beijing games and why we’ll ultimately participate in the Sochi games.

    Well, yes, our reasons for not opting out of the Olympics will probably turn out to be the same as our reasons for participating in the Olympics.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    adopt policies we don’t like

    Well, when it boils down to it, it’s all just a matter of personal preference. You know, there are some things I like and some things I don’t. Personally, I’m not very fond of the idea of spending a substantial number of years in a Russian prison with the government’s implicit permission to be assaulted and murdered, but maybe that’s just me. It would definitely be a cause for mild concern if I were an athlete or a person who’d come to watch the event, especially after Russian officials had repeatedly stated that it was fully their intent to enforce a purposefully vague law while the event was taking place. I’d have to think twice about such things as having the wrong haircut, wearing a wedding ring, having my lover
    in attendance making any reference to them while I was there, wearing any sign of my orientation such as a wrong color (or, heavens forbid, a rainbow pin), etc.

    But yeah, it’s just “problematic.” Just “policies we don’t like.” Nothing serious for any moral crusader.

  • Mark Z.

    “Not showing up” accomplishes very little. What the boycotting teams would need to do (and this is the advantage of an organized boycott by entire teams) is shop around for some not-Russia country with a suitable venue and hold the “Olympics in exile”, which would both (1) let them compete at the highest international level like they’ve been training to do, and (2) be a really conspicuous protest.

    Let’s say Team USA and Canada and Norway and Germany and South Korea pull out and hold their own games at the old facility in Vancouver.* Audiences from those countries are going to watch the hell out of that. They will mostly not want to see the “real” Games, because their teams aren’t present. So NBC’s broadcast rights are near-worthless, and the IOC will get sued up to its eyeballs for screwing up. Meanwhile, whichever of their competitors covers the Fauxlympics** will come out ahead.

    And a major theme of that coverage will have to be “Wait, why aren’t these the real Olympics?” Answer: because the real Olympics are being held in a brutal police state that will throw you in jail for being gay, and some of the teams were not okay with that.

    * Just to twist the knife on both Russia and the IOC, they should include freestyle wrestling in the lineup.

    ** “Olympics in exile” would be the first choice, but the trademark is a problem.

  • Jeff

    Cool idea!

  • LMM22

    I think maybe it just punishes ourselves more than it slaps the host country in the face

    Really? Dude, we’re the United States. People may hate us, people may dislike us — but we’ve got a *huge* amount of power.

    If we lived in some tiny island nation, I might agree with you. But it’s not like no one is going to notice if the United States of America doesn’t show up to the freaking Olympics. (Not to mention, if the US doesn’t go, it’s quite likely that some of the EU and its ilk won’t go either.)

    And when it comes to problematic nations, I don’t think we’ve held the Olympics in a country that’s sanctioned violence against a number of our athletes in … well, awhile.

  • dpolicar

    Speaking of U.S. exceptionalism, my Brazilian husband, talking about his family’s take on all this, amuses me by observing that they’re mostly confused. “Wait… the United States is criticizing some other country for treating gays badly? Does not compute…”

    I’m reminded of my reaction to the anti-marriage equality protests in France, which appear to be largely conducted by hot muscular young men who scrawl brightly colored slogans on their bare chests. I mean, I’m sure that makes sense if you’re French, but from my perspective it’s just… wait, what?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Russia might not really care about the money, but the IOC sure as hell does. If NBC cancelled their contract, they could probably have the Games held in NYC forever more to get it back. Coca Cola and McDonalds could do the same

  • LMM22

    Oh, the IOC cares, but it’s not the IOC we ultimately want to influence. The larger issue here is not, the IOC is willing to hold the Olympics in a country that’s wiling to throw people in jail for being gay — the issue is, there’s a major country that’s willing to throw people in jail for being gay and they’re hosting the Olympics.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    I agree that the USA and other nations pulling out would be more of a symbolic gesture than doing any major damage to Russia. But if you can make the Games less profitable by other means (such as convincing major sponsors to pull out), then the IOC might be more inclined to move them, which would at least protect the athletes.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    When you say you wonder if it’s “really fair to the athletes,” you mean the straight athletes, right? I mean, being sent off to risk imprisonment by a cartoonishly evil regime looking to show how big their anti-gay cock is kind of unfair to some of those athletes.

    (Bracketing the human suffering for a moment, I do wonder what would happen if Russia tried to imprison an american athlete for violating their vaguely specified anti-gay law. Would the conservative right’s anti-gay sentiment be enough to overpower their ‘America Fuck Yeah’ attitude that HOW DARE those No Good Commies try to impose THEIR laws on OUR people reflex? Would their authoritarian streak be able to cope with what would, frankly, be nothing ore than a russian stunt to assert dominance?)

  • Fanraeth

    While the hardcore Brian Fischers of the right might be just fine with it, I can’t see the semi-normal conservatives standing for it. Half of them are probably still bitter we never got to bomb Moscow.

  • Lorehead

    On reflection, I don’t think it is particularly fair to put the individual athletes in position of either silently endorsing the law, risking arrest without even the support of the IOC, or giving up their lifelong dream of competing in the Olympics. The politicians and corporate sponsors who have actual influence over the IOC should not be putting the entire onus on the athletes with no support, while they pocket all the money. And to be honest, I’m not going to fly to Russia or China, protest, and go to prison myself.

    We should really be pressuring those politicians and sponsors, who can protest effectively and safely with their pocketbooks, more than the athletes. True, the IOC might already have NBC’s money, but if NBC seriously got burned on this, in their next negotiation they would need absolute reassurance that nothing like this will ever happen again. And that goes for the World Cup, too.

  • Space Marine Becka

    The Russian LGBT netword has issued a statement asking people not boycott the games http://www.lgbtnet.ru/en/content/winter-olympics-we-should-speak-not-walk-out

  • Lori

    They’re assuming that people who come to the games will speak out and that will be effective in a way that a boycott will not. I’m not convinced they’re correct about either half of that equation. They know their situation in Russia best, but I’m not convinced that means they’re best able to predict how people will respond to the threat of being arrested or having rule 50 invoked. And we need to be clear, the current state of things is that anyone who does anything that could remotely be considered speaking out is risking both arrest by Russian authorities and having rule 50 invoked against them by the IOC.

    Also Tommie Smith and John Carlos did not give a ‘human rights salute’. It was a black power salute. That’s not the same thing and I feel like generalizing it as a ‘human rights salute’ is either a misunderstanding of the history or it’s watering down the gesture in order to make it less scary. In either case I think it doesn’t respect what Smith and Carlos were trying to say.

  • Sagrav

    Christianity is not illegal in China, it is simply tightly controlled by the state. You can complain about the Chinese control of state sanctioned churches, but to say that this particular religion is illegal is false.


  • Lorehead

    Being a Catholic in communion with the Pope, however, is.

  • Parhelion

    Hmm. Think you’re missing the point here.

    Fred’s asking if Christians would complain about Christians being persecuted in an Olympic host country and, well looky there, they did. (So have I, for that matter, and I’m queer.) Then he’s asking if some of the same folks are consistent and doing for others what they do for themselves. Quite evidently, nope. That’s a pretty evident golden rule fail, so his argument stands.

    On the other hand, “Well, but you, did you…um do something you weren’t talking about, so I can change the subject away from what they evidently did?” is not so much of a good argument.

  • Jeff

    I am merely calling attention to what I perceive as a case of selective outrage. I found it interesting that he (via quotation of another blogger) is saying “we Christians wouldn’t put up with this if it happened to one of us!”, and so, the question must be asked, well, did he, a Christian blogger, actually say anything about it in 2008, or not? (Someone who has been reading the blog longer than I could probably tell us). I admit that this is something of a tu quoque argument, and I do think it’s silly and problematic for the Christian organizations he cites to lift up the Russian state as a paragon of moral virtue.

    The question of how to interact with societies with laws that we object to is of course a complicated one, and one that goes far beyond the issue of participating in the Olympics.

  • Wednesday

    I… um…. are there two different MikeJ’s here, is MikeJ disagreeing with himself, or is Disqus being screwy again with comment placement and/or attribution?

  • AnonaMiss

    Neither of them are MikeJ :) Refresh the page

  • Wednesday

    Thanks, will do.

    Wow. It’s like the opposite of a Twilight Zone episode, where instead of realizing that all the commentors are the same I discover they’re all _different_.

    Disqus….*shakes fist*

  • Parhelion

    I agree that how to interact with these societies is a complex question, but it really doesn’t seem to have been the question Fred was trying to address.

    As is oft his wont — a chance to use that phrase!– he was discussing a rather large splinter in the eye of the community in which he claims membership.

  • Carstonio

    China strongly limits individual religious freedom, and that’s one reason I objected to Beijing hosting the Olympics. But such restrictions impact citizens of many different religions. Christians in China aren’t being singled out. The issue in Russia is persecution of a minority. If I’m going to Godwin this thread, I’ll do it with gusto – in my view, Russia is two or three steps away from sending all LGBT folks to Siberian gulags.

  • Jeff

    Well, sure, the problem with China isn’t just that it persecutes Christians, it’s that it persecutes broad segments of its population. Certainly that doesn’t make it a more noble society than Russia (although that’s presumably not what you’re saying). I am disappointed you didn’t work in a reference to the 1936 Berlin games in your attempt to go full-on Godwin!

  • Carstonio

    I doubt that a comparison to the Berlin games would qualify as Godwinning. Perhaps if Sochi had a version of Jesse Owens, an athlete who came out as gay after winning several medals. In any case, it’s not difficult to see Russia having a homophobic Kristallnacht, or Ночь битого стекла.

  • LMM22

    To steal a meme from Mike the Mad Biologist, you’re referencing the wrong historical event. What we’re seeing isn’t the start of the Holocaust. It’s the start of a pogram.

  • Daniel

    Or the Homodomor.

  • Carstonio

    That’s a fair comparison. My original thought was about the organized persecution in the early days of the Holocaust. Gays in Russia could be herded into ghettoes and be required to wear pink triangles in public, to conveniently make them targets for violence.

  • Emcee, cubed

    This may show up in a longer comment I am writing above as well, but yes. One of the most infuriating things is people who pooh-pooh comparisons to Germany, because they aren’t rounding up gays and sending them into camps. The Holocaust did not happen overnight. It wasn’t one day certain segments of the population were free and the next they were put into death camps. There was a progression, and one of the early steps was to make laws so that certain practices by certain groups was illegal. So no, as far as we know, they haven’t opened a gay Dachau yet. but do we really want to wait until they do?

  • LMM22

    This is where I hate threaded comments, because I can’t respond to multiple people at once.

    This is the original post (from less than a week ago) that I’m stealing from.

    The parallels he points to are pretty clear. The Holocaust had to be (and was) organized from on-high. Death camps weren’t an act of state-sanctioned violence, they were acts committed *by* the state. Ghettos and yellow stars (or pink triangles) were also acts mandated *by* Germany.

    Pograms were largely acts committed on a more local scale. They were led by an admixture of groups, including local authorities, nationalist parties, and anti-Semetic organizations. The state may have encouraged them, and the laws passed by the state definitely emboldened the participants, but the Tzar didn’t order the military to go out and round up Jews.

  • Emcee, cubed

    I’m not disagreeing with the analogy, and right now it seems very apropos, since that is what is happening. (And my apologies. On re-reading my comment, it could be taken that I meant you specifically were brushing off the comparisons, and that isn’t what I meant. Just that there are people who are brushing them off.)

    But again, the state didn’t start by ordering people into death camps, or by mandating ghettos. It started with things like making it illegal for Jews to own guns. Or making it illegal for gentiles to rent to Jews. So yes, maybe Putin et al will be content to let the “masses” do the work instead of actually passing more laws to do it themselves. But I really really don’t want to find out. They are already trying (or did? the timeline on this got confusing) to pass a law that allows the state to take away adopted or biological children from QUILTBAG parents. (Personally, I’m guessing that accusations of homosexuality during divorce proceedings are going rise dramatically.) Who knows what they have planned next?

  • LMM22

    But again, the [Nazi German] state didn’t start by ordering people into death camps, or by mandating ghettos…. So yes, maybe Putin et al will be content to let the “masses” do the work instead of actually passing more laws to do it themselves. But I really really don’t want to find out.

    I think we’re talking around each other at this point.

    The point of the pogrom analogy is not to make less of the situation. I’m not. Pogroms killed a huge number of people and terrorized entire communities. The difference here is the mechanism.

    From what I can tell, this isn’t a top-down process. What Putin and his ilk are doing encourages mob violence, yes — but the problem here seems to be less about what Putin is doing and more about what Putin isn’t doing. They may not be leading attacks against gay people themselves, but they don’t have to. All they have to do is pass laws that permit such behavior (or turn a blind eye on it when it happens) and wait for the violence to start. We’ve seen this happen — in the US and in Russia. The state doesn’t have to get its hands dirty in order to terrorize or even completely destroy a group of people. All the national government has to do is look away while it’s happening.

  • Persia

    Jesse Owens was already well-known as black, though. Johnny Weir might triumph, though. I’d like to see that. I know it feeds into gay stereotypes a bit, but figure skating is one of the big Winter Olympic draws.

  • phantomreader42

    I recall something about protest signs asking “would we let Hitler host the Olympics?” (Which, as a matter of fact, we did) But I’m not sure when that protest occurred, it was an earlier Olympics, may have been Beijing. Or it may have been the last time they were in Russia…

  • Carstonio

    Also, you’re missing Fred’s main point, which is that the persecution of LGBTs in Russia is actually drawing applause from US evangelicals.

  • Jeff

    I didn’t miss that point, but you’re correct that I’m not primarily responding to it, but only to other aspects of the post.

  • phantomreader42

    So, Jeff, you have nothing to say about the main point (by your own admission), so why do you keep babbling? Oh, yeah, you’re just desperately hunting for an excuse to scream GOTCHA!! You have nothing worthwhile to say, your only goal is to whine about irrelevant shit in hopes of distracting attention from real problems (like the fact that what passes for christian leaders in America are shitty christians, shitty leaders, shitty Americans, and shitty human beings).

  • VMtheCoyote

    Does it really count as Gdwining if the comparison is so accurate?

  • Carstonio

    Because it has always been against progress, the liberalising of attitudes, modern art and strangers (whether by race, gender or sexuality)…deep down they have always come from the same place and had the same instinct for the lowest, most mean-spirited, hypocritical, spiteful and philistine elements of our island nation.

    Take out “island” and you would have a good description of Fox News.

  • Carstonio

    Also, Lord Dacre reminds me of the bullying publisher of the Daily Smear, the tabloid in the Anglicized Superman story True Brit. Probably no coincidence – co-author John Cleese has had unpleasant relations with the tabloids over the years.

  • Daniel

    That is who he’s based on. Paul Dacre is so awful even the Express editor hates him.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    Yeah. And you know what really makes it ironic? The way all the gay people were running around praising China for creating a perfect society because they didn’t have any of those pesky Christians mucking about.

    Oh, wait, no. That didn’t happen.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Thank you. I get so tired of people playing the False Equivalence game, rushing in to earn Gotcha Points.

  • Jim Roberts

    Wow, the wooshing sound of those goalposts moving is practically deafening.
    I’ve yet to read a clear, positive statement from Fred that there should be a boycott of the Moscow Olympics, so I don’t know why you’re even asking that. Yes, he quote from an article that talks about it, but he uses that as a stepping stone to explain that it isn’t just that there’s no outrage from Christians about the anti-GBLTQ laws in Russia, but that there’s active support of them.
    We’re standing AGAINST the oppressed, and claiming that they’re the ones oppressing us.

  • That’s Not Yogurt

    Were there a large number of prominent American atheists applauding China’s persecution of Christians, as there are a large number of ignorant bigot goons applauding Russia’s persecution of gay people?

  • phantomreader42

    For Jeff to answer that question would require him to address Fred’s actual point, something he has admitted he has neither the desire nor the ability to do. The only reason Jeff is here is that he’s desperately hunting for an excuse to scream GOTCHA!!

  • Jeff

    Stipulated: there are many Christians, some of whom hold positions of influence, visibility, or authority, who are variously ignorant, foolish, and so forth. (“Bigot goons” is a bridge too far for me, but that’s neither here nor there).
    However. Are the “bigot goons” applauding the /persecution/ of gay people, /in all of the forms that it appears to be taking/? Just following Fred’s links, it appears that the laudatory comments pertain primarily to the Russian prohibition of the distribution of literature about homosexuality to minors. Now, you may say that this too is a form of persecution, and that’s fine. But it’s an unmotivated leap of logic to go from there to say that these Christians also support /acts of violence/ against homosexuals. Perhaps they do, but Fred hasn’t provided any evidence that they do. To be sure, praising Russia for the former is an exceedingly silly and stupid thing to do.

  • Jeff

    To wit: In response to the proposed legislation in Uganda that would give the death penalty for homosexual behavior:
    Scott Lively said the bill was “too harsh”, Rick Warren called it “un-Christian”, Richard Cohen (an author and “conversion therapist apparently influential in Ugandan thought on this subject) called it “incomprehensible”, and Don Schmierer, of Exodus International, called the bill “horrible, truly horrible.” (Thanks wikipedia)
    You can make the case that leaders like these, and others, are wrong to oppose homosexual behavior and wrong to support domestic and foreign legislation that criminalizes such behavior, but accusing them of approving violent persecution of homosexuals is libelous.

  • That’s Not Yogurt

    Have any of these people spoken out against the violence done to gay people in Russia?
    When Scott Lively et al. spoke about the bill in Uganda, were the speaking to Americans or Ugandans? Scott Lively has a lot of contacts in Uganda – did he encourage them to change the bill in any way?
    Given the violent language employed by American conservative christians against people like me, and having been raised by and among those sorts of disgusting people, I find it hard to come to any conclusion other than that they approve of violent persecution. If they’d care to sue me for libel, I’d love to give them their day in court. The truth is an absolute defense.

  • That’s Not Yogurt

    Yep, Scott Lively sure is against violence (thanks wikipedia):
    “In 1991, Lively assaulted Catherine Stauffer, throwing her against a wall and dragging her across the floor of a Portland church, at an Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA) event she had been trying to film.[15] Stauffer received a judgment of over $31,000 against Lively and the OCA in 1992.”
    Too bad it’s never people like Scott Lively who get thrown against a wall.

  • Jeff

    You’re grasping at straws. I’m not supporting Lively, not in his personal actions, and not in his advocacy against homosexuality. What I instead call into question is the allegation made by Fred, and by you, that “American Christians” support violent persecution of homosexuals in Russia. This is Fred’s (and your) argument to make, so the onus is on you to support it. The facts Fred places in evidence are quotes from a small handful of leaders, but the quotes DO NOT ADDRESS the matter of violent persecution, and quotes by similar leaders openly condemn such persecution. You’re of course welcome to draw conclusions that are not supported by evidence, but public accusations are certainly libelous (granting, of course, that no one really takes internet libel too seriously), and wishing violence upon one of the leaders in question rather stands in contradiction to the point you’re trying to advance, but that’s also your prerogative.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    So they ought to get a pass for merely praising the letter of the law and remaining silent about its spirit?

  • That’s Not Yogurt

    I like it when bad things happen to bad people. Obviously, YM does in fact V.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Bryan Fischer publicly commends the Kill The Gays Bill, implicitly calls for the same in the USA: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2012/11/25/51287

    One Google search. You ain’t even trying, fool.

  • Carstonio

    “America’s reckless and decadent promotion of gender confusion” – People like LaBarbera seem to want their homophobia both ways. They insist that homosexuality is a choice and condemn people who allegedly make that choice. But they also insist that LGBT people are confused about gender, which would imply that they’re too befuddled to make an informed choice.

    At least LaBarbera is fairly open about wanting to be the gender police. Most other “professional homophobes” use dog whistles. Maybe he has nightmares about being trapped in the Gender Ambiguity Apocalypse.

  • Parhelion

    Is it wrong of me to want to visit the Gender Ambiguity Apocalypse? I can ignore all the dogs and cats left living together in confusion long enough to enjoy gravely concerned news announcers who look like Tilda Swinton in Orlando

  • Carstonio

    Imagine a gender ambiguity version of the Looney Tunes short Mouse Wreckers with LaBarbera as Claude. (The Hubie and Bertie cartoons were fairly dark, and I’m undecided as to whether they mocked mental illness.)

  • dpolicar

    LaBarbera is perfectly consistent: he wants to control the gender-related behavior of queer people.

    He can talk about “gender confusion” in order to frame queer folk as requiring straight folk to control our gender-related behavior for our own good. He can talk about “sin” in order to justify that control in religious context. He can talk about “protecting the fundamental underpinnings of society” when he wants to justify that control in the context of social goods.

    There’s other language that works for other contexts… racial purity, for example, or economics, or whatever.

    And, sure, the particular framings are all inconsistent with one another, but that’s OK… the framing isn’t important, it’s just a wrapper. It can be thrown away once the underlying package — the need to control the gender-related behavior of queer people — is accepted.

    (Similar things are true about the behavior of women.)

  • Carstonio

    I mean that LaBarbera’s arguments about LGBT folks are inconsistent. Allegedly they’re choosing to rebel against heterosexuality or they’re too deluded and befuddled about gender to make such a choice.

    And while you’re right that he wants to control the gender-related behavior of LGBT people, that’s too small to describe his mentality. He wants to control the gender-related behavior of everyone.

  • Daniel

    When they talk specifically about “gender confusion” is it because they know the difference between “sex” and “gender” or is it because they think those terms are interchangeable and don’t like to say “sex” in case children might hear?
    As gender is the non-biological aspects associated with a person’s sex, is it not implicit in their use of this word that “gender confusion” is the non-acceptance of a set of attributes that aren’t actually necessarily part of a person’s sex but that come from other sources- society, their parents etc. So using the “gender confusion” label is implicitly acknowledging that gender roles are not fixed and are not absolute- which would raise the question of why they need to be seen as definite and unchanging in all people always. And then, if this fluidity is accepted, there’s the further question of what “gender confusion” actually is.

  • dpolicar

    I usually understand the subculture in question as using “gender” as a polite/less ambiguous word for “sex,” and both words to mean whether someone is male or female in biologically and culturally unambiguous and standard ways.

    “Gender confusion” on this model is when an individual fails to be male or female in biologically and culturally unambiguous and standard ways — either by having a body with atypical anatomy (e.g., intersex folk) or by violating the standard cultural norms for the kind of body they have (e.g., LGBT and otherwise queer folk).

    E.g., on this model I demonstrate “gender confusion” because I violate the standard cultural norm for males which says we are exclusively attracted to females.

  • Daniel

    “I usually understand the subculture in question as using “gender” as a polite/less ambiguous word for “sex”

    That’s what I thought. It’s nice to know they’re complaining about gender confusion whilst apparently confused about what that word actually means.

  • dpolicar

    The irony, it burns.

    But it’s a pretty fundamental divide.

    I sometimes think of it as analogous to the difference between prescriptivist and descriptivist views of grammar… the latter views a grammar for a language as a description of how people in fact speak that language, the former views the grammar of a language as a description of how to properly speak that language.

    It’s hard for prescriptivists and descriptivists to even have a coherent conversation with one another.

  • Daniel

    As they use “gender” to avoid the awkwardness they feel when using the word “sex” I wonder how long it’ll be before they manage to feel awkward saying “gender” too and another word has to be substituted.

  • dpolicar

    Traditionally, that takes about twenty years within a linguistic community. These days, boundaries between linguistic communities are sufficiently porous that honestly, I haven’t a clue.

  • Daniel

    Well on this linguistic side road we’ve taken now, I’d be interested to know what the reaction would be from the people who talk about “gender confusion” if that second word were changed to something more positive like “curiosity” or “flexibility”. Would it be seen as another attempt by damn lefties to make a politically correct version of something? Turning their own euphemism against them to remove the negative connotations…

  • dpolicar

    I expect that the central members of that community would strongly resist the change, precisely because they intend a negative reading, and peripheral members would to varying degrees accept it with varying levels of discomfort.

  • Daniel

    I think it’s interesting because it’s a euphemism specifically used to make the thing in question sound worse than it is whilst still suggesting it should be treated sympathetically- “confusion” is not willful defiance, but the only answer, apparently, to “confusion” is rigid certainty.

    I’m also not sure (given the use of “gender” rather than “sex”) how far the confusion extends in a confused person’s life. If it’s just about sex (verb) then I’ve known lots of people who are completely certain that they like sex (verb) with other people of the same sex (noun). But if it is true gender confusion then presumably it extends beyond sex (verb) and into other aspects of life, which brings me back to an earlier point that in trying to combat “gender” confusion they’re actually limiting a person’s right to individuality and choice.

  • dpolicar

    If I describe someone whose favorite color is blue as “chromatically confused” because I believe the best color is actually red, my certainty about color values is not really an “answer” to that “confusion.” It is a restatement of it. They are only “confused” about color in the limited sense that they fail to conform to my standards about it.

    The same goes for gender. To talk about “gender confusion” is just another way of asserting that gender is actually described by clearcut and simple rules, and if my experience of gender is not captured by those rules then the fault lies with my experience, not with the rules.

    So, yes, of course it delegitimizes individual choices. That’s its function.

  • Daniel

    “So, yes, of course it delegitimizes individual choices. That’s its function.”
    It does this whilst admitting that choice is possible and demanding a choice be made. So to extend your comparison it’s like offering you a range of colour cards, asking which one you like best and when you choose red I sadly shake my head and say “no, I’m afraid you should like blue best”. But it goes beyond that and means you have to guard against anything else that might suggest you like red too. So even if your choice initially was blue, supporting a football team that play in red, drinking Tizer, liking strawberries etc etc are all things that could suggest you secretly do like red or at least are purple curious. Neither of these would be acceptable either.

    This is connected to the idea that being gay is a choice- apparently it is and is always the wrong choice. This is another thing I don’t understand.

    As with so many things in life South Park said it best “I wasn’t confused until people started telling me I was”.

  • dpolicar

    “This is connected to the idea that being gay is a choice- apparently it is and is always the wrong choice.”

    Well, yes. That, too, is the point.

    This is why I find the whole “it’s not a choice” response to anti-queer bigotry thing sort of alienating, despite recognizing that it’s meant well.

    I mean, of course being in a same-sex relationship is a choice. Many gay people have chosen to live in unhappy opposite-sex relationships, or to live unhappily alone, or to kill themselves, rather than choose to live in same-sex relationships.

    The important thing is that for many people it’s a superior choice, a proper choice, a moral choice.

    People who make each other happy choosing to build a family together is a choice we routinely celebrate and support and endorse, and it is right and good and proper that we do so. That doesn’t somehow become false because one or more of them is the “wrong” height or the “wrong” skin color or the “wrong” ethnicity or the “wrong” gender or the “wrong” sex.

  • Carstonio

    I also have qualms about “it’s not a choice.” Whether orientation is an inherent characteristic or a choice, there’s nothing immoral about having attractions to the same sex, and nothing immoral about acting on them.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Just makes me think of the troll we had here a couple of weeks ago. “Being gay gets you sent to Hell for eternity, but that’s not a punishment, just a consequence of bad choices.” They like to divest themselves of responsibility while retaining the right to arbitrate right and wrong.

  • Daniel

    Oh him. I spent so much time replying to that guy. He still hasn’t got back to me about the David/Jonathan thing- I implied they might “still collect twigs in the winter”. He said it was sad that people thought that. I asked why it would be sad for that to be the case. No answer yet. I hope he’s ok, he seemed very sad.

  • Daniel

    It still doesn’t answer the question of why an all loving God would allow you to make a choice with such an unimaginable consequence either. Still waiting for his answer on that too.

  • Carstonio

    Whether they know it or not, they’re actually making an atheist argument. They’re describing a universe without a sentient entity that chooses to dole out rewards and punishments.

  • Carstonio

    I’m sometimes torn between two camps. I want standard rules so that communication is clear, but I also recognize that meanings inevitably shift over time. I was initially confused by the “Super Bowl is Gay” video – I wondered why the singer wasn’t a raging homophobe dreading the game becoming a celebration of homosexuality.

  • dpolicar

    (nods) Yeah, I hear that.

    At some point I just came to accept that if I want communication to be clear, I need to be alert for cases where it seems that words aren’t being used consistently, and willing to back out and say “I’m not sure we’re using this word consistently; let’s get clear on what we mean by it before moving forward.”

    It would be nice if that weren’t necessary, and sometimes it isn’t, but sometimes it is.

    The price of clarity is eternal vigilance.

  • Jamoche

    “We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”

  • Daniel

    What’s your view on why they are apparently so threatened by other people who are not rigidly set in those roles?

  • dpolicar

    Mostly, that people vary.

    But, OK, more usefully… I don’t necessarily disagree with the standard “they just want to control everything and are frightened by what they can’t control” narrative; I’ve met people for whom it seems true.

    But I think it misses a lot of cases I would prefer not to miss.

    I’ve met some genuinely decent people over the years who have a rigid, “everything goes in its own box” way of interacting with the world, who expect words to have definitions that clearly designate the edges of mutually exclusive, jointly exhaustive concepts. Many of them are very bright, many are smarter than I am. (I went to a high-end engineering college, so I know a lot of these folks.)

    When faced with boundary-challenging edge cases that cause those concepts to break down, they seem to react as though that was cheating… a kind of “trick question” posed by reality. It is anxiety-provoking.

    This is very alien to me. When the real world violates my rules, I take that as an indication that my rules are incomplete, and I’m OK with that; I was never especially invested in the rules to begin with, they were just a convenient shorthand way of representing the messier more complicated reality. But I acknowledge that it’s not like that for many people; they are invested in the rules.

    Korzybski would say they’ve confused the map for the territory.

    I think that mindset underlies reactions to nonconforming gender expression for a lot of people… it challenges the map they’ve invested in, and they react to that challenge as though reality itself were falling apart.

    Actually, I think it underlies a lot of reactions to nonconformity more generally.

    I find it’s useful for me to remember that, because sometimes it lets me avoid making enemies I don’t have to make.

  • Carstonio

    don’t like to say “sex” in case children might hear?

    Heh. I admit that I want a word for biological differences that is distinct from “sex,” only because the latter is most often used to designate the physical act. What if the old Equal Rights Amendment were misinterpreted to mean that rights cannot be denied to people who refuse to sleep with lawmakers or magistrates?

    I strongly suspect that folks like LaBarbera don’t see a distinction between sex and gender. It’s tempting to believe that they wholly reject the idea of gender as a cultural construct. But my theory is that for them, biological differences is part of the deification of “nature.” They may see the cultural construct of gender as an example of humanity turning away from their god, as a human creation that’s necessarily sinful.

    If they really perceive biological difference as a godly concept, as implied in Genesis, maybe they should pray with one hand’s thumb and forefinger forming an O and the other hand’s forefinger sliding in and out of the O.

  • Daniel

    ” They may see the cultural construct of gender as an example of humanity
    turning away from their god, as a human creation that’s necessarily

    So how do they distinguish which bits are culturally constructed and which bits are from God? I’ll hazard a guess that there’s a strong coincidence of bits they like being divine and immutable and bits they dislike being man made and sinful…

  • Carstonio

    Good guess. They seem to be using the “human justice is imperfect and god’s justice is perfect” concept as a rationalization in a different context.

  • Daniel

    “And while you’re right that he wants to control the gender-related
    behavior of LGBT people, that’s too small to describe his mentality. He
    wants to control the gender-related behavior of everyone.”

    Again with the irony- the USSR and Communism were awful because they allowed no room for the individual, whereas the US is all about the individual. Gender identity as these people are arguing for is a social construct they won’t allow individuals to explore, accept or reject as they want. Because that’s anti-American and undermining the state.

  • Jenny Islander

    “Gender confusion” made less and less sense to me the more time I spent in the SCA. Here’s a short list of things that have been alternately “just” for men, “just” for women, and for anybody, and yet medieval Christendom soldiered on:

    *Showing off your legs.
    *Riding astride.
    *Wearing long, flowing garments.
    *Long hair.

    The only time and place in which culturally assigned gender roles were as vital as people like LaBarbera seem to think they are was in the pre-contact circumpolar North. The technological package needed simply to stay alive in that climate was so complex that no one person could do it all. Certain vital skills became the province of one gender,* with the rest being assigned to the other–and if you didn’t take up with a member of the other gender, you needed to associate yourself with somebody who had, so that you could benefit from their vital knowledge. Those cultures really did depend on bigender** nuclear families. Ours, not so much.

    *I don’t recall offhand how circumpolar cultures handled trans* identity, whether there was one general way or it differed by nation.

    **At one time, there was a proposal to form the legislature of Nunavut along these lines, with each area required to elect one man and one woman.

  • phantomreader42

    Why do American christians hate jesus so much?

  • Daniel

    Middle Eastern Peacenik who hung around with men who told him they loved him, and when one of them kissed him he was immediately forgiven. And he was poor. And he was adopted. And he didn’t spend much time at work.

  • Zed

    Also don’t forgot that He advocated helping the poor, healed the sick for free and at least once stopped an righteous mob form giving some slut what she deserved.

    In other words an typical commi-nazi-mussli.

  • Daniel

    “at least once stopped an righteous mob form giving some slut what she deserved.”

    Wasn’t he writing something at the time as well? Over educated eastern elitist.

  • phantomreader42

    And he gave away free food, booze, and healthcare! And violently assaulted usurers*!
    *Which the right today would call “job-creators” despite them never creating any jobs

  • Jenny Islander

    Wandered the country without visible means of support, fed thousands of people without ascertaining their correct poverty level or demanding proof of religious status, started his public ministry by getting a houseful of people schnockered because his mother (that woman–where was her headship?) told him to, hung out with hookers, ate lying down like some kind of weird pagan weirdo and let men lie down so close to him that the one in front of him could actually lean on him (men! touching!!!! without disguising it as a punch!!!!!! GAY GAY GAYYYYYYY), told the religious authorities they were horrible hypocrites, and didn’t call that one woman with a disease . . . you know, there . . . hysterical, pushy, or disgusting.

    What a touchy-feely New Age freak. Probably Episcopalian.

  • Daniel

    (men! touching!!!! without disguising it as a punch!!!!!! GAY GAY GAYYYYYYY)
    I was holding off this one but… He got nailed by a group of soldiers in skirts.

    Washed people’s feet- let me ask you would you wash a guy’s feet?

  • Michael Pullmann

    If Jesus ever came back, the RTCs would just throw him right back up on the cross.

  • Daniel

    Well, he was up there for everyone’s sins- and he got off after three days. That’s liberal justice for you.

  • phantomreader42

    No, they wouldn’t. They’d murder him, and plant the corpse in an attempt to frame whatever Democrat was convenient. “Teh Dam Libruls Killed Jeebus Again!!!!!!1111” would be the top story on Faux News channel for 71 hours and 59 minutes, after which they’d pretend they’d never said anything about it.

  • Daniel

    They certainly wouldn’t profile him. Just because he’s middle eastern, dressed oddly and has spent several days in a cave with balms.

  • Zed

    As a side note that would be a great subject for a novel.

  • Daniel

    Or a parable in one. Maybe about a group of brothers in nineteenth century Russia…

  • AnonaMiss

    That’s crushing the Golden Rule beneath your shoe, setting fire to the crumbled remains of it, then pissing on the ashes.

    Sorry Fred, everyone knows that when you say the p word, your argument is immediately invalidated.

  • AnonaMiss

    (That was sarcasm by the way)

  • Laurent Weppe

    There’s the Golden Rule: Do to others what you would like to be done to you
    Then there’s the Silver Rule: Do not do to others as you would not have them do to you
    The Bronze Rule: Do unto others as they have done unto you.
    The Copper Rule: Do unto others as you expect they’ll do unto you.
    And finally the one rule to rule over all the others, the Clostridium-tetani-filled-rust Rule: Do unto others before they get the chance to do unto you.

  • christopher_y

    I thought the Copper rule was: “Do not make any sudden movement, keep your hands where I can see them at all times and do exactly what I say.”

  • Daniel

    Copper rule “anything you do unto others may be taken down and used as evidence against you”
    Also “Do unto others because they can’t do unto you”

  • LL

    I’m running out of ways to call these people stupid.

  • Persia

    It’s not stupidity, though, or at least not wholly stupidity. It’s calculated. Calculated outrage, calculated manipulation of others.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I think the US should give the IOC an ultimatum of sorts. Make sure our athletes have been informed of the laws in Russia and let the IOC know they are free to compete or not as their conscience and/or safety dictate, and free to make whatever statements or protests or acts of civil disobedience they want. Some will surely do so despite the great personal risk. If the IOC has a problem with that, they can move the Olympics or they can punish the athletes as they see fit and accept the world’s judgment. But what they can’t expect is comlplete obedience to a host nation’s vague and threatening laws, not when they (the IOC) are impotent to protect any athletes, fans, trainers, media, etc from those laws.

  • Vermic

    If one of our best figure skaters was a flamboyant Christian and he faced the threat of imprisonment just for showing up at the Olympics … there would be loud demands for guarantees of his safety and for repeal of the laws that made his very existence a crime.

    It would be like if you could get arrested and beaten for Tebowing. The Christian Right would lose their shit (and rightfully so) if that were the case. Maybe that’s a comparison they would understand.

  • Daniel

    I had never heard of that. I now have. All I can say is Nice to see it, to see it nice.

  • phantomreader42

    The christian right loses their shit if anyone gets mildly criticized for Tebowing. If they so much as heard a rumor of an actual arrest they’d form a nationwide lynch mob.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    They lose their shit if we don’t worship Tebow to the exclusion of all other godsathletes.

  • phantomreader42

    Basically, their shit is very poorly secured.

  • lowtechcyclist

    Would there be any question whatsoever of the United States of America
    participating in an Olympic Games hosted by a country that…had
    passed laws against Christians similar to those Russia has imposed
    against homosexuals?

    Sure. We’ve been there, done that. Or at least we would have been there and done that, if the Russians hadn’t invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

    Because other than for a very neutered official Russian Orthodox Church, Christianity was illegal in Russia back then. You could be thrown into the gulag for being a Christian. And if it hadn’t been for Afghanistan, we would have been at the Olympics in Russia in 1980. With bells on.

    So as I already did at Eschaton, I’m calling BS on Thers’ claim of a double standard.

    Now that isn’t to say we shouldn’t boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics. I think we, first, should try to have it moved to Vancouver, which still has the facilities from the 2010 Winter Olympics. But if that’s unsuccessful, I think the U.S. ought to pull out.

    But it’s because no country should treat any class of people the way Putin has decided Russia should treat gays, not because of some demonstrably false double standard claim.

  • phantomreader42

    As I read it, Fred’s claim is not so much a double standard issue as that christians supposedly believe that they have been given explicit, unambiguous orders from ALMIGHTY GOD to treat people as they would prefer to be treated themselves. And yet, in this situation, Russia is treating gay people in a way that no country should treat any class of people, but not only are prominent christian leaders NOT opposing this, they actively cheer for it, while using their public influence to blame the victims for persecution of christians that is entirely imaginary. It’s not merely that American christians would never stand for this if they were the ones being mistreated, it’s that they gleefully support the mistreatment of others, in shameless disregard of the teachings of their supposed savior. What passes for christian leaders in this country really suck, as christians, as leaders, and as human beings.

  • Jim Roberts

    As I said up thread, the main point he makes isn’t that Christians aren’t raising hue and cry over these terrible laws. That’s bad – no question there.
    They’re cheering them on. That’s really bad.
    They’re helping the out. That even worse.
    They’re claiming that “the gays” are the ones oppressing THEM.

  • VMink

    Surely these people saying ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ can see that imprisonment of the ‘sinner’, their beating and sometimes even murder, is not at all in keeping with that adage. Their approval of this serves only to show that they are hypocrites; that ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ is used as an excuse to let out their inner demons unchecked and inflict pain and misery on other human beings; and that they are, and have, condoned murder. I guess the Crusades weren’t enough blood spilled for these so-called ‘Christians.’

    If you don’t like homosexuality, if you hate it, if you think it’s icky and/or a sin, that’s… not fine, but it’s an opinion you have that, very likely, nobody is going to convince you to change. It’s going to color everything you do, it’s going to affect your decisions, and you’re always going to find some way to stick it to QUILTBAG folk. I wish it weren’t the case. But can’t you at least have the common fucking decency to treat people you don’t like as human beings or is that too much to ask?

    Apparently, for some people, it is. And people wonder while QUILTBAG folk and allies are starting to get a mite angry?

  • phantomreader42

    You’ve got to remember that the people saying “hate the sin, love the sinner” are lying asshats incapable of love.

  • VMink

    I think some of them believe it, and try to live it, but it’s an impossible thing to live by, and they’re not doing themselves or those around them any favors by adhering to it.

    On the other hand, I think the people doing most of the speaking for them, and their ideological leaders and pundits, (and yes, a few in the ‘congregation’ so to speak) are, as you say, lying asshats incapable of love.

    ( I hate using ‘they’ and ‘them’ so much. It starts to grate, but there’s no other comprehensible way of talking about this. =P )

  • Daniel

    Also, “hate the sin love the sinner” in this context still means that you believe being LGBT is a sin.

  • VMink

    Very true. But….well, okay, supposedly in a nation with religious freedom, my neighbor could think my planting tulips is a sin but can’t — and presumably won’t — do jack about it. Bleh. Showing my inherent naivety here. You’re right. It’s a a horrible aphorism all around

  • Daniel

    “But can’t you at least have the common fucking decency to treat people you don’t like as human beings or is that too much to ask?”

    Ahem. I think the logic goes:
    I am a human being. They do something I do not do, and I don’t like it. I am a human being. I would never do that. Therefore they are not human beings.

    Which can be extended to people who take drugs, people who do not believe in the same God as you, people who disagree with your politics, people who have a different skin colour, or less money, or more money… It’s extremely difficult to treat people as people when you really don’t believe that they are.

  • Kenneth Raymond

    The only time “hate the sin, love the sinner” has been particularly comprehensible to me is with my (still quite young) nephew who I love dearly but really needs to understand that not everyone wants everything broken like he seems to. (I suspect the same will come up with my incoming niece and also my friends’ daughter once she’s old enough to do more than toddle around and grab at her toys.) So I can get it when dealing with young children who still have a limited capacity to think about consequences and other people’s points of view…

    Which, y’know, basically suggests that even the most charitable way to interpret someone pulling it out about QUILTBAG folk is that they’re infantilizing QUILTBAG folk as a rhetorical tactic. So screw those guys.

  • VMink

    Yeah, I don’t like that adage at all. =P I just want them to stop acting like assholes. Some of them won’t stop *being* assholes, but if they can stop treating other people like subhumans, that’d at least be a start.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    When a group called “Human Rights Institute” praises taking away people’s rights and treating them like contemptible vermin, you know you’re living in a world that would have horrified George Orwell.

    Stop the planet. I want to get off.

  • WingedBeast

    Oh, its worse than that. Some of these Christian organizations are contributing money, time, and lobbying effort to the promotion of laws in Uganda promoting the death penalty for homosexuality.

  • Carstonio

    The elder anti-statesman of US bigotry, Pat Buchanan, weighs in, equating “homosexual propaganda” with racist (!) and anti-Semitic propaganda.


  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam
  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Russia confirms law will be enforced against athletes, assures them that they will not be arrested as long as they aren’t visibly doing anything which affirms their sexuality in any way.

    Yeah, that’s not cutting it.

  • Ben

    The answer to the question at the heart of the article is yes. America can, and did, knowingly participate in a major international sporting event sponsored by a government whose anti-Christian policies were well-known and un-apologized-for well in advance: Beijing 2008.

    Not a single athlete, gay or otherwise, spoke out against the Chinese government’s persecution of Christians (including documented cases of murder for organ harvesting) or even suggested that they might stay home.

    Flip the script, indeed.

  • Lorehead

    You’re actually thinking of Falun Gong, not that that is any better.

  • Carstonio

    China’s hostility to individual religious freedom is only “anti-Christian” if one hatefully assumes that Christianity is the only religion that matters. Religious movements such as Falun Gong get special attention only because the regime perceives these as threats to its own power.

  • Carstonio

    In a related issue:


    aggressive campaign by a determined gay-rights movement that realized, particularly in the wake of the 2004 elections, that you cannot win politically in America if you are arguing against religious faith.

    I call BS. In my experience, the gay-rights movement before 2004 was arguing against using religious faith as a basis for public policy.

    “The people making the case for the family values side were religious leaders, and we as a movement were responding with advocates and lawyers.” The message audiences got from that image: Religion was on one side and gay rights was on the other.

    Assuming that audiences did get that message, it’s still wrong for Ball to blame this on gay-rights supporters. She doesn’t seem to understand that the “family values” crowd is a political movement that claims to represent religion.