Russia Still Sucks (when it comes to gay rights)

We’ve heard a lot about athletes opposing Russia’s draconian, unjust new law banning “gay propaganda” (which is just code for “any free expression regarding homosexuality in public”).  But now CNN brings us a Russian athlete who has seen fit to defend this stupid, fascist law, except she chose to do so in broken English with comical results. (Note to bigots: You guys usually aren’t very bright, and can barely handle your own native languages. Trying to be bigoted in a language you only partially speak will never end well.)

Yelena Isinbayeva, the golden girl of Russian sport, has sought to clarify her controversial comments about gay rights and her apparent criticism of fellow athletes for highlighting the issue at the world championships in Moscow.

As is always the case with these kinds of things, “clarify” means “pretend you didn’t say what you actually said.”

Isinbayeva reclaimed the women’s pole vault title in front of her adoring public on Tuesday, then two days later defended her country’s anti-gay propaganda law after receiving her medal.

“If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people,” Isinbayeva said in English at a press conference.

Let me make this clear, Ms. Isinbayeva: If you or anyone else support this kind of bullshit, you have no right to call yourselves “normal, standard people.” No sane person is going to go along with the idea that censorship and oppression of minorities is normal and standard. We gotta have some fucking standards here, and denying people’s right to free speech for any reason–a fortiori for their minority status–must not be one of them. Period.

But there is a nugget of honesty in Isinbayeva’s comment. I believe her when she says she and her fellow Russian bigots are “afraid”. Fear of difference often motivates these kinds of oppressive laws. Well, fear of difference among the ignorant populace–the motivation amongst the leaders who pander to them is more likely to be a cynical desire to further solidify their power. You’re being exploited by your leaders, Russian people, and you don’t even know it.

In short, Vladmir Putin is a fucking asshole.

“We just live boys with woman, women with boys.

Um….Ewww?

“Everything must be fine. It comes from history. We never had any problems, these problems in Russia, and we don’t want to have any in the future.”

Yeah, ’cause when I think of countries that never had any problems, Russia is the first to spring to mind.

LOL. I couldn’t even keep a straight face while typing that. Has there ever been a moment in history when Russia wasn’t completely fucked up? Your country still had a god damn feudalistic medieval economy at the beginning of the 20th century. You were decimated in both World Wars. You had Joseph Stalin, one of the most murderous dictators in human history. And now, despite all the economic problems your country faces, you’re chasing the bogeyman of “gay propaganda”.

Yep. No problems at all…

She criticized two Swedish athletes who defied the anti-gay law by sporting what could be seen as “propaganda” under the new regulations.

Read: U.S. runner blasts Russia on gay rights

High jumper Emma Green Tregaro and sprinter Mao Hjelmer wore rainbow-colored fingernails in their events in support of the gay rights movement.

Green Tregaro posted a picture on her Instagram account captioned: “Nails painted in rainbow sign #pride #moscow2013.”

Go Sweden!

(But, seriously, who would name their kid “Mao” in this day and age? Does she have siblings named Hitler and Pol Pot?)

“It’s unrespectful to our country,” Isinbayeva told reporters. “It’s unrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians.

Oh, boo fucking hoo. You disrespect your own people by making these kinds of laws. Maybe if you started treating gays like actual human beings with equal rights, I’ll start giving a fuck about your precious little hurt feelings. But until then, cry your fucking eyes out. You’ll get no sympathy from me.

“Maybe we are different from European people and other people from different lands. We have our home and everyone has to respect (it). When we arrive to different countries, we try to follow their rules.”

It seems that you don’t understand the purpose of civil disobedience. That’s likely because you live in a country where any form of it is brutally repressed.

However, on Friday Isinbayeva released a statement via athletics’ ruling body claiming that she had been “misunderstood.”

“English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday,” said the 31-year-old, who is an ambassador for the International Olympic Committee and will be mayor of the athletes’ village at the Winter Games in the Russian city of Sochi next year.

Excuses excuses. Yeah, your English was a little broken and sounded funny, but you knew what you were saying.

“What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries particularly when they are guests.

“But let me make it clear I respect the views of my fellow athletes and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality (which is against the Olympic charter).”

Anyone who feels the need to use the word “respect” over and over and over is most likely hoping to use decorum to obfuscate and confuse the conversation. “Respect” in these cases often means “silence”. Show us some respect. Just don’t talk about the anti-gay law. Remember that all these Swedish athletes did was paint their fingernails with rainbow colors and tweet about it. That’s it.

This has become a pretty common refrain in the articles I’ve read about defenders of the Russian gay propaganda laws. They insist that they don’t want to discriminate against anyone, and then demand “respect”, hoping that silencing the debate will prevent people from pointing out that discrimination is exactly what they are doing. They’re picking out a certain minority and restricting their freedom of expression simply for being who they are. That, by definition, is discrimination. It is impossible to support this law without supporting discrimination. Isinbayeva’s “clarification” is as absurd as saying, “I would never murder anyone” while repeatedly stabbing everyone in the room with a cyanide-coated broad sword. But then again, George Orwell used what was going on in Russia as part of the basis for Animal Farm and 1984, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to hear this kind of abuse of language (English, Russian, or any other) coming out of a Russian mouth.

U.S. runner Nick Symmonds was quoted in the New York Times criticizing Isinbayeva’s comments.

“It blows my mind that such a young, well-traveled, well-educated woman would be so behind the times,” said Symmonds, who spoke out against the law after winning a silver medal in Tuesday’s 800 meters event.

He told the BBC Thursday that he had wanted to compete wearing a rainbow sticker, but was afraid of being arrested.

In his blog for Runner’s World prior to the world championships, Symmonds said he disagreed “with the laws that Russia has put in place.”

Don’t be too shocked, Nick. She is indeed educated. She was educated to believe that everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

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5 responses to “Russia Still Sucks (when it comes to gay rights)

  1. “(But, seriously, who would name their kid “Mao” in this day and age? Does she have siblings named Hitler and Pol Pot?)”

    Though, I am not familiar with Swedish names, it might be just some Swedish name, or abreviation thereoff. It happens often that a word or name which is normal in some language, is offensive in another. In Dutch, Dick is an acceptable name, but in English, you know what I mean. Nevertheless, if your name is Mao, and you’re an international sportwoman, you should consider to adopt a stage name.

  2. Pingback: Gay rights = Civil rights | Riffing Religion

  3. My first instinct was that Symmonds should have the courage of his convictions and not be afraid of arrest. But then I remembered this is RUSSIA that we’re talking about, so “arrest” would mean TRIP TO GULAG!!!!!

  4. Pingback: Russia: Finding New Ways to Suck | Riffing Religion

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