I’ve been seeing a lot of twitter trends regarding boycotting all things Russian, including the Winter Olympics, primarily because of their new anti-gay law, which essentially makes it illegal to be gay. It’s similar to the proposed Uganda law, except without the murder clause. Just so you know, their laws are not much unlike the Briggs Initiative or any of the hate campaigns Anita Bryant ran throughout the 1970s, so we ‘Mericans don’t really have any place to look down on anyone.
The power of the boycott can be strong, as long as it is targeted properly. I love Dan Savage, but the idea of boycotting Stolichnaya vodka is kind of silly. For one, it isn’t even made in Russia anymore. It’s made in Latvia. Also, Stoli is a private company, not a state-run one. Successfully boycotting Stolichnaya would do nothing more than put a private firm out of business. Had the CEO of Stoli said something bigoted, then yes, not financially supporting their products would definitely be something I’d do, but the CEO himself wrote an open letter to everyone, emphasising his company’s fervent support of LGBT rights and efforts. He even went so far as to donate money to an unspecified group in Russia that is fighting for LGBT rights.
Boycotting the Olympics JUST might hit Russia where it hurts. They have already established that they will enforce the law for everyone, including visitors. The only way, however, that a boycott of the Olympics would work is if over half of the nations that attend and participate in the Olympics withdrew their support. I highly doubt that would happen. Nations can’t even agree on whether the USA is the den of Satan or actually the Great Satan! How would we get a huge percentage of nations to agree to walk away? Even the IOC strongly suggested that participants follow the laws of Russia, and essentially hop off the plane and into the closet. I think that kind of sucks, but I also think there’s a better way to handle this whole thing.
For spectators, perhaps turning off the TV or not travelling to Russia for the games might put a dent in profits. A statement is a statement. I highly doubt it would hurt Russia too much, since not many countries seem to want to boycott. Besides, boycotting the Olympics would mean boycotting any sponsor as well, so you’d basically have to starve yourself and go naked in a forest during Olympic season, since EVERYONE sponsors the Olympics
Here’s a thought: Remember 1936? Probably not, because old people think that the internet is the devil, so they’re not reading this. Well in 1936, Berlin was the Olympic host. Adolf Hitler thought that the games would be a triumph of the Aryans, showing how superior they are to everyone else. Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals and broke (I believe) 2 world records in Berlin, completely punching a gaping hole in the Hitler’s idea of Aryan racial superiority. As he walked back to his dorm, which was right in the path of Hitler’s viewing booth, he didn’t flip off Hitler; he waved at him, and Adolf waved back, albeit begrudgingly. It wasn’t until he got back the the US that he got snubbed by a head of state. First FDR, and then Truman after him.
We need a gay Jesse Owens. I’m sure there is a plethora of LGBT athletes. They should play their hearts out. They should break records. They should win more gold than any other athlete, regardless of country of origin. If they should pass by Putin, they should just wave. When they get back home, they should flaunt their winnings, and seeing that it is 2013, I’m sure they’ll not get snubbed by their own heads of state. That would send a message to Putin more than one or two countries boycotting the Olympics.