How About A Gold Medal For Human Rights For Gay People?

Play associated audio

Let's see now. That self-proclaimed fortress of liberty and fellowship, the International Olympic Committee, awards the Winter Olympics to Russia for 2014. After all, China worked out so well as an exemplar of freedom of the press at Beijing in 2008.

Then, Russia, duly a signator of the Olympic charter proclaiming the "preservation of human dignity," trots out an anti-homosexual law that would've made Ivan the Terrible have second thoughts.

Now, in response to this injustice, we've had some suggestions. One idea, widely advanced by the estimable Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein, was to have our athletes boycott the Games. But imagine, Mr. Fierstein, if your friends in the theatre only had a Broadway season every four years, would you deny actors that chance –– maybe the only chance of a lifetime?

Another idea: put pressure on NBC, the Olympic network –– poor NBC which is so comatose it still hasn't recovered from the Ann Curry debacle. Or call upon major Olympic sponsors like Coke and McDonalds, those bastions of idealism, to wave the LBGT banner, instead of working up super Olympic buy-one-get-one-free deals. Hey now, that would bring Putin to his knees.

Or refuse to purchase Russian vodka, particularly like the popular Stolichnaya –– only there's that darned inconvenient globalism. Turns out Stoli is owned by some folks in Luxembourg and brewed in Latvia.

But wait a minute. Why should any of us be leading the charge? It was the IOC that got us into this mess, lying down with fleas. Has the outgoing IOC president, a cipher named Jacques Rogge, stuck his neck out? There are six men running to succeed him, including Thomas Bach of Germany, the odds-on favorite. Only one has had the guts to speak out for gay rights: Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico.

If there was any courage or decency in what is so smugly called the Olympic movement, there is one noble way to handle this. Simple: every country which opposes Russia's ugly anti-gay laws should refuse to send its officials to the Games in Socchi.

Oh, the Games will go on, all the athletes will be there to compete. NBC will still get its ratings. Big Macs will still roll over the counter. Everybody outside Russia will enjoy the Games, but Vladimir Putin and his thuggish cronies will be sitting alone, shamed, rejected by the decent nations of the world. And thereby will one more gold medal be visible for all to see: the one for human rights for gay people.

Would our USOC have the guts to lead that way? Well, I'll drink to that dream. A double Stoli, with tonic and a lime, if you please.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Oliver Sacks, Renowned Neurologist And Author, Dies At 82

His book Awakenings, about reviving patients from a catatonic state was turned into a 1990 film. He also wrote more than a dozen other books, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.
NPR

Correction: Italians And Celiac Disease

A correction to our story about gluten-free options in Italy, the land of pizza and pasta. Italian children are not routinely tested for celiac disease, as we incorrectly reported.
NPR

Obama Plays Defense On Climate Change Ahead Of Alaska Trip

President Obama pushed back against what some see as the irony of him expanding oil exploration while talking up climate change.
NPR

Uber Hires Hackers To Secure Driverless Cars

NPR's Rachel Martin reports that the ride-sharing service Uber is hiring experts to protect driverless cars from being hacked.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.