The Approval of the Civilized World

Stephen Fry says Russia’s treatment of gays and lesbians must have international consequences. In an eloquent and moving post, he declares:

An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.

Meanwhile, Obama is asked about a potential boycott by the U.S., and he responds:

We’ve got a bunch of Americans out there who are training hard who are doing everything they can to succeed. Nobody’s more offended than me about some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that you’ve been seeing in Russia. But as I said just this week, I’ve spoken out about that not just with respect to Russia but with a number of other countries, where we continue to do work with them but we have a strong disagreement on this issue.

One thing I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which i think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes were seeing there. And if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, it’ll probably make their team weaker.

No, who wins is not the point. At all. Let Russia bring its gay-free team to lose in Lillehammer, if that’s all that matters. But bringing home medals is not a “response” — it does not rise to the level of gravity warranted by Putin’s bullying, opportunistic thug-state and the message a proposed boycott is intended to send.

I’m often disappointed by the president. I’m often inspired by him. And I am willing to hear meaningful, reasoned arguments in favor of participation in these Olympics. But his flip, dismissive attitude toward what is a legitimate and serious proposition is extremely dismaying.

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