Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
_d5ta on Aug 7, 2013 | hide | past | favorite

At the risk of sounding insensitive (I'm not), I'd like to make a reminder that Hitler persecuted Jews and homosexuals alike...the Jews were a priority for him, but he had infrastructure dedicated to several groups.

More importantly, because this article doesn't really cite much except for Stephen Fry's word, I'd like to here highlight that it's very much factual and well-documented, so as to remove doubt:


I direct your attention particularly to the treatment of those who speak out against the anti-Gay laws, usually resulting in imprisonment. Moreover, the last poll put public support for Gay rights incredibly low - 74% stated they believe homosexuality should be banned and "rejected" from society.

EDIT: Upon re-reading the article, I think it would also prudent to point out there's no mention of strong nationalism playing into this. While the issue of LGBT rights in Russia is obviously well-documented and a persistent problem, I think it might be a mischaracterization to claim they are being "blamed" for the nation's problems in the same way Hitler used the Jews as a scapegoat. Putin is a very well-established and popular leader if I recall correctly, so I also don't see why he'd need such a polarizing campaign.

"Putin is a very well-established and popular leader if I recall correctly, so I also don't see why he'd need such a polarizing campaign"

He got 52% where I live, it's good for an American president but like a failure for a Popular Dictator.

And polarizing is what he does every day since fall 2011. He's no longer the president of all russians, he's a president of all russians minus a long and detailed list of people he accuses of various wrongdoings or wrongthinkings.

He has also tied his political image to his health and masculinity, which I personally think is a really stupid move on his part. Playing the bare chested strongman has a definite lifespan to it.

Personally I think that he has also forced himself to be publicly homophobic as if he wasn't, then all of his strutting around half naked asking men to wrestle, might look a little bit suspect to his followers, Russia being fond of the concept of the gay conspiracy meme these days. Hell, even the Russian Olympic wrestling coach alleged that the removal of wrestling from the Olympics was due to a gay conspiracy, apparently being unaware that wrestling is one of the most homoerotic sports on the planet.

What part of that comment did you think might sound insensitive - or was that a preemptive worry before you wrote the comment and you ended up not needing it? Either way, didn't feel insensitive at all.

Worth noting that Fry is definitely aware of what Hitler did to gays, but what he did to Jews is higher profile, most known and most understood, so making that comparison is the easiest one in a letter like this.

I thought it might be perceived as minimizing the Gay rights issue in Russia when I said it doesn't seem to be the same scale as the Holocaust, to put it more bluntly. But you're right, I guess I didn't need it :)

I agree it's higher profile, but it also makes it more scary than it has to be I think. The issue of Gay rights is strong enough to stand on its own without making it seem as though Russia blames them for its problems.

Why do you use 'gay' as a category? It's not, and categorizing people with a level of same-sex-attraction is insensitive.

(Russian here) - Fry is 100% correct in his assessment. I pay a lot of attention to the wickedness of Russian politics, and, quite frankly, LBGTQ are right there at the very edge of Russian political struggle, being one of the very few groups whose very survival demands liberty (others may get by through kowtowing to the political powers, but they don't have that option). They are hated by an overwhelming majority of Russians in the province (same majority that keeps voting Putin into power), because of all the fear, lies and propaganda spread by the state. These Games must be stopped, indeed.

Thanks for your inside assessment. You said the same majority votes Putin into power...do you have anything you could cite for this, or is it your observation?

Google for his approval rating - it's high, even if you adjust it for all the rigging and such. Short story is: collapse of USSR brought a lot of suffering and despair to Russians (of course, there was no other way for it to end, but it's not something most Russians acknowledge or even think about -- "no time to think, gotta work, feed my kids"). Putin succeeded in building on this fear and nostalgia for times of security (which USSR did offer, however monstrously unsustainable). And one of the main unofficial slogans was, and is -- "liberty is bad for Russia; evil people, especially Americans, use it to poison our people". Of course, NSA spying or drone killings makes it harder to fight the propaganda -- all these grotesquely anti-American thing are pictured as the "real face of America" -- and good luck defending liberty in that light...

I can't believe no one is talking about how this all relates to revelations from the US state department cable leaks. The cables showed that the US State Department is actively involved in advancing anti-traditionalist groups in many countries. One of the cables went on quite a bit about how greater efforts are needed in France to promote multiculturalism and homosexual acceptance because so much of the nation remains traditionalist.

To a certain degree here Putin is in fact combating a propaganda arm of the US government that operates in his country. Remember Pussy Riot and the bizarre media reactions to their stunt? That shit was obviously western orchestrated when you looked at the reactions and the people involved.

I can think of no surer way to impair the cause of tolerance social acceptance than the stuff the USG is doing. Of course it's going to provoke a backlash.

Do understand, that no "traditionalist values" can contradict the principle of liberty. People should be free to follow whatever values they want to follow. Heck, I'm an ultra-traditionalist Orthodox Christian, and I consider Pussy Riot to be the best thing that happened to Russia in decades. I chose my traditionalism freely - there can be no real traditionalism without freedom, only slavery and deformity.

Putin isn't combating propaganda, he's polarizing society using propaganda.

Imagine Putin holding a handle of twohanded saw, cutting society in half. That's what he does with the aid of US government.

If you're a traditionalist Putin isn't your bro. If Putin is your bro you're not a traditionalist, you're a vatnik.

Rubbish, there are plenty of gays in Russia. Have you even looked at Soviet Realism? You do realise most of those artists were gay and their pictures had a secondary meaning?

I know some people in Russia and recently in a discussion they brought out "gays" as people "they really don't like" - even if the discussion had absolutely nothing to do with gays. There could be some real merit to this warning.

There probably is merit to the warning, but the word "scapegoat" may be wrong. It means that your blaming the nation's problems on them. I haven't yet seen Putin blaming gays for economic hardships or crime. Misuse of overly strong words discredits the article.

But isn't it still "scapegoat" if you divert the public's attention from real issues to fight somebody in particular?

All you have to do is give the people a common enemy to unite against.

A recent comment was 'best-of'ed on reddit and has some insight into why things are the way they are. It's worth reading the comment and the first reply.


> An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential.

Wow, I couldn't disagree more on this point. One of the great things about the Olympics is that it's without politics [er... in this regard].

I don't believe that it's acceptable to say that places with different cultural values make unsuitable hosts. Human rights criticisms were also levelled at London, and even more at Beijing. In general, the Olympics (indirectly) does a lot to raise awareness of human rights and it's good that it is able to do this by spanning the breadth of the world's culture.

Hosting the Olympics in Sochi will allow individuals' achievements to be celebrated within Russia without the permission of politicians and without the stigma of prejudice.

I hope instead that gay participants will be encouraged to come out and raise awareness in the relative safety of the occasion: since Godwin's law has already been invoked, I would compare the situation to Jesse Owens at the Berlin Olympics.


..and that's why Fry mentions that:

"The idea that sport and politics don’t connect is worse than disingenuous, worse than stupid. It is wickedly, wilfully wrong. Everyone knows politics interconnects with everything for “politics” is simply the Greek for “to do with the people”.

OK, yes, it's this attitude which I was disagreeing with:

Sports and politics may be innately interconnected, but that doesn't mean we should seek to make sports even more political.

To have a requirement that the Olympics is hosted only in countries with political approval by [Stephen Fry/Western cultural values] would prevent it from having any global influence. Should the Olympics ultimately alternate between the EU and the US? Obviously not.

It's a good thing that political and cultural values of a country are not or are minimally part of the bidding and selection process.

If you're not aware, the IOC requires bidding countries to commit to IOC laws - which include special treatment and legal exemptions for athletes and visitors who may not otherwise be welcome. Although not without problems, I find that a sufficient way to make countries fall in line with the Olympic tradition without directly interfering with their local political process.

"Make sports even more political" -- this is our disagreement, yes. You think sports and politics are somehow 'independent things' -- but they aren't. Best parallel would be: money and wealth and private property and capital and production are all connected. Communists said they really aren't, and should be made 'less connected' - somehow, they want to have production without everything else. Well, we all know it doesn't work this way. Same here -- you can't artificially disconnect 'politics' from 'sport'. It will remain connected... because it is connected!

You have not addressed my main point, so I will simplify it:

The Olympics cannot judge a host country for its political values, or it would have a strong cultural bias and not be a global event.

sorry, didn't realize this was the main point

I've never read the Olympics code, list of principles etc, but I can imagine there's something about human dignity and freedom and liberty? Well, liberty should be a lowest common denominator. I.e. -- your culture allows some people to enslave and oppress other people, and deny them life, property and dignity? Well your culture is a piece of shit and you don't host Olympics. Easy! Cultural bias? Sure - cultural bias of human against blood-sucking goblins doesn't sound too bad.

Fortunately, Nazi Germany didn't arrest Jesse Owens upon arrival to the country. Russia has made it clear that they will not afford the same freedom to gays and lesbians, or more to the point they plan on arresting them immediately upon arrival.

Why would they? It's not a crime to be gay. The crime is "gay propaganda" (that is, anything that publicly references gays basically).

You're not helping anyone by spreading FUD.

No, this is not true. It is probably a bad law, but "anything that publicly references gays" is not a crime. The law only establishes a fine (not prison term) for promoting homosexuality as a norm for children under 16. Personally, I do not see how you could do it without being prosecuted for violating "Obscene publications act" in UK or similar laws in US.

There was fairly similar law in Britain until 2003: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_28

Also, I should note there is no protests supporting gay rights in Saudi Arabia were homosexuality is punished by death.

Also see: https://marknesop.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/somewhere-over-th... , https://marknesop.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/warning-explicit-...

Biased, but biased in a different way then usual articles on this subject and therefore useful.

It isn't FUD. You're basically saying it is ok, as long as gays keep their mouths shut, and don't utter "propaganda".

No, I'm saying you should't expect to get prosecuted for something that isn't crime. I'm saying you should have your facts straight.

Do you have a source for that? I agree there is not a nice atmosphere (as there wasn't for Owens), but your suggestion that athletes will be arrested on arrival is simply not evident.

Minister Vitaly Mutko... "No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable"

In any case, arresting athletes is sure to provoke immediate international outrage.

> If a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn't have the authority.

Vitaly was interviewed once again, recently.

Take your pick:





I thought that they were going to ignore the anti-LGBT laws for the Olympics [0]

[0] http://rt.com/news/russia-olympics-gay-law-948/

They clarified later that they are going to enforce that law.

They clarified: the law does not prohibit being gay, the law just introduces fines for promoting homosexuality as a norm for children under 16. It is probably a bad law, but it is not saying what everyone protesting it thinks it is saying.

There's an old joke from Communist times. It goes like this -- and old communist argues:

- What do you mean, we don't respect human rights? Of course we respect human rights! Why, I can provide the name of that human right now!

Same goes for 'celebrating human achievements' you've mentioned. No such thing will happen. There's only one achievement allowed into the celebration - the achievement of United Russia Party and its leader. Whatever the emotional positive externalities these Game might produce, all will be harvested by state propaganda.

I can't resist.

"Comrade, what is Capitalism?"

"Capitalism is the oppression of man by man".

"And what is Communism?"

"It's the opposite of Capitalism".

This is blatantly political content. There is not even a tangential connection to the Internet, technology, startups...

What's next? A "what you're listening to right now" thread? "Post your pic"?

Rate me HN

Instead of boycotting, I would advocate for subversion. The Games have been a platform for highlighting social issues before: get on that platform and show that gay and lesbians can be winners too and that other athletes support their plight.

At any rate, it's going to be interesting to watch.

Agreed, though it takes a lot of courage because it's still risky, something like this would be the best course of action, IMO: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/02/opinion/ghitis-anti-gay-ru...

> Instead of boycotting, I would advocate for subversion

I'm not sure "subversion" is the right word there.

I love this idea. The 1968 Power Salute for the LGBT community.

This political news influx on Hacker News is getting out of hand.

Related: AllOut (a gay rights charity) has a petition going at the moment on this very subject. Worth signing, they do good work. https://www.allout.org/en/actions/russia-attacks

There was an olympics in Beijing. So holding the olympics committee to some democratic standard probably won't work.

China doesn't have civil rights laws to protect homosexuals, but it has made it explicitly legal (1997), and removed it from lists of "mental illnesses" (2001)[1].

I'm aware it isn't a democracy, but it doesn't appear to sanction official discrimination in the same way as Russia on this issue. If you look at the rest of [1], you'll see it also has a long history of (debatable) tolerance for homosexuality.

(I am aware that is has a significantly different attitude to race than the UK and US, and I'm not sure I'm happy with it, but again I haven't heard of examples of official persecution, or police turning blind eyes to attacks on such minority groups.)

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_China#People.2...

Russia made it explicitly legal around 1992, after the fall of USSR.

In 1993, 10 years before US.

    Beijing sometimes romanized as Peking
I didn't know that...

Sorry, it is written like that in my language and I didn't realize it's wrong in English; I corrected that

Both names have been correct at some point in history. In some areas, both are still used, depending on whom one asks and who is doing the naming.



The only time I've heard it used in English recently is at Chinese restaurants, where the popular dish is still called "Peking Duck".

Beijing is much closer to the Mandarin pronouciation, bei3 jing1, meaning "north capital." (there is also a Nanjing, "south capital.")

Similar to Beijing, Nanjing was once pronounced as "Nanking" in the West. Some historical events, such as the Nanking Incident[1], still reference that pronunciation to avoid confusion.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Incident

No need to apologise! I learnt something

Jews, and gays, and gypsys, and Priests, and ....

Actually Hitler didn't like _alot_ of people.

Just quietly, "a lot" is what you're looking for.

There is quite a leap from Russian anti gay propaganda laws to boycotting the Olympics. Many people would argue that laws supporting any kind of torture or the death penalty are human rights abuses so should any and all countries practicing those laws be forbidden from partaking in or hosting something so arbitrary as the Olympics?

I'm not arguing that this wouldn't be an effective way to get the Russian government to go back on some of the recent legislation, but then why stop there? Can we use this tactic to stop drone attacks, decriminalize marijuana and improve women's rights in many countries?

No we can't. Because this isn't a genuine movement designed to change Russian public opinion and laws, but a simple us=enlightened you=backwards monsters campaign.

As far as I've seen, nobody in those countries has publicly threatened Olympic athletes with torture or the death penalty, simply for the crime of existing.

I'm open to counterexamples, if I'm wrong.

I think homosexuality is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia and Iran. No one is trying to exclude teams from these countries from Olympics. Also:

> Milan, Venice and Turin had severed their “twin” relationships with Russian cities in outrage over the “anti-gay law”. However, Milan remains twinned with Dakar, Senegal, where any same-sex activity is illegal and punishable by 1 to 5 years imprisonment. Turin remains twinned with Kazerun, Iran, where any same-sex activity is illegal and punishable by death. Venice had only two twins; since it dumped St Petersburg in a show of solidarity that likely had the gay community in tears of emotion, it now has only one – Esfahan, Iran. Yeah, that’s right.

( https://marknesop.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/somewhere-over-th... )

So you are saying Russia has threatened to legislate the execution and torture of any gay athletes simply for existing?

Common, I'm all for enabling all minorities across the globe to live in peace and without fear of persecution, but let's make an honest effort of it and not via hyperbole and political posturing.

Haven't read the article yet, but this might be the first time I've found a comparison to Hitler helpful. I'm religious (Christian) and related to some very homophobic people - comparing gay people to Jews actually seems like a perfect way to convey "See these people who believe and live differently than we do? They're still good, sincere people, and you just don't make their lifestyle illegal when it's not hurting you".

I think for the first time in history, this article committed suicide under the terms of Godwin's law before it was even navigated to.

More seriously, this is standard practice: label the enemy, even if it's wrong or you created the label yourself.

Invoking Godwin's law is a bit easy. Not every reference to Hitler deserves to be struck down by it.

What is happening in Russia is truly frightening and not necessarily that different in many respects to what happened in the 1930s: blame society's woes onto a minority that is slowly being deprived of its rights.

For the first time in my life, I disagree that Godwin Law's could be applied in this case.

It is truly a sad day and and it really shows the incredibly wrong state of affairs in Russia when comparisons to Hitler are actually justified. In this case the parallels with the situation an the state of affairs in pre-war Germany cannot be denied. It shows the same willingness to create two classes of citizen, and the withdrawal of the rights of that second-class.


As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of an invocation of Godwin's Law approaches 1.

He surely does. Most Russians have not once meet a person who they would know as an open gay. And still they've got an Opinion despite that.

(Hitler's Germans had at least meet Jews in their life)

It's a sad story about how media wrecks the minds of rednecks.

As long as gays stay in the closet, heterosexuals (and even homosexuals in large part) will feel homosexuality as "wrong".

The human mind defines "acceptable sexual context" by what it gets presented, especially early in life. That's why homosexuals have to display their sexuality in public, or the discrimination and homophobia will never end.

That may be true, but if so, gays coming out is a necessary, but not sufficient condition to ending homophobia.

And most Russians are rednecks? Well, I guess racism is okay when it's for the left cause.

Yeah, they are. There is this notion that USA has liberal coasts and (racist, intolerant, preaching) flyover hearland.

Guess what, Russia is very similar but doesn't really have any coasts. It's just rednecks all the way down. The world is 'gopniki'.

Funny that you mention this in this topic. One of the characters mentioned in the title had very similar idea of the composition of Russia.

This ridiculous and this is not something it should be on hacker news.

Stephen Fry is completely wrong, but again, not a thing we should discuss here.

@pgraham can you focus us back to our lovely, go against ruby against php and clisp rules them all.

I think some people become very indignant about this issue only because it's Russia. I don't see that much indignation at other nations that treat non heterosexual people worst. Other nations whose treatment of women and religious minorities can't not but be called barbarous. Some of whom are close allies of the USA. I personally see no problem with how other nations manage their internal affairs, as long as they keep to themselves.

"Other countries do it too!" is a common derailing tactic, and it's not worth very much consideration.

I will note, however, that Russia is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics. Traditionally, hosting the Olympics has been a pretty good catalyst for getting the world to bring your country under a bit of scrutiny. If the Olympics were being held in Dubai, then the only reason we wouldn't be hearing about how they treat gays would be all of the screaming the plethora of other social issues plaguing the UAE.

As for:

>I personally see no problem with how other nations manage their internal affairs, as long as they keep to themselves.

If your neighbor were murdering women in his basement, would you say "Well, that's just his business really. I should keep to myself and not bother him"?

"If the Olympics were being held in Dubai, then the only reason we wouldn't be hearing about how they treat gays would be all of the screaming the plethora of other social issues plaguing the UAE."

I agree that we would _hear_ from it, and that we should do more than talk of it, but will we? We'll know that ten years from now (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2022_FIFA_World_Cup). Yes, that's not the Olympics and not the UAE, but I think the case is similar enough for this discussion.

I am a pessimistic about that; we had a World Cup under Videla in Argentinia, too (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1978_FIFA_World_Cup#Controversy...)

> I personally see no problem with how other nations manage their internal affairs, as long as they keep to themselves.


Fry is overreacting. LGBT people surely aren't particularly welcome in Russia, but that isn't because of the laws, and has more something to do with absence of any form of tolerance or education training about gays.

It's definitely cultural as well as a legal issue, but that doesn't change the fact that there are genuine homophobic laws as well. As to overreacting... I guess that's subjective, but I couldn't disagree more.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact