Hugging A Monster: Why Our Talk About “Standing for what’s right” Means Nothing If Canadian Olympians Glorify A Man Who Is Objectively Wrong.

Posted on February 16, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”- Dwight D. Eisenhower

When I was in high school, I was friends with this guy who was quite obviously a gay man.  Though I don’t feel I was one of his tormentors, I was certainly present when some of that torment took place. 

 We called him “Princess“.
 We made him feel, I’m sure, marginalized and unwelcome.

I was never the “ringleader” of these attacks.  I was usually not even involved.

You see, I think that might be the problem.  I wasn’t involved.  I never stood up for him.  I never told those people to stop.  I never made an effort to show him that I cared enough to be his ally.  In many cases, I didn’t just not do anything– I actively participated in perpetuating the culture that glorified his abusers.  His tormentors were my friends, or they were people in groups that everyone looked up to- including me.

I chose not to be the person I should have been.  I made choices that helped to hurt a human being.

So it is with that said that I’m reprinting, with permission, this article on the Twitter photo controversy started by the Canadian Olympic team.    It reminds me that people who say that they are “for” equality can be actively working to undermine it.  It reminds me that sometimes life isn’t all that different from High School, no matter how much we like to think otherwise. I’m reprinting it because it reminds me of what a horrible person I was when I thought I had principles but I couldn’t live up to them.

 What kind of friends don’t actively try to make their friends lives better?

What kind of country are we if we tell people we stand beside them and then we glorify the people who hurt them?

I’m also reprinting this article because the author, Jeremy Forshew, is that friend I was talking about.

 I failed him, and when our athletes- who are supposed to be uniting our whole country under one flag- choose to glorify a dictator bent on ruining the lives of and being complicit in the murder of human beings, they have failed us.  They have failed to represent the principles I stand for- the principles I believe my country stands for.  They have failed to live up to the standard I expect of my country and its representatives.

What good is representing Canadians if you refuse to stand up for the rights that define us as Canadians?  When you hug a dictator, you tell his victims that they are not important enough to make you live your principles.

I regret the person I was when I refused to be a real friend to someone who needed one.  I hope that one day these athletes can come to realize the damage they do when they embrace the people who hurt others.

When Olympic dreams cease to trump human rights

Posted in: Commentary, on Feb 15, 2014 by Jeremy Foreshew


It’s time that I discuss my position on the Olympics.

 

Until yesterday, I loathed the fact that the IOC chose a morally and fiscally corrupt Russia to host their games but like many others, I empathized with our Canadian team. A group of dedicated athletes who poured hours of blood sweat and tears into the pursuit of their dream – Olympic gold.
So while I looked down on corporate sponsors and the Canadian Olympic Committee for maintaining silence about LGBTQ persecution (let’s call it what it is), I still endeared myself to the success of the individual. I didn’t watch the games as my personal stand against the corporate compliance toward unjust laws that perpetrate hate, violence and murder toward our LGBTQ family abroad BUT I did share in delight (quite literally on my social media) the personal success stories I saw – Canadian generosity, team spirit, brotherhood, and all the medals!

 

And then this:

[Shout out to CBC Manitoba’s social media intern – a memorable moment indeed!]

 

That is not the dream that I intended to support. Vladimir Putin is in full midst of a campaign to remove all living rights for the LGBTQ community in Russia. He’s so brash that his government passed a bill that prevents willing, loving, responsible queer parents adopt Russian orphans… DURING THE OLYMPICS.

 

So I’m sorry Canadian Olympic Team – I can’t support your dream of having Vladimir Putin be your valentine when gays, lesbians and transgender human beings fight for their very right to exist.

 

Your dream:

 

Their reality:

 

 

Suddenly, I don’t care about your athletic trinkets anymore.

 


Jeremy Foreshew is a lifestyle blogger, entrepreneur and fitness professional. He’s also the managing director of GET Out! Canada. Be mesmerized by his internal dialogue as it spills on to his twitter feed at @jeremyforeshew.

 

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3 Responses to “Hugging A Monster: Why Our Talk About “Standing for what’s right” Means Nothing If Canadian Olympians Glorify A Man Who Is Objectively Wrong.”

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I’m not really a huge all-around sports fan, though I love hockey and mixed martial arts. I usually pay some attention to the Winter Olympics (I couldn’t care less about the Summer Olympics, though), but this year I’ve been very… uninspired. I’ve watched the Team Canada men and women’s hockey games with a bit of interest, but with much less excitement than previous years, and I wasn’t sure why.
This post articulates what I think been bothering me about these games: knowing the horrible shit that gay people in Russia are suffering through right now makes it difficult to watch the sports spectacle and really care about who is winning what.
I’ve never really been much of an activist for anyone’s rights, including my own. But hearing that neo-nazis are basically being given free reign to terrorize people makes me furious.
So, I’m torn: I’d like to watch the hockey games and cheer, but it just doesn’t feel right. Even worse is the fact that just not watching the Olympics doesn’t really solve anything, either. To watch the games is to grant tacit approval. To just turn away is to act as though the abuse is not worth any effort to intervene.
What else is there to do?

I don’t know how far I’d protest.

Here’s what I mean. I oppose tormenting homosexuals for their sexuality. No one should be bullied. I wouldn’t countenance someone being bullied for their sexuality, and I mean actually bullied. But I dont know that I’d boycott something like the olympics over Putin’s and Russia’s overall stance on homosexuality (I would if it were held in a nation that imprisons and kills gays).

I think Foreshew might be a bit short sighted. Olympians who might oppose Putin’s stance aren’t so much compromising a principle as I see it. For example, I loath my President. I think many of his views are quite nefarious. That being said, given the chance to meet the President, I would likely jump at the opportunity to shake his hand, have a photo taken or get an autograph. It’s the president for goodness sake.

That’s what’s happening here. Political power is an alcoholic position. People get stupid and fawny over being in the presence of powerful people.

I would say posing with Putin is not like you or I standing idle while someone is bullied.

I don’t think I would expect athletes to be confrontational, but I wouldn’t have been angry if some were.
The issue here, to me, is that there is a huge difference between politely greeting and objectively fawning. If the athletes had have shook his hand, it would have been less insulting than treating the man like he was a movie star.
As an aside, I was supportive of Tim Thomas when he declined a meeting with Obama after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup- because I respect when people stand behind their convictions, even if those convictions aren’t mine.


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