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Wednesday Watercooler


Tonight’s video is a short PBS documentary, The March of the Bonus Army. Enjoy some important of history this evening.

Street Protest for ENDA, Banner: "Queers Are Workers Workers Are Queer"

The USA agitates for queer reform in Russia while ignoring problems at home.

Though I’m not a sports fan, I enjoyed Salon’s interview with Dave Zirin, author of Bad Sports. He calls Sochi the most corrupt Olympics ever:

Well, you’ve never had an Olympics where there is $30 billion plus that seems to be just unaccounted for … There is corruption in every Olympics, but it seems like Sochi is just above and beyond anything that we’ve seen before. And frankly there are very tangible reasons why that’s the case … I think the level of graft is a surprise, but the actuality is not a surprise. Because from the very beginning — forget about the corruption, forget about the kleptocracy – from the very beginning, Vladimir Putin approached the international Olympic committee and said: My goal is not only the Olympics, staging the Olympics, I want to remake this entire region of Russia. And I’m going to do it by holding the Winter Olympics in a subtropical climate in the middle of what has been for the last two decades a veritable war zone.

So all of these factors together, everybody knew that this would be very expensive for the Winter Games, which are usually much less expensive than the Summer Games. But I don’t think anyone expected it to be the most expensive Olympics in history, and more expensive than every single Winter Olympics combined.

But he’s quick to call out the USA for emphasizing gay rights struggles in Russia when there’s so much work to do here:

Why is the president talking about symbolic LGBT resistance at the Olympics, and not actual[ly] speaking out in the State of the Union about [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act] or … taking on the fact that there are 29 states in the United States where it’s still legal to fire someone on the basis of their sexuality?

… For two reasons, I have a problem with the president sending the Billie Jean King delegation with Caitlin Cahow, Brian Boitano, openly LGBT Olympians. I have a problem with it on two counts. One, I think doing that in the absence of taking on homophobia, trans-phobia in the United States is a shell game.

Check out the whole interview.

In fact, two Yale professors recently reminded the Washington Post that eight US States have laws similar to Russia’s Gay Propaganda law:

The other three come from statutes in the United States. It is Utah that prohibits ‘the advocacy of homosexuality.’ Arizona prohibits portrayals of homosexuality as a ‘positive alternative life-style’ and has legislatively determined that it is inappropriate to even suggest to children that there are “safe methods of homosexual sex.” Alabama and Texas mandate that sex-education classes emphasize that homosexuality is ‘not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.’ Moreover, the Alabama and Texas statutes mandate that children be taught that ‘homosexual conduct is a criminal offense’ even though criminalizing private, consensual homosexual conduct has been unconstitutional since 2003.

Eight U.S. states, and several cities and counties, have some version of what we call ‘no promo homo’ provisions. Before the United States condemns the Russian statute’s infringement of free speech and academic freedom, it should recognize that our own republican forms of government have repeatedly given rise to analogous restrictions.

It is no coincidence that these examples focus on what must and must not be said to children. An explanatory note accompanying the 2013 Russian legislation makes clear that the statute seeks to protect children ‘from the factors that negatively affect their physical, intellectual, mental, spiritual, and moral development.’ Proponents of the U.S. statutes have offered similar justification. And, like Russian President Vladimir Putin this month, the U.S. laws warn gay people and sympathizers to ‘leave kids alone, please.’

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Photo Matt Baume released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and