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Human Rights, Sochi and spilled Vodka

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Lately in the news a hot topic has been the potential idea of Boycotting Sochi, Russian Vodka or in the least showing some solidarity for the LGBT community in Russia with rainbow flags embroidered into their uniforms. Although Russia's law is harsh and worthy of some form of protest many ask why is all of this attention paid to Russia's Olympics and It's repressive, meanwhile other atrocities, violations of human rights and repressive governments remain untouched.

In the realm of international sports China's Beijing Olympics in 2008 could have been boycotted for its human rights violations. In Qatar it is not only illegal to be publicly homosexual as it is in Russia, but its illegal all together. Yet no one is crying for a boycott for either the 2015 boxing championship being held there, or the fact that Qatar is poised to host the 2022 Soccer World Cup. So why pick on Russia and not the Other countries? Is it the War in Syria or honestly about Human right? If it is why not boycott Saudi Oil? Each time you fill up your gas tank you support an even more repressive regime, more so than taking a shot of Stolichnaya Vodka. Which brings me to my next point which is the Stolichnaya isn;t even fully Russian owned and this Vodka boycott actually hurts friendly Latvia. So all in all... (see below)

TL;DR Is this really about human rights? or is it a convenient bandwagon formed by current global conflicts and economics necessities?

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[i know this answer is fairly long and rambling and a lot of it is just sentences smashed together, but bear with me. It's late and I haven't slept for a few days. If you want sources or whatever, I can track them down again in the morning.]

In my opinion, the issue is entirely about human rights. Many are in such an uproar against these recent policies in Russia because it is a contrast to what we normally see in regard to social attitudes regarding the LGBTQ community. In the past few decades of western society, we have seen the demise of sodomy laws, the decriminalization of homosexual activities, the rise of same-sex marriage, civil rights in employment and housing non-discrimination, and so on and so forth. But in Russia, we are seeing a government that is becoming increasingly hostile against LGBTQ people and are passing laws to discriminate against them. This contrast is striking to many, who are trying to seek out some way to fight against these laws. The boxing championship isn't as popular; the Olympics are somewhat more "important" to most people when you are talking about international sports. Also the Qatar World Cup isn't for 9 years, that's three World Cups away so most don't see it as a current issue. In this day and age, it is extremely difficult if not impossible for many to boycott gas, as many drive long distances to get to work or school each and everyday and riding a bike or public transportation isn't a viable option.

Many people see the events in Russia as a current issue, and they don't see these human rights violations as so deeply grounded in culture as it is in the Middle East. They see this as a country becoming increasingly hostile to its own people and slipping backwards in human rights. Its easy to get angry about human rights abuses, but its harder to be vocal about it if you have to be the one bringing it up. Russia's government has brought this up themselves and its plastered across the news around the world, and so people get angry and vocal. I think the Stolichnaya boycott is ridiculous because the company has come out against this legislation, standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. People supporting the boycott are doing something they see as reasonable so they can feel they are making a difference, and their heart is in the right place, but the idea was not properly thought through. They think they are hitting the Russian government in the wallet, when vodka is just a small portion of their economy. Boycotting the Olympics has some more reasonable ground, though, as there are fears that LGBTQ foreigners who are competing in or want to attend the Games will be targeted by Russian police for breaking these laws.

TL;DR: People are upset because a country is reversing on human rights stances, an action strongly contrasting the progressive nature of the laws being passed elsewhere such as same-sex marriage, adoption rights, etc. Because this is such a current issue, people feel their actions can make a difference to help people now, rather than slowly chipping away at established culturally based oppression such as in Qatar. The Stoli boycott is misguided, but the desire to boycott the Olympics stems from fears for the safety of LGBTQ athletes and spectators from foreign nations. And seeing as how recent reports have said some Russian authorities are refusing to prosecute a group of neo-nazis who are reportedly kidnapping, bullying, and videotaping themselves torturing gay teens, its not difficult for people to see that this is a human rights issue. People are being arrested, targeted for being who they are, and that is not ok.

Also, people can get angry and vocal about one issue and not so much another. This does not suggest that one is more important than the other, just that one has something about it that makes people more riled up.

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I'll be quick:

(1) A lot of people created a huge stink about the Beijing Olympics. Seeing as it was in 2008, you were still a child and probably didn't notice. But rest assured, China's human rights track was not magically forgotten at the time. Most people just got over it and enjoyed the games anyway because unlike Russia, China pretty much violates all sorts of human rights indiscriminately. So it's not one community being persecuted. This makes an organised protest/outraged standoff a little difficult.

(2) People in the west have a push/pull relationship with Russia in that even though Russia is technically a part of Asia, it is considered more European than Asian. Consequently, people in the West have a natural expectation of Russia to be progressive and advanced. This systematic passing of LGBTQ-repressive policies is seen as particularly heinous as a result.

(3) Qatar is a Muslim country. As much as I dislike agreeing to this, when it comes to Muslim countries, most Western nations tend to be resigned to certain realities of life in them. It is for this reason that Turkey's progressive policies and earnest attempts to join the EU have and continued to be ignored.

On the whole, you need to be a little more cognisant of world politics and accept the fact that all nations are not treated the same as some are perceived differently to others and held to a higher/lower standard.

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Both of you hit upon the same ideas, but I will reply to arrowheads as the format is easier to address...

I'll be quick:

(1) A lot of people created a huge stink about the Beijing Olympics. Seeing as it was in 2008, you were still a child and probably didn't notice. But rest assured, China's human rights track was not magically forgotten at the time. Most people just got over it and enjoyed the games anyway because unlike Russia, China pretty much violates all sorts of human rights indiscriminately. So it's not one community being persecuted. This makes an organized protest/outraged standoff a little difficult.

(2) People in the West have a push/pull relationship with Russia in that even though Russia is technically a part of Asia, it is considered more European than Asian. Consequently, people in the West have a natural expectation of Russia to be progressive and advanced. This systematic passing of LGBTQ-repressive policies is seen as particularly heinous as a result.

(3) Qatar is a Muslim country. As much as I dislike agreeing to this, when it comes to Muslim countries, most Western nations tend to be resigned to certain realities of life in them. It is for this reason that Turkey's progressive policies and earnest attempts to join the EU have and continued to be ignored.

On the whole, you need to be a little more cognisant of world politics and accept the fact that all nations are not treated the same as some are perceived differently to others and held to a higher/lower standard.

(1) Sure people Mentioned the human rights issues in China around the times of the Olympics in Beijing but nobody really bothered and even 74% of the UK thought that a boycott was a silly idea. There was nobody calling to destroy already purchased Chinese products. The fact that China violates even more human rights on a greater scale should be even more reason to boycott does it not? Its just an inconvenient truth that we support this because we purchase so much from them. This is why I call it bandwagoning, its because the vast majority of people don't even think or look into these kinds of things so when the see this LGBT coverage on TV they latch onto that, and at the same time don't have to feel bad about the workers in China who's blood sweat and tears go into the iPhone/iPad/iPod on their lap. Its why I say it's not about human rights, its about whats popular to protest against and what is easy, not what is righteous.

(2) I think its considered quite the opposite. Russia was always considered to be more oriental and eastern. Look into history and see that this started when Alexander Nevsky decided that his lands would become a vassal of the Golden Horde rather than allow the western powers to rule as well as evangelize their culture in Russia.
The point is I don't agree with that, because of history and because Russia isn't even in the EU, its kind of the odd one out. I think they in fact expect Russia to be the opposite of what Europe would be.

(3) So essentially these are so stuck in their ways we won;t even bother? Or they are so stuck in their ways, and they are a source of oil, so really lets not bother? Writing them off like that is a moral relativistic cop out and it is undeniable that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain are untouchable due to the oil industries as well as their allies and their interests. You cannot pretend that when most international involvement in the middle east is due to oil that this doesn't have a role in not doing something concrete about human rights.

I'd like to think I'm fairly cognisant of global affairs, simply asking why "this LGBT hating country and not another" is already more cognisant than a lot of people.
Not being cognisant would be bandwagoning which is exactly I am trying to get at here.

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As I'm a bit short of time, I'll only address the following comment (for now, at least):

(2) I think its considered quite the opposite. Russia was always considered to be more oriental and eastern. Look into history and see that this started when Alexander Nevsky decided that his lands would become a vassal of the Golden Horde rather than allow the western powers to rule as well as evangelize their culture in Russia.

The point is I don't agree with that, because of history and because Russia isn't even in the EU, its kind of the odd one out. I think they in fact expect Russia to be the opposite of what Europe would be.

It is true that Russia is viewed upon as a different kind of country than the UK, as is with most East-bloc countries, but that does not eliminate the fact that Russia is still considered a more European nation than Asian countries as China. It's considered more eastern than France, but so is all East-bloc countries, for obvious reasons. Not only do they have a distinctly different culture and speak a distinctly different language (some with a distinctly different writing system), but they are still Europeans in our mentality.

To mention that Russia is not a part of the EU is ridiculous in this context. Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are not part of the EU either. Does that make them non-European nations in peoples' minds? I don't think so. Portugal and Spain was some of the dictatorships in Europe during the Cold War (until 1974/1975), so they were quite different from the other democracies that filled the European map (with the exception of USSR, of course). Did people view them as non-European? No.

It might be true that the expectations to Russia is somewhat different than those to the UK, but I'd say Europeans still expect Russia to behave in a very civilised and 'European' manner.

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As I'm a bit short of time, I'll only address the following comment (for now, at least):

(2) I think its considered quite the opposite. Russia was always considered to be more oriental and eastern. Look into history and see that this started when Alexander Nevsky decided that his lands would become a vassal of the Golden Horde rather than allow the western powers to rule as well as evangelize their culture in Russia.

The point is I don't agree with that, because of history and because Russia isn't even in the EU, its kind of the odd one out. I think they in fact expect Russia to be the opposite of what Europe would be.

It is true that Russia is viewed upon as a different kind of country than the UK, as is with most East-bloc countries, but that does not eliminate the fact that Russia is still considered a more European nation than Asian countries as China. It's considered more eastern than France, but so is all East-bloc countries, for obvious reasons. Not only do they have a distinctly different culture and speak a distinctly different language (some with a distinctly different writing system), but they are still Europeans in our mentality.

To mention that Russia is not a part of the EU is ridiculous in this context. Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are not part of the EU either. Does that make them non-European nations in peoples' minds? I don't think so. Portugal and Spain was some of the dictatorships in Europe during the Cold War (until 1974/1975), so they were quite different from the other democracies that filled the European map (with the exception of USSR, of course). Did people view them as non-European? No.

It might be true that the expectations to Russia is somewhat different than those to the UK, but I'd say Europeans still expect Russia to behave in a very civilised and 'European' manner.

I get what you say about the EU example not exactly a strong one, especially considering that Cyprus is in the EU!

But I still don't get this Asia/Europe break here. That Asian countries are allowed to do as they wish despite it not being aligned, if Russia is in a Asia/Europe limbo, why not let it as it is?

And to suggest that Russia is expected to behave more "civilized and European" is borderline Euro-centrism circa 1700.

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As I'm a bit short of time, I'll only address the following comment (for now, at least):

(2) I think its considered quite the opposite. Russia was always considered to be more oriental and eastern. Look into history and see that this started when Alexander Nevsky decided that his lands would become a vassal of the Golden Horde rather than allow the western powers to rule as well as evangelize their culture in Russia.

The point is I don't agree with that, because of history and because Russia isn't even in the EU, its kind of the odd one out. I think they in fact expect Russia to be the opposite of what Europe would be.

It is true that Russia is viewed upon as a different kind of country than the UK, as is with most East-bloc countries, but that does not eliminate the fact that Russia is still considered a more European nation than Asian countries as China. It's considered more eastern than France, but so is all East-bloc countries, for obvious reasons. Not only do they have a distinctly different culture and speak a distinctly different language (some with a distinctly different writing system), but they are still Europeans in our mentality.

To mention that Russia is not a part of the EU is ridiculous in this context. Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are not part of the EU either. Does that make them non-European nations in peoples' minds? I don't think so. Portugal and Spain was some of the dictatorships in Europe during the Cold War (until 1974/1975), so they were quite different from the other democracies that filled the European map (with the exception of USSR, of course). Did people view them as non-European? No.

It might be true that the expectations to Russia is somewhat different than those to the UK, but I'd say Europeans still expect Russia to behave in a very civilised and 'European' manner.

I get what you say about the EU example not exactly a strong one, especially considering that Cyprus is in the EU!

But I still don't get this Asia/Europe break here. That Asian countries are allowed to do as they wish despite it not being aligned, if Russia is in a Asia/Europe limbo, why not let it as it is?

And to suggest that Russia is expected to behave more "civilized and European" is borderline Euro-centrism circa 1700.

You're asking a question here which I suppose no-one can really answer properly. Russia has been present in European history for a very long time, Indonesia has not. I think it would be better if Europeans accept them as being different from Europe, but then again, most East-bloc countries have become more 'European' since the fall of the Soviet Union, some have even joined the EU. I think that this is one of the main reasons why people expect them to be more 'European.'

As for my 'civilised and European' comment, I know it's seems very wrong in this modern world, but the fact is that a lot of (western) Europeans still consider Europe to be more civilised than most other places - in particular when referring to Asia and Africa, and to some extent when discussing Latin America. I personally don't think any place is more 'civilised' than others, but that's how a lot of Europeans regard the world. If you look at it in more detail, you could also say with some accuracy that British people consider themselves more civilised than Frenchmen and that Norwegians consider themselves more civilised than Italians.

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As I'm a bit short of time, I'll only address the following comment (for now, at least):

(2) I think its considered quite the opposite. Russia was always considered to be more oriental and eastern. Look into history and see that this started when Alexander Nevsky decided that his lands would become a vassal of the Golden Horde rather than allow the western powers to rule as well as evangelize their culture in Russia.

The point is I don't agree with that, because of history and because Russia isn't even in the EU, its kind of the odd one out. I think they in fact expect Russia to be the opposite of what Europe would be.

It is true that Russia is viewed upon as a different kind of country than the UK, as is with most East-bloc countries, but that does not eliminate the fact that Russia is still considered a more European nation than Asian countries as China. It's considered more eastern than France, but so is all East-bloc countries, for obvious reasons. Not only do they have a distinctly different culture and speak a distinctly different language (some with a distinctly different writing system), but they are still Europeans in our mentality.

To mention that Russia is not a part of the EU is ridiculous in this context. Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are not part of the EU either. Does that make them non-European nations in peoples' minds? I don't think so. Portugal and Spain was some of the dictatorships in Europe during the Cold War (until 1974/1975), so they were quite different from the other democracies that filled the European map (with the exception of USSR, of course). Did people view them as non-European? No.

It might be true that the expectations to Russia is somewhat different than those to the UK, but I'd say Europeans still expect Russia to behave in a very civilised and 'European' manner.

I get what you say about the EU example not exactly a strong one, especially considering that Cyprus is in the EU!

But I still don't get this Asia/Europe break here. That Asian countries are allowed to do as they wish despite it not being aligned, if Russia is in a Asia/Europe limbo, why not let it as it is?

And to suggest that Russia is expected to behave more "civilized and European" is borderline Euro-centrism circa 1700.

You're asking a question here which I suppose no-one can really answer properly. Russia has been present in European history for a very long time, Indonesia has not. I think it would be better if Europeans accept them as being different from Europe, but then again, most East-bloc countries have become more 'European' since the fall of the Soviet Union, some have even joined the EU. I think that this is one of the main reasons why people expect them to be more 'European.'

As for my 'civilised and European' comment, I know it's seems very wrong in this modern world, but the fact is that a lot of (western) Europeans still consider Europe to be more civilised than most other places - in particular when referring to Asia and Africa, and to some extent when discussing Latin America. I personally don't think any place is more 'civilised' than others, but that's how a lot of Europeans regard the world. If you look at it in more detail, you could also say with some accuracy that British people consider themselves more civilised than Frenchmen and that Norwegians consider themselves more civilised than Italians.

Either way, the argument that Russia is held to a more European standard and is thus treated as such is a horribly weak argument among the controversies surrounding spheres of influence in Ukraine, The NSA and Snowden as well as Syria. All this effort from countries who have stakes in issues in which they oppose Russia raising this ruckus so quickly? It tops anything done for Beijing.

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