Russia update: Savage & Fierstein on MSNBC, Brits & Swedes weigh in, Miss Universe pageant snafu

Dan Savage appeared on Chris Hayes’ show to talk about the Russia anti-gay/anti-trans crackdown. See video below.

Chris doesn’t seem to understand the point of the vodka boycott, unless he’s seriously playing devil’s advocate – which is his job, though I didn’t get the sense he was as devils-advocate-y with the two women the other night who criticized our protest movement.  Chris did a broadcast the other night that left a lot of people rather unhappy.  Fortunately, he made up for it by having Dan Savage, and then Harvey Fierstein, both on his show last night.  Chris has been – is – a strong advocate for us, so keep that in mind.  (Meaning: He’s not a bad guy, he’s not the enemy, he simply needs someone to lay this out for him in more than a 4 minute segment.)

In talking with Dan and Harvey, Chris expresses concern about going after the wrong target by going after vodka, because the vodka companies aren’t the problem, Putin is.  Yes.  And the only reason Dan and Harvey are on Chris’ show talking about this issue – the only reason the world is talking about this issue – is because the vodka boycott galvanized the world’s interest, and support.  This story was getting comparatively little coverage – no, make that “little coverage,” period – before the vodka exploded the story, and the world’s interest.

Chris needs to talk this through with someone who can explain the rationale for the vodka boycott, for the protest tactics overall, and who can more generally explain how effective advocacy works.  There’s a reason we’ve employed the tactics we have the past 3 weeks, and they’ve worked for achieving what we wanted to achieve: media, outrage, education, and the beginning of the destruction of Brand Russia – all of which are geared towards the longer-term goal of repealing the law, but also teaching Russia and the world not to f with us.

No one thought we’d win this in 3 weeks.  We did hope we could get the world’s attention – a necessary first step in creating change – and boy, we sure did.

Harvey Fierstein also appeared on UpWithChris on MSNBC.  Harvey has been amazing in helping to blow up, and then keep the focus on, this issue, starting with his amazing NYT op ed that helped blow this issue wide open.

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Richard Socarides does a great job discussing Sochi on Anderson Cooper’s show.

UK LGBT human rights charity on why the Stoli boycotted mattered:

What is your view on the vodka boycott?

We are supportive of the vodka boycott. I completely agree that by itself it won’t change the Russian laws and consumer boycotts have a problematic history at best. You also have to be careful when you’re trying to target companies that may ostensibly appear to be Russian but are actually transnational and operate in a number of different territories.

Where the boycott has been incredibly successful is in raising the profile of the issue. If it hadn’t been called for it would be unlikely that we would be discussing the problems and unlikely that it would be appearing in national newspapers or that Obama would be talking about it on late night television.

Bingo.  You can’t win if no one is even talking about your issue.  Of course, this has moved far beyond the Stoli boycott at this point – and really, anyone still worrying about the wisdom of that tactic has either been asleep the past three weeks, paid off by Big Vodka, and/or seriously doesn’t understand how to conduct effective advocacy on a global scale.  As Richard notes in the Anderson Cooper piece, this may very well be – it already is, really – the biggest international gay rights story in history, in terms of its worldwide coverage. It’s no longer a question of the wisdom of the boycott – it’s now a question of where to channel that success.

Funniest damn thing I’ve seen in a while:


Why academics should take a stand against Russia.

The Onion: “2014 Olympics to be held in 19th Century”

Putin a Rainbow:


Swedish athletes stand up to Putin in Moscow.

Openly-gay Bravo star Andy Cohen turns down emcee job for Miss Universe because it’s to be hosted in Russia.

TIME: For Sochi’s Sake, NBC Can’t Ignore Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws

NBC will face increasing pressure to cover this story extensively, and report critically on the IOC, its business partner. Will the IOC accept such a discriminatory law? In the Olympic Charter, the sixth “fundamental principle of Olympism” states that “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement.” Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter also bans political and religious demonstrations at Olympic venues. So the IOC does not like discrimination. But athletes cannot speak up about a law that is clearly discriminatory. “We always say to our athletes, ‘We do not want any demonstrations in one or the other direction,’” Gerhard Heiberg, an IOC member from Norway, told the Associated Press. “‘Please, you are there to compete and behave. Please don’t go out on the Net or in the streets.’” NBC will have to question, and criticize, this glaring IOC hypocrisy.

Russian anti-gay crackdown possible precursor for wider human rights abuses (USNWR):

But what human rights lawyers fear most about the recent spate of ill-defined restrictions on homosexual propaganda is that the provisions are a mere precursors to wider, state-sanctioned crackdowns against gays and lesbians. Most of the bills, for instance, are not formulated with sufficient clarity to allow individuals to act – with any degree of certainty – in conformity with the law  Leaving key terms such as “propaganda,” “promotion” and “negatively influence” undefined will have the double-edged effect of deterring potentially lawful forms of expression and allowing for arbitrary enforcement by police and prosecutors.

The 2014 Olympics provides the international community a platform to restate its commitment to promote and protect all individuals’ – dancers and hockey players included – right to freedom of expression and assembly by calling for the repeal of prohibitions on homosexual propaganda.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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