Let the Witch Hunt Begin

As feared, Putin's puppets have extrapolated their law banning pro-gay propaganda from influencing children into a law that bans children from being raised in a non-homophobic home. The government has brought a law to the table that would give itself power to remove children from their biological or adoptive parents if they are gay or even suspected of being gay.

This law is horrifying enough on face value, but imagine a circumstance where a mother has been granted custody of her children after a messy divorce. The father could now gain custody of the children simply by accusing his ex-wife of being a lesbian. She would then have to prove, in an already unfriendly court, that she is not a lesbian, and that she is virulently anti-lesbian and promises to raise her children to be homophobes. If not she may never see her children again. It doesn't stop there. This law is an open invitation for witch hunts of every kind. It was designed to be abused not only by citizens, but by politicians looking to rid themselves of opposition.

What makes Putin's war on homosexuals so frightening is that the methodology is perfectly simple. His recipe is time-tested and depends, almost entirely, on the most dependable truth of all -- human nature. All that Putin needed to begin was the spark of a widely held, if only whispered prejudice such as homosexuals being pederasts and sex offenders. Feed the glowing embers with government concern for the innocent people whose good will has been abused by the gays as they spread their message that their life-style is somehow acceptable. Low-level laws controlling the spread of these messages can now be enacted. Police are now empowered to search homes, seize computers, arrest and fine anyone they feel might be breaking the newly enacted laws. Emboldened by these bans, vigilantes have implied instruction to protect their communities from the rampant evil. Intolerant speech in the streets as well as the media, street violence and gang organizing are all normalized. And now the government comes in with "concern" for the gay community's safety. They are rounded up for their own protection and isolated for the sake of the children at risk of infection. Welcome to the return of concentration camps.

What, you may ask, is Putin looking to gain? Mine is only a guess, but I would say that a man who releases photos of himself bare-breasted on horseback is one whose ego does not tolerate criticism of any kind. Whether he aims to distract attention from monetary misdeeds or he's snatching powers not granted by Russia's constitution, he seeks blind loyalty. Nothing binds a people to their leader like a common enemy. Voters don't change governments during war. By attacking us he not only brings his right-wing staunchly into line behind him, but simultaneously invalidates the liberal and intellectual communities who would stand up against his policies.

President Obama, meeting with LGBT leaders in St. Petersburg last week, said that he has far greater conflicts with Putin that must be addressed before he can even broach the subject of human rights. Canada, for its part, is drafting legislation that will allow gays and lesbians asylum within its borders. I guess we will have to wait for Obama to evolve again before we get anything like that from him. So, the question is: What can we do?

There is not a person in all of Russia who doesn't know that the Sochi Olympics are the crown jewel of Putin's presidency. He personally went to the IOC to petition for the games. It is therefore only logical that ANYTHING that we, you, I, can do to tarnish the Olympics must be done. It is a moral imperative. Allowing Putin to stand proudly in the center of the world community would be a crime against all who have suffered and will suffer from his politics. This is a moment when politics and sports cannot be separated no matter how uncomfortable. I beg you to boycott the Sochi Olympics. Do not sponsor them, do not participate in them, do not watch them on TV. It rips me apart that there will be those who blame the LGBT community for any disruption to their sporting event. But it's simply not true. Putin is to blame for his policies of hate. Putin is to blame for ramping up his attack on human rights. Putin is to blame for all of this mess. And if his laws are enacted and put into practice anyone who enables that man is partially to blame for the suffering of our community. There are no innocent bystanders in this. YOU, my fellow citizens, are powerful enough to change the world. Don't relinquish that power. Wield it.

As for the athletes and their supporters who might miss the opportunity to compete in this arena, I apologize heartily. I know what it is to work for something and then have it denied. No one wants you to miss your opportunity to shine. But what glory is there in collusion with a monster? Still, there are five months to go before the games are set to begin. Canada could hold the games using the arenas constructed for their last Winter Olympics. Perhaps the games could even be moved to next year. But before you decide to ignore this plea for support I beg you to ask yourself which is more important: to crown who's fastest down an artificial slope, or to know that when you come home from work your children will not have been kidnapped by the police?