12 April 2008

Torches and Circuses, Hypocrisy and Theocracy


It has been fascinating to watch the spectacle of the Olympic Torch Relay and its accompanying protests. I am a bit lost in the logic of where the torch was scheduled to go around the world — the choice of cities doesn't seem to have anything to do with where the Olympic Games have been or are going (San Francisco? Buenos Aires?), so I have to say I don't really get the intent. At the same time, I can't imagine that any of the Tibetan (or Tibetan wannnabe) protesters actually want the world part of the relay to be cancelled. They are getting way too much press from the spectacle as it moves from city to city, continent to continent.

I'm not sure which of these is scarier!

The games themselves, with all their attendant spectacle, are the ultimate circus. I can't help feeling sorry, however, for all those young athletes who are now being subjected to the uncertainty of calls for an Olympic boycott. Most of these kids — and they are mostly kids, except maybe for the equestrians and the lawn bowlers (oh wait, that's the Commonwealth Games, isn't it?) — have been sacrificing personal lives and other things that the rest of us take for granted just to arrive at this particular moment in time in peak condition at the top of their game.

Our political leaders, however, are openly speculating about showing their great dissatisfaction with China's human rights record in the way that will touch themselves the least. Where are the economic measures, the embargoes on exporting the raw materials of military and economic might? Why, that might hurt us, too, now that we have become dependent on the cheap labour of the Chinese populace to do all of our manufacturing for us. It would be so much easier to just take away the dreams of those kids, no?
None of this is to make light of what has happened, is happening, or might be happening in Tibet. Even here in the West, we saw some images at the beginning of this that were pretty horrific — mob violence that seemed to be targeting those who were not ethnically Tibetan — and I can't help feeling that there has been some payback that we are not seeing. Yet another 'us versus them' conflict playing out over the centuries that I find really disappointing and exasperating.

Layer that with that whole 'democracy versus dictatorship' spin that always seems to be applied to these stories, like the U.S. hasn't been spending the last seven years whittling away at the rights of its citizens and whisking away the rights of any non-citizens who happen to stray their way, or the last many decades trumpeting the superiority of a system in which fewer than half of the eligible actually bother to speak up once every four years and the parties spend all their time trying to make sure that those who oppose them are silenced.

And while there might be many points on which they differ, I challenge anyone to tell me how the opinions of these two men on the subject of homosexuality are not the same (sorry, but that is one of my most important measuring sticks).

Give me a one-party state over a theocracy any day!

1 comment:

Acid Reflux (acidrefluxweb.com) said...

I never got to see you during the ever so exciting CAHR conference. I'm sure it wasn't a disappointment for you. Slim offerings at Simon's this time around that couldn't even make up for the incessant treatment as prevention discussion.

Hope all is well.