Sochi: The Shame of a Nation

I’m Canadian and as a Canadian I love hockey. I play hockey as much as I can (3 or 4 times a week) and, though I have watched less hockey since the last lockout dampened my enthusiasm somewhat, I do watch my hometown Montreal Canadiens as much as possible.

I think that hockey is the greatest sport in the world, with more creativity and elegance than anything else, and a skill level that goes way beyond all others. I think you need to play hockey to truly understand what makes it so wonderful, which is why I believe it’s difficult for people who don’t have local outdoor skating rinks to get into the game the same way us fanatics from the frozen nations do.

A lot of Canadians feel the same way that I do about hockey, and that’s why this winter Olympics at Sochi was such a wonderful opportunity for us as a nation to say to the world that we think that the rights of human beings everywhere are more important than a game. The open oppression of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered is just not okay, and I kind of thought that most Canadians felt that way as well. But I call bullshit on all of our liberal posturing and equality touting social messages, as we as a country can’t even stand up for what we (supposedly) believe in if it means we don’t get to play a damn game. It’s embarrassing and it’s pathetic. The Olympics are meaningless. They are games. We are talking about choosing to play a game over choosing to stand up for what we think is right.

This was Canada’s best chance to actually send a message that people might notice on the global scene, and we were completely called out on our hypocrisy.

I also wanted to add that I think it’s extra sad that two players from my beloved Habs (P.K. Subban and Carey Price) are going to be playing in the Olympics and I will forever think less of them for this. I know it doesn’t matter to them, but while they are on the team it will just be hard to really root for them.

And to those that argue that these athletes have spent all their lives (oh, and by the way, my tax money!) training for this event, I would say that that is the whole point! It’s really easy to stand up for what you “believe in” when there’s no price to be paid for standing up, and if you compromise those beliefs the moment that any cost comes with having them, then did you ever really have them? Do Canadians really give a crap about the rights of all our fellow human beings, or are we full of it? It’s certainly looking like the latter.

And further, for those athletes and Olympic attenders who have the nerve to pretend to support the LGBT community by ‘daring’ to adorn themselves with rainbow colours and to wave their rainbow flags: you can fuck right off. You are such damn hypocrites I don’t understand how you can physically stand it. You are supporting oppression financially while trying to save some sort of dignity by purporting to be against that same evil. No, you don’t get to do that. You are human garbage and no amount of rainbow flags are going to make you smell nice.

I wanted to end by mentioning one of the great pioneers of computer science and artificial intelligence: Alan Turing. Turing was one of the fathers of modern computing as well as having worked to crack German ciphers during WWII. In return, he was prosecuted by his own government in 1952 for being homosexual. He was forced to undergo chemical castration in lieu of a prison sentence. He committed suicide in 1954 at the age of 41. In 2009 the British government apologized for the way they treated him, but my feeling on this is who gives a shit? It’s too damn late. Maybe someone should have said or done something at the time.

And now, here we are again. Doing nothing. Openly supporting a country that oppresses a huge part of their own population. A group of people that we clearly don’t see as equal to us.

Let me pose this question: if the laws against homosexuality in Russia were instead levelled at blacks, would Canada (or your country) be attending the Olympics? I think most of us would say that we certainly hope not. Why then are we okay when a different group of people are being oppressed that similarly had no control over the very thing they are being oppressed for?

I think I’ll end things here with one of my favourite quotes, which is often attributed to Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Oh, and sorry for the bad language in this post, but I’m a little mad and sometimes a good cussing can help.



  1. Tom Willoughby January 8, 2014 9:15 am  Reply

    I agree with everything you said here, but there are some other considerations.

    First of all, many political prisoners have been freed from Russia recently. This at least shows that Russia is willing to change.

    Secondly, you cannot influence enemies, but you can influence friends. By attending the Olympics, these countries are starting out on a long path of change in Russia.

    Do I like some of the Russian policies? No, they’re horrendous. But politics has survived for millennia because it works.

  2. T-Go Co Games
    T-Go Co Games January 8, 2014 11:15 am  Reply

    I just don’t think I have your patience and forethought, Tom. I know that your long term view of things is a much more rational and realistic perspective, but sometimes I just wish we could have more sudden change.

    In any case, it would have been nice if the Canadian people (not the government necessarily) would be a little more vocally opposed to attending Sochi or even just commenting on the situation, but as it stands, we seem to pretty much have a position of apathy towards the situation.

  3. Tom Willoughby January 8, 2014 11:27 am  Reply

    I always have had a long-term view of things. I have a plan, that will probably never happen, to start a charity that uses safe investment to grow the donated funds until it is a large enough sum of money to completely solve a problem. This is because it seems like all of the current charities are simply putting a bandaid over a bullet wound and dropping money into a bottomless pit.

  4. T-Go Co Games
    T-Go Co Games January 8, 2014 11:30 am  Reply

    My initial reaction is that that sounds like a much better solution, mainly because it would force the charity to change it’s question from “What can we do to help?” to “What can we do to fix this?”

  5. Tom Willoughby January 8, 2014 6:34 pm  Reply

    It does come with the major dis-advantage that an unthinkable number of people would die if current charities switched to this tactic, so a new charity would be required. And there are far too many charities already nudging at the public consciousness, enough that a new one with no immediately visible effect would probably struggle to generate donations.

Leave a Reply