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Just a short one today. The New York Times reports that Official Russia has warned athletes who plan to compete in Sochi that Russian laws apply to them. I am reminded of two issues in American history, both from the 1830s here. Yes, Russia has decided that as far as LGBT issues are concerned, it's 180 years ago and the Czars are still in power.

So here's the provocation:

Russia’s minister of sports, Vitaly L. Mutko, said on Thursday that foreign athletes traveling to Russia for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi would be expected to obey a new Russian law banning “homosexual propaganda” or face criminal prosecution. “No one is forbidding a sportsman with a nontraditional sexual orientation to come to Sochi,” Mutko said. “But if he goes out on the street and starts to propagandize it, then of course he will be held accountable. Even if he’s a sportsman, when he comes to a country, he should respect its laws.”
The penalty? A fine of up to $155, and, if you're a foreigner, deportation. This is the Tennessee "Don't Say Gay" law with very sharp teeth passed by an even more intolerant legislature.

And what am I reminded of here? Something to do with allowing the people of the south to appropriate land inhabited by the Cherokees, the Creek, the Chickasaws and the Choctaws with, um, limited compensation and something Congress did a few years after that to make sure slavery was NOT discussed in Congress because it might be dangerous to some people.

First, Indian Removal. There was a good amount of contestation over the Indian Removal Act of 1830, because its supporters had to convince its opponents that the bill would not be as punitive as the opponents said it would be. As I wrote in May 2012:

Both houses of congress were deluged by hundreds of petitions and memorials, solicited by religious groups and benevolent societies who were opposed to Indian removal. The attack on the bill observed that the Jackson administration was refusing to enforce existing treaties, and was thus violating the Constitution. The bill's supporters appealed to each state’s rights to exercise sovereignty over the Indians who lived within the state because no one understood the bill to do anything but help states force the Indians from their land. Jackson himself understood from the outset that states would refuse to offer full protection to any Indians who stayed behind. In general, representatives from eastern and northern states opposed the bill, and southern and Western delegates favored it. The Senate passed it by a vote of 28-19 4/23/30 28-19; 5/24 the House passed it by a narrower margin, 103-97.
In other words, taking away rights from and removing protection for an oppressed minority. Yes, "voluntary migration" -- doesn't Romney's "self-deportation" suggestion sound familiar here? --led to the Trail of Tears for the Cherokee Nation and the death of almost half of the Creeks. Callous disregard for rights. Sounds like what Russia is doing to its LGBT people.

But then, in 1835, after the failure of people to stop Indian Removal from proceeding led many of them into the antislavery movement (another evil the people of Yankeedom could try to stop). Petitions from ordinary citizens began to stream into Congress, and every one of those petitions had to be at least mentioned if not debated according to the customs of the institution. So many of them were arriving in Congress that Southerners wanted to slam the door shut over this flood of abolitionist petitions. The House passed a compromise resolution, by which partitions were admitted into the House chamber but then laid on the table without further action. This was adopted in May 1836 as the practice for the next year. It was renewed by a 122-74 vote in 1837, and here is the 1837 version of the rule:

This  became known as the “gag” rule, and critics of the rule began to link antislavery with freedom of speech.

What has comrade Musko done here but impose his own gag rule on Olympic athletes like Blake Skjellerup, who Musko is saying will be arrested, fined and deported for wearing a rainbow pin? East of the Mississippi for white people and slaves. Oh, and we don't want you discussing slavery. Don't hold your breath waiting for the IOC to say anything about this either.

This is why you study history! Lots of analogies can be made.

10:00 AM: Every single time. This is a diary about Russia's intention to enforce the "homosexual propaganda" law at the Sochi Olympics. It is NOT about the boycott of Russian Vodka or about what constitutes Russian Vodka.

10:15 AM PT: I'll be gone for about 90 minutes to run some errands. I'll look forward to responding to your comments when I get back.

Originally posted to Angry Gays on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 07:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Wide World of Sports, Milk Men And Women, LGBT Kos Community, and LGBT Rights are Human Rights.

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