Double Standards of Olympic Proportions

Hey, check it out: John Scalzi wants still more credit for having the right opinion about everything. In this particular instance, it’s really important to him that you think he’s a great guy for boycotting watching the Olympics, even though he wasn’t planning to watch them anyway. Here’s some "elloquent" prose on the matter:

The longer version is that the unfathomable graft and incompetence and horrible homophobic bigotry that surrounds this particular iteration of the Olympics has massively swamped my usual benign indifference to the thing. Usually I don’t care about the Olympics, but I see them as harmless and don’t mind if they occasionally impinge on my consciousness. This time I’m actively disgusted by them and will go out of my way to avoid them.

Now this, in a nutshell, is why I have had my fill of the gay rights movement. Look, China, which held the Summer Olympics in 2008, has a MUCH WORSE human rights record than Russia. And it is CONSIDERABLY more corrupt besides. If you are worried about Russia’s human rights record but didn’t blink an eye about China’s, then you are officially a Bad Person.

I get that special interest groups have to look after their own, but at the end of the day, if you’re only interested in the rights of your own group then you are working against all that is right and good. If you protested the Beijing Olympics and you want to protest Sochi, be my guest. If you saw the Beijing Olympics as "harmless" but think Sochi’s are "disgusting," then you’re simply grandstanding to get attention.

UPDATE (2014-02-09): I think I have to take back my claim that China is “CONSIDERABLY” more corrupt than Russia. This used to be true in the 80s and 90s, but it doesn’t seem to be true anymore. Transparency International gives China slightly better ratings than Russia, and it notes that China, unlike Russia, is making a good faith (albeit unsuccessful) bid to get the problem under control. So, I think I have to concede Noah’s point in the comments. New version: China is “ALMOST” as corrupt as Russia, which is to say “pretty damn corrupt.”

4 thoughts on “Double Standards of Olympic Proportions

  1. The comments on the Scalzi post are priceless.

    And it is CONSIDERABLY more corrupt besides

    Is China really that much more corrupt than Russia? I would have thought that both were so far out in the tail that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to rank them unambiguously.

    • Actually, now that I go looking, I can’t really find anything to substantiate my claim that China is more corrupt. Transparency International ranks them about the same, but with Russia slightly worse, and with some kudos for China for making good-faith (albeit mostly unsuccessful) attempts to control to the problem. I’ll revise the post.

  2. They’re certainly both corrupt enough that it doesn’t matter. My understanding is that one of the central puzzles of political science right now is how China can be more corrupt than Russia and yet experience (much) better economic growth. But you’re certainly right that beyond a certain point it hardly matters, and in any case if you can grow and be corrupt at the same time, that counts for a lot.

    Speaking of academics, aside from being hilarious, the comments on Scalzi’s post are also interesting in that they use exaggerated disease/disgust metaphors. Isn’t it supposed to be conservatives who think that way? Isn’t that what the benighted literature on psychological profiles in politics tells us? And yet I see liberals use these metaphors a lot more often. Maybe I just have more exposure to them (dagnabit, see what I just did?).

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