Sunday, 11 August 2013
I think we should boycott the Russian Olympic games.
Mostly, admittedly, because we should boycott all Olympic Games, because it's embarrassing they still have them at all, and because it's about time we grew out of anything that unites nationalism with fascist body worship (a fact that the relentless promotion of the far nobler Paralympics serves to underline rather than obscure).
But partly, yes, for exactly the reasons that olden days small screen laughtermaker Fry thinks we should.
Of course, there are lots of other questions I'd like to ask him, too (or rather I wouldn't, in case he answers them, in that awful sing-song voice of his): did he feel equally uncomfortable about the Chinese one a few years back?; would he have called for a boycott of the Moscow ones in 1980?; would he call for a boycott if it was held in Saudi Arabia?; would he not call for a boycott if it was held in Israel?
Personally, I'm not certain we'd get a yes answer on any of those questions, which is why it's always wise, ordinarily, to maintain a strict policy of boycotting Stephen Fry.
But there's no question his point is inarguable as far as it goes. Russia is again plainly a top-heavy gangster state where a cynical oligarchy scapegoat random minorities in the hope that the masses don't spot what a bunch of bastards they are.
There are worse countries out there, true, and more pressing human rights abuses you'll never hear a peep about from Stevie, but that's irrelevant. If the time came for any of those rotters to host the Olympics, we should boycott them too.
Doesn't mean we shouldn't boycott the Russian ones.
There's really no argument in the world more annoying, when you say something is bad and should be stopped, than "well, in that case, what about..." and then something even worse.
It's one of those points that is always made with a satisfied smile, on the assumption there's no possible reply, when in fact it hardly makes any kind of sense at all.
There's no reason in the world - logical, practical or moral - why problems have to be addressed in strict hierarchical order of seriousness. Indeed, nothing would ever be solved that way.
As long as your stance on them is consistent, there is no hypocrisy. Trouble is, when someone plays the "in that case, what about..." card, you just know that what they mean is "let's not do anything about that either."
Boycotting the Games sends a powerful but at the same time humble message, commensurate with our status as a world power.
Given the events of the last quarter-century, the idea that Britain of all places has the means, let alone the right, to go barging into other people's countries and telling them what to do is, I hope, one we've at last outgrown. But turning down an invite to a plainly hypocritical war-substitute sports tournament says something much worthier.
It says, we look down on you. Further, we look down on you not from a position of physical power, but of moral superiority.
We're past invading, and trying to throw our weight about, but at the same time, no way are we going to come when you whistle and chuck javelins about, or whatever it is they do at these events.