Friday, September 13, 2013
All Fun and Games... Until Big Brother Comes Along (Russian Gay Ban and Internet Privacy)
Don't you just hate euphemisms? They are best friends with politics and government. Take a look at Russia which is in the midst of its final preparations for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. One would assume the focus of the nation to be on a few key things: 1) readying to host the Olympic Games, 2) tackling with foreign policy (particularly with the dilemma in Syria), and 3) does anybody know what happened to Edward Snowden? Alas no, the Russian government is instead begging to ruffle some feathers by imposing a ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" or simply put: a ban on openly expressing if one is homosexual or expressing that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle. ABCNews reports that "public displays of affection by gays, including holding hands or displaying symbols like a rainbow flag, are now banned." The repercussions of going against the ban include fines and prison time for citizens and so much as deportation for foreigners.
Well, Russia still appears to be stuck back in 1950s America, where conformism was the way the world ran. Then again, on the bright side, we know the Russians have given up communism because this gay ban obviously proves that there is no overarching equality for all members in the society (this was meant to be sarcastic.... I have a very dry sense of humor). (While we are on the topic of the rights of the people, can we address the legitimacy of Vladimir Putin's presidency? "Elected" for I think four straight terms? His position of power just oozes the word "rigged" whenever he pops up in the papers in some poor photo that shows him in a terrible light). Furthermore, the International Olympic Committee refuses to step in and take action on what is obviously denunciation of a rather basic right to simply love who you wish to love and to be able to show affection for him/her.
You may wonder where the technology link is here? If we want to get technical, propaganda is typically MULTI-MODAL (WOVEN link!). Thus if you expand propaganda to written and spoken word along with the internet, then the Russian government could possibly fine citizens for the beliefs they might express over the world wide web. Of course Russia isn't known for being the forebearer of democracy, but (mostly) free speech there does exist, and a ban on expressing beliefs on homosexuality is infringement of speech. I get the feeling that they view homosexuality as harmful as we would view someone yelling "Fire!" in a crowd when there isn't one (yes that is punishable in the US). I wouldn't put it past them to monitor and censor internet pages because after all, even one of the world's "leading democracies" does it... ahem... will the United States step forward please? (Again, can you say Edward Snowden?). This actually leads me to a topic about privacy issues and government spying that have accompanied the advent of technological advances. I am not going to personally define what is too overeaching or not because I am not educated enough on the facets of either side to make a judgement. On the one hand, the rationale for "spying" is to protect the general public from possible threats, but on the other, you have the dilemma of how much information the government can retrieve about an individual. It's not just government bodies either. I just came across an article about artists utilizing internet videos and snapping secret photos of strangers and compiling/displaying it as art (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324094704579065123679605360.html).
It is frightening to know that if put in the wrong hands, the amount of personal information that can be retrieved about you is quite hefty, and the price that may be paid if such information were to leak out would be even heftier. Right to privacy probably doesn't rank on the level of, say, right to freedom of speech, but with the ability to connect to individual's lives with the click of a few buttons, it is certainly something of high significance for today's society. Tying it back, right to privacy, I believe, should definitely apply to individual's personal relationships, regardless of sexual orientation.