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Libertarian women’s history month: Cathy Young

30 Mar

Cathy Young (February 10, 1963- ) is an American journalist who was born in Russia. Young is known for her writing on the topics of rape and feminism. She has written articles critical of campus anti-rape activism.  Young is the author of two books, a frequent contributor to the libertarian monthly reason, and a regular columnist for NewsdayRealClearPolitics.com and Time.

Born in Moscow, the capital of what was then the Soviet Union, Ekaterina Jung was 17 when her family emigrated to the United States in 1980. She became a naturalized citizen in 1987 as Catherine Alicia Young and graduated from Rutgers University in 1988. At Rutgers she wrote a column for The Daily Targum student newspaper and worked as a student writer for The Detroit News. She also completed her autobiography, Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood, published in 1989.
Continuing her association with The Detroit News, Young was a regular columnist for the newspaper from 1993 to 2000 and worked as a freelance journalist for a variety of publications including The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Philadelphia InquirerNewsdayThe New RepublicThe Wall Street JournalThe American SpectatorNational ReviewSalon.comThe Weekly Standard, and Reason.
From 2000 to 2007, Young wrote a weekly op-ed column for The Boston Globe. In 2008, she began to write a regular column for RealClearPolitics.com. In 2012, she became a weekly columnist for Newsday. Over the years, Young has had a close association with Reason, where she is a contributing editor and was a monthly columnist from 2001 to 2007. Since 2014, she has regularly contributed to Time.
Young is a research associate at the Washington, D.C.-based libertarian think tank Cato Institute, for which she co-authored a 1996 policy analysis paper, “Feminist Jurisprudence: Equal Rights or Neo-Paternalism?”. Her writing covers a variety of topics in politics and culture, with particular focus on gender issues and feminism, reflecting an individualist feminist perspective (c.f. Wendy McElroy), frequently agreeing with men’s rights activists, while calling them to task for emulating the identity politics associated with some forms of feminism. In addition to appearing on a number of radio and television shows, she has spoken on college campuses and, during 2001 and 2002, taught a 3-week gender issues course at Colorado College.
In her second book, Ceasefire!: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality, published in 1999, Young criticized both feminism andtraditionalism from what she described as a “pro-equality point of view”, a philosophy which she says may be called “feminism or something else”. Young has been described by Steven Pinker as an “equity feminist” or alternately by New York Magazine as a “contrarian feminist”.
The Washington Post reported that Young has written numerous articles critical of campus anti-rape advocacy. Salon described Young as “having a history of writing to discredit [rape] victims” and as a “thorn in the side of the anti-rape movement“. Emma Sulkowicz, creator of Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight), described Young as an “anti-feminist” saying Young published Facebook conversations between her and her alleged rapist to “shame” her. Heather Wilhelm wrote in RealClearPolitics that Young’s article about Sulkowicz “sets aside the hype and soberly assesses the facts.” Commentary magazine stated that Young re-investigates “atrocious coverage of campus sexual assault myths” in the “hopes of setting the record straight and minimizing some of the incredible damage the accusations have done”. Steven Pinker described Young in his book The Blank Slate as an “iconoclastic columnist” who has argued against rape-related “dogma”, while Amanda Marcotte, writing for The Raw Story called Young a “professional female misogynist”. This criticism was in response to Young’s opposition to legislation proposed by Senator Kevin De Leon to address the issue of campus sexual assault by establishing an “affirmative consent” standard, also known as “yes means yes”.

Describing the Gamergate controversy in relation to feminism, Young has stated that she believes Gamergate is “a backlash against feminism, but it’s a backlash against a particular kind of feminism, one that has a tendency to look obsessively for offences, read ideology into everything, and demonize male sexuality under the pretext of stamping out ‘the objectification of women’.”
Young has defended the social media campaign Women Against Feminism

Libertarian calendar for April

30 Apr
For Libertarian Party events go here

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    April 25
    8 pm Pacific

    Adam Kokesh on Outright Libertarian radio

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    Washington DC
    April 30

    Who is Happy About Capitalism?

    ***Register here: http://bit.ly/1pz68P6

    Capitalism is the social system for individuals who want to achieve happiness in society. So why is it constantly attacked? Join Tom Bowden for a discussion of Ayn Rand’s unique insights into the system she called an “unknown ideal.”

    Lunch will be served.

    RSVP is required for attendance.

    Register: http://bit.ly/1pz68P6

    *********************************************************************************
    Washington DC
    April 30

    “This Town” by Mark Lebovitch
    6th and I Synagogue

    7 pm

    Admission:
    Ticket: $14
    1 ticket + 1 book: $18
    2 tickets + 1 book: $24
    How to Purchase:
    Online or by phone (877.987.6487 with a $1.50 fee per ticket). Additional fees apply.
    Seating:
    General Admission
    Doors Open:
    6:00 pm

    Mark Leibovich

    In Conversation with Franklin Foer and David Brooks

    Apr 30, 2014 • 7:00 pm
    Hailed as a “hysterically funny portrait of the capital’s vanities and ambitions” (The New Yorker), This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral—Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!—in America’s Gilded Capital captured America’s attention asthe political book of 2013.
    Washington, D.C., might be loathed from every corner of the nation, yet these are fun and busy days at this nexus of big politics, big money, big media, and big vanity. There are no Democrats and Republicans anymore in the nation’s capital, just millionaires. In This Town,Leibovich—chief national correspondent forThe New York Times Magazine—presents a blistering examination of our ruling class’s incestuous “media industrial complex.”
    …  More +
    More Info: Twitter

    Liberation Ferry – They’re there, they’re queer, get them out!

    21 Feb
    Do we need Gaylt’s Gulch?

    Masha Gessen, the journalist who moved to the US to escape anti-gay violence in Russia (and is the primary author publishing on Pussy Riot), predicts doom for Russian gays who remain there. Would start up cities and seasteading be a solution? With gays giving their money to an Israeli style airlift of Russian (Nigerian, etc.) gays?












    (Photo:  Russian-American lesbian journalist Masha Gessen, channeling Ayn Rand?)






    Save them Peter Thiel, you’re their only hope!”  

    NBC – Nerdy, Boring Communists?

    11 Feb

    NBC, which has an exclusive contract with Russia for the Sochi Olympics coverage, has been praising Vladimir Putin and the noble experiment of Stalinism. It also edited out pro-gay, anti-discrimination remarks from its broadcast of the opening speeches at Sochi. No word yet on whether Rachel Maddow and other house gays on the NBC plantation have any comment.

    “The towering presence, the empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint. The revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures. As a more reliable right to their collective heart. What they build in aspirations lifted by imagination. What they craft, through the wonder of every last detail. How magical the fusion of sound and movement can be. How much a glass of distilled perfection and an overflowing table can matter. Discover the Russian people through these indelible signatures. Discover what we share with them through the games that open here tonight.”

    Washington Post angers gay community by Potemkin Village "news"

    18 Oct
    Perhaps this will get blamed on Jeff Bezos’ “libertarianism,” which is not noticeable yet in the editorial or opinion pages, but the Post seems to be in bed with the Russian government.

    But then, according to Diane West’s new book on communist infiltration of the federal government, that may not be new.

    Washington Post publishes pro-Russia supplement

    By  on October 16, 2013
    Washington Post, Russia, Kremlin, gay news, Washington Blade

    The Washington Post on October 9 ran a paid supplement from a Kremlin-backed Russian newspaper.
    The Washington Post’s Oct. 9 print edition included a paid supplement produced by a Kremlin-backed newspaper that lacked any references to the ongoing controversy over Russia’s LGBT rights record.
    Rossiyskaya Gazetá produced the insert – Russia Beyond the Headlines – that contained, among other things, an op-ed from Jeffrey Mankoff of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in D.C. He cited portions of the speech that Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered during a meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club, a Russian think tank, that took place last month.
    “Discussing his own view of Russian identity, Putin criticized the West for abandoning its Christian roots and ‘placing on the same level families with many children and single-sex partnerships, belief in God and belief in Satan,’” Putin said, according to Mankoff. “This cultural relativity, according to Putin, is ‘a direct path to degradation and primitivization, to a deep demographic and ethical crisis.’”
    The Oct. 9 supplement is not the first time the Washington Post has published a Russia-specific insert.
    The newspaper first published a Russia-themed supplement – Russia Now – in 2007.
    Russia Beyond the Headlines said in a press release last month it decided earlier this year to redesign and revamp the supplement. It reappeared under the aforementioned name in the Washington Post’s Sept. 11 issue with a lead story that focused on the controversy surrounding the Russian law that bans gay propaganda to minors.
    The article quoted Lyudmila Alexeyeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group, an organization that monitors human rights in Russia, as describing the statute that Putin signed in June as “a step toward the Middle Ages.” The Sept. 11 supplement reported Kirill Kobrin of Radio Free Europe’s Russia Service said he feels “it was unthinkable to even discuss these issues 20 years ago in Russia.”
    “Under the Kremlin’s lead, LGBT rights are the focus of public attention and debate in Russia – albeit censored debate,” the Russia Beyond the Headlines article reads.
    The New York Times on Sept. 18 published an eight-page Russia Beyond the Headlines supplement that contained articles about the gay propaganda law and coming out in the country. Putin reiterated his opposition to air strikes in Syria in an op-ed that ran in the newspaper less than a week earlier.
    Ketchum PR, a public relations firm that represents Putin, placed it in the New York Times. Pro Publica reported the New York-based company received more than $1.9 million in fees and expense reimbursements from the Russian government from December 2012 through May.
    The New York Times included another Russia supplement in its Oct. 16 print edition that contained an article on the arrest of 30 Greenpeace members last month who tried to board a Russian oil platform. The insert also contained a reference to the LGBT advocates who protested Russia’s gay rights record during the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night gala in New York last month.
    Washington Post spokesperson Jennifer Lee declined to tell the Washington Blade how much the Russia Beyond the Headlines insert cost, but she confirmed it was a paid supplement and the advertiser provided the content. It contained a disclosure on the front page that said “it did not involve the news or editorial departments of the Washington Post.”
    The top margin of each subsequent page contained a disclosure that stated the insert was “a paid supplement to the Washington Post.”
    Observers and even journalists themselves have questioned the way Russian media outlets have covered the gay propaganda law, Russia’s LGBT rights record and the controversy surrounding it.
    Gay American journalist Jamie Kirchick on Aug. 21 challenged Russia’s LGBT rights recordduring an interview with the Kremlin-backed television network RT on the sentencing of former U.S. Army private Chelsea Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks.
    “Being here on a Kremlin-funded propaganda network I’m going to wear my gay pride suspenders and I’m going to speak out against the horrific anti-gay legislation that Vladimir Putin has signed into law, that passed unanimously by the Russian Duma that criminalizes homosexual propaganda,” Kirchick told anchor Yulia Shapovalova. “It effectively makes it illegal to talk about homosexuality in public. We’ve seen a spate of violent attacks on gay people in Russia.”
    RT aired a segment on calls to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in response to the country’s LGBT rights record less than two weeks before Kirchick appeared on the network to discuss Manning. The journalist further criticized Shapovalova and her colleagues before RT took him off the air.
    Anton Krasovsky, the former editor-in-chief of the pro-Kremlin Kontr TV, said the television station fired him in January after he came out as gay during a segment on the gay propaganda law.
    The Washington Post in recent weeks has published a number of stories on the controversy over Russia’s LGBT rights record and how it threatens to overshadow the Sochi games. These include a Sept. 26 article on the International Olympic Committee’s position that it has no authority to challenge the gay propaganda law and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals’ response to a question about it during the lighting of the Olympic torch in Greece late last month.
    Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, who bought the Washington Post in August and contributed $2.5 million to a group that backed a successful 2012 ballot measure that secured marriage rights for same-sex couples in Washington State, did not return the Blade’s request for comment.
    Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute, a media ethics watchdog, told the Blade that paid supplements and advertorials have become common in newspapers. She noted the Washington Post’s use of different fonts throughout the Russia Beyond the Headlines supplement is “common practice” and “is amazingly effective at cueing regular readers to advertising content.”
    “Combined with the disclosures, it looks to me the [Washington Post] is within the standard practice of the industry,” McBride said.

    And you thought only the gays were upset with Russia

    29 Aug
    Why are we giving any of these people money or weapons?

    Why do we buy their oil instead of developing our own? 

    —– Forwarded Message —–
    From: Aeisha Muhammad <aeisha_786@yahoo.com>
    To:  UN Security Council; Arab League


    Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 1:46 PM

    Subject: The Olympic Games in Russia



    Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Rahim
    Bismillah Walhamdulillah Was Salaatu Was Salaam ‘ala Rasulillah


    As salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu


    Dear Members of the Arab League and the entire International Community:

    It is being reported that Saudi Arabia is threatening Russia with terrorists attacks during the Olympics in Moscow. May I ask what is wrong with you all at the Arab League? Has everyone lost their senses? Does anyone get the fact that threats of this sort are an open provocation designed to create more animosity against the Arab/Muslim world? What possible gain could there be in making threats such as this except to serve the interests of the Zionist Nazi fascists in Washington, “israel” and the UK ?

    I have no doubt that the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia is trembling with with all the happenings that are taking place around its borders but that is NOT an excuse to provoke Russia with terrorists threats. If the House of Saud is openly admitting that they are the ones running the Islamic terrorism then they are doing it for the sake of themselves and the United States of America. Saudi Arabia and the USA work together to destroy the region. These terrorists that they brag about are the FAKE mujahideen which they created to run rough shod over the rest of the Islamic world to help the United States of America and “israel” gain control of the Arabian Peninsula. Foolishly the House of Saud has miscalculated that it will stay in power if it walks hand in hand with the Zionist Nazi USA in its genocidal assault on the innocents of the Arabian Peninsula.

    The real Islamic resistance is alive, well and thriving in the Arabian Peninsula and the rest of the Islamic world. These FAKE mercenaries created and disbursed by the USA and Saudi Arabia will NEVER defeat the true Mujahideen. Time will prove that to be the case. The House of Saud is crumbling and all it has left are its threats and terrorists posing as Islamic warriors. When the time comes nobody will be able to help them. GOD Himself will see to it. No place to hide or run. These threats are heinous, reprehensible and NOT representative of the Islamic Resistance at all. 

    Member nations of the world are hereby advised that any terrorists actions that take place in Russia are the work of Saudi Arabia (in conjunction with the USA, UK and “israel”) and that the criminal Saudi regime should be tried with war crimes and crimes against the sovereign State of Russia as they have already admitted that they will cause these ‘bought and paid for’ mercenaries to carry out terrorist acts inside Russia. The USA, UK and “israel” should also carry the weight of prosecution for supporting the Saudis and their UN-ISLAMIC terrorists.

    I, Aeisha Muhammad, declare that the real Islamic Resistance is not a party to these terrorist acts threatened by the House of Saud and that said acts are NOT part of the Islamic Jihad against the tyranny of Zionist Nazi occupation and terrorism against the Peoples of the Arabian Peninsula or throughout the rest of the Islamic world. The real Islamic Resistance wants freedom from occupation and tyranny and does NOT carry out operations that serve to benefit the Zionist Nazis in the USA, UK and “israel”. 

    Saudi Arabia and all the traitors in the Arabian Peninsula are warned not to go forward with this heinous plot against Russia. The consequences of such a decision will not be in their own interests.

    Members of the UN Security Council and the international community of nations are advised to not fuel the fire by boarding the Saudi/USA train of destruction and not to use any terrorist operation inspired by the Saudi criminals and/or the USA to further the agenda against the Arabs and Muslims worldwide. If there is terrorism then you are all advised to put the blame where it belongs squarely on the lap of the House of Saud and their ZioNazi protectors in the West. This entire drama has but one purpose and it will backfire badly.

    Everyone is asked to dissuade the House of Saud from its heinous conspiracy against Russia. It is in the interests of us all to prevent this evil from taking place.

    May GOD guide you all the best of decisions for the sake of peace and your own nations.

    Very truly yours,
    from the servant of ALLAH
    Shayhka Maulani Aeisha Muhammad 
    .
     
    __,_._,___

    Draconian new laws brand homosexuals second-class citizens in Putin’s regime

    19 Aug

    Unknown anti-gay activist hits Russia's

    Unknown anti-gay demonstrator hits Russia’s gay and LGBT rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev (centre) during a gay rights activists rally in cental Moscow on 25 May, 2013. Photograph: Andrey Svitailo/AFP/Getty Images
    The first time I heard about legislation banning “homosexual propaganda“, I thought it was funny. Quaint. I thought the last time anyone had used those words in earnest I had been a kid and my girlfriend hadn’t been born yet. Whatever they meant when they enacted laws against “homosexual propaganda” in the small towns of Ryazan or Kostroma, it could not have anything to do with reality, me or the present day. This was a bit less than two years ago.
    What woke me up was a friend who messaged me on Facebook: “I am worried about how this might impact you and other LGBT people with families.” This was enough to get my imagination working. Whatever they meant by “homosexual propaganda”, I probably did it. I had two kids and a third on the way (my girlfriend was pregnant), which would mean I probably did it in front of minors. And this, in turn, meant the laws could in fact apply to me. First, I would be hauled in for administrative offences and fined and then, inevitably, social services would get involved.
    That was enough to get me to read the legislation, which by now had been passed in about 10 towns and was about to become law in St Petersburg, the second-largest city in the country. Here is what I read: homosexual propaganda was defined as “the purposeful and uncontrolled distribution of information that can harm the spiritual or physical health of a minor, including forming the erroneous impression of the social equality of traditional and non-traditional marital relations”.
    Russia has a lot of poorly written laws and regulations that contradict its own constitution, but this one was different. Like other contemporary laws, it was so vaguely worded that it encouraged corruption and extortion (fines for “homosexual propaganda” are backbreaking) and made selective enforcement inevitable. But it also did something that had never been done in Russian law before: it enshrined second-class citizenship for LGBT people. Think about it: it made it an offence to claim social equality.
    St Petersburg passed the law in March 2012. I no longer thought it was funny. I actually choked up when I saw the news item about the bill being proposed at the federal level. My girlfriend had recently had a baby and this, among other things, meant we needed to sell our tiny cars and trade up to something that accommodated three kids and a pram. I asked her: “Are we doing this or do we just need to get out of the country?” We decided we were doing it. We are fighters, not quitters.
    So I launched the pink-triangle campaign. I went on TVRain, independent internet and satellite-based television and recorded a segment showing pictures of my family and explaining how the law would make it a crime to say my family was equal to other families. I explained the history of the pink triangle. I called on people who did not want to see fascism in Russia to put on pink triangles.
    Though I have always been publicly out, I had never done what I did then – talked about my family and asked to be seen as a lesbian rather than a journalist first. It seemed to work beautifully. People wrote to me and came up to me in the street. I had had 6,000 pink triangles printed up and I got rid of most of them within a few weeks.
    The public chamber, an extraparliamentary body formed by the Kremlin, scheduled a hearing on the legislation. I testified, as did a number of human rights activists I respected. The chair read out a draft resolution. I also received private assurances from highly placed officials present that the legislation would never make it to the parliament’s floor.
    That was a year ago. The public chamber’s resolution never materialised. In January 2013, the Duma passed the bill in first reading. The protesters who came to the parliament building that day were beaten up. There had been anti-gay violence in Russia before, most notably when a group of activists had attempted to hold a gay pride celebration in Moscow, but never like this: brutal beatings in broad daylight as the police looked on – and eventually detained the protesters, not the attackers.
    One of my closest friends took part in the protest at the Duma that day. The following day, he was fired from his job teaching biology at one of the city’s better schools. He was eventually reinstated after a public outcry – he was arguably the city’s best-known teacher, with his own podcast and television and radio series – but I knew one thing: if he had been a gay man rather than a heterosexual ally, he would never teach in the city again. Oh, and around the same time, Moscow City court banned gay pride celebrations for the next 100 years.
    In March, the St Petersburg legislator who had become a spokesman for the law started mentioning me and my “perverted family” in his interviews. I contacted an adoption lawyer asking whether I had reason to worry that social services would go after my family and attempt to remove my oldest son, whom I adopted in 2000. The lawyer wrote back telling me to instruct my son to run if he is approached by strangers and concluding: “The answer to your question is at the airport.”
    In June, the “homosexual propaganda” bill became federal law. The Duma passed a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples and by single people living in countries where same-sex marriage is legal. The head of the parliamentary committee on the family pledged to create a mechanism for removing children from same-sex families.
    Two things happened to me the same month: I was beaten up in front of parliament for the first time and I realised that in all my interactions, including professional ones, I no longer felt I was perceived as a journalist first: I am now a person with a pink triangle.
    My family is moving to New York. We have the money and documents needed to do that with relative ease – unlike thousands of other LGBT families and individuals in Russia.

    Russia – anti-gay pogroms?

    19 Aug

    Russia’s Gay Hunting

    Aug 9, 2013 

    Putin’s government bans ‘homosexual propaganda.’ Right-wing extremists torture gays. But no one in Russia seems to care.

    The night before President Obama canceled his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he went on The Tonight Show to talk to Jay Leno. After discussing terrorism and security leaks, Leno eventually brought up something that he said had “shocked” him about Russia: “I’m surprised this is not a huge story. Suddenly, homosexuality is against the law. I mean, this seems like Germany: let’s round up the Jews; let’s round up the gays; let’s round up the blacks. I mean, it starts with that … Why is not more of the world outraged at this?”

    130808-nemtsova-russia-tease
    via degterew-ww.livejournal.com

    The reference was to a recent Russian law, banning “homosexual propaganda”—the Putin government’s most recent antigay measure that criminalizes carrying rainbow flags or talking about equal rights in front of children. Among other things, rights activists say, the vaguely worded law effectively makes counseling of gay teenagers illegal.

    But while the law may be objectionable, it’s the recent wave of antigay violence that most clearly evokes the waning days of the Weimar Republic—and the coming of the Third Reich.

    Terrifying videos that show members of extreme right-wing groups torturing gay men have begun to surface on Russian websites, and though one person may have died from his injuries, so far no one has been charged with the violence.

    One group, reportedly led by notorious ultranationalist Maxim Martsinkevich (who goes by the nickname Cleaver), has begun what they call Occupy Pedophilyaj, a campaign that supposedly targets pedophiles. By using online personal ads, they lure young gay men and teenagers to come out on fake dates, and then they kidnap and beat their victims, extracting “confessions” during the torture. Another similar group called Occupy Gerontilyaj targets gay teenagers.

    During a television interview last year on the Russian channel NTV, Martsinkevich, who has previously been convicted for provoking hate crimes, referred to such hounding of gay men as a human “safaris.”

    In one of the videos, posted on a Russian social-networking site, six skinheads are shown harassing a slight young man whom they have seemingly captured. Threatening him with baseball bats, the skinheads say they will punish him for breaking a Russian law that prohibits sexual relationships with anyone younger than 16.

    In one picture, the victim is kneeling, holding a plastic penis, while his tormentors hold his hair. In a separate photo, he can be seen, undressed, with paint poured over him as he is doused with what is reportedly urine. (Martsinkevich described similar acts as “urine therapy” during his television interview.)
    Read the rest at The Daily Beast

    The Communist Roots of Russian Homophobia

    17 Aug

    By:  on August 17, 2013 @C2C Journal
    When it comes to anti-gay laws, Russia’s new law against homosexual “propaganda” is far from the first. It is also far from the worst, as gays and lesbians in countries such as Nigeria, Yemen and Sudan risk flogging, stoning and execution. However, the world’s attention has landed on Russia due to the upcoming 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, and many are asking how this new law came to be, as attitudes in many other countries around the world are becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ community.
    What is most interesting about Russia’s recent events is that, to an outside observer, all signs suggest attitudes should be much more tolerant. Around the world, homophobia tends to increase along with higher religiosity of the population; however, Russia is largely secular, with only one third of Russians stating that religion is important in their daily life. Additionally, other contentious social issues, such as abortion, pre-marital sex and unwed mothers are well tolerated. It is therefore unexpected in this environment for widespread homophobia to occur. Although there are likely hundreds, or even thousands, of individual reasons for these attitudes, there are at least three ways that the country’s communist past contributed to its homophobic present.
    Emporer Nicholas I enacted the first law against homosexuality in Russia in 1832. Although the stated penalty was exile to Siberia, the law was hardly ever used. In fact, homosexual relations among artists and the nobility were not uncommon, and even members of the royal family – most notably Great Prince Sergey Alexandrovich and Great Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich – were known to have homosexual lovers. It was not until the Bolshevik Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Union in the early 1920s that attitudes began to change. Under the veil of communism, homosexual behaviour came to be seen as an activity undertaken by society’s elite with no place in the new Soviet state. The act of sodomy became specifically outlawed in 1934 with those convicted subjected to five to eight years in a prison colony. American researcher Dan Healey has attempted to collect data on the number of people convicted under this law, but found the records prior to the 1960s to be classified, fragmented, or missing entirely. However a total of 22,163 people were convicted between the years of 1961 and 1981. The number of annual convictions then began to fall until the law was abolished in 1993.
    In addition to the criminalization of activities under the Stalinist government, the state of communism also affected the way homosexual individuals were viewed by academics and medical professionals. Cut off from the rest of the world, Russian scientists continued to believe that homosexuality was a temporary condition that could be cured with the right treatment, even as those in Western countries began to reach the conclusion that sexual orientation is a permanent state of being. Homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1974 but remained an official psychiatric illness in Russia until as late as 1999. Laurie Essig, sociology professor at Middlebury College and the author of Queer in Russia: A Story of Sex, Self and Other, reports that many young lesbian women continue to be committed to psychiatric hospitals against their will. This attitude continues to be reflected in the general Russian population. An April 2013 poll by the Levada Center polling agency showed the 35 percent of those polled continue to believe that homosexuality is a disease, and 43 percent believe it to be a bad habit. Only 12 percent considered homosexual orientation to be normal (Pew Research reports that 80 per cent of Canadians believe society should accept homosexuality).
    Finally, even though the majority of Russians are largely secular in their personal beliefs, the Russian Orthodox Church continues to wield immense political power. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of Russians continue to self-identify as Orthodox Christians despite the fact that very few attend regular services. Rather than the Church being seen as the path to personal salvation, it is instead viewed as symbol of national identity. The Church also remains an ally of the Putin government. Although the post-communism period initially introduced new freedoms for gays and lesbians, the Church has becoming increasingly outspoken in its opposition to homosexuality. Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Church, has even gone so far as to declare legalization of same-sex marriage as a sign of the apocalypse.
    These influences have combined to create a culture of homophobia that is unique to Russia, and presents a very challenging environment for outside advocates and activists. Much like Stalin’s Great Purge and the Moscow Trials of the 1930s, those in authority are using this issue to further their own cause and increase their power base. There has always been the concept of “us vs. them” among Russians, and LGBTQ individuals and their supporters have become a convenient “them” for which to focus attentions. It is going to take much more than a hit song by Lady Gaga or Macklemore to change attitudes. While it is among the most evil manifestations, Russia’s homophobia is just one symptom of its collectivist and tyrannous history. It acts as a reminder that tolerance does not require secularity so much as a free society where all individuals, regardless of their religion, political beliefs, gender identity or sexual orientation, are allowed to live their lives in peace without state interference.
    ~
    Angela MacLeod Irons is an Alberta-based public policy analyst and researcher and is a current Masters Candidate at the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary.

    Discussi

    Has Snowden eluded everyone?

    5 Jul
    Has the Obama regime had him disappeared?

    I don’t think any of them know.

    ——-

    Seeking Snowden in Sheremetyevo

    Sergei Grits/AP – A view of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport outside Moscow.

    MOSCOW — Every year, about 25 million passengers enter Sheremetyevo Airport, and usually they come out again. Not Edward Snowden. The guy made famous by telling secrets — about U.S. surveillance programs — has managed to keep his own whereabouts hush-hush.
    Somehow, he has made himself lost for nearly 12 days in a mile-long transit corridor dotted with six VIP lounges, a 66-room capsule hotel, assorted coffee shops, a Burger King and about 20 duty-free shops selling Jack Daniel’s, Cuban rum, Russian vodka and red caviar that costs four times as much as it does in the city.
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    Where is Snowden?

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    Where is Snowden?

    Unless he’s across the runway in private Terminal A, in the watchful company of Russian officials.
    Everybody wants to find him. Journalists want to interview him. The United States wants to prosecute him. And now Anna Chapman wants to marry him.
    Being a spy herself — she’s the alluring Russian redhead who was chucked out of the United States in 2010 along with nine other sleeper agents — the suspicious might wonder if it’s what they call in the trade ahoney trap: ensnarement by romantic relationship.
    “Snowden, will you marry me?!” @ChapmanAnna tweeted late Wednesday.
    Thursday was a quiet day at Sheremetyevo but a normal one, with the packs of journalists tiring of the unrequited chase. Athletic teams from Mongolia and China made their way through the airport en route to university games in Kazan. Families with young children waited for flights to summer resorts.
    Anastasia Shodieva was selling costume jewelry and stuffed animals at a souvenir stand near the Skoda car display, where the journalists camped out last week. When asked about Snowden, she had to be prompted.
    “Oh, that sort-of agent?” she asked, adding that the affair made no difference to her.
    The transit zone
    The United States wants Snowden on charges of theft and disclosing classified information in violation of the Espionage Act. Scores of journalists were waiting when his flight from Hong Kong landed June 23 in Terminal F. No sign of him. Others filled seats on Aeroflot to Havana — airport officials said Snowden had a ticket for June 24 — and flew off, taking pictures of his empty seat.
    The airport’s half-dozen buildings cover an area as big as about 100 football fields, set off a traffic-clogged road 18 miles from the city center. A transit zone, about a mile long, wends its way along the sides of terminals D, E and F, which are connected by a walkway so arriving passengers can board connecting international flights without having to pass through passport control and customs, which requires a visa.
    Terminal D, the most modern part, has soaring ceilings and a men’s room with an age-old smell to it. Tatyana Yudina, at the register of a traditional, lacquered-wood crafts souvenir stand, shrugged at the name “Snowden.”
    Last week, journalists staked out a chain called Shokoladnitsa, hoping they would find Snowden drinking a $7 cappuccino or an $11 nonalcoholic mojito with $9 blini and red caviar. Nyet.
    The capsule hotel rents tiny rooms for about $15 an hour, with a four-hour minimum. No one was spotted going in and out Thursday, and the clerk on duty frostily declared that she wasn’t allowed to talk with reporters.
    An odd choice
    Russians are a little bemused at all that fuss over surveillance. Many believe that the authorities can read their mail at will, listen in on their calls and sprinkle bugs around as they please.
    “Wiretapping is so common, so this is not news,” said Alina Gorchakova, a 48-year-old account manager who stopped to chat on a city street.
    What doesn’t seem normal to many is why Snowden decided to go to Ecuador, his original destination, through Russia. Once he arrived here, with his U.S. passport revoked, Ecuador has grown less enthusiastic. Russia says he can go anywhere he likes — he just needs a destination and authorized travel documents. So why doesn’t he go? Or show his face?
    And Svetlana Chibisova, a 45-year-old tour agency manager, found it strange that an American carrying U.S. secrets would travel by way of Russia, where security agencies are very much in control.
    “I don’t understand what he was thinking,” she said. “Is he a little boy with no idea about the consequences?”
    Olga Prokopenko, 40, deputy director of a pharmaceutical company, said the Snowden affair sounded like a fairy tale. “How long will he have to stay in the transit zone? What is he eating there, and where does he sleep? Has anyone seen him at all? Strange.”
    “I really wish he could be in some other transit zone,” she said, “because you never know what our authorities will do.”
    Often, the television news doesn’t add up, said Yuri Artemiev, a 73-year-old retired aviation engineer.
    “I don’t like this situation,” he said. “It looks like they wanted to get benefits from him being here and then something went wrong — as always.”
    Snowden has become something of a ghost, said Igor Pavlenko, a 37-year-old sales manager.
    “I am not at all sure that we are being told everything,” he said. “For example, as far as I know, he is in Sheremetyevo now. Okay, but maybe this is just one version. Have they shown us video or pictures of him in Sheremetyevo? No!”
    Natasha Abbakumova contributed to this report.