FanDuel - WFBC

April 07, 2008

Olympic torch put out by protests.: Security officials canceled the final run of the Olympic relay through Paris after chaotic protests Monday, sending a snuffed-out torch to its destination on a bus in a humiliating concession to protesters decrying China's human rights record.

posted by worldcup2002 to other at 12:24 PM - 99 comments

If this were a FIFA event France, and maybe England, would be banned from the Olympics for not properly managing security. Mind you, I'm with the protesters, I just think the way FIFA plays hardball is amusing.

posted by billsaysthis at 03:06 PM on April 07

I think it would be better to leave politics out of the Olympics and let it just be about the athletes. Not saying that I approve of China's human rights record, of course, but I say protest that elsewhere. I've been seeing some politicians call for a U.S. boycott of the Beijing games, and I have a similar reaction to that. It would suck to be an athlete who trained for so many years to make the Olympics, only to have the opportunity taken away by politicians protesting a position you may or may not care about. But I digress.

posted by TheQatarian at 03:48 PM on April 07

Update: they've been having a ton of protests in San Francisco today, including people climbing the wires of the Golden Gate bridge to protest the torch's only North American stop on Wednesday. Links: 1, 2, video.

posted by Ufez Jones at 04:28 PM on April 07

TheQatarian: Yeah, it should be "just" about the athletes. However when you've got athletes being told they won't be allowed to go if they do or say anything publicly about China's human rights record (which is what the UK are doing), then it's become far more than "just about the athletes" and the government have already bought politics into it whether you like it or not. I feel sorry for the athletes being caught in the middle of this. However if athletes have to be told to not say anything, then clearly there is a concern they do care. Those that do care would understand being asked to not go. I would LOVE to see multiple countries boycott the games. And if an athlete doesn't care about China's human rights abuses, well fuck them as they're despicable human beings and don't deserve their chance to shine.. Some things are more important than who can run in circles fastest or throw a stick the furthest.

posted by Drood at 04:28 PM on April 07

I want the Olympics to happen because I really like the Olympics. There are more important things, though. I'm not much for a boycott though. I don't see that improving things. China isn't some po-dunk banana republic that can be coerced by big fancy suit wearing other countries - what with their crisp ties and hair cuts and such.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 04:29 PM on April 07

That's all true TheQatarian, but the other side of the coin is that China has a tremendous amount of resources committed to the Olympics, and for them it's not just about sports. China sees this Olympic event as their entrance onto the world stage as a major player in all kinds of international things. There have been numerous stories of the government cracking down on areas it wouldn't care about earlier (i.e. toy manufacturing and environmental regulations), along with financing major construction projects by famous architects even beyond what's required for the Olympics (i.e. the new CCTV headquarters by OMA (AKA Rem Koolhaas)). I think China sees these Olympics as a referendum on their status as a nation, and I can't really blame a lot of people outside of the country for treating it that way as well. It's certainly not a good thing for the athletes or for sports in general, but that's how I've seen it described in a number of places.

posted by LionIndex at 04:30 PM on April 07

Free Tibet! Free Katie Holmes! Free Beer! Free Pam's Twins!

posted by irunfromclones at 04:49 PM on April 07

Crazy. Don't boycott the Olympics, boycott China by not buying anything made there. That's where you make your statement, Parisians. But, then again, there would be nothing to buy.

posted by smithnyiu at 04:55 PM on April 07

Whether or not China sees the the Olympics as an entrance onto the international stage, the fact is, the spirit of the Olympics, from the time of the Greeks, has always been that politics should be kept seperate from sports. In Ancient times, wars were actually postponed during the games. For most the of the modern history of the games, the same spirit was kept, save for the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, where the only people who truly suffered from the boycotts were the athletes themselves. The boycott of the Moscow Olympics did not bring down the Soviet Regime. Inept governing did. There are a number of valid complaints to be made about the Chinese government. But attacking torch bearers is absolutely the wrong way to voice those complaints. Similarly a boycott would only serve to create a bad precedent, such as happened in 1984, when the USSR boycotted the Los Angeles games as a response to the 1980 boycott. Do we really want half the world boycotting the 2012 games in London? Because I guarantee that more that a few countries will follow China's lead in a boycott if Western Countries do decide to politicise the event. The Olympics are an act of cultural diplomacy. By inviting a gigantic event to take place on their soil, China's government, and especially for those people in Beijing, will find it very hard to filter out the things they don't like. China has gradually become a more and more open society based on the fact that it has opened itself up to the world. Politicising the Olympics will only anger the Chinese people and lead them to see the West as an adversary, as opposed to a partner.

posted by Chargdres at 04:58 PM on April 07

If I were an athelete I'd worry about the air quality and security. Leave the torch alone but boycott the games. What if they gave an Olympics and no one showed up?

posted by budman13 at 06:12 PM on April 07

I do think that boycotting the Olympics would be a catastrophe, just as it was in 1980. However, there is talk of boycotting the opening ceremony and I think that this could be an effective way of making a point without punishing the olympic athletes. And if the threat of boycotting the opening ceremonies could help change the oppression in Tibet, why wouldn't we want to use that leverage?

posted by cjets at 06:53 PM on April 07

China's government . . . will find it very hard to filter out the things they don't like You'd be surprised. There was an episode of Frontline last year where they showed a picture of the guy from Tiananmen Square in front of the tank to 4 students from an elite college. They had no idea who it was. This recent article from The Atlantic on the Great Firewall gives a good picture of China's approach to information: it's not so much about hiding it as making it irrelevant.

posted by yerfatma at 06:53 PM on April 07

TheQatarian: I think it would be better to leave politics out of the Olympics and let it just be about the athletes. That will never happen as long as teams represent countries. Weedy: I want the Olympics to happen because I really like the Olympics. There are more important things, though. What you said. It certainly sucks like an electrolux if you're an athlete who's dreamed of the Olympics all your life, who's worked like a donkey to get there (and, let's not forget, also had the tremendous good fortune and resources and support that it takes to get someone to the Olympics), and whose Olympic experience is now in danger of being tarnished at the very least. It also sucks to be a Tibetan Buddhist nun imprisoned and tortured for taking part in a demonstration. The purpose of a boycott is only partly to effect a change -- that's what happens if you're wildly successful. Even if you're not, however, you can still refuse to be a part of it. "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we [are] not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be [so], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver [us] out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:12 PM on April 07

It also sucks to be a Tibetan Buddhist nun imprisoned and tortured for taking part in a demonstration. Or a college student shot and killed in Tiananmen, only to have it stricken from your country's history books. Or a Darfurian starved by a government suported by China in return for mineral resources. Or a blogger jailed for speaking their mind, or an athlete prohibited from speaking about all this. The list is very, very long; I could go on. I'm sad that so many people think it is only about Tibet. If the IOC didn't want politics, they shouldn't have given the games to a police state.

posted by tieguy at 07:19 PM on April 07

I'm sad that so many people think it is only about Tibet. Meaning me? Don't make assumptions, tieguy. My personal connection is through Tibet; that doesn't mean I think it is "only about Tibet".

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:13 PM on April 07

Don't boycott the Olympics, boycott China by not buying anything made there. That's where you make your statement, Parisians. Bingo. Taking it out on the torch-bearers is punishing the wrong people. I can't say whether boycotting Chinese products is the right answer, but it has to be more effective than accosting a wheelchair-bound athlete carrying the torch.

posted by THX-1138 at 08:34 PM on April 07

I agree about not buying stuff made in China. I was extremely pissed off when I ordered my iPod from Apple and it shipped direct from the factory... in China. I believe they're moving production to Taiwan for the next generation of iPod's, but I was extremely disappointed to discover where mine came from:(

posted by Drood at 08:49 PM on April 07

lbb: no, not you specifically, sorry if I gave that impression. Lots of others, though. (Or alternately, it is only about Darfur, or only about... whatever.)

posted by tieguy at 09:02 PM on April 07

That will never happen as long as teams represent countries. Exactly! If the Olympics (or sport in general) was "just about the athletes", then it would look a hell of a lot different than it does. Fact is, sport is always-already political. Nothing ideological about singing anthems before games? How about military representation and "honour the troops" campaigns strategically coinciding with major sporting events? And we're not even scratching the surface of the historical legacy of using the Olympics as an ideological/political battlefield. Reality is (unfortunate as it may be for some), we can't just simply ignore global politics, can't erase the history of contestation that has surrounded the Games, can't just start with a clean slate and embrace some pure Olympic ideal. This monster was created long ago ... and it's gonna stick around and be a force to be reckoned with.

posted by Spitztengle at 10:11 PM on April 07

India's soccer captain (a Buddhist from the northeast Indian Himalayan state of Sikkim) has refused to carry the torch in the New Delhi leg of the relay, in order "to show solidarity with the Tibetan people."

posted by worldcup2002 at 10:53 PM on April 07

I opposes a boycott because it punishes the athletes, but I support peaceful protests by individuals, not countries. A concerted boycott would only harden attitudes in China. My wife is from there and she, like 95% of Chinese citizens, believes Tibet is and always was a part of China, and that the Reds' occupation was a liberation from feudalism. IMO Chinese citizens would view a boycott by countries as just politics, like everything else in China. But non-violent protests by private citizens might make a few of them think.

posted by drumdance at 11:30 PM on April 07

I opposes a boycott because it punishes the athletes I have to pick nits again, here. It doesn't punish the athletes -- it's not about hurting them at all. The IOC made the decision to put this major athletic event in a place that a lot of people already had issues with, back when the decision was made. It's on them if the whole thing goes bust. A concerted boycott would only harden attitudes in China. My wife is from there and she, like 95% of Chinese citizens, believes Tibet is and always was a part of China, and that the Reds' occupation was a liberation from feudalism. Kind of like spreading democracy and freedom, right? The fact that most people everywhere are dumb and will swallow a line doesn't make it pointless to speak the truth.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:05 AM on April 08

Theres alot of people in China that think evrything that borders them is part of China. See "Taiwan" "Tibet" etc... But that doesnt make it so. Having said that, I love the Olympics, hate boycotts and firmly believe that if The world want to "send a message" to China they need only to stop buying the amount of products they do from it. People make that more complicated than it really is but just scale down imports or revise trade agreements. Done and done.

posted by firecop at 08:50 AM on April 08

It doesn't punish the athletes -- it's not about hurting them at all. How does it not punish the athletes? They're the only ones who are going to hurt from a boycott. A potential boycott is not be intended to hurt athletes, but they are a nation's bargaining chip for the Olympics and the net result is they will be hurt if there is a boycott.

posted by jmd82 at 08:56 AM on April 08

How does it not punish the athletes? They're the only ones who are going to hurt from a boycott. I live in the country. I have a neighbor who is a farmer and produces maple syrup -- he's my supplier. If he decides for whatever reason to stop producing maple syrup, is he punishing me? Yes, the athletes would be hurt by a boycott (although, no, they would certainly not be the only ones hurt). That doesn't mean they're being punished.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:13 AM on April 08

Spitztengle kind of beat me to it, but the Olympics have always been about politics, long before 1980. You can look at the Cold War state-sponsored doping programs at their peak in Montreal in 1976 or Palestinian terrorism in Munich in 1972 or the slaughter of Mexican students and Black Power in 1968 or Japan's post-WWII reconstruction and coming out party in 1960 or Berlin's showcase of the Aryan ideals in 1936 ... ... or, as lil_brown_bat points out, you could right back to 1896 when Coubertin revived the Olympic Games and decided to centre competition around nation-states when there was no historical precedent for such competition in Antiquity, instead of simply making it an open competition for the world's athletes. In other words, the Olympics have always been a site of political discourse and conflict. Thinking that they ever were (revisionist nostalgia) or could be (delusional utopia) is like buying into the slick marketing rhetoric that says there are no human rights violations taking place in Guantanam...err...Guangzhou. That said, I'm sort of torn, and perhaps cautiously optimistic (in the lesser of two evils) that the market economics the Olympics will facilitate in the very near Chinese future have a better chance of changing things internally than symbolic political acts like a boycott of the Games. And that said, I still fully support any individual (ie. non-nation-state based) acts of protest, boycott or other awareness-raising activities that express a personal political response to the situation.

posted by smithers at 09:18 AM on April 08

The idea that all we need to do is stop bying products from China is certainly one way of sending a message, however not a viable one as long as the free market is allowed to reign. If goverments were to legislate consumers away from Chinese manufacturing things might change. For now though, China has the bulk of cheap manufacturing and Adam Smith's "invisible hand" will keep handing money to China. If western consumers were to shun the cheap manufacturing, our standard of living would drop. Is western society as a whole willing for that? I doubt it. In fact, China potentially has more leverage here than the western world. Today's edition of Tank McNamara says it much better than I ever could.

posted by Miles1996 at 09:24 AM on April 08

I live in the country. I have a neighbor who is a farmer and produces maple syrup -- he's my supplier. If he decides for whatever reason to stop producing maple syrup, is he punishing me? If he stops selling maple syrup to the store where you buy it because he doesn't like their practice of hiring illegal immigrants to stock the shelves, but in turn you can no longer get maple syrup because your store doesn't sell it anymore, then yes, he is punishing you by punishing the store.

posted by bender at 09:34 AM on April 08

It would be interesting to see how the torch run would go down if the olympics were in the USA this year ... John 8:7

posted by smithnyiu at 09:43 AM on April 08

I live in the country. I have a neighbor who is a farmer and produces maple syrup -- he's my supplier. If he decides for whatever reason to stop producing maple syrup, is he punishing me? I don't mean to be a jerk, but without using some random assumptions like bender, I have no clue that has to do with a boycott and athletes missing out on the Olympics.

posted by jmd82 at 10:20 AM on April 08

If he stops selling maple syrup to the store where you buy it because he doesn't like their practice of hiring illegal immigrants to stock the shelves, but in turn you can no longer get maple syrup because your store doesn't sell it anymore, then yes, he is punishing you by punishing the sto Well, I think that you (and several others) are humpty-dumptying the definition of "punishing" past the point where it's a useful descriptor of anything, but I'll not belabor the point further. You may not consider that intent matters, only consequences; here again, we disagree.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:23 AM on April 08

I don't mean to be a jerk, but without using some random assumptions like bender, I have no clue that has to do with a boycott and athletes missing out on the Olympics. It's called an "analogy".

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:23 AM on April 08

These protests have been more successful at getting the Tibetans' plight on the front page and in the A-block of every news show on the planet than a thousand press releases and bake sales. If the price of that coverage is the embarrassment of an openly corrupt and fascist-sympathetic organization like the IOC, who chose to have the Olympics in China despite their horrific human rights record because they saw bilions of dollar signs, then so be it. The only people I feel bad for in this whole fiasco are the people actually running with the torch. In a perfect world, that should be a great honor, and this happens to be a deeply imperfect world. Aside from that, I'm thrilled at the actions and how widely they're being covered. May they run every leg of the relay, in every corner of the planet, from now until the closing ceremonies. With the Chinese government and their sympathizers trying to sweep this crap under the rug, there can't be enough light shed on this stuff.

posted by chicobangs at 10:40 AM on April 08

I agree about not buying stuff made in China. I was extremely pissed off when I ordered my iPod from Apple and it shipped direct from the factory... in China.....I believe they're moving production to Taiwan for the next generation of iPod's, but I was extremely disappointed to discover where mine came from Question: So did you send it back or are you listening to Jay-Z as we speak?

posted by BornIcon at 11:08 AM on April 08

Question: why do you care? Does everyone have to establish credibility before they comment?

posted by yerfatma at 11:18 AM on April 08

I know it's an analogy. I just fail to see how it correlates to a potential boycott. Guess I need more (or less?) coffee. You may not consider that intent matters, only consequences; here again, we disagree. By the same token, you make it sound only like intent matters.

posted by jmd82 at 11:25 AM on April 08

Miles1996: Today's edition of Tank McNamara says it much better than I ever could. Your explanation was fine but that link was classic. Nicely done, Miles, nicely done.

posted by worldcup2002 at 11:38 AM on April 08

I know it's an analogy. I just fail to see how it correlates to a potential boycott. Guess I need more (or less?) coffee. My neighbor the maple farmer isn't trying to impose a penalty on me in response to some (real or perceived) offense; he isn't trying to impose a penalty on me at all. Just because I'm harmed doesn't mean that someone is punishing me. Misuse of the term, ya know? By the same token, you make it sound only like intent matters. Oh, hardly. Do you want to step away from intent and talk consequences? Okay, let's talk about the consequences of not getting to compete in the Olympics, vs. the consequences of being put in a Chinese prison. My point is simple: yes, it's too bad that the lovely pageantry that is the Olympics (or that we'd like to imagine it to be) has been marred already, and will no doubt be further marred as the Olympics inevitably proceeds. But who's really responsible for the marring -- the people protesting, or the people who committed the truly indefensible acts that are the subject of these protests? And is having a lovely pageant always the most important thing? Should the cause of having a lovely pageant trump other causes, like human rights and freedom of expression? If it's improper to spoil the lovely pageant by bringing up unpleasant issues, then when is it proper to bring them up? When will it ever be possible to raise them without stepping on somebody's lovely pageant, or week at the beach, or Big Game, or desire to read the paper without seeing anything icky? Answer: never.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:39 AM on April 08

btw, the torch has arrived in SF. "One scheduled San Francisco torchbearer, Jaclyn Kimball, a 14-year-old cross-country runner, has bowed out because of concern about the run." Continuing coverage by the SF Chronicle.

posted by worldcup2002 at 11:44 AM on April 08

Getting back to the Olympic Torch and the protests, I was very interested to discover that the tradition of carrying the Olympic Torch was started in 1936 by Nazi Germany as a way of promoting the Third Reich. So there's your tradition of carrying the Olympic Torch, from one fascist police state to another. Glad to see China is carrying on the tradition. On preview: Good for Jaclyn Kimball.

posted by cjets at 12:05 PM on April 08

In regards to the maple syrup farmer analogy, would it be more accurate to compare the protests to knocking about the delivery truck guy trying to get the stuff to the store? I completely agree that the Chinese government is reprehensible when it comes to human rights, but why take it out on torch bearers? That's where my sympathy gets lost, not on the protest, but on the protesters. Sure this gets attention. Couldn't they come with something better that doesn't screw with innocent folks who I could assume aren't guilty of any human rights violations? This sort of thing smells mildly of a form of terrorism and not protest. And no, I'm not talking Al Quaida or bombings terrorism, but of the needless harrassment of individuals who are unrelated to the situation the protesters are opposed. And not to pick nits, cjets, but fascists and communists aren't the same thing. I hope I don't get ripped to shreds for this, but that was my gut reaction to this story.

posted by THX-1138 at 12:27 PM on April 08

Good point cjets, though a small clarification: the torch/flame was introduced in 1928 in Amsterdam and the first torch relay that traversed national borders was used by Hitler and Goebbels in 1936. And there is no evidence from Antiquity of a torch run spanning multiple city-states, either. It was a local event in which a flame was run to an altar to light a candle in homage to the gods. In neither 1936 nor Antiquity was the torch sponsored by Lenovo.

posted by smithers at 12:31 PM on April 08

And not to pick nits, cjets, but fascists and communists aren't the same thing. THX, I would suggest that the perversion of communism that we see in China (and that we saw in the former Soviet Union) is closer to fascism than real communism.

posted by cjets at 12:36 PM on April 08

I would proffer that any form of government that suppresses the individual is perverse. Communism hasn't had any victories in regards to advancing the betterment of mankind. Any progress made has come at the expense of the individual. One should not have to explain the negatives of fascism. But this is a discussion for a different day.

posted by THX-1138 at 12:50 PM on April 08

Here's a question - how would our American friends feel if the next US Olympics was subject to a boycott based on "facist human rights abuses" overseas? I mean it's not exactly the same situation as Tibet, but I don't think I'm splitting hairs, here. Frankly, I don't think that many nations can afford to suggest that they occupy some moral high ground.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:52 PM on April 08

In regards to the maple syrup farmer analogy, would it be more accurate to compare the protests to knocking about the delivery truck guy trying to get the stuff to the store? The whole point of the maple syrup farmer analogy was to point out that it's inappropriate to speak of a hypothetical boycott "punishing" Olympic athletes -- it had nothing to do with the current protests, which do not in any way affect the Olympic events. I completely agree that the Chinese government is reprehensible when it comes to human rights, but why take it out on torch bearers? Like "punish", "tak[ing] it out on" is IMO the wrong phrasing to use in this case. People have raised the myriad issues of China's human rights record in many venues. China has not listened. China is not interested in listening, and (like any other powerful entity that seeks to preserve the status quo) will be perfectly happy to present the world with a bland smile and a "thank you for your input" (or a "mind your own business") in preference to reform. China will do this as long as it works, and it will work as long as those thus rebuffed respond by saying, "Oh, okay," and going away. The sole alternative, when "going through channels" doesn't result in justice being done, is to make a stink. And guess what? When a stink gets made, nobody enjoys it. We all smell the stink. You're distressed that the Olympic torchbearers can't simply have their sunny moment. But if the protesters all packed it up and went home, that "sunny moment" would be a lie. You say the running of the torch is unrelated to China's deplorable human rights record. Is it really? The Olympics are one big PR engine for the Chinese government, which needs all the positive PR it can get. This outcome was predictable with anyone with two brain cells to rub together. It's really too, too bad that when you lie down with dogs, you frequently get up with fleas. On preview: Weedy: Frankly, I don't think that many nations can afford to suggest that they occupy some moral high ground. Frankly, I don't think that any of us are so far gone in Olympic ballyhoo that we purport to be a nation. At least, I sure hope not. You want to boycott an Olympics on US soil over Guantanamo? Rock on.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:59 PM on April 08

The whole point of the maple syrup farmer analogy was to point out that it's inappropriate to speak of a hypothetical boycott "punishing" Olympic athletes -- it had nothing to do with the current protests, which do not in any way affect the Olympic events. Understood. I was using your statement to lead into the point I was trying to make. And sometimes I just like whipped cream and huckleberry jam on my griddlecakes. I feel the need to start off by saying I am in no way to be regarded as a "Chinese government apologist" or siding with their policies, as that would be untrue. But I think that if I'm the only person who thinks that the protesters are taking the wrong tack here, I'll quietly fade into the background. The only thing that this protest has changed for me is that I am less sympathetic to the protesters now. Not their cause.

posted by THX-1138 at 01:17 PM on April 08

Here's a question - how would our American friends feel if the next US Olympics was subject to a boycott based on "facist human rights abuses" overseas? It's justifiable, based on our illegal invasion and occupation of another country, the torture in Guantanamo...I'd go on but Rcade would delete me. However, speaking for myself, I don't think that we should boycott these Olympics so I don't think that other countries should boycott our hypothetical olympic games. You might have noticed that many US citizens protest the war and the torture on a daily basis as well. If you were watching the Senate hearings this morning on CNN, you would have seen this. Or simply join MoveOn.org and you'll be invited to a vigil a week. My point is that just as many US citizens oppose the US government's actions, I would assume that many Chinese citizens oppose their government's actions as well. The olympic games do create a kind of global village for a few weeks and allow, for those few weeks, a free flowing exchange of ideas that may inspire the Chinese people. I've always felt that it was the exposure to Western Culture that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union as much as any massive military buildup. The Olympic Games allows for the Chinese people exposure to what western civilization does offer, which is why I don't support a full boycott (but I certainly do not have any issue with a boycott of the opening ceremonies or protesting the torch bearers).

posted by cjets at 01:31 PM on April 08

I just like whipped cream and huckleberry jam on my griddlecakes. Real maple syrup is the only thing that should ever go on pancakes. Fascist. I would assume that many Chinese citizens oppose their government's actions as well. My wife is living proof. She was born and raised in China and is now an american citizen ... and you won't find many people that hate China and what they do more than she does. So she left, because there aren't many successful demonstrations in China.

posted by smithnyiu at 01:38 PM on April 08

Real maple syrup is the only thing that should ever go on pancakes. Fascist. Anybody who don't like huckleberries is at minimum a socialist. Prolly a communist. No offense intended to your lovely wife. Here's a question - how would our American friends feel if the next US Olympics was subject to a boycott based on "facist human rights abuses" overseas That you weren't our "real" friends. We're gonna go hang out with Mexico. Wait, they don't like us either, do they? I mean it's not exactly the same situation as Tibet, but I don't think I'm splitting hairs, here. Funny thing I saw on a shirt: Canada-America's hat. Maybe we could use Canada to cover up our splitting hairs?

posted by THX-1138 at 01:49 PM on April 08

THX: I feel the need to start off by saying I am in no way to be regarded as a "Chinese government apologist" or siding with their policies, as that would be untrue. But I think that if I'm the only person who thinks that the protesters are taking the wrong tack here, I'll quietly fade into the background. The only thing that this protest has changed for me is that I am less sympathetic to the protesters now. Not their cause. I didn't for a sec think that you were a Chinese government apologist -- and clearly you're not the only person who disagrees with the protesters. I sympathize with what I see as people who have probably come to realize the hard way that the Chinese government would be happy to see them "go through channels" for the rest of their lives in pursuit of justice that will never come. I don't like the stench, but I can't blame it on the protesters. (and I'd love huckleberries on my flapjacks, but they're hard to find around here -- too many woods, not enough fires)

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:15 PM on April 08

It's a slippery slope when one world protestors can intimidate and dictate how the functions of the Olympics are carried out and make it their stage instead of the athletes.

posted by sandskater at 02:18 PM on April 08

Is geekyguy around? I'd love to hear his perspective on this.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:36 PM on April 08

I really didn't think I was percieved as such, l_b_b, but you know ya' gotta be clear around here. And I can be kind of vague. And I don't really know where it is from whence you hail, but in these parts, if you can stand on a slope and scare the bears away from them, they're easy pickin's. The huckleberries. Not the protesters. Or the Chinese.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:36 PM on April 08

Question: why do you care? Does everyone have to establish credibility before they comment? Answer: You should mind your own business since I wasn't even talking to you.

posted by BornIcon at 02:45 PM on April 08

Seriously?

posted by jerseygirl at 02:49 PM on April 08

The torch is the symbol of the Olympic games, not Chinese repression. It's inappropriate for anyone at any level to politicize the games. The protesters are shamelessly exploiting the torch for their political agenda. They should be following established protocol by making large campaign contributions to influential members of congress who would demand that Condoleeza Rice schedule another futlile human rights summit and photo opportunity with pandas.

posted by irunfromclones at 03:13 PM on April 08

I like my panda smothered in real maple syrup.

posted by tahoemoj at 03:36 PM on April 08

Communist. Everyone knows that panda is best smoked like a brisket. You only brush on the Texas-style sauce at the end of the cook.

posted by THX-1138 at 03:56 PM on April 08

Imperialist running dog. It's deep fried panda-on-a-stick.

posted by irunfromclones at 04:07 PM on April 08

I've always felt that it was the exposure to Western Culture that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union as much as any massive military buildup. Actually they just simply ran out of money. Communism in the form it took simply did not work financially. The piece of pie they cut for defense was almost double that of the West. China, on the other hand, have figured out how to make their form of Communism work. So it will take what was discussed many times in this thread: a loss of revenue stream for China to listen to anyone else. Hard to do in a free world market. Miles1996 had a great point with Adam Smith's "invisible hand" earlier in this thread. I believe that is exactly what would happen.

posted by smithnyiu at 04:25 PM on April 08

THX, we have very little open land here that isn't kept that way with fire and tooth and claw -- it all goes to woods incredibly fast. If you've got an open space, blueberries and huckleberries do well, but they do love sun, and taller plants eventually grow up and shade them out. I used to get great huckleberries on a hillside in the Blue Hills Reservation south of Boston, where some idjit dropped a match at some point in the past and burned it all down -- result, sunny hillside just covered with a mixture of blueberry and huckleberry bushes. Around here we're just as big idjits but there are fewer of us, hence less huckleberry habitat. We do get some great cultivated blueberries, though (and the farmers burn the fields every fall). Damn. Now I'm hungry.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:50 PM on April 08

Weedy: the difference is that in China you could be arrested for posting a criticism like that on sportsfilter.cn- that is, if you could get to a politically sensitive page like this at all. I fully agree that the US has lost a fair amount of moral high ground in the past seven years, and as someone with Latin American roots, I'm pretty strongly aware of how weak that high ground was well before that- most of Latin American could swap notes pretty handily with Tibet. If people wanted to protest an American Olympics right now, they'd have every right. But even with all that damage China's government, and the lack of rights people have to protest it, is still in a different, even lower, class. Relatedly, that's why I don't even feel that badly for the torch runners. They chose to participate in an event that was explicitly- from day one of the bidding process- planned as a propaganda coup for the Chinese government, through which they would announce to the world that they had ascended into the realm of modern, respectable, 'first class' nations. (They didn't build those fancy stadiums to show off how effective forced labor is.) Unfortunately, China has been called out on what a lie that is, and so those who were being used as part of the propaganda (torch runners, athletes, etc.) are being caught up in it. Certainly it wasn't their intent to propagandize China, so I feel a little badly of them, but they should point the blame at the IOC- which damn well knew it was a propaganda exercise when they accepted the Beijing bid- rather than the protesters who are trying to expose the Chinese government for the authoritarian police state that it is. (And don't get me started on the 'if we expose them to our culture, they'll realize how bad their government is' stuff. It is basically true- but in letting the Chinese government set up all the ground rules for the Olympics, you really think the average Chinese citizen is going to get any exposure to Western democratic values? No, they're going to get hours and hours of propaganda about how the Olympics proves the greatness of China and the Chinese government. By participating- by showing our flag there- we're only complicit in that masquerade.)

posted by tieguy at 05:04 PM on April 08

I completely agree that the Chinese government is reprehensible when it comes to human rights, but why take it out on torch bearers? The torch bearers are promoting China's games. I don't think it would be fair to harm or harass them, but using the course of their run as an opportunity to protest China's human rights policies seems fair to me.

posted by rcade at 05:11 PM on April 08

Actually they just simply ran out of money. Communism in the form it took simply did not work financially. The piece of pie they cut for defense was almost double that of the West. China, on the other hand, have figured out how to make their form of Communism work. The Soviet Union did go broke spending billions on defense (sound familiar? It will, when our kids and grandkids have to pay the debt for this war). And a boycott of Chinese goods would be a powerful motivator. But I was in East Berlin and the Soviet Union in 1989 and 1990, and I would still maintain that the exposure of Soviet citizenry to the standard of living in the west and the freedom in the west created huge unrest in the Soviet Union and East Germany. It was a combination of the Government going broke and the desire of the people for something better that led to the fall of the Soviet Union. Running out of money alone did not do it. (It's actually a lot more complicated than that, but I think that's a decent overview.) I think the same analogy applies here. There is certainly an economic component, but there is also a cultural component. The Chinese people need exposure to other cultures and other ways of life to know that there other ways of creating and maintaining a society. Economic sanctions alone won't do that if the majority of Chinese people are united behind their goverment. On preview: Tieguy, if the exposure does work, you need to start somewhere. The Chinese may try to keep it all under wraps but that's not a reason not to try. An example is the 1936 Olympics. It was supposed to be all propaganda supporting Aryan Supremacy. And then Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals.

posted by cjets at 05:12 PM on April 08

I found a Delta Airlines "Amenities Bag" (what they give you when they have cancelled your flight and lost your bags) as I sat down on my flight yesterday. The list of contents was rather amusing, but in a sense tragic. It read, "Toothpaste, made in China, Lotion, made in China, Comb, made in China, ... Bag, made in China". We sit here as potential victims of our own greed just beating the doors down to get the low-priced stuff from China. Was it Lenin who said, "Capitalists will sell you the rope you use to hang them."? Every dime we send to China for our cheap shirts goes into one of the most aggressive military buildups in history. China has demonstrated anti-satellite weapons, continues to try to develop a blue-water navy, and generally improves her military capability by the day. Meanwhile, we sit here agonizing over how unfair an Olympic boycott would be to the athletes. May I offer how unfair it will be to our military forces when we are forced into a defense of our national interests against China? Okay, many of you will say that we shouldn't ever have to go to war against anyone, but consider the possible consequences of a hegemonical China in Asia. Sooner or later we'll have our backs against the wall, and I pray that we'll be able to survive as a nation. l_b_b, if your neighbor stops selling you maple syrup, tell him I'll gladly buy all of his surplus (yummy). cjets, the exposure didn't work in 1936. The German citizenry enthusasticly embraced WW2, at least at the beginning. One of the better things we might do is to try to purchase as few things made in China as possible. It might mean more $ spent in our daily lives, but it also might demonstrate resolve to the Chinese government, and coincidently save a few more Americcan jobs.

posted by Howard_T at 05:25 PM on April 08

The Olympics have, for as long as I can remember, been totally politically charged. The greatest American Olympic victory of the last 30 years was arguably the 1980 "Miracle on Ice." So important was American's win over the USSR that most people totally forget that the US team had to play Finland to win the gold. The great victory was not the victory that won the medal, but the victory over those nasty Soviets. Indeed, for anyone who grew up during the cold war, the Olympics were largely an exercise in "let's beat those cheating, steroid using Iron Curtain countries." It was totally political - every victory over the Eastern European and Soviet teams proof of our superiority, every victory by the Soviet teams further proof that they were cheaters and that the judges were biased in their favor. It wasn't enough for one of our allies to beat them either. That wasn't worth TV time. We had to be the ones doing the beating or receiving the heartbreaking (and totally unfair since they were all obviously cheating and their women looked like men and they would all defect before the next Olympics anyways) loss. Anyhow, selecting the site is a political choice; selecting the judges is a political choice; selecting who competes is a political choice. This isn't some sort of academic 'everything is political' position - this is just reality. At some point, the IOC had the choice to not choose China as a location, but they did. When they did this, they made a political choice. They had other options. I feel for the torch runners - many of whom probably believe naively that the games are about a celebration of amateur athletics. Of course, they're not. Whether they are held in China, or Russia, or the USA, they are chest thumping, nationalistic events. And, honestly, that is what makes them interesting and why we watch them instead of all the other International track and field events. Anyhow, to some extent, the only way to avoid this kind of political jackassery is to only choose locations for the game that are devoid of controversy. I think that leaves Switzerland and Canada.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:31 PM on April 08

Every dime we send to China for our cheap shirts goes into one of the most aggressive military buildups in history. Well, not every dime. It might mean more $ spent in our daily lives, but it also might demonstrate resolve to the Chinese government, and coincidently save a few more Americcan jobs. No, it would mean more jobs in Viet Nam or Singapore or Mexico, which would, in turn, sub-contract with China. And it's pronounced maple surple

posted by smithnyiu at 05:38 PM on April 08

djets: But I was in East Berlin and the Soviet Union in 1989 and 1990, and I would still maintain that the exposure of Soviet citizenry to the standard of living in the west and the freedom in the west created huge unrest in the Soviet Union and East Germany. (emphasis mine) Interesting you should say that. At that same time, watching the change from the other side, I asked an older and wiser friend, "So, what happens now? Do the Soviets start living like us?" "Don't be ridiculous," he said, "There isn't enough oil in the world for them to live like us." I wasn't a stupid young person, but that was the first time that anyone handed me the clue that our "standard of living" wasn't infinite. I can certainly believe that in 1990, a lot of Soviets and East Germans were getting a look at the western "standard of living" and saying, "Hot puppies, I'm gonna get me some of that!" But it was never extensible on that scale, and we've seen the global repercussions of China trying to do so with even a small fraction of its huge population. Howard_T: We sit here as potential victims of our own greed just beating the doors down to get the low-priced stuff from China. Just so. Cheap consumer goods have caused us to redefine our "standard of living" in ways that cripple us. Nobody needs a DVD player, or a large-screen plasma TV, or a Roomba, or any number of consumer toys that didn't even exist ten years ago -- but suggest to people that we would be better off, individually and collectively, if we cured ourself of this addiction, and you'd think you had threatened the water supply. The western "standard of living" used to be defined in truly meaningful terms: having enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to services such as education and health care, and work that would allow you to pay for all of it without having to work 70 hours a week. Now, ironically, we are drowning in cheap luxuries, while the necessities that used to define our standard of living are creeping out of reach. We have indeed done it to ourselves. It's just such a goddamn shame that if we're going to sell out our principles, we're not even demanding more in return than a pile of cheap trash.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:50 PM on April 08

I wasn't a stupid young person, but that was the first time that anyone handed me the clue that our "standard of living" wasn't infinite. I can certainly believe that in 1990, a lot of Soviets and East Germans were getting a look at the western "standard of living" and saying, "Hot puppies, I'm gonna get me some of that!" But it was never extensible on that scale, and we've seen the global repercussions of China trying to do so with even a small fraction of its huge population. Couldn't agree more. And further off thread, that's why weaning us off of a petroleum based economy is the next great global challenge.

posted by cjets at 06:16 PM on April 08

cjets, the exposure didn't work in 1936. The German citizenry enthusasticly embraced WW2, at least at the beginning. Good point, Howard. I think that the point I really wanted to make is about the possible unintended consequences when you host an Olympic Games. Germany expected to use the games to promote the myth of Aryan Supremacy. What they got was Jesse Owens winning the four golds.

posted by cjets at 06:23 PM on April 08

Every dime we send to China for our cheap shirts goes into one of the most aggressive military buildups in history. What's your source for that? They still spend a small % of GDP on military and anyone who's ever encountered the Chinese military knows that it's not even in the same city, let alone ballpark, as the US. Aside from occasional (admittedly troubling) saber rattling with Taiwan, when is the last time they even threatened to invade a country? (Cue McCain: "Bomb bomb bomb, Bomb bomb Iran.") How many military bases to they have outside of the mainland? (Zero.) If you're a Chinese military strategist, you can't help but notice that 1. The US has a base in S. Korea 2. The US has a base in the Phillipines 3. The US has a base in Japan 4. The US has bases in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan (all of which are on or near the Chinese border) 5. The US has supplied Taiwan with advanced weaponry 6. In 2001 a US spy plane was shot down off the coast of Hainan Island. As my cousin pointed out to me, there are no Chinese spy planes patrolling the Florida Keys. From China's perspective, they are surrounded by a military that has demonstrated many times since the founding of the PRC that it is not afraid to invade or otherwise intervene - Iraq, Afghanistan, Grenada, Chile, Vietnam, Korea, Europe etc etc etc. And prior to the founding of the PRC China experienced a lot of foreign aggression on the mainland - from Japan, Great Britain etc. I'm not an apologist for the Chinese government, but I am a realist. They would be foolish not to invest in their military because so much more is at stake than 30 years ago. I would guess that the award for most aggressive military buildup in history goes to the US in the 80s. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

posted by drumdance at 06:37 PM on April 08

My main point was if the protesters wanted to make a larger impact on the Chinese government, stop buying stuff from Walmart. Of course I realize that nobody, including most of the protesters, are willing to give up their cheap electronics, clothes, or other items made in China and that such a boycott may hurt some of the citizens of China as well. If there were an easy solution to the problems in China we would have done it by now. If the purpose of the protests were to raise awareness of the internal problems of China, I wish they had chosen a different method. I also wish my mom and grandma were still around to make me some of their absolutely without paralell huckleberry pie. But that is as likely to happen as my comments changing anything in the world.

posted by THX-1138 at 06:49 PM on April 08

My main point was if the protesters wanted to make a larger impact on the Chinese government, stop buying stuff from Walmart. But it's not an either-or proposition. For all we know, they don't buy stuff from Walmart. I don't, myself. It's not that far-fetched. I wish they had chosen a different method. What method, then? What method would work and also not ever step on anybody's toes? Many a historical protest that's now regarded as noble, was condemned as disruptive at the time -- as harmful, as the work of "outside agitators", etc. Something to think about.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:05 PM on April 08

drumdance, where do you get your information? 1. The US has a base in S. Korea The US has several, because if they didn't South Koreans would go by way of passenger pigeon. 2. The US has a base in the Phillipines No they don't. Mount Pinatubo saw to that, and the Philippino Government saw to that ... they held out for more money for the land-lease agreement and it backfired. (/pun) 3. The US has a base in Japan The US has several, because it is part of the cease-fire terms at the end of WWII. They were the ones that tried to exterminate the US, remember? 4. The US has bases in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan (all of which are on or near the Chinese border) No they don't. The US has a presence wherever they are needed, and are (contrary to world opinion) generally asked to be there. 5. The US has supplied Taiwan with advanced weaponry So? 6. In 2001 a US spy plane was shot down off the coast of Hainan Island. No it wasn't. It was patrolling in international waters (62 miles off the coast) like a good little P-3 Orion, and a Chinese fighter got too close, and they collided. And it landed on Hainan Island, it never went down. As my cousin pointed out to me, there are no Chinese spy planes patrolling the Florida Keys. Only because they don't have any, and probably wouldn't know what to do with them right now. Spy planes won't help them get into a 21st century arms race, but selling intelligence to China like Bill Clinton did will.

posted by smithnyiu at 07:12 PM on April 08

I was wrong about the Phillipines. Sorry. I don't care why we have bases in Japan or whether Kazakhstan asked us to come there. In fact, I'm glad we have bases there and elsewhere. My point is that if you're going to get all hot and bothered by Chinese military spending, it might be a good idea to ask why they feel it's necessary. I'm not saying they are threatened, but why should a Chinese military translator (I happen to know one in Shanghai) reading this board feel otherwise? Only because they don't have any... Nor do they have the air bases. Where would they launch those planes from? Don't say Cuba. How quickly would they be shot down? And how quickly would Fox News turn it into World War III?

posted by drumdance at 07:30 PM on April 08

U.S. doesn't need all the bases around the world to keep an eye on China. Just destroy their crops. Ever try to feed 1 billion people. See if they can eat their missles and armed soldiers- unless Soylent Green becomes a reality.

posted by giveuptheghost at 07:44 PM on April 08

drumdance, I don't want to pick nits here. I understand why you feel China would feel the need to increase defense spending. Truth be told, Japan has outspent China in the last 5 years in defense spending, right under our nose. All I was doing was correcting some over-generalizations and big errors in your statements. Also: it's spelled Philippines. And lbb, I love this: Many a historical protest that's now regarded as noble, was condemned as disruptive at the time -- as harmful, as the work of "outside agitators", etc. Something to think about. That's really good.

posted by smithnyiu at 07:55 PM on April 08

Back to the subject at hand...Citzens of the world are following this country's lead in reframing life in some wide open, artificial, there-are-no-absolutes, sanitized, made-to-order-so-it doesn't- threaten-my-personal-preferences sort of "reality." But right is still right and wrong is still wrong. The courts say that if a policy seems to have a moral context, it must be religious and shouldn't be foisted on the general populous. So, like the foolishness of "separation of church and state," the separation of sports and state is also impossible and inadvisable. Now China is using the olympics for politcal purposes. I THINK CHINA SHOULD BE ANSWERED IN THEIR OWN TERMS. Any country or athlete who disagrees with China's crimes against humanity (you can call it "human rights" policy if you want to sanitize it a bit) should boycott the olympics. China now has the world stage. So let them continue to be exposed and answered in terms of their own reality. Today we say, "it is what it is." Grandma used to say "they'll get their comeupances."

posted by JayLBird at 06:34 AM on April 09

U.S. doesn't need all the bases around the world to keep an eye on China. Just destroy their crops. Good god, this thread really has gone round the bend.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:49 AM on April 09

OK, l_b_b, I was generalizing. I'll admit to making a blanket statement. But the fact of the matter is most of the parts of the very computers that many of us are posting our opinions on were made in China. Maybe even the computers themselves. The world in which we live is driven by economics. That is the new religion. It's temples are the banks. Perhaps one method of protest that I might suggest would be to hit a nation where it may actually make a difference. Financially. Many a historical protest that's now regarded as noble, was condemned as disruptive at the time While this is a nice statement, can you give examples of situations similar to this one? You can get into a real grey area when it comes to making a comparison to unrelated events, although it is possible. I guess the bottom line is that I don't have to like or approve of a protesters methods, while other people are free, at least in this country, to throw their full support behind the protesters and their methods. To me, a less polarizing protest would get more support. But I'm no expert, I could be dead wrong.

posted by THX-1138 at 10:43 AM on April 09

What I'm really looking forward to is the first time a gold medalist lifts up their shirt to show a Tibetan flag or some kind of slogan on it. You know that's going to happen.

posted by chicobangs at 11:45 AM on April 09

While this is a nice statement, can you give examples of situations similar to this one? I'm sure I can give examples, but before I go there, what would make it "similar" to this one? Would it have to involve China? Would it have to involve the Olympics? Would it have to involve the b-word? I guess the bottom line is that I don't have to like or approve of a protesters methods, while other people are free, at least in this country, to throw their full support behind the protesters and their methods. You don't have to like anything. The point that I'm trying to make is that effective protests make people uncomfortable. Nobody likes to smell the stench or hear the sound of a whistle blowing. So what's the alternative? Can you name an example of an effective protest that everyone liked -- that, in fact, didn't make most people feel at the least very uncomfortable? I don't think such a thing has ever existed.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:13 PM on April 09

chicobangs: What I'm really looking forward to is the first time a gold medalist lifts up their shirt to show a Tibetan flag or some kind of slogan on it. You know that's going to happen. Well, when recording artist Bjork recently gave a shout out to Tibet in concert, it pissed off the Chinese authorities, but they didn't clamp down on foreign singers coming to China. So I imagine what will happen is that some Chinese citizens and authorities will be pissed off and that the image of the Tibetan Flag wearing athlete won't be broadcast on Chinese television. Then that athlete's team will spend a lot of time apologizing for offending their hosts, essentially undoing the value of the athlete's protest since it will make it seem like that team's country supports China's suppression of Tibet. That's what I think will happen.

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:00 PM on April 09

The point that I'm trying to make is that effective protests make people uncomfortable. And my point is that this protest won't change anything. That, in my opinion, would make it ineffective. My definition of effective being, in regards to this situation, "making a substantial change". I think my idea of not supporting China financially on a personal and national scale would be more effective. My point about comparing situations is that no two are alike.

posted by THX-1138 at 03:56 PM on April 09

And my point is that this protest won't change anything. That, in my opinion, would make it ineffective. My definition of effective being, in regards to this situation, "making a substantial change". THX, I think according to your definition, no protest is "effective". No protest results in instantaneous, total, radical change. It's a matter of drops of water wearing away at a stone. Don't make the mistake of lazy and comfortable people who use the fact that no effort results in a complete solution as an excuse for inaction (or to condemn the actions of others). I can name you quite a few protests that were labeled as "ineffective", which people said "won't change anything", and that led to significant change. I think my idea of not supporting China financially on a personal and national scale would be more effective. Once more with feeling, it's not an either-or thing. Why frame it as such? My point about comparing situations is that no two are alike. Oh, that's not true at all. They're not identical -- that doesn't mean they're not alike, especially as regards the particulars that are significant WRT whatever you're presently trying to accomplish.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:06 PM on April 09

What I'm really looking forward to is the first time a gold medalist lifts up their shirt to show a Tibetan flag or some kind of slogan on it. You know that's going to happen. Based on previous incidents, I expect that person will be banned by the IOC for life. However, I doubt they'll be as heavily criticized by the press and have their lives (and families) threatened.

posted by grum@work at 04:12 PM on April 09

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a protest that any number of people discounted for various reasons, one of the most prevalent was that the protesters would not maintain the boycott/protest for longer than a weekend. And although it took quite a long time, almost two years, the results were a redical change in civil rights in the U.S..

posted by yzelda4045 at 04:44 PM on April 09

Echoing grum's comments, I think last week's On the Media has an Olympics segment worth a listen:

"And then in 1968, you saw the first real Third World country, at least at that time, hosting the Games, which was Mexico City. This led to a very disturbing incident ten days before the opening ceremonies. The Mexican military killed approximately 250 people, nonviolent protesters, on the streets of Mexico City. The International Olympic Committee took the position that this was a domestic issue and that they shouldn't say anything about it, and it shouldn't have any effect on the Olympics going ahead. Yet a couple weeks later, two American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, staged a silent nonviolent demonstration on the medal platform after winning the Gold and Bronze Medals in the 200 meters. This was known as the "Black Power Salute" protest. And the International Olympic Committee was so outraged at this ruining of their ritual that they ordered Smith and Carlos out of the country or else American athletes would not be allowed to take part in the rest of the Games."

posted by yerfatma at 06:23 PM on April 09

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a protest that any number of people discounted... Yzelda4045, you have a valid point about the effectiveness of protest, but there is one huge difference between the Civil Rights Movement in the US and protests over China's stance on human rights. The Montgomery Bus Boycott occured in a country in which the majority of citizens were willing to accept the resultant changes. Indeed, the Federal Government soon enacted the Civil Rights Act, which despite resistance from some, has since defined the legal state of race relations in this country. True enough, the progress is painfully slow, but it is there. Do you really expect the citizens of China to pressure their government into changing its ways? I think the average Chinese citizen is not informed of his country's policies, likely has no concept of changing policies through peaceful protest, and would be scared to death to even think of opposing such a government. Would that there were a rule of law in China that did not start with the state being all-powerful.

posted by Howard_T at 08:58 PM on April 09

Jeez, l_b_b, what would you do without me? It seems I post here to give you something to disagree with. Well, at least we get to play "Let's italicize each other's comments and contradict them". Which I don't think I'll play. If you read what I wrote and then read what your response was, it's pretty clear that you didn't get my definition of effective. I never said that effectiveness was measured in instantaneous change. I think it's also possible that you and I see the world through completely different eyes. I am a results-oriented person, believe it or not. I am pro-active when it comes to achieving a goal. If one is engaged in an activity in which they hope to effect change, any change, then there should be a point to it. This protest has no point. It will change nothing. If, by some bizarre turn of fate, the easing of human rights violations in China can be traced to the Olympic torch bearer protests of 2008, I will gladly issue a statement admitting my mistake. But I suspect that you will have to remind me because I don't think that in a year anyone will remember this. It won't even register as a blip. Once again, you and I clearly do not see eye to eye on this issue. I have re-read my posts and yours and have come to the conclusion that we have been pretty consistent in our statements. In other words, we aren't going to change each other's minds. So while being a good conversation and fascinating (at least to me) exchange of ideas, it has been, nonetheless, ineffective. (see what I did there?)

posted by THX-1138 at 01:14 AM on April 10

Jeez, l_b_b, what would you do without me? It seems I post here to give you something to disagree with. Oh, I've got plenty to do, trust me -- I don't sit here hitting the refresh button just to see what your latest response is. My read on this is that your comments are coming from a place that I strongly disagree with, that's not specific to this Olympics or even to protests in general. If you read what I wrote and then read what your response was, it's pretty clear that you didn't get my definition of effective. I never said that effectiveness was measured in instantaneous change. But you used the same old unsupported "won't change anything" assertion/dismissal -- to which I responded that that as no protest results in an immediate solution, that judgment is premature. I think it's also possible that you and I see the world through completely different eyes. It would be astonishing if we didn't. I am a results-oriented person, believe it or not. I am pro-active when it comes to achieving a goal. If one is engaged in an activity in which they hope to effect change, any change, then there should be a point to it. This protest has no point. It will change nothing. And here we have our fundamental point of disagreement: you assert that the protest has no point and that it will change nothing. Yet, as I have pointed out repeatedly, the "point" and the effectiveness of a protest can only be judged by history. You feel that you can determine the outcome of this one; I say you can't. So while being a good conversation and fascinating (at least to me) exchange of ideas, it has been, nonetheless, ineffective. That very much depends on what effect you were trying for. I wasn't necessarily trying to change your mind. If, however, anyone else reads this thread and has second thoughts about the conditioned response to not try to change anything because it's too hard or won't yield immediate results or a win isn't guaranteed, or because doing so would mean that you're spoiling the pretty pageant and not making nice, then I'd be quite pleased with the effect.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:58 AM on April 10

FWIW there are thousands (really) of public protests in China every year, usually around property rights and pollution. They rarely make the media because the government suppresses the news, but they happen and they do sometimes change outcomes. That kind of thing was unthinkable in the Mao era. Tianenmen Square, as awful as it ended, would never even have started.

posted by drumdance at 08:18 AM on April 10

drumdance, to be fair, the Xinhua news service does publicize a sizeable number of those protests you mention, although they tend to be the ones surrounding issues that the government either sees as being "safe" or productive to the government's policies. A prime example would be protests about corrupt local officials, as the central government in China has been very active in trying to stamp it out as of late. Back to the issue though, China is a vastly different place from where it was at the time of the Tianamen Square protests. Media is much less controlled, and even though the internet is highly regulated, that has never stopped information getting dissmenated to at least the urban classes. You would be very suprised at just how informed and intellegent the Chinese citizenry are, and just how nuanced their views of their government really are. Tibet is one issue though where there is no nuance. To the Chinese people Tibet is China, period (by the way, so is Taiwan. Even the Taiwanese think so; why do you think the island is officially the "Republic of China"?). It always has been, always will be. They point out that the Dalai Lama, throughout essentially the position's entire history, has been a vassal king (by treaty) to the Chinese Emperor. Certainly the point can be argued, but you can be certain that the Chinese people have no sympathy for the pro-Tibet protesters who get tackled while trying to extinguish the torch. I don't know as much about the public opinion in China on Sudan/Burma and imprisonment of journalists and dissidents; but I do know that there is a palpable sense in China that foreign imperialism once controlled everything in China, so now they should stay out of Chinese policy making. These protests will not change anything other than to embolden the anti-Western feelings already latent in China. The last 30 years of opening and modernizing China into being an active and increasingly responsible partner in international affairs will be given a major setback. Of course, China does not subscribe to all of our Western ideals yet, but if you look at China's policies on both of these issues from 30 years ago to today, there is a major and positive shift. And as far as boycotting Chinese goods, come on people, you all wish. Its fine for those of us in the upper echelon of American society (which makes us richer that just about everyone else in the world) to say that we won't shop at Wal-Mart or stop buying IPods until they shift production elsewhere, but the reality is, if we actually got our wish and shifted production somewhere else, there would be double digit inflation in the US, as the price of manufactured goods would skyrocket. The less affluent would suffer mightily so that you can have the moral high ground.

posted by Chargdres at 09:47 AM on April 10

Does not having an Ipod mean that one "suffers mightily"?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:29 AM on April 10

No, but not being able to afford clothes does.

posted by Chargdres at 10:38 AM on April 10

Chargdres, this is way off-topic, so if you want to continue this, let's do it via email, okay? As I stated above, I think we've veered far from any meaningful definition of "standard of living". Clothing in the USA is "made in China" not because we can't make it in the USA, but because people would rather have five $2 t-shirts than one $10 t-shirt. That doesn't mean that you can't survive with one $10 t-shirt. Some of us are trying to make that kind of choice instead of pretending that we can no more refrain from buying cheap junk than we can choose to ignore the laws of physics. It is a minority view, certainly not a popular one, and it's hardly a big ol' movement (at least as yet), but it does exist.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:21 AM on April 10

I think there may be a difference in how we are defining "protest" and "civil disobedience". And I think there also may be issues of a different sort that would best be mentioned in an e-mail. I'll shoot one off to you here in a bit.

posted by THX-1138 at 12:46 PM on April 10

grum, that Wikipedia article nowhere states that Smith and / or Carlos was "banned by the IOC for life." You exaggerate. However, your central point is correct -- an athlete making such a political statement today would almost certainly suffer the same fate as far as the IOC is concerned -- have their accreditation revoked and therefore be out of the Games. But this honestly seems reasonable to me. Would you treat it differently?

posted by Amateur at 11:24 PM on April 10

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