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Putin’s homophobic law, patriarch’s approval dreadful
by Jake Highton
Sep 11, 2013 | 1214 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Russia and President Putin have gone backward on gay rights, suppressing homosexuality with a law crushing human dignity.

Euphemism masks the law. Putin says it “protects children” by banning “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships.” But no one is fooled.

Homophobia runs deep in Russia. Eighty-six percent of its people strongly disapprove of homosexuality. The country harasses LGBTs on the street, intimidating and arresting them.

Patriarch Kirill 1, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, heartily approves of the Putin-parliament decree. He decries gay and lesbian relationships and says same-sex marriage portends “a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse.”

It’s not only a gross exaggeration. Once again a Christian acts like an unchristian.

Anyone training to be a priest should be compelled to read the moving, short book two of Hugo’s huge novel, “Les Misérables.” Bishop Myriel will teach priests-to-be what it is to act like a Christian.

The new law ignited international condemnation. Some people called for a boycott of the Winter Olympics at Sochi, Russia, in February.

Such outrage is justified but the proposed solution is not. Boycotts just punish the world’s greatest athletes and the countless people enthralled by the games on TV.

However, the International Olympic Committee should not hold the games in nations that violate civil and human rights.

Low wages prompt protests — Fast-food workers, fed up with low pay that requires a second job to make ends meet, have cried enough. They walked off their jobs in 60 cities Labor Day weekend.

In Chicago, workers took to the streets with T-shirts demanding $15 an hour. This may seem excessive to some people since it is twice the minimum wage. But one worker at a Wendy’s in Chicago, making $8.25 an hour, calls that amount “impossible to live on.”

“I’m a father, a husband,” he declares. “I’m always robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Corporate McDonald’s was unfazed. It issued a moral lecture, declaring that wise use of money would balance budgets better.

John Mason, political science professor at William Patterson University in New Jersey, says the McDonald’s pay is “30 percent below the official poverty line.” He adds: “The five largest employers in the U.S., including Walmart and McDonald’s, all pay a niggardly wage.”

McDonald’s CEO? He makes $13.8 million a year “toiling” for the Golden Arches.

Congress lauds status quo — Congress has hailed the  “new policies” recently announced by the Pentagon to improve the legal system for victims of sexual assault.

But those proposals change nothing about the way those crimes are adjudicated. The unit commanders retain the power to decide which cases to try, select juries and overturn convictions. This is not justice.

Nevertheless, Congress, as usual, grants what the Pentagon wants even when 26,000 men and women are sexually assaulted every year.

Wisdom on pot — The Justice Department is inching toward legalization of marijuana, a welcome development even if it is decades late.

The Feds announced that they would no longer sue to block decriminalization of pot in the 20 states that have legalized it. This is a historic move by a U.S. government that once called pot “a menace to public health.”

“The reform signals a long overdue acknowledgment of the costs the nation continues to pay in the indiscriminate and overzealous prosecution of its five-decade war on drugs,” the New York Times editorialized.

Legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis are in, puritanism out.

Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.
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