Last night, the official lighting of the Olympic torch for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics was disrupted by activists, who were protesting either torches, China's human rights record, or both. This disruption follows several weeks of protests in the part of China called Tibet where many are upset over the fact that Tibet is in the part of China called Tibet, and not somewhere else. Depending on whether you ask the Chinese government or someone who isn't lieing, anywhere from 30 to 130 people have already died there, a situation that probably won't improve when the army is sent in to "crush" them.Yes, that's the Chinese state paper that said "crush" in reference to protesters, and no, I don't know if the Chinese have a term for "faux pas." Also, Holy Shit. All of this has re-ignited the debate about whether, given China's long history of human rights "whoopsies," it was a smart idea to award the Olympics to Beijing in the first place, and whether it might be a good idea to boycott the games now. The idea being that any such boycott would in theory be of such embarrassment to China that they'd stop silencing/imprisoning/killing their citizens immediately, or at least feel really bad about it for awhile. And instead of watching the Olympics this August, the rest of the world would focus their attention on some other progressive and pro-human rights endeavor, unless Bono wanted to be involved, in which case we'd probably just do nothing.
One argument against such a boycott is that by doing so we'll be punishing innocent athletes who have nothing to do with China's adorable idiosyncrasies. I do sympathize with the athletes here; devoting years of your life towards the fucking discus must suck enough as is. Then to have your one chance at 15 seconds of lukewarm fame snatched away before you can even get your unnecessarily heavy disc out of its holster... well... that is legitimately heartbreaking. But let's face it: in the grand scheme of things, the welfare of a billion Chinese is probably more important than the personal glory of a handful of athletes. Hell, the menu at Taco Bell probably has more bearing on the mental health and well-being of the world than the fate of some Olympic athletes.
Another argument against a boycott is that the Olympics shouldn't be turned into a political tool. Yesterday, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge announced that the IOC was not a political organization, and refused to allow the Olympics to become part of a political discussion on China's human rights issues. That's patently ridiculous of course, because in practically the same sentence he also said that he hoped that by awarding the Olympics to Beijing, the games would serve as a catalyst for change in China - an entirely political act. The idea that the Olympics should be political right up until the point that being political becomes politically inconvenient is perhaps the most political sentiment I've ever heard. Also, confusing.
Nevertheless, there doesn't seem to be any serious danger of a boycott going forward, given that most of the arguments for one are coming from disheveled looking Tibetans, and most of the arguments against come from tie-wearing Olympic executives, who are often standing behind important looking podiums. Like most Cracked writers, my personal fashion sense can be broadly classified as "wartime refugee" so I similarly don't expect my arguments to make much dent in the Olympic juggernaut. I just wanted to rap at you for a bit, and also take an unnecessary swing at Bono.