Though I don’t make a habit out of writing letters to heads of state, I’m no stranger to dabbling in some light correspondence with powers that be. But you see, my previous pen pal couldn’t cope any longer and his successor appears to be at least a wee bit hip to the writing on the wall. Moreover, you’ve been on my mind quite a bit recently, and since we’re no friends on Facebook I thought it only appropriate to address you in a timeless fashion such as this.
I read that you granted asylum to Edward Snowden, which taken on its own is a commendable act from my point of view. When everyone else is passing the hot potato it takes balls to be the one to step up to the plate and give the collective might of a US government a very carefully chosen finger. So props to you for putting your cojones on display for the cause.
Of course it’s difficult to assess if your main concern in this matter was much to do with Mr Snowden’s claims to the freedom of information, or whether you simply saw an opportunity to engage in an old fashioned dick-measuring contest that is certain to be met with agreement by many of those you are eager to please. After all, it’s hardly a secret that you like parading your testicles in front of the public at large.
I must admit, while your carefully orchestrated image of a Man’s Man inevitably crossed borders to my own news feed (albeit accompanied by the outsider’s little smirk) I was suitably impressed by the enviable string of macho exploits credited to your persona – even if Indiana Jones was perhaps one masculine archetype too far.
I reckon that the celebration of the Top Bro is a sentiment with deep roots in the country you represent. A nation which, after decades of USSR sexual repression by and large seems to know no better than that traditional gender roles in their most binary opposition are the way nature always intended – all evidence of a more nuanced mindset be damned. If my newsfeeds are not too far off the mark, a majority of Russians hold the belief that homosexuality is sinful and abhorrent, an intolerable abomination. It’s disheartening to imagine what it would take to open this many people’s eyes to a truth that so many others, in so many other places, take so much for granted.
And the worst part of that little thought experiment – and the main reason I’m writing to you today – is that you’ve signed an idea into law to makes it virtually impossible ever to set the record straight. No stranger to prosecution, your laws have silenced yet another opposing part of your electorate – those suffering from it directly and those sympathetic to their cause alike.
I can’t imagine you care so deeply about the gay question – for better or for worse – that this ruling is actually an end game for you, but as to the real end this might be a means to, I can only speculate in perhaps another letter.
You may argue that your law merely enforces a ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations”, essentially only supporting traditional relations between man and woman, which “need special protection by the state” because of dwindling birth rates in your fine nation, but Mr Putin, I beg to differ.
The fact is, your crackdown is bringing out the worst in people, practically giving them carte blanche to commit heinous acts of humiliation – or inspiring to worse – in broad daylight and beaming with pride.
Are these young folks relegated to the gulag of online infamy simply collateral damage to your greater cause? Should their assailants really receive so much public endorsement?
At the very least I hope you will condemn the appalling acts of this type of scumbag, lest you truly give license to their wanton displays of fascism. It won’t be enough but it would be a start. As it stands, you’ve effectively condemned an entire generation, the damage of which is likely to linger a few more.
Many of us are looking at you lately, Mr Putin, sickened and saddened by the stories and footage emerging from Russia day after day, and we wonder what we can do to help the people you’ve tossed by the wayside.
Should we ban Russian vodka in bars? Will it help if we boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi? Maybe you’ll be upset when the money stops flowing or if no one shows up at your party. Perhaps it would be more effective if all athletes on the podium should pull out a rainbow flag, medal after medal.
Truth is, I’m just an angry man without an answer. Until I figure it out, I pledge my support to the ones opposing your cause, to those celebrating equality:
Vladimir, may you see the error of your ways soon.