Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Olympic boycott

I am boycotting the Beijing Olympics. I didn't go to the opening ceremonies, and I won't attend the closing ceremonies. Additionally, I refuse to compete—even if asked. I also have not kept my TV on to make sure that whatever is happening in Beijing is brought into my living room. Nor have I bothered to turn the TV on when friends or family have told me not to miss seeing an Olympic event.

This is probably not a very principled way of participating in the boycott of the Beijing Olympics. After all, most (if not all) of the local people I know are still in town rather than in Beijing. I don't think I have ever made anybody's list of outstanding athletes. And I don't watch that much TV anyhow.

I am skeptical about the use or overuse of boycotts or the threats of boycotts. If a boycott is intended to change the disapproved behavior of another, it seems that the focus of action needs to be made very clear. That implies to me that a genuine boycotter should not only inform friends and acquaintances about his or her intention to boycott, but should also communicate those concerns to the party whose behavior one wishes to change, and in a way that would allow for a timely change in that behavior.

In the middle of all the Olympic hoopla, I've read two excellent articles in recent weeks, explaining individual decisions to boycott the Beijing Olympics. I may not agree that a process for a meaningful boycott has been followed, but I do agree with their statements of concern and feel that they are worthy of further attention.

John Stewart has posted a devotional on his blog drawing attention to the persecution of Christians by the Chinese government.

Charles C. Haynes wrote a recent column drawing attention to broader religious persecution in China.

The breadth of human rights violations cries out for a change of policy by the Chinese government, and should have been considered more strongly when the Olympic committee was selecting a location for the 2008 games.

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1 comment:

Stushie said...

Thanks for mentioning the blog, Stewart.

On the opening night of the Games, PBS presented a two hour documentary about religious, social, and political persecution in China. it is worth watching and there may be a link to it on the PBS website.