Editor: Al Kosub's letter compels me to provide him with a little historical perspective.
In 1933, Hitler's Germany began banning all literature associated with homosexuality. The Nazis burned this literature, but also literature about any sexuality at all. Eventually, lists of homosexuals were compiled and all homosexuals were, by force of law, compelled to conform to what the Nazis insisted was "normal German sexuality".
The next phase of this legislative persecution is one we're all much too familiar with: incarceration and genocide. Interestingly, Hitler exempted Olympic athletes from Paragraph 175 Germany's anti-gay legislation). This is something Russia's Mr. Putin has not been very forthcoming about concerning the Sochi Games. In essence, I'm telling Mr. Kosub that Hitler was more lenient in this area than Vladimir Putin.
Paragraph 175, enacted in 1871 following the unification of the German Empire (under which it was only sporadically enforced) was expanded by Hitler, according to the archives of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, as follows: "In 1935, Nazi jurists undertook an extensive overhaul of the German criminal code. Paragraph 175 was re-written to broaden the law's scope of indecencies between men' from a narrow interpretation of an intercourse-like act, to include virtually any contact between men deemed to have sexual intent, even simple looking' or 'simple touching.'" Russia's law and the timing of its enactment (directly prior to an Olympic Games event), are eerily similar. On June 11 of this year, the Russian Duma passed a law against "the propagation of homosexuality to minors." Under the flimsy cover of protecting children, this law bans all public expression which acknowledges even the existence of homosexuals and homosexuality. Perhaps, as Mr. Kosub claims, it really is black and white. From my perspective and that of many around the world who do not wish to be doomed to repeat history, it is very clear that our tolerance of Putin and his scapegoating of homosexuals is a shortcut to the road to hell.
Human rights are not mutable, because if they are, then Mr. Kosub's rights are also so compromised by both popular and personal prejudice. He would do well to remember that, and the words of Pastor Niemoller, who wrote of not speaking out when others are persecuted: "When they came for me, there was no one left to speak."
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