Truth Wins Out, a group dedicated to exposing what it calls the myth of the "Ex-gay movement," launched a Change.org petition asking NBC to take out anchor Rachel Maddow to Russia in 2014.
"To ensure fair and accurate coverage of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, Truth Wins Out strongly urges NBC to assign Rachel Maddow as a special human rights correspondent for the duration of the games," reads a statement on TWO's website.
TWO notes that the spotlight can be harsh, but Russia put itself in that position when it launched and then accepted a bid to host the 2014 Winter Games.
But while President Vladimir Putin prepares to have the world's eye focused on his nation, he hasn't backed away from violently suppressing dissenters, arresting feminist activists like the punk-protest group Pussy Riot, and, most recently, signing a national law that bans the mere mention of LGBT identities or the so-called "promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors." Any individual, government official, or media outlet found discussing the mere existence of LGBT people or any orientation other than heterosexuality, is subject to steep fines and possible imprisonment. Last week, four Dutch tourists who were visiting a northern city in Russia were arrested because they allegedly spoke to a minor about his self-proclaimed gay identity. Putin also signed a law last month forbidding the adoption of Russian orphans by any LGBT foreigners, or even just by single adults.
But TWO contends that Maddow's stature and status as a revered journalist who happens to be gay could perfectly situate her to expose human rights violations that are all but certain to occur while the world gathers in Sochi. Activists are especially concerned about how openly LGBT athletes will be treated at the Winter Games, since a Russian lawmaker recently proclaimed that the government will not suspend enforcement of its strict antigay laws for the Olympics.
“Rachel has the expertise and the instincts to tell this full story to a viewing audience who are appalled by the treatment of their Russian brothers and sisters,” said Truth Wins Out Associate Director Evan Hurst. “Adding her to NBC’s coverage won’t fly in the face of the Olympic spirit, but rather enhance it, as there is nothing in the ethics or the history of the Olympic Games that can coexist peacefully with the war Russia is waging against her own citizens, and the rest of the world needs to know.”
What do you think? Would sending Maddow to Russia put her in danger? Do you think that's a risk she'd be willing to take? Or is this an unfair effort to politicize the Olympics? Let us know how you feel in the comments below.