Six easy ways to turn the heat on Vladimir Putin to stop targeting gays and lesbians
Every Thursday morning, I appear as a guest on Co-op Radio's Media Mornings show (100.5 FM) to discuss political issues.
Today, host Irwin Oostindie asked me what lessons activists can learn from Vancouver Olympic experience in opposing Russia's outrageous crackdown on the LGBT community.
I explained that the key to understanding the Olympics is to think of it as a franchise operation.
The head office is the International Olympic Commiteee, which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The host cities, such as Sochi and Vancouver, are the equivalent of local storefront operations.
The host cities will sell domestic sponsorships to help fund the Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee raises money by selling broadcast rights and maintaining its lucrative relationships with the so-called TOP sponsors.
The money gets divided up with head office calling the shots.
The 10 global corporations in the TOP program are major financiers of the Olympics and include giants like Samsung and Dow.
When the CEOs of these companies say "Jump!", IOC president Jacques Rogge answers "How high?"
Rogge is not going to want Putin jeopardizing the IOC's revenue base and pissing off the IOC's major backers.
The Canadian and U.S. governments are not likely to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics, even as Vladimir Putin's thugs are beating, arresting, and sometimes killing gays and lesbians.
So consumers will have to take matters into their own hands to ramp up the pressure for equal rights in Russia.
Here are six relatively pain-free things you can do:
1. Drink Pepsi instead of Coca-Cola, which is TOP sponsor.
2. If you're in the mood for fast food, eat at A&W or Wendy's or Burger King instead of McDonald's, which is a TOP sponsor.
3. If you have a Visa and a Mastercard, use Mastercard because Visa is a TOP sponsor.
4. Don't buy anything made by General Electric until Putin reverses the repression. Here's a list of products made by GE, which is another TOP sponsor.
5. Don't buy products made by Proctor & Gamble, which is yet another TOP sponsor. This includes a long list of brands. Avoid Gillette, Pantene, Old Spice, Clairol, Crest, Vicks, Tampax, Ivory Snow, Cascade, Cheer, and Pampers, to name a few.
6. Avoid watching anything on NBC, which has U.S. rights from the IOC to broadcast the Olympics.
If enough North Americans take these simple six steps, Rogge will get on the phone to Putin in no time and tell him to back off.