The lexicon of old adages is replete with time honored sayings that hint at the unintended consequences of a poorly thought out decision. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” has little to do with babies or bathwater. Similarly, “Look before you leap” is a warning that a jump may have unintended consequences ranging from a broken leg to death.
An e-mail I saved titled Thoughts For The Zen Challenged, details some unintended consequences with humor, such as:
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach him how to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
As the movement to boycott Russian products, particularly vodka—a movement I was quick to endorse since I don’t drink vodka in the first place—has gathered steam, I’ve thought of the unintended consequences of such a move. Stolichnaya Vodka, fondly referred to as Stoli in gay and lesbian groups has been a major supporter of gay pride events world-wide almost since the inception of official celebrations. Dumping Stoli down the drain really may not accomplish much other than to give the drain a hangover.
Stoli isn’t a Russian vodka in the first place. It’s distilled and bottled in Latvia which has been out of the Soviet Union for decades. The owner of the company, a Russian milliionaire who has been in exile from Russia since 2002, has his corporate offices, SPI, in Luxemburg. In a public statement, MOZAIKA, a Latvian organization of LGBT people and their friends, says, “The international society should act and react in regard to grave violations of human rights in Russisa and elsewhere. However, it is essential to do careful research before every action to make sure it reaches the addressee of the campaign. …All Stolichnaya vodka for worldwide export is produced in Latvia. …this campaign (i.e Dump Stoli) will only harm Latvia, Latvia’s economy and the employees of Latvijas Balzamas. …It could also backfire and have unintended consequences for the extremely fragile LGBT community in Latvia.”
Stoli management says, “As a company that encourages transparency and fairness, we are upset and angry (i.e. with the Russian government). Solichnaya Vodka has always been and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community.”
Well, I want the boycott of Russian products to succeed in calling attention to the repressive actions of Putin and his pals. And I do want it to backfire but not on the Latvians and the Stoli makers. I want enough of an international outcry leading up to the Olympics that Putin will be sorry he ever put his fist in the hornets nest.
And as one who has been a part of the gay scene for many decades, I’ve observed that the rhetoric of the most homophobic individuals is frequently a thin disguise for their inability to deal with personal gay issues—think J. Edgar Hoover, or Ted Haggard. So, I have to say, Mr. Putin, “Me thinks thou protesteth too loudly.” Why does the ex KGB, macho man who is frequently photographed shirtless need to take it out on gays? What’s your personal agenda?
John Siegfried, M.D., a former Rehoboth resident, lives in Ft. Lauderdale. He is the author of Gray & Gay, A Journey of Self-acceptance. Email John Siegfried