"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" was in rare form Tuesday night with their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, giving the international competition a unique twist. As The Wire reported (via Yahoo News) Jan. 22, instead of using the usual sports angle, the international competition being reported was one comprised of the treatment of homosexuals -- specifically, the poor treatment of said demographic. And Stewart lamented that winning the "2014 Sochi Homophobic Olympics" would be difficult, and beating the Russians on their home turf would require a "Lake Placid hockey-like miracle."
With all the “run-of-the-mill homophobia” in the U.S., and with homophobia on the decline as well, Stewart was becoming worried that it might be no match for the anti-LGBT policies being enacted throughout the world. India had re-criminalized homosexuality and had passed a law giving convicted homosexuals ten years in prison. Nigeria and Uganda were in a "race" of intolerance, with Uganda's lead with putting homosexuals in prison for life getting trumped by Nigeria's recent law whereby “gay organization” or “patronizing” gay people can be brought up on charges.
Stewart quipped: "They’re not just going after Will; now they’re going after Grace?” An inset of the stars who portrayed television roommates Will Truman and Grace Adler (actors Eric McCormack and Debra Messing, respectively) on the hit sitcom "Will & Grace," where Will was a gay lawyer, appeared at Stewart's shoulder.
Still, as Stewart pointed out, Russia was likely to win the 2014 Sochi Homophobic Olympics. They had home field advantage after all and with reports indicating that Russian police either look away or join in on public gay beatings, they would be very difficult to beat this Olympic cycle. Besides, it would appear as if Russia was engaging in a more subtle but strategic kind of homophobia. This was made apparent at a recent press conference where Russian President Vladimir Putin, when asked about Russian intolerance, said that gay competitors and spectators could feel safe, as long as they “leave children alone.”
Disheartened, Stewart turned to senior correspondent Asif Mandvi for a little hope.
Mandvi tried his best to bolster Stewart's hopes with recent examples of American homophobia. There was news out of Utah where a Mormon went on a hunger strike to protest the state's same-sex marriage allowance. And Mandvi cautioned Stewart to not give up hope and produced a clip of Republican Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s October 2013 interview in which he compared same-sex marriages to incest.
“Do you believe in ignorance?” Mandvi yelled, a callback to Al Michaels' memorable shouting after Team USA's score at Lake Placid. “Do you believe in ignorance?”
Stewart's faith in America's ability to stem the tide of seeming to slide toward tolerance rekindled, "The Daily Show" host began chanting, "We can do it! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"
Yes, the U. S. just might have a shot at winning, pulling off a "miracle" at being the most intolerant nation on the planet after all. But Russian home-field advantage at the 2014 Sochi Homophobic Olympics aside, it will be difficult for any country to top imprisonment for congregating with gays and putting known homosexuals in prison for life.