Social issues / Sports

Russia thinks Canada’s bobsled team should put their shirts back on (maybe)

Sochi 2014 Canada's bobsled team censored by RussiaSource: Getty Images

If the Sochi Olympic opening ceremonies have taught us anything, it’s that homosexuality is only ok if you’re make-believe-pretend-gay like tATu (ie: so that boys will like you).

And so when Canadian bobsledder Justin Kripps discovered friday that his website – – had been shut down, Canadian media openly speculated that Kripps’ site may have offended the cardinal rule of the Socchi Olympics: no gay propaganda.

In January, Kripps tweeted a picture of him and team mates Tim Randall, James McNaughton, and Bryan Barnett in their man-panties, in all their bearded glory.  Perez Hilton posted the pic and the Canuck foursome went viral.  They were even declared “beards of the week” by blogger Andrew Sullivan.

And February 6th, a fairly innocuous tweet that led to a video that urged the public to keep the ‘gay in the Games:’

canadian psa olympics gay bobsled

And then on Friday, a strange pop-up in Cyrillic:

Canadian bobsledder Justin Kripss' website censored by Russia for Sochi 2014

Yahoo! Sports‘ Stephanie Myles writes, “Kripps was an All-American in college. His corporate partners couldn’t be more mainstream. He doesn’t espouse any radical theories or, gasp, support same-sex marriage on his website or anything.  So what’s up, Sochi? Inquiring minds want to know.”

So has Kripps run afoul of Russia’s gay propaganda law?  Perhaps not, according to the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

The Citizen Lab – who are no shrinking violets when it comes to calling out censorship and surveillance – confirmed Friday that Kripps’ site has been blocked, writing, “the website is blocked, however this is likely the result of collateral filtering and not a deliberate attempt to target the bobsledder’s site.”

ImageSource: Yahoo Sports

Citizen Lab continues, “ISPs in Russia are required to block content which is deemed to be harmful to children.”

“Harmful to children” (strokes beard in deep thought).  Conveniently, an argument that has been used to “protect” children from The Gays.

And if true, as Kripps told CBC’s Monika Platek on Friday, Russia’s gay propaganda law has “gone too far.”

But Citizen Lab explains that is hosted by an IP address owned by American provider Endurance International Group, which includes thousands of other domains whose URLs are also blocked by Russia.

“For example, the site which is a “Rural Public Transit Service in Ontario” was also found to be blocked on the same proxies with the same message, although it is unlikely that such a local website would be targeted by Russian authorities,” writes Citizen Lab.

So unless “catchthetrout” is something that the Young People are catching/doing/using/smoking these days, it looks like the Justin Kripps case may be collateral damage of a crude catch-all filter.

Unfortunately, between violence against the LGBT communityexpropriation of localscorruptionsurveillancethe murdered dogs, and the creepy floating mascots at the opening ceremonies, Russia hasn’t exactly cultivated a relationship of trust with the rest of the world.

“Regardless, Russia is denying its people their God-given right to see Kripps and his teammates in underwear. This is a travesty,” writes The Wire‘s Alexander Abad Santos.

Indeed, Alexander Abad Santos, indeed.

And on that note, we leave you with Justin Kripps and company.  You’re welcome.

Justin Kripps Sochi 2014 Canadian bobsledder censorshipJustin Kripps and teammates Tim Randall, James McNaughton, and Bryan Barnett

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