Is there a story in Sochi’s gay bar? Up to a point, Lord Copper . . .

Sochi’s only gay bar is overrun by reporters, who won’t let Russians just sit down and have a damn drink while gay.

Deadspin quotes eight different major news outlets who’ve dispatched reporters to Mayak, where the town’s LGBT community goes to drink and dance. From a reporter at The New Republic:

On Saturday night, I decided to check it out, along with friends who work for The Guardian, TIME, and The Independent. A flock of AP reporters was already there, enjoying mojitos. In the hallway, a TV reporter was interviewing two girls in leopardware on camera. Nearby, a Danish TV reporter named Matilda told me she was interested in doing a story “that isn’t victimized.” It was an important story because “gay rights are a big issue in Europe.” The bar owner, she said, was busy giving interviews in a private room. “We called last week to schedule an interview and we got 15 minutes between the Finns and the Swiss.” Her local fixer tapped me on the shoulder. “There are three more journalists sitting next to her,” he said. But, he explained, they were Russian correspondents. “They’re confused,” he said. “They don’t know what to do, professionally.”

“We’ve given over 200 interviews in the last month,” says Mayak owner Andrey Tanichev. Every country has sent its correspondents, he says, “except the Spanish, God bless them.” The Americans have sent the most reporters, but the BBC has set a record: they came by four times.

Where have I head this before?  Oh, yes . . . in Ishmaelia:

 The bunch now overflowed the hotel.  There were close on fifty of them.  All over the lounge and dining-room they sat and stood and leaned; some whispered to one another in what they took to be secrecy; others exchanged chaff and gin …

“What are you all here for?” asked Corker petulantly of a newcomer. “What’s come over them at home? What’s supposed to be going on, anyway?”

“It’s ideological. And we’re only half of it. There’s twenty more at the coast who couldn’t get on the train.  Weren’t they sick at seeing us go?  It’s lousy on the coast.”

“It’s lousy here.”

“Yes, I see what you mean . . . “

From Evelyn Waugh’s monstrously hilarious, not-entirely-brutal satirical novel Scoop, wherein the wrong John Boot accidentally gets sent to the front lines of what may or may not be an important war, depending on where the all the reporters end up.

Unproceed Sochiward, folks. And take your cleft sticks with you.

There’s nothing funny about race, sex, religion, handicaps, or ANYTHING, EVER.

The other day, I got taken to task for giggling a bit over this story: a transgendered woman is running against an openly gay man for public office in Maryland.  My comment was, “Boy, it gets harder and harder to stand out.”  This was, according to my critic, an unacceptably unchristian way of mocking a human person who struggles with a heavy cross.

And I thought I was just having a larf.  The funny thing is, even the people involved thought it was kind of funny, too:

“It’s strange and comical at the same time that I happen to be living in a district with a gay senator,” Beyer said. “The fact that both of us are LBGT probably neutralizes the issue completely. I think it says a lot about how far America has come.”

Well, we can debate that. But I see no reason that, in order to be Christians, we have to take a cheese grater to our sense of humor — just shear it right off until we’re smooth and harmless.  Can we treat people like they’re subhuman, just because they’re different?  Heck no.  But funny stuff is funny stuff.  People are funny, life is weird, and when we’re not free to notice that and have a laugh, it’s harder to find a reason to live.

So, that was last week. What’s the latest from the world of exquisitely sensitive metajournalists?  Stop laughing at Sochi!  Just stop it, you insensitive meanies!

#SochiProblems Is More of An Embarrassment For America Than It Is For Russia

Taking pictures of horrifying, orange drinking water in a country that is trying to pass itself off as civilized?  And giggling over lousy accommodations in hotels that are only halfway built?  Oh, the humanity!  It would be so much more humane, in some way which I will figure out later, if people pretended there is nothing bizarre about stumbling across this lugubrious grove of undistributed coat racks.

According to hey are supposed to avert their eyes and think about suffering . . . always, always think about suffering.

Under pressure to quickly build a glorious Olympic village from a patch of mud, Russian corporations ended up denying their 70,000 workers wages, sanitary accommodations and, in many cases, basic human rights. As Ukrainian worker Maxim told Human Rights Watch about his experience in construction for the Olympics: “People work, they don’t get paid, and leave. Then a bus comes and unloads a fresh group of workers to repeat the cycle.”

If you worked under such conditions, would you take the time to distribute the coat racks?

She goes on to explain that other funny stuff is also not funny, because something something shame on you.

Note to recent journalism graduate:  this stuff is funny.  It’s okay to laugh at funny stuff. Nobody is making the case that Russians are subhuman, or that they deserve to live in such a backassward country, one that is willing shell out billions on ritzy, pretentious Potempkin hotels, but is so mired in corruption, it can’t supply clean water or basic utilities.  Nobody is taking pictures of starving people and going “wacka wacka!”  Nobody is saying, “Ukranian worker Maxim is so stupid, he doesn’t even know how to put coat racks away!”  The joke is on the Russian government, who had years and years to prepare — and on the Olympic commitee, who, for some reason, picked Russia.  Russia.

Man, I am pretty, pretty tired of this “don’t ever laugh at anything ever ever ever” stuff.  Geez, the Russians laugh at themselves. That’s part of what makes them Russian.  Finger-wagging joke stompers with their Masters in journalism, though, are a hell of a lot less appealing.