Monday, 29 July 2013

Rant about FIFA Law 12

As a light summer rant, I want to talk about football.

My own interest has mostly revolved around other sports, but football is relatively hard to avoid, especially when living in England, like I was from the late 1990s onwards.  So I tried to fit in.  I went to the pub to watch Premier League games, I read up on it, I picked a team I pretended to support (Liverpool, in case anyone’s interested).

Then came the 2002 World Cup.  I remember the game very well, although I can’t even recall who England was playing, which says something about how interesting it was.  But as I was confessing to my housemate that the action looked a bit boring and I couldn’t understand why they kept insisting bringing the ball up the left side every time, the commentator mentioned casually that it was a very hot day and the left side of the field was the only one in the shade. 

That was it for me. 

You see, I could just about put up with the fact that it was all fundamentally dull and not much was ever happening.  I could also put up with the annoying filming where these supposedly tough athletes went down screaming like a bunch of babies in situations where you could see they were hardly touched.*  I could even put up with the inevitable penalty shootouts where the goalie always went in the opposite direction to the shot and the only way not to get it in was to be so incompetent as to actually miss the 7.3m x 2.4m goal.  But I couldn’t put up with the fact that in the most important tournament in the world the English players’ primary interest was to stay in the shade.  Nope, couldn’t put up with that, even if it was a REALLY HOT DAY.

So for a long time I gave up on football.  Then I moved to France, and the French know how to watch sports, so I ended up being swept away by the exciting 2006 World Cup.  I haven’t looked back since.  The sport had taken a turn for the better and the Spanish domination that has installed itself in the last few years has been nothing but good.  The game nowadays is fast, the passes short and skilled, there are goals and penalties, fast runs and hard tackles.  There is still some cry-babying, but much less so, presumably because modern TV technology will swiftly reveal you for the idiot that you are if you do that. 

So it is all for the better.

Well ... ALMOST all.

What I would like to know is this:  Who on earth got the idea to ban the players from ripping off their shirt when they scored a goal???  There are so many more goals being scored now than there were 10-15 years ago.  This would mean so many more opportunities to see all that ... toned, ... ripped, ... jubilation.  *sigh* They were SO CLOSE to creating a truly crowd-friendly sport.

Being a true believer in democracy I suggest starting a petition on for reversing the 2004 amendment to FIFA Law 12.  Who’s with me?

*I dare anyone to try THAT in an ice hockey game ...

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Rant about Perversions

The United States Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, in two welcome boosts for the equal rights of homosexuals.  Hooray, champagne bottle corks poppin!  While some of us still have to hang our national heads in shame (hello there, fellow Finns, as well as my Swiss and German friends) as being more backward than we would like to think ourselves when it comes to marriage equality, I prefer being forward looking.  It is just a matter of time, at least as far as Finland is concerned.  Probably also for Switzerland, although we know from experience that the “time” might just be a few decades longer than in surrounding Europe.*

Since gay rights are, or will be, pretty much in the bag, I want to look at the future, and what are the next battlefields in the sphere of sexual equality.  I will again be guided by the United States Supreme Court, and draw my inspiration from the great liberal thinker that is Justice Antonin Scalia** who stated in his dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas 123 S.Ct. 2472 (2003), a case that found the criminalisation of homosexuality to be unconstitutional, that anti-gay laws were like legal bans on “bigamy, ... adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication [and] bestiality”.

I had to study the judgment as part of my comparative human rights course at university and our excellent, provocative professor paused on this passage and asked us whether Scalia had a point:  Was homosexuality really that different from bigamy, adult incest or bestiality?

I loved the exercise, and put my natural distaste for issues such as incest aside to ask myself the genuine question: What sexual behaviour can be regulated by the state, and what should be left for the bedroom?  I don’t think the issue should be determined on the basis of our personal feelings about the sexual practice itself, but on some principled ground. 

For me, I decided that the principled ground is this:  As long as the practice involves consenting adults, it is not for the state to concern itself with it.  And when it comes to corollaries of sexual behaviour, such as the institution of marriage, the state should really provide the same rights to everybody, as long as the practice itself is permitted.

Applying this principle to the list, I find that the line is drawn at bestiality.  Animals are not capable of consenting to sex with humans in any meaningful way, so sex with animals, like sex with children, can be illegal.  But bigamy, adult incest, prostitution, “fornication” (ie sex outside marriage) and adultery are all OK.  (I won’t stoop to even comment on masturbation). 

You may initially be shocked, as I was.  For example, the idea of sex with a close relative is repulsive to most of us.  But it might not be to everyone, and frankly, if someone wants to have sex with their father or sister, it is none of our business.  Many have heard about the case of Patrick Stuebing and Susan Karolewski, a perfect example of where the anti-incest laws led to a real injustice.

Similarly, why would we restrict the right to marry to just two people?  What is the justification to deny bigamy, or polygamy in general, between consenting adults?  None, except that we are instinctively drawn to the purity of the biblical idea of a monogamous heterosexual marriage as the “proper” state of affairs.  We might also look at some cultural practises and fear that polygamy will lead to abuse, unhealthy relationships and misery.  Well, many monogamous heterosexual relationships lead to such things and we don’t deny the institution as a result.  As polyamorous people are becoming more open about their lifestyle choice (see e.g. here or here for info), I’m predicting that polygamy is the next issue on the sexual equality agenda, and you know now whose banner I will be marching under.

*Fun fact:  Appenzell was the last Swiss Canton to admit women’s suffrage (=right to vote) in 1990, and only because the Federal Supreme Court (Tribunal Fédéral) forced them to.

** That was sarcasm.  Scalia is an arch-conservative douchebag.