China

Brits Gag Athletes From Badmouthing China

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That's the British Olympic soccer team giving the Nazi salute to the German government before a 1938 friendly with Germany in Berlin. They were ordered by British athletic officials to give the salute in the spirit of being gracious guests.

The country apparently hasn't learned much. The British government is now requiring its athletes to sign an oath to stay mum about Chinese human rights abuses this summer while competing at the Beijing Olympics. Refuse to sign, and the government won't let them compete.

Here's hoping a British athlete signs the oath, then breaks it after winning a medal. It'd be nice to see the British government put in the awkward position of actually trying to enforce the ridiculous gag order.

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  1. From an article on the 1936 olympics (bolding by me):

    Over 5,000 athletes from 51 nations then marched in according to alphabetical order, with Greece leading the whole parade and the host country, Germany, at the end. But even the opening ceremony was not without controversy – the question being whether athletes would give the Nazi salute to Hitler as they passed by his reviewing stand. There was some confusion over this issue, since the Olympic salute with right arm held out sideways from the shoulder could also be mistaken for the Hitler stiff-arm salute. Most countries gave either one or the other. Austrian athletes gave the Hitler salute. French athletes thrilled the German audience by giving the Hitler salute, although some French athletes later claimed it was the Olympic salute. The Bulgarians outdid everyone by goose-stepping past the F?hrer. The British and Americans chose a military style ‘eyes right’ with no arm salute.

    The flag bearer of every nation was supposed to dip their country’s flag while passing by the F?hrer and the Olympic officials. The American flag bearer upset many Germans in the audience by ignoring this, adhering to the U.S. custom of only dipping to the President of the United States and no one else.

    The magnificent Airship Hindenburg flew low over the stadium trailing the Olympic flag with its five rings representing the five participating continents.

  2. It’d be nice to see the British government put in the awkward position of actually trying to enforce the ridiculous gag order.

    Given all the other ridiculous rules enforced in Britain, I don’t think they’d have a problem enforcing that one either.

  3. Here’s hoping a British athlete signs the oath, then breaks it after winning a medal.

    It would be even more appropriate for a member of the British shooting team to do so, given that Brit gun control rules prohibit possession of Olympic target pistols and thus require that competitors practice outside the country they represent.

    A see-where-we’re-headed moment.

  4. robc, that’s interesting. The photo is difficult to make out but it doesn’t really look like it’s from the opening ceremony.

    Wonder how things might play out if America was going to Hitler’s Olympics in 2008. Have a feeling we’d be more “gracious”.

  5. TWC,

    Probably not. Germany doesn’t have any oil.

  6. …or nukes, I should add.

  7. Is it so much different from foreign artists and performers having to accede to the need to censor themselves on a lot of American TV: never offend their conservative sponsors or be seen to say what they really think about America?

  8. Here’s hoping a Chinese revolution occurs during the games that creates a more free society there. It would be a perfect time for pro-liberty Chinese to break absurd laws in front of cameras broadcasting live to sports fans the globe over. Immagine if the Falun Gong decided to peacefully practice their qi-gong exercises in front of the BBC, CNN and Fox. Would the Red Army beat them to a pulp for practicing Qi-Gong in front of the world?

  9. technomist –

    Yes.

  10. What organization in the world is more totalitarian than the International Olympic Committee? They and their national splinter cells are perfect partners for the Chinese Communist Party.

  11. Technomist, in the one case the artists you refer to will not be thrown in jail. In worst case, they will just loose a job. They can find another, go to another network and get paid. In the case of China you can actually go to jail for sepaking out. In some cases you might be tortured.

  12. Warty, how about blowhards like the Dixie Chicks? Sorry if I don’t see the discrepancy . . .

  13. In what way? I bet most professional sports and entertainment contracts have gaging clauses of some kind of other. There are rarely no repercussions if an entertainer mouths off against a major sponsor.

  14. “There are rarely no repercussions if an entertainer mouths off against a major sponsor.”

    In this case, it is a British government contract and the government has the power to throw these people in jail. The Chinese government has the power to torture.

  15. Plant Immigration rights Supporter-

    Sorry, I thought this was thread saying how stupid the British olympic teams were for having gaging clauses in their athlete’s contracts. There is nothing that I know of saying the British Government are threatening to jail people who voice their views when they are in Beijing.

    If the Beijing authorities did that, I doubt they would be referring the clause 76c of the athlete’s contract with his national team as a justification.

  16. “I thought this was thread saying how stupid the British olympic teams were for having gaging clauses in their athlete’s contracts.”

    Yes, it is.

    “There is nothing that I know of saying the British Government are threatening to jail people who voice their views when they are in Beijing.”

    Governments always have this power. Without that power governments cannot impose their will. An Olympic medal winner needs to have a pretty strong incentive to follow such a reg. The fame itself is the main prize here. Nike and Rebock won’t oppose them speaking out against Red China. In fact such a bold statement would bring even more fame.

  17. Would the Red Army beat them to a pulp for practicing Qi-Gong in front of the world?

    Yeah, probably, they would.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989#Media_coverage

  18. Neu Mejican,

    The coverage in the case of the 2008 Olympics is far greater and more extensive than it was in 1989. For one thing, you will have FAR more media organizations there including ones that normally only cover sports like ESPN. You will have the cameras there. You will also have lots of tourists with cell phone cameras at the ready. It is a far different world than it was in 1989.

  19. The British Olympic and other national sports governing bodies teams are not the British Government. The British Government actually has surprisingly little control over such bodies.

    Margaret Thatcher found that out when she discovered that she couldn’t force them to boycott the Moscow Olympics. Tony Blair found it out when he wanted to stop the England cricket team playing Zimbabwe. Politicians like to associate themselves with sport because it makes them look like they are ‘in touch’ but to be honest, its all about sponsorship and TV money these days, not nationalism. The athletes are nearly all professionals who go where the money is and where their governing bodies tell them to and they have contracts making them do what they are told by the corporations these bodies have business arrangements with.

  20. Techomist, if that is true there is nothing to stop them from breaking that “oath” and it may in fact benefit them from doing so. I hope they do.

  21. “It is a far different world than it was in 1989.”

    Except for the “China is a vicious dictatorship ruled by Communists” part. That part seems to have remained more or less constant.

  22. I hope they do to. I think some may, though most of our athletes seem pretty politically unaware these days. But if they do, they will not be punished by the British government. Its likely to be bland men in suits they will have trouble with, if anyone… as long as they can get to the airport safely.

  23. Swede,

    Even China is a different place. It is still a dictatorship. It is still brutal. But it has changed dramatically. In large cities there are far more wealthy Chinese than there were in 1989. There are far more cars. China also seems to be moving slowly but surely in the direction of an economic system that somewhat resembles capitalism. I am not saying China has a free market but I would not be shocked to learn that it does in ten years. The access that urban Chinese have to modern technology could be a valuable asset in a modern revolution.

  24. And here we have the brave band of human rights activists behind this jamboree:

    http://en.beijing2008.cn/bocog/sponsors/sponsors/

  25. Anyone know what is in the USOC contracts?

  26. This might be relevant .. An Egyptian soccer player was yellow carded in the African Cup after he revealed his undershirt with “Sympathize with Gaza” message on it after scoring a goal. more details

  27. Uh-huh, when one actually reads the article one finds that this order is from the British Olympic Association (a private group), not the Government. That was who made the decisions back in ’36 too.

    There was a time (1956 certainly) that the IOC went to great lengths to stress that athletes competing in the Olympics did so as individuals, not as representatives of their home countries. The national Olympic committees were merely conveniences for selecting athletes. In fact at one time there was a serious discussion to establish regional Olympic committees whose territories would be unrelated to national borders. Needless to say that ides flamed out as the Olympics built up as a proxy contest in the Cold War.

    Now, having agreed that this gag order is doubleplusungood, I’m afraid I have to say that the BOA is within its rights in imposing it.

    That said, this and Jimmy Carter’s idiotic boycott are just added items on a list of things that lead me to conclude that the Olympics are largely irrelevant today.

  28. Tech-

    Apparently you have never been to a concert in the US. Foreign and domestic performers feel perfectly comfortable trashing the US government and do so at the drop of a hat.

    Often to the cheers of US audiences.

  29. The Olympics have always stated a desire to keep politics out of the Games. They are ostensibly intendeed to promote peace and harmony. Protests and critical statements are seen as adverse to that mission.

    The clause, in section 4 of the contract, simply states: “[Athletes] are not to comment on any politically sensitive issues.”

    It then refers competitors to Section 51 of the International Olympic Committee charter, which “provides for no kind of demonstration, or political, religious or racial propaganda in the Olympic sites, venues or other areas”.

    This is likely the clause that was used to revoke the medals of the US athletes who gave the Black Power salute on the medal stand in Mexico City.

    technomist

    Anyone know what is in the USOC contracts?

    This is in the linked article.

    The BOA took the decision even though other countries – including the United States, Canada, Finland, and Australia – have pledged that their athletes would be free to speak about any issue concerning China.

    To date, only New Zealand and Belgium have banned their athletes from giving political opinions while competing at the Games.

  30. Wonder how things might play out if America was going to Hitler’s Olympics in 2008. Have a feeling we’d be more “gracious”.

    Actually, sometime after WW2, it became law. It is illegal for an American to dip the US flag for anyone but the US President.

  31. Isaac Bartram – That’s very helpful

    I have just found a clause in the Code of Conduct, Disciplinary Procedures, Appeals and Grievance Procedures, FOR U.S. Team Members and
    U.S. Team Staff Members, (Effective January 2004) for the US Water Ski team, which to be fair, seems mainly to be worried about dorm pranks, and drunkenness, but does have the catch all phrases of:

    ‘LEVEL 1 INFRACTIONS:
    ? … disrespectful, offensive…behavior.
    ? Public disturbance or nuisance.
    ? Failure to follow the dress code as designated by the Team Manager, at an official event or activity.’

    This is vague stuff. I think a lot of the kinds of thing which would be involved in a protest in Beijing could be covered by that if a governing body felt it wanted to see it that way.

  32. nebby – I appreciate that.

    But what happens to people who are seen to be disrespectful of national symbols at big set-piece events or breach prevailing mainstream social mores- Rosseane Barr’s singing of the star spangled banner springs to mind, or that Jackson sister showing her breast shock horror. What if they don’t just criticize a government but the whole system of government or popular approaches to religion like John Lennon? Sure, they aren’t tortured, but they sure don’t find their working lives that easy, and Lennon certainly came under some serious pressure from sections of the US government.

  33. Ah, I thought it was the British government trying to gag the athletes.

    I suppose the only real difference is that the U.S. government is a good deal less evil than the Chinese, and also it’s not exactly uncommon for people to criticize it.

  34. This reminds me of a question I had back when Jimmah the Incompetent decided to keep US athletes from competing in the Moscow olympics: who the fuck gave the government the authority to decide whether private citizens can participate in a competition? It’s not illegal to run in a race, or to travel to China, or to posses a medal, so WTF business is it of theirs?

    -jcr

  35. “This might be relevant .. An Egyptian soccer player was yellow carded in the African Cup after he revealed his undershirt with “Sympathize with Gaza” message on it after scoring a goal. more details”

    Players get yellow-carded for revealing any message in their undershirts, regardless of content.

  36. anon,
    It is interesting since I don’t think that message was any more inappropriate than KaKa showing his “I belong to Jesus” shirt after scoring in Japan a few months ago.
    Consistency is hard to enforce, but I would think that a hard rule about not allowing any t-shirt messages would be a fair way to handle it. Of course, it would be up to the different leagues to enforce it.

  37. I think the “double bird salute” followed by a “full moon” would adequately demonstate how I felt about out the Chinese run Olympics propaganda show. I encourage all medal winners to disrespect the Communist bastards at every opportunity.

    /Ain’t gonna happen.

    //The olympics would never be the same.

    ///Olympic coverage would be so full of awesome, that ratings would soar.

  38. demonstate = demonstrate

  39. Am I the only one who thinks that there is an important distinction between
    a) *saluting* Nazis (or Communists) and
    b) just not saying anything?

  40. Help me out here folks. The last entertainer/athelete who got hammered financially for political actions was Curt Flood. Does anyone recall an equally serious dispute more recent than that? Atheletes, musicians and Hollywood airheads seem to have no compunction against speaking out on any subject. Being knowledgeable is obviously not a requirement.

    That said, I’d like to see a moment in Beijing like this one in Mexico City.

  41. Warty, how about blowhards like the Dixie Chicks? Sorry if I don’t see the discrepancy . .

    Huh? You don’t see the difference between scorning someone who mouths off in public and the government throwing someone in jail for mouthing off in public?

  42. I got an olympic themed calendar from local Vietnamese restaurant that was handing them out. It shows the 12 different animals looking cute and wearing olympic medals. Front and center is the rat, who is holding a gun! Seems appropriate for their political situation.

  43. This reminds me of a question I had back when Jimmah the Incompetent decided to keep US athletes from competing in the Moscow olympics: who the fuck gave the government the authority to decide whether private citizens can participate in a competition?

    If Bobby Fischer weren’t dead you could ask him.

  44. I reckon the British Government is going to be more embarrassed when athletes make comparisons with the facilities and the organization in Beijing, if London 2012 turns out to be a shambles. I’d like to see the gagging clauses for then.

  45. Where is this jail stuff coming from? The British government fields a team at the Olympics. If the athlete wants to be part of the team the team stipulates they sign this. If they say no they just don’t get to represent the team. They can still go play for Chelsea or what not…

    Hey, these two parties freely contracted, you know? Voluntary and all that. So what’s up contractarians? Celebrate this freedom of contract! Let’s hear it, all together now!

  46. Of course, me not being a contractarian, I think that even when one “voluntarily” is pushed to sign this kind of thing it’s awful. I think it’s awful because it decreases the amount of liberty in the world. If these individuals don’t like the Chinese government (and what’s to like?), then they should be able to say so without reprisal…

    That’s why some folks here often call me a “collectivist” and themselves “libertarians.”

    Whatever…

  47. …this one in Mexico City.

    Yeah, that’s the one I was talking about.

  48. I actually don’t have much of a problem with this. The Olympics are about sports, and sports only. It’s supposed to be a time when the whole world gets together and has a friendly competition, not a time to beat someone or expose their flaws, however badly they deserve to be beaten or however terrible those flaws may be. There are other avenues of criticism.

  49. Mr. Nice Guy, nothing is voluntary when the state is involved. But if Technomist is right than it is not a government institution. If it is not a government institution there is not enforcement mechanism other than being “fired” or, as the british might say, “sacked.” which would make them look like martyrs and they would be even more famous than before. This would be good for them. The biggest prize in the olympics is fame and a possible advertizing contract.

  50. Hey TWC – been into the vino already this Sunday morn?

    The Wine Commonsewer | February 10, 2008, 10:26am | #
    robc, that’s interesting. The photo is difficult to make out but it doesn’t really look like it’s from the opening ceremony.

    It wasn’t. Have another look at the paragraph under the photo.

    That’s the British Olympic soccer team giving the Nazi salute to the German government before a 1938 friendly with Germany in Berlin. They were ordered by British athletic officials to give the salute in the spirit of being gracious guests.

    FWIW I looked it up – Pic taken before a “friendly game” in May 1938, the Olympics were August ’38. I guess they weren’t friendly games during the Olympics.

    When I was a kid, I played both soccer and lacrosse. If one can label soccer games friendly, I wonder what label to apply to lacrosse – they were rather ‘enthusiastic’ as I recall.

    Cheers/Slange/Bottoms up/Skoal etc…

  51. With the recent death of Bobby Fischer, I read several commentaries by Russian chess masters. What struck me is that even the Soviets realized there were certain boundaries in how far they could push and control the players. It appears, at least in the matter (and likely other matters like diet and health) that the nanny state modern British government is less respectful of the individual than the Soviets were in the 1970’s.

  52. To add to my comments above there is precedence for famous British people giving up honours for the sake of a cause. The Beatles gave up their knighthood to protest the Vietnam War.

  53. The Olympics are about sports, and sports only.

    That’s wny if anyone suggested there should be teams representing various nations no one would go along with it.

  54. a “friendly” in (UFEA) parlance is a game isn’t attached to a specific tourney (tourney itself or a qualifying game for a tourney) – just a scrimmage.

  55. (d’oh – post got eaten…
    furthermore…)

    The Olympics are about sports, and sports only.

    WTF? you might want to check out other nations’ coverage before you go around saying that. It most certainly is NOT about “sports only”. It is using sports to serve as a proxy for whatever the fuck else twaddlenockery that’s afoot.
    Viz: Roy Jones Jr. in S. Korea; the sailing course in Barca, etc. When the eurotards (and others) are involved, it’s all about nationalism.
    (viz: format and logistics of Euro 96, Eurosport coverage of 1996 olympics, ORF/ARD coverage of 1992. NRO coverage of 1994, 1998)

  56. I wonder if any of those athletes will have serious health problems after performing in China’s polution?

  57. I seriouslt doubt it. The games are only a couple of weeks long. It shouldn’t be any more damaging than smoking cigarettes fof a month or two.

  58. Just on a point of accuracy, that’s the English soccer team – not the British soccer team.

    Otherwise, this Brit fully agrees. Our athletes should say what they like, including criticising the hosts’ despicable record on human rights. You can be sure the British Olympic Association wouldn’t stop anyone from criticising the hosts if the Olympics were being held in the US.

  59. But what happens to people who are seen to be disrespectful of national symbols at big set-piece events or breach prevailing mainstream social mores- Rosseane Barr’s singing of the star spangled banner springs to mind, or that Jackson sister showing her breast shock horror…Sure, they aren’t tortured, but they sure don’t find their working lives that easy….

    They’re entertainers — their occupation is built around the public wanting to watch them. If you do something that makes people not want to watch you, you’re done. Roseanne’s freedom of speech doesn’t trump TV viewers’ freedom to not watch her show.

    (Of course, Roseanne and Janet Jackson were both on the down-slope of their careers already at the time of the mentioned incidents.)

  60. Normally, I don’t trust J sub D, but for some reason, I think he might be straight this time.

  61. Normally, I don’t trust J sub D, but for some reason, I think he might be straight this time.

    Don’t trust J sub D? Moi? I’ll have you know I haven’t told a lie in years months weeks days hours.

  62. “The country apparently hasn’t learned much.”

    OK Radley, that would be all 60 million Britons then. That’s a good, sweeping bit of collectivism there.

    “The British government is now requiring its athletes to sign an oath to stay mum about Chinese human rights abuses this summer while competing at the Beijing Olympics. Refuse to sign, and the government won’t let them compete. ”

    It’s the British Olympics Association, not the British government, which is alleged to be requiring this. However, the BOA have now said there will be no ban on commenting on political issues.

  63. Those who corrected me when I said the Olympics were about sports alone are correct; the Games are clearly politicized. I meant to convey that when they were conceived, the participating nations were supposed to put politics aside, and that I feel that this spirit should continue. I should have said the point of the Olympics is sport, not that they’re only about sports, because that is definitely not true nowadays (I actually don’t know how faithful people were to those truces back in the day, either, but it’s a nice idea either way).

    The proxy thing is so ridiculous. “Someone in our country can ski and shoot and run better than someone from your country, and so therefore our way of life is the best!”

  64. KD, no wine……YET!

    I was responding to what robc had written in the comment above where he cut and pasted some info about the opening ceremonies. That’s why it seemed like I was out to lunch.

  65. The Olympics are about sports, and sports only

    Which explains why for decades no Americans who played sports professionally were permitted to participate.

  66. …the Olympics were August ’38.

    Umm, no, the Berlin Olympics were in 1936, a leap year.

    There would not have been any Olympics at all in 1938. The Winter Olympics were not split of into the off even-numbered year until 1988.

  67. Actually TWC all professional athletes were bared form the Olympics.

    The Eastern bloc simply had some interesting ways of getting around the qualifying process.

  68. barr not bared!!!

    But it does open up interesting possibilities.

    Actually in the ancient Olympics the contestants were nude. But there were no women among them.

  69. Sure, they aren’t tortured, but they sure don’t find their working lives that easy, and Lennon certainly came under some serious pressure from sections of the US government.

    However terrible that “serious pressure” was, it apparently wasn’t as bad as living a millionares life in England.

  70. Will we ever get back to the Mexico City Olympics and the Black Power salute? That was cool, on the medal stand……….You gotta hand it to those guys, they had guts

  71. There would not have been any Olympics at all in 1938. The Winter Olympics were not split of into the off even-numbered year until 1988.

    Just a minor OT correction, Issac, but actually the split was in 1994. In 1992 they held the “regularly” scheduled winter games followed two years later in ’94 by another winter games, and then every four years since.


  72. Would the Red Army beat them to a pulp for practicing Qi-Gong in front of the world?

    Of course not. They’ll wait until the Olympics are over and the world media has left, and then beat them to a pulp.

  73. Umm, no, the Berlin Olympics were in 1936, a leap year.

    True, which brings up a trivia question: When were the only official (i.e. recognized by the IOC ) Olympic Games not to be held during a leap year (not counting winter games, see above…)?

  74. Brian Courts

    You are absolutely right. I misread the list. Me feel stoopid.

  75. 1900, because years divisible by 100 are not leap years. Of course, it took me a long time to figure out why 2000 was a leap year even though divisible by 100. Turns out any year divisible by 400 is a leap year.

  76. Actually, Lamar, there was another games in a year that was not a quadrennial year (which, as you note, is the true criteria for an Olympiad).

    Since I looked it up, I will leave it to Brian Courts to reveal the answer when he feels enough time has elapsed for someone to have a reasonable chance to answer.

    I though I knew a thing or two about the Olympics but I didn’t know that.

  77. Isaac,

    I seem to recall that there were Olympics in 1902 in St Louis — is that right?

  78. Just looked it up, and I was wrong. There’s a first time for everything, I guess… ::rimshot::

  79. Chris,

    That was 1904 – same year the World’s Fair was in St. Louis. Those were the glory days for my fair city (well, we do still have the Cardinals and all their glory…).

  80. Two hours is too long for trivia gratification!

  81. Sparky,

    Serves you punks right, stealing the Olympics from Chicago and all…now they have the glory of the — well, the Bears, Bulls, White Sox, and Hawks suck, and the Cubs are heading into “next year” #100, so I guess both cities are cursed.

  82. That’s what happens when you practice fucking appeasement. If fucking Ron Paul became president, our Olympic team would be bowing towards Mecca, motherfuckers!

  83. Isaac Bartram | February 10, 2008, 5:47pm | #

    …the Olympics were August ’38.

    Umm, no, the Berlin Olympics were in 1936, a leap year.

    There would not have been any Olympics at all in 1938. The Winter Olympics were not split of into the off even-numbered year until 1988.

    Isaac Bartram | February 10, 2008, 8:22pm | #
    Brian Courts

    You are absolutely right. I misread the list. Me feel stoopid.

    mee too – feel stoopid… read, but not comprehend… typical… go have banana now…

  84. Two hours is too long for trivia gratification!

    Heh, sorry, I got busy doing some other stuff and almost forgot about it!

    1900, because years divisible by 100 are not leap years. Of course, it took me a long time to figure out why 2000 was a leap year even though divisible by 100. Turns out any year divisible by 400 is a leap year.

    But yes, Lamar was right. The 1900 Paris games were not held during leap year, for exactly the reason he describes.

    Actually, Lamar, there was another games in a year that was not a quadrennial year (which, as you note, is the true criteria for an Olympiad).

    Isaac, yes, I thought of that one too so that’s kinda right, there was a 10th anniversary “Olympics” in 1906 so that would be another potential answer, except that I don’t believe those games are considered an official Olympics.

  85. Seeing as the main premise of this post is wrong, as pointed out by numerous commentators (and given the gratuitous collaborators charge) – is there any chance of a correction?

  86. Well, the British Olympics Association is private, but the British government has given it a state-enforced monopoly over all things Olympic (as the US government has done for the USOC). So it is at best quasi-private.

    I’m not planning to watch much if any coverage this summer. I’m a winter games kind of guy anyways.

  87. Chris,

    Hey, I got no beef with Chicago and most of their sports teams (I really don’t follow anything but baseball too closely). Like any red-blooded St. Louisan, I reserve my irrational scorn mostly for the Cubs.

    But man, do they fuckin’ suck. 🙂

  88. And to venture even further off-topic… robc’s first comment in this thread of the news report which described the Hindenburg flying over the 1936 Olympic opening ceremonies reminded me of something I’d read before. Earlier in 1936, on an apparently windy day, the Hindenburg’s lower tail fin was damaged when it struck the ground while attempting to take off. After the event the head of the Zeppelin company, Hugo Eckener, wrote and angry letter chastising Captain Ernst Lehmann:

    How could you, Herr Lehmann, order the ship to be brought out in such wind conditions. You had the best excuse in the world for postponing this idiotic flight; instead, you risk the ship, merely to avoid annoying Herr Goebbels.

    Looking back, “merely” trying to avoid annoying Herr Goebbels was perhaps not such a bad strategy. Of course the strategy was ultimately to fail as he annoyed Goebbels with the events at Lakehurst the following year.

  89. With the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comments that Sharia law is “inevitable” and now this, it seems like the British are tryng to usurp the French title of Biggest Pussies in the Western World.

    I’m wondering what the frogs will do to defend thier title.

  90. OT, but as anon mentioned, any removal of one’s jersey is an automatic yellow card, regardless of content.

    However, when it comes to partial removal of the jersey to display something beneath, some referees let it go.

    It’s not that much of a deterrent in a final, for sure (any possible suspensions arising from accumulation are usually served in meaningless qualifiers).

    And yes, that is ENGLAND’s national soccer team, not Britain’s. As far as I know, there has NEVER been a unified Great Britain soccer team and it is a point of much controversy and discussion. The IOC has always hated the Home Nations’ refusal to submit a unified team. FIFA pretty much loves it. I imagine the whole situation is at least partially responsible for the Olympic Soccer Tournament being only a jazzed-up youth tournament and not featuring most nations’ best sides (by a long shot).

  91. In fairness, Timon19, the Olympics will never achieve the prestige of the World Cup or even the European Cup. I wonder how many Olympic sports are not considered the pinnacle of that respective sport. Tennis, baseball and basketball come to mind. I’m not sure where hockey stands.

  92. Of course, Lamar. I know that.

    However, remember that the World Cup has been around since only 1930 and many major nations (including the best of the time, England) did not even send teams until 1950.

    The fight between the IOC and FIFA began around 1932.

    To add to your list, I’d say boxing.

  93. Olympic cat strangling is significantly less skillful than even the American Cat Strangling Conference, whose teams lose continually to Canadian teams themselves.

  94. Small point on the Beatles above – The Beatles didn’t turn in their knighthoods over Vietnam. Only Lennon turned in his OBE (Order of the British Empire, a lesser honor). McCartney (Sorry, Sir Paul) is the only one of the Fabs to be knighted, and it was much more recent than that particular war.

  95. “With the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comments that Sharia law is “inevitable” and now this, it seems like the British are tryng to usurp the French title of Biggest Pussies in the Western World.”

    To be fair, Joe Allen, the Archbishop has faced a tidal wave of criticism from almost every part of the political spectrum for his comments. His comments have backfired spectacularly and may have served as the necessary wake-up call.

  96. Well, the British Olympics Association is private, but the British government has given it a state-enforced monopoly over all things Olympic…

    No, the BOA gets its “monopoly over all things Olympic” form the IOC another private organization based (from memory) in Switzerland.

    The name “Olympic Games” is a valuable trademark that the IOC defends by all means available.

    The fact that national governments get involved in the mess is due to an almost universal desire for “national greatness”. The democratic drive for this is based on a previous poster’s Proxy thingy. People think that a medalist from their country adds to their lives.

    For one of the most egregious examples of this see Australia’s sports socialism. Being a world class athlete is a guarantee of preferred immigrant status, accelerated citizenship and a comfortable government salary.

  97. I wonder what the tape delays will be like in China for the Chinese. NBC probably will only bleep cursing, but the Chinese censors will be on full alert. With lots of bad things said or done by athletes that would be televised (medal ceremonies, actual competition goings-on) China’s telecast might be several hours behind the rest of the world by the time week two begins.

  98. the britich royals, rockefellers, rothchilds, Morgans adn Bushes who helped finance the eugenics craze and fiannce the rise of Nazi germany and Mussolini also told it’s athletest to be gracious adn do a seig heil? big surprise….the same folks who helped finance Lenin’s takeover in USSR and get China to agree to a one-child policy backed by infanticide is now putting out gag orders…big surprise…if they were going to keep politics out of the way they wouldn’t ban free speeach of inidividuals and require “gracious” groveling at the knees of totalitarians…they would just let people be people…strong arming folks to “shut their traps” is akin to killing one year olds or tasering pregnant women.

  99. The Onion headline, May 29, 1905:

    “The Machine: Will it Replace the China-Man?”

  100. I wonder if Gabe Harris at February 11, 2008, 10:22am would have sounded any less batshit insane if his post hadn’t contained so many mispellings, missed spaces, innappropriately uncapitalized words and letter transpositions.

    Hmmm, I’m thinking, no.

  101. And the pussification of the English continues…

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