For the most obvious example of this, look to Qatar. The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to the rich Gulf state with a terrible human rights record was a controversial one right out of the gate. There have been extensive allegations of bribery: why else, some figured, award the Cup to a tiny country with sweltering summer heat and no soccer culture to speak of?
Why indeed? Besides the piles of dead migrant workers, there's no civil liberty in Qatar:
Qatari law does not permit the establishment of political bodies, forums for debate, professional syndicates or trade unions. There are no civil society organizations for human or citizens’ rights, nor any association or institution with a focus on public affairs. There is no transparency regarding major public policy decisions. Qatar's income, expenditure, and investment of public wealth are unknown.
Though there is flogging for "illicit sexual relations:"
Flogging is used in Qatar as a punishment for alcohol consumption or illicit sexual relations.
Which somehow they manage to reconcile with building a stadium that looks like a giant vagina:
However, Qatar is a great place if you like getting stoned:
("Which way to Qatar, man?")
No, silly, not that kind of stoned.
THIS kind of stoned:
Stoning is a legal punishment in Qatar. Apostasy is a crime punishable by the death penalty in Qatar. Blasphemy is punishable by up to seven years in prison and proselytizing can be punished by up to 10 years in prison. Homosexuality is a crime punishable by the death penalty for Muslims.
Wow. I'm all for appreciating the folkways of different cultures, but Qatar fucking sucks.
Anyway, I'm sure it won't surprise you to learn that if the scumbags at FIFA are willing to jump into bed with this country then they'll find cycling already in there and fellating the Emir, for Qatar will be hosting the 2016 UCI Road World Championships:
Not only is it hot as balls in Qatar, but there aren't even any climbs, which are like kind of a little bit important in bike racing:
None of the routes will contain climbs with the race organisers stating that they did not consider creating artificial climbs for the events.
To their credit, it's a good thing they're not building any artificial climbs, because that's probably like five dead migrant workers per meter of elevation.
So why is Qatar so keen on hosting sporting events? Well, apparently they want to host the Olympics one day, because they're filthy fucking rich:
And why the effort? Most communities pay to host the worlds to bring in tourism dollars. Qatar, however, is rich — the richest country in the world in 2010 according Forbes magazine. Its move is not for tourism. It is hosting the worlds and other events, like soccer’s World Cup in 2022, to eventually bring in the Olympics.
“Everybody knows — it’s not a secret — that we have ambitions for the Olympics,” Sheikh Khalid said. “We must test every discipline to show it can performed with success in Qatar.”
Yes, every discipline can be performed with success in Qatar, provided its not a sex act that goes against Sharia law.
Of course, cycling and ethical bankruptcy have always gone together, but if you're looking for someone to credit with marrying cycling and out-and-out human oppression then look no further than Eddy Merckx:
Not only did Merckx create the Tour of Qatar, but he's also race director of the Tour of Oman. You know Oman--it's that place where you're not taking your next vacation:
The practice of torture is widespread in Oman state penal institutions and has become the state's typical reaction to independent political expression. Torture methods in use in Oman include mock execution, beating, hooding, solitary confinement, subjection to extremes of temperature and to constant noise, abuse and humiliation. Since 2011, the Omani government has arrested and tortured many Omanis, and there have been numerous reports of torture and other inhumane forms of punishment perpetrated by Omani security forces on protesters and detainees. Several prisoners detained in 2012 complained of sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures, and solitary confinement.
Wow, that's bad. In fact, they sound almost as bad as America!
At least they abolished slavery--in 1970:
Oman was the one of the last nations on earth to abolish slavery in 1970.
Yeah, that's 1970 A-friggin'-D.
If slavery was legal in your country until the release of "Led Zeppelin III" then that's seriously fucked up.
Anyway, you may remember this past year when riders' tires exploded during the Tour of Oman owing to the extreme heat, and Merckx basically dismissed their concerns as nothing more than a bunch of whining:
Merckx retorted that had the peloton been racing, the heat would not have been a concern.
“It was only 38 [100°F], that’s not so hot,” he said. “The problem was that the riders came down in a bunch and everyone was braking. If they would’ve been racing, coming down one by one, the problem wouldn’t have occurred.”
He added that the race’s future was at stake.
Right, that would be terrible if Merckx's filthy revenue stream dried up because the riders have a self-preservation instinct. Sadly Freds are so busy whacking off to what this guy did 40 years ago that nobody notices what an asshole he is:
(Eddy Merckx on his way to victory in the 1970 Tour de France--the year Oman abolished slavery.)
Meanwhile, here in America's Most Bike-Friendly City according to Bicycling magazine, the transit workers' union is bravely fighting for their right to run you the fuck over with their buses, and to this end they've filed a class action suit against Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City of New York:
Basically, last year the city passed something known as the "Right of Way Law," which says a driver can be charged with misdemeanor for failing to yeild to a person in the crosswalk with the right of way:
New York City’s Right of Way Law (known as Section 19-190 of the NYC Administrative Code or Local Law 29) helps protect pedestrians on dangerous city streets. The law makes it a possible misdemeanor crime when a driver fails to yield and kills or injures a person walking in the crosswalk with the right of way. The law can work two ways: If a driver fails to yield but doesn’t cause an injury, the driver may be fined up to $100; if the driver causes physical injury or death, the driver may be fined up to $250 and in theory be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail, though this is highly unlikely for the first offense.
Now, if you're not from New York, you're probably stunned that it took until 2014 for the city to pass a law like this. Really, it's the pedestrian equivalent of Oman not banning slavery until 1970. So you'd think this would be a good thing, only now the transit workers' union doesn't feel like it should apply to them:
In fact, here's what they say in their complaint:
...the statute, which is applied only to motor vehicle operators, is so vague that it “does not give a person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited.”
Wow. So the transit workers' union is saying that their members aren't smart enough to understand that you're not supposed to run over people in the crosswalk when they've got the "Walk" signal?
If I were a bus driver I'd be pretty pissed off.
Anyway, in addition to the lawsuit the union has also been fighting a propaganda war via social media (I wrote about it here), in which they've been portraying bus drivers as lovable hardworking Ralph Kramdens who just can't help running over people now and then:
("Bang! Zoom! Straight to the Moon!," I says to the pedestrian.)
And pedestrian and cycling advocates as rich Sorbonne-educated beret-wearing elitists whose sole purpose in life is to destroy the working class via a twin-pronged assault of safe streets legislation and extreme gentrification:
The only problem with all this is that the union's whole PR campaign is about 30 years out of date, and today most Americans would kill for the level of compensation and benefits that union members enjoy. Furthermore, the transit workers and the advocates are all getting priced out by people who are way too rich to give a shit about any of this, because people who are driven around in Suburbans and Escalades don't care about bus drivers or pedestrians.
Seriously, it's getting to the point that the only way you can afford to live in New York City is to be an investment banker or a union higher-up or a lawyer who represents unions or something.
Indeed, when you strip the whole anti-Vision Zero Law of its dated classist rhetoric, it looks a lot like a special interest with lots of political power unduly using their clout to fuck you.
Anway, since the heart of the union's argument seems to be that they don't want to see their members taken away in handcuffs, I've got a settlement offer for them: instead of being taken to the police station in cuffs when you run somebody over, you can have the choice of traveling by Access-A-Ride instead.
I bet they'll choose the cuffs.
Lastly, via Twitter, here's someone testing the "pedestrian detection" feature on a Volvo that is sadly not equipped with said feature:
I notice the pedestrian's airbag helme(n)t didn't deploy either.