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Home » August 2008 Game CommentsAugust 2008 » Inhibit


Game 123: August 16, 2008
WinBlue Jays 4 W: Roy Halladay (14-9) 63-60, 1 game winning streak
Red Sox 1 L: Paul Byrd (7-11) 71-52, 1 game losing streak
Highlights: This bird has flown. Byrd had 8 ground outs compared to 13 fly ball outs, an unfavorable ratio for an aging control artist who relies on location rather than power. In stark contrast was Toronto’s workhorse starter Halladay, who turned in his eighth complete game of the season. Later the same evening Michael Phelps secured his eighth gold medal.

I saw neither Paul Byrd’s Red Sox debut nor the Olympics live last night because of a day-long power outage in my town. It was odd to be disconnected from information, so I asked my friend to send me text messages with Red Sox and Olympic updates. Unfortunately, the only Red Sox update came from Dustin Pedroia’s solo shot in the ninth, but the previously unimaginable feat of eight gold medals in the Olympics was realized by a thewy kid from Baltimore.

Most Americans take access to the internet, like so many other modern conveniences, for granted. But for the global citizenry in countries less well-off than ours, internet access could be a person’s only access to information. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” National Grid deprived me off my human rights for an entire day; perhaps Michael Tigar will take my case.

But seriously, these Olympics have put into conflict two parts of me, the sports fan and the person with a political conscience.

I love sports because they are stories where the ending is unscripted. The human endeavor for excellence culminates in events where the gap between first and second is one-hundredth of a second. That infinitesimal difference is the coalescence of years of rigorous training and preparation outside of the spotlight. For Olympians whose sports are neglected in the off years, the games are their one time to capture the imagination of their spectators (at least those who have access to television, the internet, and other media).

The backdrop in which these dramas are being played out are a beautifully rendered scroll by the Chinese government; a landscape of tradition melded perfectly with modernization. Just as the image of one girl replaced the face of the true voice of another child in the Opening Ceremony, the pleasing façade of these games hide the People’s Republic China’s poor human rights record.

In China, due process is ignored, ethnic minorities and indigenous people are persecuted, torture is employed, the death penalty is in effect, and the country is complicit with genocidal regimes. It’s as if they followed the American blueprint to modernization to a tee. To take a Biblical bent, Romans 2:1 intones, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”

I fear that this global debutante ball is more about increasing the products available on www.amazon.cn rather than enhancing the rights of its people. I am still learning about human and civil rights in China, but I found the website organized by Human Rights in China to be extremely enlightening. From this source I learned about how artist Zhang Hongtu’s work was seized by Chinese officials but then returned for display in the United States for fear of being criticized.

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