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So then there’s the ripping Datsyuk phenomenon.

This really upsets me. As noted early this morning, Pavel Datsyuk was asked about Russia's anti-homosexuality laws--and the comments of Russian pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbaeva--in front of a packed crowd in Moscow, while accepting the Kharlamov Trophy from Sovetsky Sport, and he replied, "I'm [Eastern] Orthodox; I think that says it all" (and the Eastern Orthodox religion as about as accepting of the LGBT community as other religions are).

I knew that Datsyuk would get flak for his remarks, but honestly speaking, while engaging in a two-hour Q and A session with almost fifty fans and a dozen media members, leaning upon his religious beliefs is as close to a "no comment" as he could've got.

Especially given the fact that he and his Russian Olympic orientation camp teammates are meeting Vladimir Putin on Friday, he was in a situation where a "no comment" would have damned him to hockey hell and would've absolutely infuriated those watching him in what was an incredibly detailed and personal setting.

So yes, he's deservedly getting ripped in the media, but what Datsyuk says in front of what was all but literally a firing squad and what he says on this side of the Atlantic are two different things. He was absolutely *#$%@& over had he said anything other than, "I agree completely," and instead, he went with, "I'm gonna lean on the religion card."

I don't agree with his comments, obviously, but whether Datsyuk agrees with them is also a good question to ask when he's not in an incredibly charged situation. At this point, context is everything, and in a situation where Datsyuk could've literally lost an Olympic spot had he not nodded his head, he nodded his head.

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FranzensMouthguard's avatar

Nowhere in this whole thing has he made any anti-gay comments or hated on anyone for any reason.

He’s a hockey player, not a f’ing moral compass or any sort of party leader in the USA.

lose-lose situation for him all around

Posted by FranzensMouthguard from Chicago, IL on 08/22/13 at 02:19 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

While the laws are on the books (and definitely before the Olympics are over), he might not be able to say anything to assuage the criticisms.

I’m not sure the Russian Hockey Federation or the politicos in charge right now particularly care which side of the Atlantic/Pacific he’s standing on if he says something to clarify anything resembling support for homosexuals… it would violate their laws.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/22/13 at 02:30 PM ET

Hawk's avatar

Seems like a homosexuality turned out to be the only true religion in the western world.
Too sad to see too many people are giving so much shit about sexual preferences of minority.

Posted by Hawk from Moscow, Russia on 08/22/13 at 02:35 PM ET

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Why is it suddenly OK to “rip” into someone for his religious beliefs?

Posted by George0211 on 08/22/13 at 02:35 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I *have* friends who check off every box of the “LGBT” community term, including my best friend on the planet, and I truly believe that the quality of a human being is not determined by any of the differences that separate us. I am simply stating that Datsyuk would’ve been *#$%@& if he’d said anything else, and given the circumstances, this was all he could do to try to dodge the subject.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/22/13 at 02:38 PM ET

Zqto's avatar

I got a reply written on the overnight report (I think) saying that it was the first time Dats had ever disappointed me, but I was kinda expecting that answer, since he’s a religious person
I end up not sending it, mostly because I figured he would get a lot of bad words toward him, already
Religion segregates, saddly

Posted by Zqto on 08/22/13 at 02:39 PM ET

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Religion segregates, saddly

Posted by Zqto on 08/22/13 at 02:39 PM ET

Yes, but why is it OK to segregate against religion?

Posted by George0211 on 08/22/13 at 02:41 PM ET

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Let’s face it, any Russian is screwed when it comes to this topic. If they say they’re pro anti gay laws, they will be destroyed by the media in North America. If they say they’re against it, they’ll face the wrath of Russia, whether it be exclusion from the Olympic team or worse.

Posted by thehuds on 08/22/13 at 02:53 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I find it funny the number of pundits who won’t ever be setting foot in Sochi or Russia, let alone soon, who have something to say about this.

He was in Russia, to accept a Russian award, in the presence of a bunch of Russian officials.  He was backed into a corner.  His family and friends are still in Russia (a Russia that is run by former KGB leadership mind you, and a Russia where people still sometimes just “disappear”).  He has an Olympic spot at risk too yes, but that’s probably the most-minor of all the points and risks honestly.

People like Sean Gentile and Ryan Lambert who are eating their corn chips at their laptops while talking tough on Twitter about making a statement and taking a stand, knowing they personally never will have to take a stand on the issue with anything whatsoever at risk for them… they make me sick.

They’re the true cowards.


And like J.J. said, there is no “safe” place out of Putin’s reach, as the violent deaths on the East Coast US of certain individuals who have spoken out against Putin and his regime can attest to.

Honestly, Putin’s Russia has never, ever gotten the evil tag they probably deserve in this post-Cold War age.  But as I’ve said before:  I think a lot of Soviet-era leaders would look on approvingly and impressed at how Putin has basically continued operating USSR-policies wrapped in a thin paper of false democracy.  Some buddies and I have discussed exactly this dating back to Putin’s first term even.  It’s unfortunate that the world has yet to really wake up to the power there.  Russia may be a mess in some ways, but Moscow still has an iron grip on things and don’t think for a second that they don’t.

Posted by Primis on 08/22/13 at 02:54 PM ET

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he made it pretty clear that he follows his religious beliefs on the subject. why would he say anything different in North America? he has been nothing but an honorable straight shooter his entire career. there’s nothing wrong with having that opinion just like you have the same freedom to express yours. but yes it does give the PC police a reason to dislike him

Posted by jkm2011 on 08/22/13 at 02:59 PM ET

hippriest's avatar

Datsyuk is my favorite player, so this is understandably troublesome. Even if he isn’t a bigot, using religion as an excuse, even under the circumstances, comes off as cowardly at best. I’m just hoping he panicked under the pressure and will have a more thoughtful response if ever pressed about it in North America.

And to everyone asking “why is it OK to rip someone about their religious beliefs”? Because- unlike homosexuality- your religion is your CHOICE. Get it? You choose to believe that bigoted shit. Homosexuals don’t choose to be gay. If you can’t understand that, I can’t help you any further.

Posted by hippriest on 08/22/13 at 03:05 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I don’t believe that there is any excuse for bigotry, and the Russian laws are not “anti-PC.”

They specifically make any sort of display of homosexuality—from kissing in public to holding hands to wearing a little rainbow flag pin—illegal and subject to fines, detention, and, depending on what the police deem to be criminal or inflammatory, people can be tried and jailed.

It is not uncommon for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender folks to be beaten up or otherwise assaulted in Russia. These laws sanction such activities by law enforcement and make it criminal to be anything other than virulently heterosexual. They are not acceptable.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/22/13 at 03:07 PM ET

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I am simply stating that Datsyuk would’ve been *#$%@& if he’d said anything else, and given the circumstances, this was all he could do to try to dodge the subject.

And in doing so you subtly attempt to mitigate his position from one based on religious principle to one espoused out of simple expedience.

Love these equality discussions.  Everyone’s ‘equal’ until someone expresses an opinion that’s not agreed with.  Then, bleep that guy. 

Because- unlike homosexuality- your religion is your CHOICE.

Why?  Isn’t it just as plausible that genetic predictors apply equally to emotional outlets as to physical predilections?  Can’t people be born with a predisposition toward belief in religious principles?  Why h8? wink

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/22/13 at 03:14 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

I disagree that his comments are in anyway tantamount to ‘no comment.’

His comments do, in fact, ‘say it all’ - and what they say is that he’s a homophobic bigot.

At the end of the day, it’s dissappointing but not surprising. I suppose it’s possible that he only made the remarks because of where and when the question was asked and he’ll recant later, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 08/22/13 at 03:15 PM ET

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And to everyone asking “why is it OK to rip someone about their religious beliefs”? Because- unlike homosexuality- your religion is your CHOICE. Get it? You choose to believe that bigoted shit. Homosexuals don’t choose to be gay. If you can’t understand that, I can’t help you any further.

You are an idiot.
I am an atheist and I CHOOSE to not believe, but I also RESPECT people’s choice to believe.

Posted by George0211 on 08/22/13 at 03:15 PM ET

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It is not uncommon for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender folks to be beaten up or otherwise assaulted in Russia.

As it is also uncommon in NYC. Read the news.

Posted by George0211 on 08/22/13 at 03:16 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
― Steven Weinberg

I really have to disagree with you here George.  This is the first time Datsyuk has ever disappointed me.  If Pav really meant what he said, he used a religious out to excuse an openly discriminatory law in Russia, and possibly his own bigotry.  If he was ducking, or telling a fib, that might have been the least courageous moment in his life.  Either way, there are no excuses for his answer to that question.  Thinking about what Russian hockey players of past generations went up against, just to play in the NHL, this looks pretty weak.

As for the “You don’t know what its like in Russia” argument, I’d really like to see the Russian state try to put a hit out on an international sports celebrity (or his family) for saying that he doesn’t support anti-gay laws, let alone keep him off the Olympic Squad.  As Mark Twain said, “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.”

Yes, but why is it OK to segregate against religion?

Posted by George0211 on 08/22/13 at 02:41 PM ET

You can step out of any door in the United States (or most of the world for that matter), throw a rock in any direction, and hit a church.  And you want to feel sorry for religion?  Give me a break.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 03:18 PM ET

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I could see people jumping on Datsyuk, if he “suddenly” became religious and obviously tried to hide behind religion when asked about homosexuality. But he didn’t. ANyone who follows Red Wings knows that he is a religious person and even has religious icons in his locker.

Posted by George0211 on 08/22/13 at 03:19 PM ET

Primis's avatar

he has been nothing but an honorable straight shooter his entire career.

Posted by jkm2011 on 08/22/13 at 02:59 PM ET

Seriously?  Have you ever watched or read a Datsyuk interview?

The guy has made a career out of answering press questions with a quip or line that doesn’t actually answer the question at all, but gets a laugh so the reporter moves on.  He’s very, very good at saying stuff without actually saying anything.

It’s entirely possible he said what he did because he was, in fact, trying to clarify his position.  It’s also entirely possible that it was just another Datsyukian Deke around a question he felt trapped by.

Posted by Primis on 08/22/13 at 03:19 PM ET

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I don’t think any of us know exactly how the Russian law is going to be applied. no one said the Russian law was anti-pc what was said is it’s not PC in North America to have the Russian Orthodox Church opinion

Posted by jkm2011 on 08/22/13 at 03:19 PM ET

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what they say is that he’s a homophobic bigot.

And you’re an anti-religious bigot.

Different strokes, same paddles.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/22/13 at 03:20 PM ET

NIVO's avatar

if people dont like his opinion, they shouldnt have asked him for it. plain und simple.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 08/22/13 at 03:20 PM ET

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You can step out of any door in the United States (or most of the world for that matter), throw a rock in any direction, and hit a church. 

And people do.  Take, for instance, this thread.

Still, I think your notion that bigotry practiced against a large group of people is ‘lesser’ than bigotry practiced against a smaller group of people requires a little introspective study.

Either being a bigot is wrong, or it’s not.  You don’t get to pick and choose which kinds of bigotry are cool because you agree with them.

Well, I mean you can, it just doesn’t make you a terribly convincing anti-bigotry messenger down the line.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/22/13 at 03:23 PM ET

Paul's avatar

The guy has made a career out of answering press questions with a quip or line that doesn’t actually answer the question at all, but gets a laugh so the reporter moves on.  He’s very, very good at saying stuff without actually saying anything.

It’s entirely possible he said what he did because he was, in fact, trying to clarify his position.  It’s also entirely possible that it was just another Datsyukian Deke around a question he felt trapped by.

Posted by Primis on 08/22/13 at 03:19 PM ET

He may have not understood what Scotty was talking about, but he learned how to answer a question like Bowman did.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 08/22/13 at 03:24 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Love these equality discussions.  Everyone’s ‘equal’ until someone expresses an opinion that’s not agreed with.  Then, bleep that guy. 


I can disagree with someone, even vehemently, without stripping them of their dignity.  Disagreement doesn’t make anybody a bigot, or someone who doesn’t treat others as equals.  That’s a poor remark on your part.

Why?  Isn’t it just as plausible that genetic predictors apply equally to emotional outlets as to physical predilections?  Can’t people be born with a predisposition toward belief in religious principles?  Why h8?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/22/13 at 03:14 PM ET

Genetics might predispose someone to faith.  But creed?  Nope.  That’s a result of parental inculcation and/or choice.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 03:24 PM ET

Avatar

if you read past the jokes and the quips you would know he is a straight shooter who provides thoughtful answers on religion politics philosophy history art need I go on?

Posted by jkm2011 on 08/22/13 at 03:25 PM ET

hippriest's avatar

Can’t people be born with a predisposition toward belief in religious principles?

With a predisposition, maybe. But there’s not a string in your DNA that predisposes you to Christianity, much less the Orthodox version, much less an inherent hatred toward homosexuals. Besides, even if he is Orthodox, he can still support gay rights. There are plenty of Christians in the US who choose to disregard those quotes from the bible (just like the parts about slavery, eating crustaceans, wearing two weaves of cloth, etc etc). In short, it’s your choice whether to hate or to tolerate. And when confronted publicly to make a stand, in the midst of all the violence and hatred raging in his country. Datsyuk came down plainly on the WRONG side. Period.

I am an atheist and I CHOOSE to not believe, but I also RESPECT people’s choice to believe.

I perfectly respect other people’s religions, too, buddy. But there’s a difference between respecting someone’s faith and respecting someone’s bigotry (As noted above, there are plenty of examples of tolerant Christians, and yes, even Orthodoxes). Please learn the difference.

Posted by hippriest on 08/22/13 at 03:26 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

I agree with Primis.  If he would have said anything against the law when asked in that press conference, he very well may have been arrested on the spot.  If he tried to avoid the question, he also may have been arrested.  By saying what he said he did what he could to protect himself and his family without outright endorsing the law.  A person as famous and admired as Datsyuk could still “disappear” because he spoke out against the laws there.

Whether he agrees with the churches stance or not really is not reflected by what he said.  I know many religious people who have no problems with the LGBT community even though the church they belong to condemns it.

His personal beliefs about this issue will probably never be made public until the laws in Russia and the popular opinions change.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 08/22/13 at 03:27 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

And people do.  Take, for instance, this thread.

Still, I think your notion that bigotry practiced against a large group of people is ‘lesser’ than bigotry practiced against a smaller group of people requires a little introspective study.

Either being a bigot is wrong, or it’s not.  You don’t get to pick and choose which kinds of bigotry are cool because you agree with them.

Well, I mean you can, it just doesn’t make you a terribly convincing anti-bigotry messenger down the line.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 08/22/13 at 03:23 PM ET

I already anticipated this sophistry in my last comment.  Try again.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 03:28 PM ET

Avatar

perfectly respect other people’s religions, too, buddy. But there’s a difference between respecting someone’s faith and respecting someone’s bigotry (As noted above, there are plenty of examples of tolerant Christians, and yes, even Orthodoxes). Please learn the difference.

Posted by hippriest on 08/22/13 at 03:26 PM ET

How exactly was he being intolerant? Saying that he is a religious person? He is not running around burning down houses of gay people and not speaking out publicly against them. He simply said he is religious.

Posted by George0211 on 08/22/13 at 03:29 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I could see people jumping on Datsyuk, if he “suddenly” became religious and obviously tried to hide behind religion when asked about homosexuality. But he didn’t. ANyone who follows Red Wings knows that he is a religious person and even has religious icons in his locker.

Posted by George0211 on 08/22/13 at 03:19 PM ET

People said the same thing about George Wallace in ‘63, you know.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 03:31 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

I don’t say Datsyuk is a bigot because he’s orthodox (i.e. out of any inherent prejudice against the religion).

I say it because he’s inviting the inference that he endorses that particular church’s position with respect to these hateful laws, with which I fundamentally disagree. That position is, in my opinion, based on an inherent prejudice against gay people.

But if you still feel that makes me an anti-religious bigot, I’m happy to accept that.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 08/22/13 at 03:31 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I don’t say Datsyuk is a bigot because he’s orthodox (i.e. out of any inherent prejudice against the religion).

I say it because he’s inviting the inference that he endorses that particular church’s position with respect to these hateful laws, with which I fundamentally disagree. That position is, in my opinion, based on an inherent prejudice against gay people.

But if you still feel that makes me an anti-religious bigot, I’m happy to accept that.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Ottawa on 08/22/13 at 03:31 PM ET

Here here.  I’ll be right beside you brother.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 03:34 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

At this point, I’d usually encourage everyone to be civil, but it seems like yelling it out is what’s going to happen instead.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/22/13 at 03:36 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Datsyuk *did* have the unfortunate designation of being the first NHL’er to be asked the question. He was of course going to be burned for anything less than complete agreement with the Russian laws in Russia and anything less than complete and vocal disagreement with the Russian laws outside Russia.

What he truly believes, we’ll either find out over the course of this season, when someone coaxes it out of him (or he ends up making some sort of subtle statement regarding his real stance), if we ever find out what Datsyuk believes at all.

He was *#$%@&. In a room full of fans and journalists, one day removed from meeting Vladimir Putin, one day removed from meeting the political beast that is the Russian Hockey Federation in Sochi for a 2-day Olympic gathering, cornered in front of 50 people engaging in what ended up being two hours’ worth of long-winded questions.

He deked and caught a rut in the ice. That’s to be expected.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/22/13 at 03:40 PM ET

Primis's avatar

This honestly has very little to do with religion, people.  And that everyone is making it into one means you’re absolutely falling for Putin’s trick.

Putin’s Russia “backs” the Orthodox church because it’s a convenient way for Putin to control people.  Putin publicly talks about the “power” the Church has built, but privately he has to feel pretty comfortable with it or else he would put a stop to them.

The Church is not ever a threat to Putin’s power, so he allows it to be what it is.  Putin’s laws holding back the LGBT community are there to help him control and use as he sees fit.  If he doesn’t like what someone opposing him is saying, he can always claim they are a homosexual and then all bets and rules are off.  Maybe they even ARE a homosexual, in which case it’s a convenient point for Putin to use against them, in all cases pointing to a moral higher ground.

Russian laws are what they are to maintain Putin’s powerbase.  Anything opposing that ideal would be instantly struck down, in some cases by whatever means necessary.

Don’t be played by it though.  It’s 100% about power and politics.  Getting this into a religious argument is COMPLETELY missing the point of what is happening in Russia.

This really doesn’t extend beyond politics and power.  Nothing else exists in Putin’s world.

Posted by Primis on 08/22/13 at 03:46 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I certainly hope it doesn’t seem like I am yelling, but I am going to be firm about my feelings on this.  It’s too important an issue to equivocate for the sake of social niceties.  I respect everyone here and their right to an opinion, but that doesn’t mean I have to respect what they do with that right.  Bigotry is one issue where I’m throwing off the kid gloves every time.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 03:46 PM ET

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Bigotry is one issue where I’m throwing off the kid gloves every time.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 03:46 PM ET

Look up the definition of the word bigot, before you start throwing it around.

Posted by George0211 on 08/22/13 at 03:49 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Look up the definition of the word bigot, before you start throwing it around.

Posted by George0211 on 08/22/13 at 03:49 PM ET

I’ve said a lot here, most of which you haven’t formulated a response to.  So, if that’s the best you’ve got for me, I’m going to sleep easy tonight.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 03:59 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Pavel disappointing people sounds absurd.

Why does it *#$%@& matter? He’s an outstanding human being, a great giving member of society both in Detroit and in Yekaterinburg, possibly the best hockey player playing today, and yet him giving a non-answer to this question disappoints some.

I find that laughable and somewhat pathetic.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 08/22/13 at 04:00 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.