(old enough to win a gold medal, too young to marry Timmy Von Trimble)

You wouldn’t know it by watching NBC, but there are tons of protesters in China at this very moment. Only some of them are out there protesting the weird Nastia Liukin-is-somehow-second-despite-tying-for-first moment from yesterday’s women’s uneven bars final — yeah, I watched it, with a girlfriend who would surely risk her freedom in a street protest alongside NBC’s magnificent Al Hrabosky impersonator Bela Karolyi to let everyone know how bullshit she thought that ruling was. Also, yeah, I just linked to Jezebel back there — still your most trusted source for sports news in the Gawker family of blogs.

Obviously, despite some of China’s obvious sports-related birthday-fudging and general faint sense of scummery, there are things to protest in China beyond gymnastics. The Washington Post‘s Jill Drew has an interesting look at how those protests — ranging from the country’s free speech restrictions to its penchant for forced abortions to its ongoing stomp-out of Tibet — are being met by the Chinese authorities. It involves deportation. Also Kentucky Fried Chicken.

[Evangelical Christian protester Rev. Patrick] Mahoney and the others were being subjected to a classic good-cop, bad-cop interrogation routine, in this case augmented with official Chinese photographers. With the good cop in charge, out came the cameras, recording everything. When the bad cop came in, no shutters clicked.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh, my goodness. I can see it now. The Chinese, accused of harsh and brutal tactics against human rights protesters, show that they serve KFC and tea to their prisoners.’ They wanted to document our treatment,” Mahoney said in a telephone interview after he returned to Washington this week, the Chinese visa in his passport stamped with red ink: Expelled, Aug. 7, 2008.

Before the Olympic Games opened, Chinese leaders publicly exhorted their 100,000-plus security team in Beijing to guard against public demonstrations that could mar China’s international image.

…The Olympics have long been seen by protesters as an opportunity to air their grievances against host countries. Many host countries, in turn, have tried to contain demonstrations by setting aside special protest zones, as China has done. But in Beijing, there have been no reports of anyone using the “protest pens,” and some Chinese who have tried to obtain permits to do so have been detained.

Maybe read that last clause again. I know David Stern wants a NBA-backed league over there and everyone is dying to do business with them and all, but the Chinese government is basically the 92 Dream Team of Being Awful. I think Karl Malone would actually fit in well with both. That’s how bad I think China’s government is.