Is the ban on tainted stars jus­ti­fied?

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

With the Spring Fes­ti­val round the cor­ner, HaWen, direc­tor of the Spring Fes­ti­val gala tele­cast by China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion, has said celebri­ties who have vi­o­lated the la­wor moral and so­cial val­ues have been banned from tak­ing part in the an­nual show. Ear­lier, the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Press, Pub­li­ca­tion, Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion had said that celebri­ties who have bro­ken the law­should not be in­vited to ap­pear in TV pro­grams. Be­sides, the Bei­jing Trade As­so­ci­a­tion for Per­for­mances has signed an agree­ment with 42 agen­cies not to hire or in­vite celebri­ties who have been booked for drug abuse to per­form in any pro­gram.

Th­ese are bad news for tainted celebri­ties whose ca­reer re­lies on public ex­po­sure. But by be­ing pro­hib­ited from ap­pear­ing on any pro­grams are such celebri­ties be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against in terms of “em­ploy­ment”?

Some say keep­ing them away from pro­grams is the right thing to do to keep the in­dus­try clean and healthy be­cause celebri­ties in­volved in drug or sex scan­dals have had a neg­a­tive im­pact on so­ci­ety, par­tic­u­larly the youth. Be­sides, the pro­gram pro­duc­ers are free to de­cide who they want to work with.

But some lawyers claim that ban­ning tainted stars from tak­ing part in TV pro­duc­tions and films is ex­tra-ju­di­cial pun­ish­ment af­ter they have paid the fines and served time in pri­son for their deeds. This also could con­sti­tute dis­crim­i­na­tion in em­ploy­ment ac­cord­ing to the Anti-Drug Law, La­bor Lawand Em­ploy­ment Pro­mo­tion Law, be­cause th­ese laws pro­claim equal em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and pro­hibit any dis­crim­i­na­tion against peo­ple who have com­mit­ted an of­fense and have been pun­ished ac­cord­ing to the law­for it.

Peo­ple guilty of com­mit­ting an of­fense are en­ti­tled to get a sec­ond chance to live a nor­mal life in ac­cor­dance with the spirit of hu­man rights. Lawen­force­ment is not just about cold and ruth­less pun­ish­ment but also about rec­ti­fi­ca­tion. There­fore, the laws stip­u­late that once a per­son has been pun­ished for vi­o­lat­ing the law, he/she should not be dis­crim­i­nated against in any field of life, whether it is ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment or so­cial se­cu­rity. It is thus im­por­tant that peo­ple un­der­stand the role of tol­er­ance in build­ing a har­mo­nious world.

Ac­cord­ing to the prin­ci­ple of fair treat­ment, peo­ple should be judged only on their mer­its. A po­ten­tial em­ployer should se­lect can­di­dates only on the ba­sis of their skills and ex­pe­ri­ence, with­out judg­ing them on their mis­deeds if they have atoned for them. Ob­vi­ously, a per­son’s “im­age” does not af­fect his/her abil­ity to per­form ex­cel­lently at a job.

But even if it is not fair to ban tainted celebri­ties from tak­ing part in shows, let’s not rush to con­clu­sions.

First, there are no rights with­out lim­i­ta­tions. Some pro­fes­sion­als who vi­o­late the lawhave to be banned from public life. For ex­am­ple, stock traders guilty of in­side trad­ing do not de­serve a sec­ond chance and ath­letes who take drugs should be banned from com­pe­ti­tions, be­cause their ac­tions se­ri­ously vi­o­late ba­sic pro­fes­sional ethics.

But be­cause of the lack of uni­ver­sally ac­cepted pro­fes­sional ethics for ac­tors, film and TV pro­gram di­rec­tors, and other artists as­so­ci­ated with the per­form­ing arts, there still ex­ists a large gray area for dis­cus­sion.

Sec­ond, given that the value of celebri­ties who have a neg­a­tive public im­age is sub­stan­tially re­duced, it is un­der­stand­able that agen­cies will think more than twice be­fore invit­ing them to per­form in the pro­grams be­cause of co­stand-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis. In ad­di­tion, a num­ber of celebri­ties are in­di­vid­ual con­trac­tors, not typ­i­cal em­ploy­ees ac­cord­ing to the La­bor Law. An in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tor is a busi­ness en­tity that en­joys the same legal sta­tus as any show­biz com­pany or agency. By this to­ken, both par­ties have lib­erty to choose to work with who­ever they think suits their needs and busi­ness.

It is thus hard to de­ter­mine whether ban­ning tainted celebri­ties from tak­ing part in shows con­sti­tutes em­ploy­ment dis­crim­i­na­tion. Each case should be judged on its merit and ac­cord­ing to the facts and ev­i­dence re­lated to it. The au­thor is a fel­low with the re­search of­fice of Shunyi dis­trict peo­ple’s court in Bei­jing.

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