Well, here is a dilemma faced by people in the arts, music, sport and various other popular or classical culture vocations.
Where do you perform and where do you refuse to perform if you are allowing integrity to lead your calendar?
Sting (Gordon Sumner) has just canceled a performance in Kazakhstan in a show of solidarity with the striking oil and gas workers apparently. How very noble and how very helpful of Amnesty International to raise the matter for his consideration.
One can only wonder why he played Uzbekistan, a nation renowned in recent history for boiling governmental protesters alive. The answer one can only suppose is the £1 or £2 million for the gig in Uzbekistan creates something of a moral dilemma in itself. Just how do you find the integrity which shows solidarity with Kazakh strikers, hidden amongst all those bank notes blinding you to boiled opposition in Uzbekistan?
He is soon to play in Russia, another nation known for its liberal attitude towards a free press and outstanding human rights record as ably demonstrated in cases such as Khordokovsky. No ideological or integrity problems here? What about Ukraine? Accusations of political persecution active and on-going when he performs here, accusations of media interference, numerous in-actioned ECHR rulings dating back to the previous government, discounting any accrued under the present one etc. Called it off? – No he plays here in a few days time in Kyiv.
There is no reason why he shouldn’t play in any of these nations of course. He is a performer. However having now complicated matters with politics in a specific instance, he has set a precedent whereby he will continually be hoisted by his own petard.
The UK is currently out due to strike actions by the unions, so it is no different than the Kazakh situation at its essence when it comes to solidarity, the USA would be out for similar striking solidarity reasons, as well as some serious international and UN voiced concerns over the US’ own human rights record. The list of nations he could not play due to his decision to show solidarity with strikers is quite large and if he is listening to Amnesty International, when it comes to human rights, he would only be able to play in his bedroom!
His own actions and statements have left him in a rather untenable position having canceled and publicly commented upon the reasons for the cancellation in Kazakhstan. That is not to mention a rather duplicitous and hypocritical position having already played Uzbekistan given its rather brutal and grotesque current regime.
Everyone has a right to voice their political views, however, given the catalog of celebrities who have fallen foul of publicly entering the political realm only to be roundly castrated for lack of consistency, you wonder why they continue to fall in the same trap time and time again.
All of that said, the vast majority going to watch Sting really don’t care what his politics, inconsistent or not, are. They are there to see and hear a quality performance from an international star and that, no doubt, is what they will get.