Today marks the end of 40 years of Col. Moammar Gadhafi ‘s ruling Libya. It is well-known that Gadhafi was a tyrannical dictator and ruled the country with iron fist. Hopefully the fall of Gadhafi leads to the beginning of new times, closing a bloody fight that lasted many months.
It is interesting to think that just last summer, Beyonce, 50 Cent, Mariah Carey and Nelly Furtado had performed for members of Gadhafi’s family. Of course, the artists were paid a hefty sum of money to entertain the clan.
Then beginning of this month, celebrities were invited to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday celebration. Hillary Swank and Jean-Claude van Damme attended the lavish party drawing gobs of criticism. The Human Rights Foundation said “Ramzan Kadyrov is linked to a litany of horrific human rights abuses. Celebrities parting with him bolster his image and legitimizes a brutal leader and his regime’.
I understand the artists need to make a living entraining those who can afford to pay their fee, but is it appropriate for stars to perform for abusive leaders, linked to violations of civil liberties, killing and torturing?
What does this have to do with research ethics? To start with, since research funding is generally hard-to-find, what are the ramifications of working with funders with deep pockets? Are there ethical considerations? For example, what if a company wants to pay for us to play, but then not publish the data? At an extreme, what if Gadhafi wanted us to do research for his regime?
After bad publicity and criticism from human rights groups Mariah Carey, Beyonce and Nelly Furtado issued an apology and said they are donation the fee they received for charity. Hillary Swank also apologized for attending the bash, but when Human Rights Foundation asked what she was going to do with the money paid from the Chechnya’s leader, she didn’t give a clear answer.
Taking decisions based on ethics principles would save celebrities from embarrassment and bad publicity. We can all use ethics to guide our decisions. What do you think? Under what conditions will you take or refuse opportunities for research funding?