Pianist is detained for misdemeanor, but society should give him a face-saving chance
Published: Oct 23, 2021 03:23 PM
Li Yundi Photo:IC

Li Yundi Photo:IC

Chinese renowned pianist Li Yundi was detained for soliciting a prostitute a few days ago in Beijing. He is eating the bitter fruit of his own making. He is a celebrity, and it's logical that his movements have been revealed to the public which has become an online sensation. 

There have been a lot of discussion and criticisms on the internet over his misdeed, and this is just the reality of what internet is like. After the news broke out, the China Performance Industry Association immediately issued an announcement of boycotting Li, citing his indifference to law and lack of moral self-discipline. This is a correct response. 

But putting all things together, I felt some aspects of the public response were a little bit inappropriate. Li was placed under administrative detention for soliciting a prostitute. But what happened later seems to be that he was "paraded" in the cyberspace through the digital town square. Some netizens criticized him, expressing regret for his "misstep", while many others spat at him. 

Some media outlets reported Li's case in a serious way as if he committed a felony. Relevant industry associations have rushed to distance themselves from him. Now, many on the internet begin to ask themselves: Is this too much? 

Li undoubtedly did the wrong thing and violated laws. He is a celebrity, and it's inevitable that he would pay a higher price for his fame. If stars are not self-disciplined, they will have to bear the risk that the more popular and famous they are, the heavier price they will pay after a tumble. 

But, unlike Kris Wu who was charged with rape earlier, Li's illegal actions are relatively less harmful to the society. Everyone has the right to reprimand Li, but meanwhile, all the reactions, if combined together, should be proportional and in line with societal standards.

Our society needs a clear direction, with clear-cut rules and adherence to commonly agreed upon standards. But at the same time, there must be sufficient internal room that not only allows for correctness and justice, seriousness and strictness, but also kindness and patience to encourage and save people. 

I hope our internet culture can be clear about what to love or hate, punishing the evil and praising the good. It also needs to display the diversity of morality, avoiding going too far in any direction. 

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. Opinion@globaltimes.com.cn