Shaming

“The public has neither shame nor gratitude.” -William Hazlitt

This piece written by Robin Beres, starts out with a cute anecdote about high school chemistry class and saying the word “shit.” Apparently, the young girl in the story dropped a beaker and the “S bomb” and was thoroughly chastised by the nun at her Catholic school. The girl was profoundly moved by this experienced and never cursed again.

Or not.

From the article:

“I wish it could be said that she never cursed again (she did after all, spend a career in the Navy), but I can assure you she never did so anywhere near a member of the clergy.”

Well then, not saying it in front of clergy makes it all better. That’s gonna give you a really strong leg to stand on for the rest of this article.

The author goes on to describe the need for more shame in our society because some politicians cheated on their wives and Lindsey Lohan is a whore. The author’s politician examples are Mark Sanford and Eliot Spitzer.

The author ends her piece,

“Since we don’t have the great number of good sisters around anymore to chastise our bad behavior, perhaps it is up to us to start acting like grown-ups and demand better behavior from our politicians, our celebrities, and even ourselves.”

I bring up the ending because I’m not sure what more the author wants in terms of “chastising.” Spitzer was forced to resign, effectively killing his political career. Sanford was censured and made a mockery of, also effectively killing his political career. How much more shame do you want, lady?

I wouldn’t call Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan glorified by the media, as the author does. I remember Britney Spear’s shaved head all over magazines, frequent accusations of eating disorders and drug addiction thrown at Lindsay Lohan, and who can forget the Paris Hilton sex tape.

Then the author starts to complain that a colleague lost her job, but has since realized that she’s better off financially, between unemployment and saving on childcare. She asks what would happen if we all went on unemployment.

Well, we can’t. You can’t quit and get unemployment. And you can’t get fired. You have to get laid off. And unemployment only lasts for a certain period of time. And unless you have kids in day care and you’re not making much money to begin with, you’re not going to win financially. Your colleague lost her job. A job that wasn’t paying more her much more than she was paying in childcare. And you want her to feel ashamed?

The author doesn’t want us to go overboard. She suggests,

“Perhaps a little old-fashioned shame could serve us well. This is not to advocate a return to the harsh judgments of yesteryear. No one wants to see someone tarred and feathered for making poor choices or behaving badly — but perhaps just a wee touch of accountability could have some positive effects.”

Political careers are ruined, magazines are posting drunken crotch shots of celebrities, how much more shame do you want?

It isn’t shame that the author wants. It is her own specific brand of punishment she wants to inflict on the people she deems “behaving shamefully.”

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