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An Essay in Favor of Public Shaming as a Form of Punishment

Public Shaming

The idea of public embarrassment, or shaming has been a way to inflict a lasting impact on a wrong-doer so that they may no longer enact wrong-doing again. From the Puritan days of stockades and scarlet letters, to the songs and shameful celebrity feuds today, public shaming has always seemed to be a way for others to punish those who have done something that is not socially acceptable in order to teach them a lesson. In today’s society, social media opens a new realm to public shaming. Unlike the puritans that could place someone in the stockade, public shaming is now so extremely accessible that it now poses an even bigger threat to those being humiliated. Although punishments of the early years were brutal, and sometimes extremely painful, as Early American Life Magazine notes “Whipping, stocks and pillories… were the three most common tools of corporal punishment in the colonies.” Today’s social media and celebrity feuds are extremely prevalent in society. Instead of addressing an issue to someone in private, by doing it in public somehow makes the effect of the argument stick because others are included and can voice their opinion. However, public shaming is not the best way to address an issue, in fact when mentioning the subject, Derek Caquelin- freshman at The University of Chicago “let’s be honest: emotionally it’s been rough.”Today, public shaming of the rich and famous proves to be an effective way for one side of an argument to take a stab at the other. Public shaming could be noted as more than just an attacking post on social media, but could be used in things such as magazines, the news media, and even pop culture through music and other popular means of social interaction and entertainment. In fact, a music group called AFV recently published a music video with the intent to shame JPMorgan and other big banks. The singer of the group says “My driving motivation in creating this video was to express outrage at the utter failure of the government to hold the finance industry accountable for what is clearly criminal behavior.” It has become very popular today for artists to use their art as an outlet of public shaming. I view public shaming as a delicate but effective way to shame someone into learning a lesson. It should be done wisely and thoughtfully, but its end effects may end up proving to be beneficial to the shamer, and the shamee.

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