SECTIONS
Thursday, January 24, 2019

Seares: Public shaming: shame on all that

"Shaming derives its power from being unspeakable."
-- Brene Brown, "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead"

SOME people were appalled when a local city mayor years ago publicly shamed business firms he disliked. They paid less taxes or didn't support some city project. He gave them "kalabasa" (squash) awards for being stingy or uncooperative.

That was tame compared with the public shaming going on here: A president announcing names of drug dealers and protectors, without disclosing charge or evidence. Legislators exposing alleged lovers of a woman senator and threatening to show a fake sex video. Or in the U.S.: a candidate for president ridiculing a Miss Universe pageant titlist for being fat and mimicking a handicapped reporter.

The people shamed are convicted in the court of public opinion, often accompanied, in the case of drug lords and coddlers, with threat to kill. Be shamed first, explain later. Or be killed, no explanation required.

The persons named are sometimes cursed at or threatened to be shot on sight. Factual errors in the dossier (a dead judge, the "wrong" Lim, "innocent" governor and board members) later made them slow down.

Apology and correction of mistaken shaming would not repair damage on individuals and families. Pain couldn't be soothed with, Oops, our bad. A character in Paula Hawkins's "The Girl on the Train" said it: "I want to drag knives on my skin just to feel something other than shame..."

Name for it

Shaming now takes forms and has a name for each specific slander: slut-shaming, fat-shaming.

And it can go ludicrous. A senator wants a colleague probed by the ethics committee for "shaming" his peers when he accused them of, guess what, shaming him and a woman senator.

Shame on all that.

(paseares@gmail.com)
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