Public shaming as legal punishment fascinates me. It’s imposed in several states, and it raises a lively debate about what qualifies as cruel and unusual. But does it work? A lot of people look at America as a shameless culture–hence, the Ugly American image–and we seem to have an endless supply of “faux shame, faux shame.” Slapped with a DUI? Say you’re sorry, go to rehab, get out and drive drunk, get another DUI, say you’re sorry again, go back to rehab. Rinse and repeat.
So does shame stick in America, whether it’s legally or culturally handed down?
The most recent news of public shaming I’ve read about comes from Everett, WA. City Councilman Ron Gipson–who I’m speculating has an axe to grind because that “p” in his name should have been a “b”–has proposed that the city enforce what he calls a “modern scarlet letter”-type punishment for people caught soliciting prostitutes. Gipson wants guilty parties to have their mugshots exhibited on local TV and the internet.
“How would they feel if their daughters were victimized on the streets?” (Gipson) said of men who exploit streetwalkers.
Humiliation, in addition to jail or fines, is just punishment, he said.
“That’s harsh? That’s reality. As the old saying goes: ‘You play, you pay.’”
This type of retribution is already in place in Denver, Fort Worth, and Chicago. So if you’re looking for a hooker in any of these towns, know that she probably won’t come cheap.
(and, yes, I’m gagging on the unintended pun)
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