The Shame Show

Jul 29, 2015

From Hester Prynne’s Scarlet Letter to stockades in the town square, public shaming has deep roots in America. Today on Word of Mouth: humiliation hits the 21st century.  

At one point wanted to look at my Facebook page, and my friend who was visiting me was like, why don’t you let me look at it for you and like, read you things. And so I kinda got the sense like, oh, this is a public thing now. - Maggie Baumer

We’ll find out what happens when an unfortunate accident becomes fodder for tabloid titillation. 

That was a really traumatic, horrible thing. My family and I, my friends and I, are going through that. Dealing with the aftermath of that trauma, being in the hospital, that’s not funny. None of that is funny, none of it is humorous.

- Maggie Baumer

Also today, author Jon Ronson says we’re living in the age of public ostracism online, leaving us all tainted by the shame of others. Plus, we’ll look at how the state of Utah is using shame to combat white collar criminals.    

  

What happens when a lapse in judgment lands you in the hospital and the whole world decides to point and laugh? A former Associate Attorney tells her story of being publicly shamed.

Who needs the stockade or public shunning when we have Facebook and Twitter? Author Jon Ronson discusses his book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, and the age of public ostracism. 

In March, Utah’s legislature established the first white-collar crime offender registry in the country. The goal: to expose consumer fraudsters by publicly posting their name, offense, and photo. Sean Reyes is Attorney General for the state of Utah, and among those who spearheaded the measure.

Not so long ago, teenage humiliation was confined to school hallways, and neighborhood streets. Now, with teenagers living their lives on social media sites, the parameters and rules have changed. One online trend 16-year-old radio rookie Temitayo Fagbenle finds disturbing is something she calls "slut-shaming," or using photos and videos to turn a girl's private life inside out. 

This story came to us from WNYC’s Radio Rookies. You can listen to it again at PRX.org.

Robert D. Enright Ph.D., is a foremost authority on forgiveness. He is also founder of the International Forgiveness Institute based in Madison, Wisconsin, where he is Professor of Educational Psychology.