Shame – A Thing of the Past

photo-dictionary-shame-definitionBioethicist Daniel Callahan, in a recent editorial published in the Hastings Center Report, suggests that fat people should be shamed into losing weight.  His strategy involves “social pressure combined with vigorous government action.”

There are lots of reasons why people are fat.  I’m not about to sit in judgment of why someone is fat because I’ve struggled all my life with keeping the weight off and learning to eat “smaller portions.”  And I certainly don’t think “government action” is the key to losing weight either.

But Mr. Callahan’s notion of “shame” is an interesting one.  Whether or not it works on a fat person, I don’t know, but I would suggest we bring back the notion of “shame”- clearly absent from our culture — to either stop behavior or put people on notice that their behavior is unacceptable.

If I were Empress of the World, these are the categories of people who would be shamed.

When did it become acceptable to use profanity in public?  There was a time when I could actually turn around while waiting in line and say to someone, “watch your tongue.”    Realizing the inappropriateness of his words, the person would apologize.  In today’s world of apathetic bystanders, I’m not about to put myself into a potentially confrontational situation in public.

When did having out-of-wedlock children become fashionable?  I don’t get the whole “single mother” thing going on today.  I cringe every time I hear someone use their “single motherhood” as an excuse for something that’s wrong with their life.  First of all, are you unwed, divorced or widowed?  There’s a really big difference between the three categories.  There is no shame in being divorced or widowed but having children out of wedlock should not be glorified.  Unfortunately, with40.8% of all births being to unmarried women, it is definitely becoming the norm in this country.

What about athletes like Kobe Bryant?  Instead of being shunned by fans, his teammates and the Lakers’ management, he’s allowed to continue to make millions of dollars after the whole incident in Colorado several years ago.  He admits to extra-marital affairs and his wife sits beside him at the press conference.  They should’ve both been ashamed of themselves.  I thought his wife finally got smart when she filed for divorce, but, apparently, the divorce is off and they’ve reconciled.  Unbelievable.

This, of course, leads me to our 42nd President, Bill Clinton, and his wife, Hillary.  I continue to be astonished at how these two continue to appear in public after the humiliation the former President caused to his family.  Now, you’ll probably say, that was over ten years ago.  Who cares?  I can’t imagine how President Clinton, having disgraced not only himself, but the people’s House – the White House if anyone doesn’t realize is ourHouse, not his — as well as his wife and daughter, has the audacity to stand in public, year after year after year and continue to get the accolades – let’s not forget the millions of dollars – he receives from all over the world.  Having been so publicly humiliated by this man, I have no idea how Hillary remains married to him.

And how about the ubiquitous Kardashians?  When will these people just go away?  Kim, becoming famous because of a sex tape, was not embarrassed about it.  Instead, she monetized her behavior into a multi-million dollar empire.  She’s still married to Kris Humphries although they separated after 72 days of marriage, has taken up with Kanye West, and is now pregnant by him.  Yet, she and her sisters, brother and mother have a multi-million dollar media and retail empire for doing absolutely nothing positive for society.  They continue to be on numerous magazine covers and tabloids, the mother just got her own television show, the sisters have their own shows, one sister is hosting X-Factor (one of the reasons I stopped watching the show), the other sister has two children out-of-wedlock, and their book,Kardashian Konfidential, was on the NY Times best seller list.  Can these people be any more lurid? How is it that such bad behavior is rewarded with television and book deals generating hundreds of millions of dollars?

When did dishonor, disgrace, guilt, embarrassment, and unworthiness cease being an important part of our culture?  Today, it seems the worse someone behaves, the greater the reward.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
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  • chief98110

    Shame is just a part of the formula for a responsible and successful
    society. The other part of the equation is accountability. These are the
    things that liberals want to erase from society so that all people can
    live guilt free in their idea of Utopia. Yeah, that’s what the Roman
    Empire thought!

  • Richard Brandlon

    Shame? An indicted millionaire accused of hacking the phones of parents after their child was kidnapped now the boss of a major news network? Shame? A vice-president of the United States urging war after ducking the draft five times? Shame? Bankers who p[reside over huge losses getting miillion-dollar golden parachutes? Who on earth has time for shame when money is involved?

  • RickonhisHarleyJohnson

    When our children were growing up, we always told them their behavior reflected on our two families. And – we held them to that standard. Don’t think that happens too much in today’s culture; and that is the real shame.

  • Roger Ward

    I don’t believe people should be shamed because or their weight …. but all of the other examples you gave are worthy of feeling shame. People don’t have room for shame because they are so taken up with “feeling good about themselves.” As feelings of self-esteem increase, the capacity for feeling shame decreases …. another canard developed and espoused by the liberal left. They believe that if people felt good about themselves, they would magically become good people. Wrong!
    People become good people by understanding that they have an obligation to their neighbor: an obligation not to burden their neighbors with the support of illegitimate children, an obligation to avoid profanity in public, an obligation to be a good example to others, an obligation to avoid scandalous behavior, an obligation to honor standards of decency in all matters, public and private …. and so on.
    We don’t need more people who have high levels of self-esteem (the jails are full of them) and we don’t need more narcissists …. we need more people who understand that they are a part of a larger society and that they have obligations to that society that trump their own selfish and delusional views.

  • DOOM161

    Unwed motherhood started around the time that radical feminism kicked in, and women decided that they didn’t need men, only sperm donors.

    The kardashians will go away when people stop paying attention to them. That will unfortunately be a long time in the future.