Remember Cersei’s Walk of Shame? We should do that more.

I think we need to rethink our use of Shame in modern society. We can all agree that shaming someone on their physical appearance is absolutely wrong, as is shaming on the basis of economic status, or education, or ethnic origin. Slut-shaming is also wrong, first because a person’s sex life is no one else’s business and second because only women are slut shamed for their number of partners while men are made heroes for the same or greater numbers.

Unfortunately, while we’ve been so busy fat shaming, body shaming, poverty shaming, slut shaming etc, we’ve neglected all the things people should actually be ashamed of. Here’s some things we should be making people feel bad about.

Lie-Shaming: So often people, including me, don’t call out the lies they are told. I note the lie, alter my assessment of the person, and move on. I think many of us do the same, looking to avoid confrontation, not wanting to cause a fuss. When you call out the lie, you are often met with an offended “How DARE you call me a liar!” Suddenly you’re the bad guy. When I know how a confrontation is going to go, I will avoid it, and all the emotional stress and distress that go with it.

Even so, calling out the lie is important, because other people might believe it. Last week, MP Dawn Butler called Boris Johnson a liar and was ejected from parliament for ‘Unparliamentary language.’ Not that what she said was wrong, just that she wasn’t allowed to say it in the House of Commons. I think that sums up one of the major problems with modern discourse. You can be as dishonest as you like, just do it politely. Blunt honesty is rude.

Feigned-Ignorance Shaming: Recently, Jacob Rees-Mogg had to apologise for his use of the term ‘Yellow Peril’ when speaking in the Commons. (Note that he was not ejected for his use of an extremely racist term). He later apologised, saying he did not understand the origins and meaning of the expression. Jacob Rees-Mogg is many things: elitist, entitled, classist, racist, snobbish, etc, the list goes on. One thing he is not, is Stupid. He knew the meaning of ‘Yellow Peril.’ He just didn’t care. He wasn’t being deliberately provocative or offensive, he was doing it carelessly, because he cares so little for the opinion of the people he offends. And he should be made to feel shame about that.

Feigned ignorance is also evident in so many US politicians. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are genuinely dumb, and really believe the things they say, usually about masks, the virus and the vaccines. I would call this Chosen Ignorance. What they are saying is wrong, but at least they believe it. Then there are people like Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. He was educated at top universities. He got a First Class law degree from Oxford University. So when he goes on TV deliberately misinterpreting Critical Race Theory, or pushing restrictive voting laws in the name of election security, using his good-old-boy southern drawl to make him a man of the people, it is insidious and calculated. Feigned Ignorance is dangerous, because they have an agenda, and they count on people being too polite to call them out.

Chosen Ignorance is also a problem, and technically should be shamed, but the people involved are generally too ignorant to be ashamed about it. You end up trying to argue with a brick wall.

There are so many bad behaviours in society these days. Always have been, always will be. I’m prepared to come with my personal faults in my own way, as each of us should. However, when your acts negatively affect other people, whether emotionally, psychologically, economically or physically, that’s when the shame should kick in. And if you don’t feel it on your own, be prepared for someone to point it out.

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