Shame or being shamed is not something new to registrants or their families. Whether it’s personal feelings of shame or feelings of shame bestowed upon them by others, it’s a hurt that stays with each of us.
Perhaps that’s why it’s so disturbing to see the increase in “mask-shaming” when we turn on the news.
In the past few days, the events at a coffee shop and a retail grocer have garnered the public’s attention. People being publicly shamed and videoed for not wearing masks in stores during the pandemic and then those videos making the rounds on multiple TV networks.
With so many of us sheltering in place, our children are at home, viewing more TV and internet than ever.
Are we teaching our children that’s it’s acceptable, news worthy and even in one instance, monetarily rewarding, to publicly shame others?
Registrants and their families are unfortunately all too familiar with public shaming. Public shaming is one of the detrimental consequences of a not-so-well-thought-out public registry. Not only are those on it shamed, but their families, their children, are often shamed as well and not only by grown-ups, but also by other children. The negative effects of shame can last a lifetime.
Halloween has become a public shaming event. Registrants homes are often targeted and vandalized, police in some communities’ place unwarranted signage in front of registrant’s homes, there are registrant-round-ups and curfews with much media attention. As a society, we’ve allowed, even encouraged this kind of public shaming to go on for centuries, always under the guise of “public safety”.
Our country’s history is marked with society sanctioned public shaming from scarlet letters to public stocks and dunking’s. Our society has encouraged the proliferation of public shaming and its always justified by being “in the name of public safety”.
Those doing the “mask-shaming” today claim to be doing it in the name of “public safety”.
“Shaming” has never made anyone safer. Educating the public makes people safer. Those on the registry and those advocating for registrants know that educating the public is a slow process at best and even when they are provided solid, proven, scientific facts, not everyone is willing to accept or process new information.
In the meantime, our children, the next generation, are watching us, the people they look up to, the people who are supposed to know right from wrong, shame each other on TV. Instead of teaching our children that we’ve learned from the past, from our country’s poor history of public shaming, we’re demonstrating to them that public shaming is acceptable, the way to force people to conform.
If we are to change the world, we must speak up, we must educate and we must teach by example.
Shaming others is never acceptable behavior, whether it’s aimed at those not wearing masks, those on the registry or anyone else. It’s just plain wrong.