Have we no shame left?

March 6, 2023 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism.

If you pay attention to these things, you hear a lot these days about “public shaming,” and its subsidiary concept, “body shaming.” These two activities are generally thought to be bad, if not evil. I would agree. Holding people up to public ridicule is, on the whole, not a productive activity in my view.

Running counter to all of this, however, seems to be a marked lack of shame by many people in public life. Not too long ago, a politician who got caught in a lie would experience public remorse, if not the end of his or her career. Today, a congenital liar continues to lie and never apologize or acknowledge the lies. Someone who commits outrageous acts in front of millions of people can not only exhibit a notable lack of shame, but that person is actually rewarded with increased attention from the mass media.

So, where does that leave those of us who consider ourselves naïve keepers of the values we learned as children. One of the basic principles that was repeated to me often when I was a child and did something wrong was, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” (I usually was.)

I am certainly against “public shaming,” but I also can’t help feeling that there is not enough shame in our public lives. I’m still trying to sort all this out.

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