ON PUBLIC SHAMING

struggle session

^^ the public shaming of Minneapolis Mayor Frey : a sad moment in our nation’s political history

—- —- —- —-

Of all the moves made by moralists throughout human history, I can’t think of one more destructive, more lethal even, than the public shaming of one person by another or others.

Did not Jesus of Nazareth say, in a book we almost all read, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone. judge not lest ye be judged” ?

How do we get from Jesus’s teaching to the scene in Minneapolis recently where that City’s Mayor was made to walk, with his head down, through a crowd berating him ? One commentator on twitter called it “Frey’s struggle session,” referring to the sort of public shaming – apology ritual that Maoist China went through during the 1960s “cultural revolution.”

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the past week’s “peaceful protests” (if crowds hurling obscenities, chanting slogans one is not allowed to dispute, and throwing spit, water, bottles and bricks at police can be termed “peaceful”) has been the moral bullying. Who appointed them judges of people ? Did you appoint them ? Did you ? Or you ? Certainly I didn’t.

Soviet Russia under Josef Stalin made public shaming its go-to method of opinion control. During the “:Purges,” 1934-39, thousands were hounded from their jobs and homes, arrested, forced to confess to being what they were not, were shamed, tried, and exiled, sent to labor camps, or killed. People hurried to accuse one another of all manner of “anti-Soviet activity, ‘ whatever that was. There was a frenzy of it. Granted that Stalin’s purges were an extreme example, but it’s by the extremes that we diagnose the disease : people whop know they are morally better than other people and arrogate a right to impose their better upon the less good. For make no mistake : what happened in Stalin’s purges was not politics, it was morals, morality weaponized for political purposes.

It could not have happened in a nation of skeptics.

America’s blessing is that its political system is grounded in skepticism. We are suspicious of panaceas and of demagogues who tout them., Our Constitution erects all manner of shields to impose our skepticism upon the true believer.

Equally, universal adult suffrage is an enormous safeguard : for the morally bullied has just as much a vote as his bullyer. One vote each.

If you publicly shame someone who has any sort of self-esteem, you create an enemy for life. And he will vote. He will crawl over glass to vote against you. Is that what you want ?

In America, reform is built upon consensus. You will impose your will upon those who disagree, by force or by sham,in g or whatever device works, but as the saying goes, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” And in our universal suffrage democracy, he will vote — will crawl over glass to vote, and, through any representatives he can elect, work to undo the imposed reform. We see it often in our nation’;s history.

Consensus reform, however, works because everyone buys into it. There is no anti constituency left by the wayside to renew a fight.

It amazes me that moralist politicals do not see this point.

—-Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere