Bioethicist 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.
Copyright © 2013 BernardGoldberg.com