ENGL 1020, CRN 20527
Revised Critique of “Shame Is Worth a Try”
1 Feb. 2010
Revised Critique of “Shame Is Worth a Try” by Dan M. Kahan
Dan M. Kahan argues in his article “Shame Is Worth a Try” that people who understand the potential of shaming know that it is “cheap, efficient, and an appropriate alternative to short jail sentences” (571).
Any crime that is committed must have a punishment linked to it to avoid a repeat of the offense. Serious crimes, for example, those that involve a murder obviously need the jail sentence that comes along with them. Nonviolent crimes, such as theft or littering could receive cheap and personal punishments with the implementation of shaming.
Those against shaming are mostly those that view it as a worse and demeaning punishment compared to imprisonment. They would typically support a punishment that would seem more discrete to those the offender knows but shaming is a more personal punishment. Instead of a short sentence in custody, the offender would be required to announce their crime to the public in some manner.
Shaming in some cases “doesn’t seem to hurt as much as imprisonment” (573); imprisonment not only makes the offender feel the shame of the crime they committed, but it also takes away their ability to continue supporting their family. Living in a prison cell won’t allow the offender to continue on in their life. With a jail sentence, a criminal must change their entire life. They must find someone willing to pay their bills, and take care of their children while they are locked up. This not only hurts the offender but it makes it very difficult to continue their life afterwards.
Shaming, like any other punishment, is just as susceptible to overuse in some cases. Using shaming in a way that is outrageous as in public flogging or putting an offender in stocks does not help the offender at all. This only hurts the individual and does not provide any shame for the crime. Also, using shaming...
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