On Shame and Elections

I had some things to say about shame while driving down to Skepticon. I did manage to save them until we switched drivers, at least, but then Twitter got an earful. Enough people shared the thread there that I’ll collect the whole thing here.

Some people may use a different word for this. I tend to consider that the kind of language drift that happens when we declare a concept unacceptable. I’m sticking with “shame” just like I stick with “privilege”.

This is why we make rules in situations where shame is already a complicated thing, as we do with sexual harassment. But rules and laws about who people vote for or otherwise support politically mean our political system would become exactly what we’re trying to avoid. Different tools for different situations.

On Shame and Elections

4 thoughts on “On Shame and Elections

  1. 1

    This is a great explanation of shame. So refreshing after hearing a now ex-friend whinge about how wrong it is to shame his favorite celebrities for bigoted behavior because it was mean and hurt feelings (because the harm they caused anyone else didn’t matter). He seriously felt fucking Paula Deen didn’t deserve shame for being a racist. So glad that guy’s out of my life now. I also saw a book recently that seemed to be saying we shouldn’t be so quick to shame people for doing wrong (or possibly it’s just about how shame works today, but I can imagine most of its readers would interpret it as anti-shaming if that’s the case).

    I so rarely see anyone so shamed apologize sincerely, which tends to end the shame. I know a lot of people feel like they’ve done nothing wrong and resist apologizing though; a lot of left-leading assholes like to think themselves perfectly enlightened on issues and can’t conceive that there’s always more to learn and improve.

  2. 2

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you very much.

    Although along with seeing the same resistance to shame that Fujimoto describes, I also see something like its inverse, where people get so overwhelmed by even the slightest amount of shame that they really do think that they’ve done irreparable harm and are now irredeemable and will be banished from their communities forever. And its an irrational belief for the most part, but that doesn’t stop it from paralyzing people into total inaction or from dealing with it by totally avoiding dealing with difficult or complex issues. And I struggle with knowing how to react to that (both when I see it and when I personally do it).

  3. 3

    Say you are that miraculous unicorn not racist not misogynist Trump voter who didn’t anticipate the things that happened as a result: shame should be the least you should be feeling for the result of your action.
    But if you’Re that proud MAGA Trump voter, how could I shame you?

    Now, shame is a powerful tool and it must be wielded carefully. It is a tool of conformity. That is why, yes, you need to be careful about it. But honestly, I’m sick and tired of the “don’t judge, don’t condemn, don’t use mean words” brigade.

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