The value of shame

Despite the complaining you see about “shaming” on various websites, shame is a good thing and we should embrace it. Shame is our conscience, that still small voice that tells us when we are doing something wrong. We should listen to that voice instead of attacking those who rebuke us for bad behavior.

This is also why we should not go out of our way to deny that “shaming” is happening. One example from Matt Walsh is this tweet: Not everything is “shaming.” Another example is this headline: You aren’t being ‘shamed’ just because we expect you to be a civilized adult.

To be fair, Walsh believes (as I do) that shame is a good thing. In fact, he defends shame in the column cited above. But denying that something is “shaming” actually plays into our snowflake culture’s claims that shaming is bad. We need to be careful to not give this wrong-headed mentality any compromise whatsoever.

In fact, all of the people who decry “shaming” the loudest are guilty of shaming themselves. Why? Because they are trying to shame those who are guilty of shaming, with the goal of making them stop shaming. Complaining about shaming and criticizing those who engage in shaming are always examples of hypocrisy.

Now, obviously, there are things that should not be shamed. Things that are not immoral, unethical, rude, inconsiderate or in other way examples of bad behavior and are not under someone’s control should not be subject to shaming. I am sure that we could all come up with many examples. But in those cases, the problem is not shaming, but that the wrong things are being shamed.

We should not be afraid of shaming. Instead, we should embrace it both as a way to restrain our own behavior and as a good tool to restrain society at large.

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