The Shame of Public Shaming

Justice suffers when judges mete out viral punishments.

In America, our justice system is designed to be slow, methodical, a little boring. This is especially true in the sentencing phase. Even-tempered bureaucrats in bland black uniforms consult elaborately detailed guidelines to ensure that punishment is applied in consistent fashion across similar cases.

Occasionally, though, our black-clad functionaries break out of the mold. In November 2012, for example, Cleveland Municipal Judge Pinkey Carr compelled a 32-year-old woman to stand on a street corner for two hours, holding a hastily scribbled sign that said “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a schoolbus.”

The case received tremendous media attention, and apparently Judge Carr was pleased enough with the results to make public shaming a standard part of her repertoire. In March 2013, she sentenced a 58-year-old man who had called 911 and threatened to kill police officers to 90 days in jail, plus a hefty chaser of humiliation. This offender, Carr ruled, would be required to stand outside Cleveland’s Second District Police Department building for one week, three hours each day, holding a sign that reads “I was being an idiot and it will never happen again.”

Carr’s sentencing sentiments are not an anomaly. These days, public shaming is our favorite brand of small-batch artisanal justice. Evoking the authentic no-nonsense morality of our Puritan forebears, while also seeming quirky and novel, creative punishment is what today’s most discerning consumers of hand-crafted, state-sanctioned vengeance demand.

Last year, the National Institute of Justice released a report showing that in 59 percent of the 826 cities included in its study, police departments, local media outlets, and other parties publicize the identities of prostitution clients, often before they’ve been convicted of a crime. In Arlington, Texas, the preferred delivery system for disgrace is a highway billboard. In Fresno, California, the police department maintains a webpage it calls “Operation Reveal,” where it posts photos of individuals who’ve been arrested on prostitution-related charges.

In Ohio, if you’re convicted of drunk driving, you may be required to place a bright yellow license plate on your car. In January 2013, Montana legislators introduced a bill that would mandate orange plates for people with a DUI conviction. “Those in favor of the bill say people with DUI’s need to be put on display so they can be embarrassed by their crime,” a local ABC affiliate, KFBB, reported on its newscast.

The public, too, loves public shaming. Landlords take to Craigslist to complain about tenants who haven’t paid rent. Outraged deliverymen post photographs of miserly tippers on their Tumblr sites. Jilted maître d’s tweet the names of customers who bailed on their reservations. Frustrated pug owners humiliate serial carpet-poopers at dogshaming.com.

In 1979, when New York City Mayor Ed Koch ordered radio station WNYC, then owned by the city, to broadcast the names of nine men convicted of soliciting prostitutes, an unsigned New York Times editorial described his actions as a “mighty misuse of government power.” In another article, Times columnist William Safire dubbed Koch the “Mayatollah,” and chastised him for “reaching back three centuries” to dredge up this archaic tactic.

But what struck the chattering classes of 1979 as astonishingly regressive seems strikingly commonplace in 2013. As connoisseurs of Malibu mug shots can attest, ceremonial humiliation via electronic media now stands as a widely practiced antidote to celebrity-style above-it-all transgression. Public shaming also takes the most coveted value of our age—publicity—and turns it on its head. Any form of publicity so unpleasant that it qualifies as punishment must be severe indeed, worse even than jail time, house arrest, fines, or community service.

Koch’s regressive “John Hour” was only slightly ahead of its time. Though it lasted just one episode, and that episode undersold its title by about 58 minutes, the ensuing years produced new green shoots of humiliation across the country.

In 1983, a judge in Fort Bend County, Texas, had 250 red, white, and blue bumper stickers printed up to identify people on probation for driving while intoxicated. By 1985, he’d gone through approximately a third of his supply and judges in Oklahoma and Florida had adopted the practice as well.

 In 1984, a judge in Tennessee offered a car thief a chance to avoid incarceration by publicizing his crime for 30 days via a 5'x4' sign posted in his front yard. In 1986, prosecutors in Lincoln County, Oregon, offered plea bargains to nonviolent offenders if they paid for an ad in a local newspaper featuring their mug shot and an apology. “It’s somewhat reminiscent, I suppose, of the public stockade, where you were publicly put on display for your indiscretion,” a Lincoln County district attorney told a UPI reporter. The intent, the reporter elaborated, was to “bring embarrassment or fear to criminals.”

Lincoln County started its public shaming program in part because of a shortage of jail space—it needed a cheaper way to deal with criminals than incarcerating them. In addition to being economical, public shaming is, in many practical ways, a less severe and disruptive form of punishment than being locked up for a given period of time, and thus potentially a good alternative for less serious crimes, especially for first offenders.

But public shaming these days is obviously different than it was in the 1600s, or even the trailblazing 1980s. In an essay that appeared in the Spring 1996 issue of the University of Chicago Law Review, the legal scholar Dan Kahan explained how public shaming in early America began to fall out of favor in part because America was becoming more populous and impersonal. “In a society of strangers,” Kahan wrote, “the bare deprivation of status no longer resonated as a symbol of the community’s moral disapproval.”

In a post-1996 society of highly connected social networks and online forums, community moral disapproval is one of the world’s most abundant resources. But it’s also unpredictable.

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  • Harvard||

    Shaming has it's limts. The reelection success of incumbent politicians is what, 80%??

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Shame is nothing to be proud of.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Tautological phrase is tautological.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "It could be long...or it could be short...,but either way it was fixed. Punishments were assigned, executed, and then they were over."

    The best, biggest, most egregious form of public humiliation is public conviction records.

    I understand public records are public for a reason--and we have a right to a public trial. But we can waive our other rights--to a speedy trial or to a trial by jury, for instance. Why shouldn't we be free to waive the public nature of our trial, as well?

    If you get a felony conviction when you're twenty-something, why should the government go to the extra effort of making sure your conviction history is accessible--for the rest of your life--to anyone that might want to hire you?

    Want to talk about recidivism rates? I've read that seven out of ten prisoners in California return to jail within three years. Not having a reasonable shot at a good job must be contributing to that...

    Other than it scratching our puritan itch to publicly shame people, what's the upside of making it extremely difficult for so many convicted felons to get a good job for the rest of their lives?

  • Rrabbit||

    Trials should not be entertainment events for the masses. However, the first amendment also must be taken into account - the government cannot and should not order the press to not report about certain events.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It doesn't have to be open to the public.

    Just like you can waive your right to a jury trial and have your guilt or innocence decided by a judge.

    If you can waive your right to a jury trial, you should be able to waive your right to a public trial--if you choose to do so.

    I am sure a lot of defense lawyers would advise their clients to waive their right to a public trial if they could.

  • Ken Shultz||

    This was the second hit I got on Google:

    http://www.co.somerset.pa.us/f.....ytrial.pdf

  • Hash Brown||

    Still, there's a public interest in knowing what happens in trials. How else can we tell whether judges are being consistent and unbiased? E.g., why did X get 20 years, while Y only got community service? How can I prepare for my trial before Judge Jingles if I have no access to transcripts of prior trials and rulings by him?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Still, there's a public interest in knowing what happens in trials."

    There's a public interest in knowing everything that happens everywhere at all times.

    Our criminal court system was (and should be) set up to protect the rights of accused criminals.

    There's a public interest in forcing defendants to take the stand and testify against themselves, but since we make the rights of the accused such a high priority, we say that defendants have a right not to be forced to testify against themselves.

    They can waive that right! They can take the stand if they want to. And this is no different.

  • Hash Brown||

    How do you respond to the point that Suthenboy makes below, which I also made?

  • ||

    I havent thought about this much Ken, but it does occur to me that if trials and other activities of the court were not public and open to scrutiny then all kinds of shenanigans would take place.

    The public nature of the CJ system is for the protection of more than just the defendant. Not letting those fuckers operate in secret protects us all.

    *Fuck FISA.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm not saying there won't be any downsides, but letting people waive their right to a jury trial has its downsides, too.

    I'm not much of a utilitarian. I certainly don't think people's rights only exist insofar as they're a net benefit to the rest of society.

    But it seems to me that there's a steep price we're paying for making it so difficult for convicted felons to live well--once they've served their sentences--, too.

    I have to say, also, that if we want a society where people are responsible for taking care of themselves and their own children, then we're really working against our own goals by making it so difficult for excons. If we don't want the government to take care of them, and we're working to prevent them from getting a decent job, too, then what are they supposed to do?

  • ||

    You certainly have a point.

    I would suggest that it is far too easy for people to be convicted of a felony, particularly non-violent felonies. Perhaps we should start on that end.

    If you are violent, I have no problem with the book being thrown at you, but otherwise convicting someone of a felony should be like pulling tiger's teeth.

    I still think that all activities of the court should be public. I would even go so far as to say that all activities performed by public officials in their official capacity should be public. They are public servants and should not be keeping secrets from the people they work for.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Then why are credit reports/scores not only accessible but mandatory for many jobs? You probably would care if your future employee had served time for a felony, but why would you care if he didn't paid his credit cards late?

  • Rrabbit||

    Ken, I think you are mixing up two things. One is whether the trial is public. The other one is whether the outcome of the trial is public.

    I don't see how society can have a functioning, publicly accepted criminal court system when the outcome of criminal trials is a secret. Even less so when the court system is supposed to be based upon common law or case law.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Does common law or case law ever depend on the precise identity of the defendant?

    Is there an example where common law or case law wouldn't be the same if they didn't know the defendant's name was Ken Shultz, SSN 123-45-6789, and just knew me as the "Defendant"?

  • ||

    I would go back to what I said before. Severely reducing the number/kinds of felonies would curtail much of this problem. Making conviction more difficult would do the same.

    In my perfect world a felony conviction would mean you did something violent or committed an egregious property crime. If that is the case then public shaming would be appropriate.

    In the shitty world we do live in I think making trials secret or concealing the identity of those incarcerated or accused is a bad bad idea.

  • hotsy totsy||

    I agree with Suthenboy. But a public trial and public criminal records are not primarily for the purpose of shaming. And some people even go on television (Judge Judy, Maury Povitch) with their offenses and exhibit no shame whatsoever.

    Drunk driving yellow license plates or publishing photos of prostitution patrons are for the very purpose of shaming. That should not happen.

  • Rrabbit||

    Such an anonymization approach will work for pet crime, but not for capital crime. The media and the public will be able to cross-reference defendants and verdicts.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Such an anonymization approach will work for pet crime, but not for capital crime."

    Yeah, but petty crime's mostly what we're talking about, here. No, this won't solve all of America's problems.

    But you get a felony conviction in this country, where your criminal history can be checked online as cheap and as quick as your credit history, and your chances of getting out of the underclass are pretty slim.

    The murderers that get in the paper are a small part of the problem. Most of them aren't murderers. There's no good reason why the government should facilitate keeping those who've served their time as unemployed as possible. We should want most ex-cons to get jobs--and good jobs are even better.

  • Rrabbit||

    OK, makes sense when considering mostly pet crime.

    I know cases where people were trying to stay out of trouble, got a new job, did some good work there, the new employer ran some extra checks weeks later, found a previous felony or two, and then felt forced to fire the new employees in order to avoid liability just in case something bad happens.

  • yonemoto||

  • Hash Brown||

    The public, too, loves public shaming.

    Dollars to donuts almost all the judges who do this are elected.

  • -Umbriel-||

    I'm less concerned about shaming via sentencing than I am pre-conviction, without-due-process shaming -- specifically "perp walks" and crap like the FBI pulled on Eliot Spitzer, where they released to the press the information they had about his patronizing prostitutes in spite of having decided not to bring any charges against him (not that I lament the effect on his career for any reason other than principle).

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Yeah, I would distinguish between punishments imposed after conviction by a court, and punishments imposed before conviction by the cops - which they are *not* authorized to mete out, no matter how much of a hard-on it gives them.

  • Ted S.||

    specifically "perp walks" and crap like the FBI pulled on Eliot Spitzer,

  • ||

    Spitzer gets zero sympathy considering what they did to him was par for the course of what he did as "Sheriff of Wall Street". He deserved every shitty thing the FBI did to him considering he invented some of that shit. Fuck Spitzer. Fuck him hard. If I believed in karma I would so see it in Sptizer's case.

  • ||

    I agree that he deserved it, and he gets no sympathy from me either.

    Still it is not the cops place to do it. State bureaucrats have no business deciding to punish citizens without due process or court authorization to do so. If Spitzer fell victim to tactics that he invented then it is that much more of a good example why it should not be done.

  • Ted S.||

    That's pretty much what I was going to say, but I must have forgotten to close a tage or something because my comment didn't show up the way I intended. :-(

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    "Fuck Spitzer. Fuck him hard."

    Y'all f*ck him. I'm picky about what I touch with that part of my anatomy.

  • Jordan||

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Totally unforeseen!

  • Almanian!||

    Fast and Furious II: Streets of the Middle East

  • ||

    Whoa! Who could have seen that coming?

  • Ted S.||

    On the bright side, this means we don't have to give them any more weapons. :-)

  • jdgalt||

    I have no problem with public shaming when it fits the crime and is imposed by a judge as part of a sentence after conviction.

    I have a big problem with public shaming when it's done through the media by police and prosecutors and the targets haven't been convicted of anything. People routinely lose their jobs and homes as a result, even when the case against them is weak or the law is one of the many that isn't wrong to break.

    All names of persons accused of crime should be kept secret until conviction, on pain of full consequential-damages awards for defamation against the person who leaked the information, no matter what official rank s/he may hold.

  • Almanian!||

    In Ohio, if you’re convicted of drunk driving, you may be required to place a bright yellow license plate on your car.

    Ah, yes - "Party Plates", as we referred to them. They were the subject of much jocularity in the office. Who would show up with them this week?

    Everyone in Putnam County, Ohio, over the age of 15 should have had "Party Plates" on their cars. That was the drinkingest place I've ever seen, or imagined.

    Best was the guy who took his riding lawnmower to the bar (cause he'd lost his license, doncha know - but he didn't want to WALK, of course). Stopped at the wrong house on the trip home, crawled into bed with some woman...didn't realize till the next morning.

    Putnam County, Ohio - hijinks AND hilarity!

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah, in Columbus one of the local tv stations puts peoples mug shots on the home page of their website. It's public record of course so they have the right to. But this people have not been convicted of anything. I find that at the very least to be rather unneighborly.

  • Virginian||

    I'm in favor of a diversity of punishments available for minor crimes. Take littering, for example. Say a guy dumped a standard kitchen bag of garbage on the side of the road. If convicted, I could see an option of:

    a. 100 dollar fine
    b. a day picking up trash on the roadside
    c. A total of 15 hours standing in front of the courthouse holding a sign describing the offense.

    possibly throw in some kind of corporal punishment.

  • John||

    The problem isn't so much shaming. It is that we are shaming for the wrong things.

  • Rich||

    Why not all three/four?

    Actually, into the stocks for three days.

    Littering is bad.

  • Brett L||

    "Kid, go sit over there on that bench that says 'Group W'."

  • ||

    Public shaming was used when I was a cop in Maui, as an alternative sentence at a minimum. I liked it. Based on interviews of those so sentenced, it appeared to be pretty effective,as both a specific and general deterrent. For example, convicted DUI's would have to hold a sign for 8 hrs on the side of the road saying words to the effect of "I got caught for drunk driving" etc. Also, public shaming is cost effective, often costing little to nothing. Considering the cost of incarceration...

  • ||

    Unsurprisingly, we are going to disagree on this.

  • Ted S.||

    What if they made the cops walk around with signs saying, "I was suspended for police brutality"?

  • Almanian!||

    heh heh - THIS I like

  • ||

    All joking aside, if it is a bad idea for the general public then it is a bad idea for the cops too.

    Actually holding them accountable under the law would be a better idea. Fat chance that will happen.

  • John||

    Of course since the DUI laws are completely insane and a conviction has lost nearly all of its stigma, shaming really isn't going to be very effective

  • ||

    A friend of mine was recently telling me about a new hire at his business. He mentioned that the guy had been arrested at some time in the past, and then in the same breath said "but it was in Pineville and you can get arrested in Pineville for breathing so it doesnt mean anything."

  • hotsy totsy||

    True. And the people who are the least responsible are the hardest to shame. Practically speaking, how do you shame someone who shops at Walmart in their pajamas with blue hair and six facial tatoos?

  • Rrabbit||

    I guess we could have cops hold up a sign "I shot puppies and pointed a gun at a six year old girl".

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't have much problem with it being an alternative sentence, the defendant's choice. It's good to offer options.

    The real problem, of course, is the proliferation and vagueness of laws. Everything's a crime, and the criminal justice system has become an unstoppable, unaccountable juggernaut. They can pretty much do whatever they want to anyone they want for any reason. Getting re-elected/promoted over administering justice often being the motivation.

  • ||

    For his crimes against civil liberties, I propose that we force Obama to marry a very unattractive woman. That will teach him!

  • Rrabbit||

    Paula Deen?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Pretty sure Rosie O'Donnell is already taken.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Michelle Obama?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    He said "unattractive woman", Pantsfan.

  • Redmanfms||

    I do believe she is female.

    What is the proper name for a female Wookiee?

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I did it all for the Wookie!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Tyler Perry?

  • gagster||

    So he'll just get off with time served then, right?

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • Brett L||

    OT: Which one of you beautiful bastards trained your monkey to bite cops?

  • Hyperion||

    I dunno, but needz moar monkeyz.

    Monkeys +100

  • Hyperion||

    Where the hell is everyone?

    This is great, and has boobs!

    Bullshit tax code

    If you can't attract the attention of Reasonoids with boobs, it's a lost cause.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Yeah, it has a bunch of boobs, but why didn't you mention that it has a pictures of some lady's breasts?

  • Hyperion||

    Boobs is official libertarian code for female titties. For the politicians that you are obviously referring to, we have another body part term for them, asshole.

  • Hyperion||

  • sloopyinca||

    OK, I've given a lot of thought to what Ken Shultz says upthread, and I want to put an end to the thought that it's a good idea right now.

    We have equal protection under the law in this country, or at least we're supposed to. So what you do is you take public officials, like a policeman for exmple, and you make his trial and punishment private when he beats someone to death (the guys that beat Kelly Thomas to death, for example). You put them behind closed doors with a prosecutor they have worked with in the past, a judge that they worked with in the past and a defense attorney the prosecutor and judge know very well. You make the trial and punishment private because the defendants have been given that "right".

    What the hell do you think the outcomes of those trials are gonna be? Hell, the perps are only being prosecuted because the above prosecutors and their police department weren't able to hide or destroy all of the evidence (like they're doing in Kern County with a group of cops that beat a man to death for being smart-mouthed and drunk). Do you really want the rest of the process to be private for those fuckers?

    Private trials are an awful idea because we have equal protection. They are an awful idea because they offer no public check against judicial/prosecutorial abuses. And they are an awful idea because they undermine the First Amendment.

    Also, I am all for purging a conviction from one's "criminal record" once their sentence has been completed.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Like what I said about the murder cases that get into the media, I'm not talking about violating the the press' first amendment rights to report on whatever they want.

    If the press wants to cover a story, that's one thing. How many felonies do they cover--less than 1%?

    Why does the government have to facilitate the creation of a database to track every. single. convicted. felon? If the press wants to report, for instance, on a cop who's accused of beating someone to death for fun? Then no one should stop them from doing that.

    But you're talking about, what? One half of one percent of all the felony cases out there? You're saying that 99.5% of the convicted felons out there shouldn't be able to get a decent job for the rest of their lives because otherwise we wouldn't be able to track cases of police abuse?

    I don't buy that.

    Again, the court records could simply identify him as a defendant, and if the press (or anyone else in the public) cares enough about the case to put two and two together and print stories about it, then they should be free to do so. Why that means all the other convicted felons no one cares enough to print stories about should only have access to shitty jobs for the rest of their lives is beyond me.

    "Also, I am all for purging a conviction from one's "criminal record" once their sentence has been completed."

    How are you going to stop private agencies from collecting public data and making it available to their paying customers?

  • sloopyinca||

    You keep coming up with reasons to pervert the openness of our criminal justice system and I just can't buy in, Ken. It is open to eliminate abuse of the equal protection clause and to ensure fair treatment of Americans. If there's an unintended consequence of people later in life being punished for their crimes, I say that's just too fucking bad. Their prospective employers have a right to use whatever criteria they deem necessary to determine one's fitness for employment. If they think a conviction from 20 years prior for assault is disqualifying, who am I to tell them that's not fair.

    If you want to talk about striking about 95% of the laws from the books that result in these convictions, then I'm all ears. But making our court records, transcripts and trials themselves private will not result in good things.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "You keep coming up with reasons to pervert the openness of our criminal justice system and I just can't buy in, Ken. It is open to eliminate abuse of the equal protection clause and to ensure fair treatment of Americans."

    I'm not talking about perverting openness; I'm talking about respecting a defendant's prerogative to waive his right to a public trial.

    Again, the press can write about whatever they find out. If the family of the victim wants to identify the defendant to the media, then by all means, they should be free to do so--on television if anyone's interested.

    All of the court transcripts can still be open to the public and the press. The press can still interview any witness or victim they can identify, and they should all be free to say what they like. They're private parties!

    But what do you need to know from court transcripts about whether equal protection was violated that you can only know by knowing the exact identity of each and every defendant? You know from an indictment that the defendant did something while on duty as a cop. You know from court transcripts that the defendant was a government official accused of embezzlement.

    And, most importantly, why does knowing the defendant's name is Ken Shultz make any difference--in a small potatoes case where neither the press nor the public gives a damn?

  • sloopyinca||

    If the names are hidden, there is no openness.

    And, most importantly, why does knowing the defendant's name is Ken Shultz make any difference--in a small potatoes case where neither the press nor the public gives a damn?

    If they don't give a damn, then what are you worried about? Sorry, but public records ae public records. Giving one party the right to make them private opens up the ability for the other party (the government) to do the same down the road as they see fit or when one of their agents is the defendant. Sorry, but I can't abide by that standard.

    If you want to fix the problem, abolishing about 90% of the laws on the books is the solution, not shrouding more and more government actions in secrecy.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "If they don't give a damn, then what are you worried about?"

    I think you misunderstood what I was saying.

    Most pot busts don't make the papers. Some kid steals a car? That's probably not making the papers, either.

    If the press doesn't care enough to report on it, then why does the government need to get involved in making the identities of those small potatoes convicts available so that their identities can be added to a database--for the rest of their lives--and hurts them every time they apply for a job?

    If the press wants to report on something, they can still be sued for libel, but, otherwise, no one should stop them. And I'm not advocating anything that would prevent the press from telling us all about a brutal cop or a corrupt city counselor.

    But if no one in the press cares enough to print their names, why is the government getting involved--to make sure those people will never have a good chance of getting a decent job again?

    Even if those names weren't available forever by way of a database, the kinds of behavior you're worried about not being reported on would still make the headlines.

    No doubt about it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Even if those names weren't available forever by way of a database, the kinds of behavior you're worried about not being reported on would still make the headlines."

    Think of this way.

    Do you think you wouldn't know who George Zimmerman was if it wasn't for the government publishing his name in an indictment?

    Surely, the press would have gotten his name from other sources.

  • hotsy totsy||

    "Their prospective employers have a right to use whatever criteria they deem necessary to determine one's fitness for employment. If they think a conviction from 20 years prior for assault is disqualifying, who am I to tell them that's not fair."

    Exactly right.

  • BigT||

    "Their prospective employers have a right to use whatever criteria they deem necessary to determine one's fitness for employment.

    Not race, religion, national origin, sex, age.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The question isn't whether employers should be free to use whatever criteria they please. That's a given for me.

    The question is whether the government should actively make an individual's information available to all employers everywhere--over that individual's objection.

    If a judge wants to sentence a convict to life without the likelihood of a decent job, then he or she should do that explicitly. I'd like to see how that sentence stands up against Eighth Amendment objections.

    Oh, and somebody still needs to explain why a defendant is apparently free to waive every single other right (from the right to a jury trial, and the right to speedy trial, to the right to remain silent)--except the right to a public trial...

    Why's that, again? What makes that part of the Sixth Amendment so magical?

  • annwal||

    Being ashamed of yourself in front of public is really traumatic. There used to be such a thing as public shaming, a type of legal punishment where individuals would be humiliated in public for their mistakes. It's been gaining some traction, as petty thieves and other criminals have been getting shamed for minor wrongdoings.

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