Public Shaming And The Scarlet Letter

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“A mockery at which angels blushed and wept, while fiends rejoiced, with jeering laughter” (Hawthorne 101). The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the article “Concerns Raised on ‘Scarlet Letter’ for Drunk Drivers,” by Toni Locy, both provided very different examples of public shaming. Both show the pros and cons of shaming by either telling a story or explaining people’s opinions. The Scarlet Letter provides a historic view on shaming during the Puritan times. A woman named Hester is forced to wear an embroidered scarlet letter to show that she has sinned. She is also made to stand on a scaffold to be shamed for her sin. The article represents a modern twist on the subject. A Weld Administration in Massachusetts recently made a very …show more content…
However, they forgot something: small crimes made public can cause an unnecessary backlash that labels a person for life. In Locy’s view, “A person is required to show their [driver’s license] for any number of purposes that have nothing to do with the ability to drive a car” (Locy). Locy’s point is that people will be labelled for their sin or crime even when their current actions have nothing to do with that offense. Small offenses such as drunk driving and not causing harm or even adultery, as demonstrated in The Scarlet Letter, do not throw a person in jail. If small sins do not take away a person’s normal life, they should not be shamed publicly. This is due to the fact that public shaming will prevent a normal life again. Hawthorne describes in The Scarlet Letter that everyone looked at Hester Prynne differently after she was publicly shamed (Hawthorne 41). She was considered an outsider and an all around evil person in the beginning just because she sinned and was shamed. She was a fantastic seamstress; however, she was not allowed to sew bridal attire because she was seen as impure. Even though Hester was not put into jail because of her sin, she was not able to live the same life as she did before because everyone knew of her wrongdoing. Public shaming brings the public’s opinions in on a personal sin. The opinions can and will prevent people from living their normal lives because …show more content…
Locy complicates things further when she writes, “The proposal is an invasion of privacy” (Locy). The essence of Locy’s argument is that people who sin or commit a small crime are being subjected to even more punishment. They are losing their privacy rights because so many people know about their wrongdoing. Marking driver’s licenses or license plates of people who have been caught drinking and driving would cause an intrusion of privacy. Family members will also be marked and shamed publicly because they may share the car with the marked license plate. Hawthorne puts this in a different perspective when he explains that Hester’s daughter Pearl is labeled as the devil’s child due to Hester’s sin (Hawthorne 64). Pearl was made by a sin, so people believe that she is an imp and cannot do anything good. These labels are not morally correct because the families are getting punished and labeled for things that they did not take part

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