John Oliver looks at public shaming on the internet

Tucker has three advantages. He’s rich, white and works for a nihilistic bubble that sells to a demographic who’s capacity for cognitive dissonance is virtually limitless. He’s Trump writ small.

The rich white parents of the college admissions scandal who had the misfortune to be famous enough that they got picked out in the media won’t fare as well, but they’ll do better than Not Actually Worst Aunt Ever who isn’t rich.

Just not giving a fuck is no protection against the real social consequences of public shaming and the socioeconomic ostracization that accrues.


I never even heard of this event at all. But I don’t have cable and apparently don’t follow BB closely enough.

or if the person’s family, friends, employers or neighbors care.

Would that Boing Boing held itself to the same standards that Oliver proscribed. A significant number of stories on BB are little more than knee jerk moral outrage. I swear that it wasn’t always this bad, but I have to think back many years to remember a BB that was more about cool things than it is now. Perhaps BB was always like this, and I am the one who changed.


OH! Are you disappointed? Please tell me you are disappointed in all of BoingBoing!


Nah it all seems the same, don’t think much has changed in any direction…

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He also interviewed Monica Lewinsky about her thoughts on public shaming, having been a victim of it for years.

The Lewinsky interview was spectacular. The highlight of the episode.


“People’s lives can be destroyed by unwarranted public shaming”


“Unwarranted public shaming” = “shaming of someone I don’t disagree with”

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I thought he took a very nuanced approach to the topic, as he usually does. Unfortunately our current culture does not handle nuance very well. We require black and white answers in a Technicolor world. It is an illness, and we need to get better.

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I think that would be guilt and that’s the problem-- shame isn’t guilt. People feel shame when they feel intrinsically worthless because society says they are so far as they can tell and there’s nothing to be done about it. Guilt is when you think you made a mistake and you feel bad about the effect of it.

People think shame is a more strong motivator than guilt and it is but not for the good of other people because shame is all about accepting or not accepting basically the message that the best thing you could do for others is kill yourself now. Some people do, some people don’t, and some people just get angry. But a person doesn’t feel guilt because they are ashamed even if they did something wrong, and a person can be shamed to oblivion while doing nothing wrong because shame is about self-worth and guilt is about realizing one has hurt or failed others. Some people have developed a lot of defense to deal with shame though so we think people just need more of it. IMO it often seems that the only survivors/winners of shame culture are narcissists who refuse to feel shame over anything they do…

You can’t totally control whether a person feels guilt or shame but the kind of “let’s all get together and talk about how this piece of trash shouldn’t live” breeds shame every time, not even in the intended target. In order for guilt to work the way people think it does there has to be a path back into integration with society and the person has to want that. Shame does not get you there, not even close.

People aren’t going to change though… the most fun human activity for humans older than two or three is circling a falling human “enemy” no matter how weak that person is or whether they deserve it. Show me a group of humans who don’t do this. Glad it’s getting call outs at least though, we all should share in the … guilt. Buuut we probably won’t.


Avid BB readers will already know this, so for all others:

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I don’t think that there is a justification for public shaming, ever. I see that some behaviors are wrong and need to be addressed, but I don’t think that sending a mob to shame publicly is a proper answer. Two wrongs do not make a right.

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I would ask what you would propose as a proper response to the multitude of “Living while black” incidents that have become public recently. Politely ignoring them would only seem to encourage them to continue, since there are no consequences to their assholery.

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I do not live in the US and had to look up “living while black” to know what you were talking about. I don’t feel qualified to give you an answer, because the racial situation in the US frankly baffles me. I would however imagine that the proper answer involves electing somebody else than Donald Trump. Probably also electing a congress that is not sold to the richest lobbyist and proper application of the laws which the USA already has.

Unfortunately, even if those were done, which hopefully will happen in 2020 regarding Trump, the racism will not go away. It did not go away with Obama, and will not go away with whoever is next. Allowing the openly racist assholes to carry on while we worry about being polite and “not impacting their lives too much” while they make the lives of our fellow citizens unlivable is not a tenable position in my humble opinion.

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I don’t worry about not being polite or impacting lives. I just feel it is not the right answer, for example because it reinforces group thinking. I feel public shaming actually reinforces racism, because it polarises a us against them mentality.
But it is not my country and I am not competent to discuss racism in the USA.

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Here’s the quick primer:



I used to enjoy Jezebel (in moderation), but at some point they disappeared down their own rabbit hole of never-ending outrage. Didn’t matter how trivial the matter was or how derivative their hot take was, as long as it got people fuming in the comment section.

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Watching Leno’s recent routine on Kimmel I did have a “Go fuck yourself” reaction to it.

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