Once upon a time, we had a way to punish miscreants who broke minor laws or did something so amazingly stupid that the community felt a need to make a public example of them so that others would be less inclined to break the law or be quite so dumb.
Pillories. The stocks. Public shame for a short period of time, occasionally punctuated with the application of rotten fruit to or about the face of the shamed, and sanctioned by the community. Ruthless public mockery of the sort seen in Billy Madison, where the person being mocked has to stand there and take it.
Mr. Madison, what you have just said, is the most insanely idiotic thing I have ever heard. At no point, in your rambling incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.
And when the mockery is done, it’s done. No recriminations once the pillory is open and the mess is cleaned up. We wouldn’t put it on someone’s permanent record as we do a criminal conviction. After a few days, we’d largely forget it happened. But — and this is the important thing — the person who spent those hours with rotten tomato juice dripping from their forehead would not forget. They’d try very hard not to end up there again. We’d move on to the next person and do what we could to make sure we didn’t end up there one day.
Public shame of the organized sort and not the bully-boy tactics of brave internet warriors and television talking heads would, I think, be a useful way to make sure certain sorts of foolishness don’t happen all that often.
Let me give you four examples of people who’d spent a couple days in the stocks were I in charge, to show you what I’m after here.
1) James Schiliro, mayor of Marcus Hook, PA and member of “Mayors Against Illegal Guns”.
Mayor Schiliro wants to take your guns away from you. Oh, sure, he’ll deny it. He’ll say he’s for “reasonable” gun laws. In reality, though, he wants to make it more difficult for people who obey the law and pose no threat to another innocent human being to own a firearm.
Last month, this paragon of puffed-up virtue got himself locked up after he allegedly got drunk, used his own firearm to hold an acquaintance hostage, propositioned said acquaintance after he gave the under-aged man liquor, and fired a round into the floor.
Should Mayor Schiliro go to jail? Not in my America. I say we take put the Mayor in the stocks for a couple days so the entire town, indeed every American who holds their Constitutional rights precious, can jeer him. The guy he kept captive in his allegedly drunken, horny fury can chuck the first rotten head of lettuce.
2) Melissa Harris-Perry, MS-NBC television show host and college professor.
Melissa Harris-Perry wants to take your children away from you. As with Mayor Schiliro, she wouldn’t actually admit to that desire. She’s likely say that she was misinterpreted by right-Wing Nut Jobs when she said in an advertisement for her network that we had to throw off our proletarian idea that a parent is the ultimate owner of and authority for their child.
A couple of days in the stocks, being yelled at by parents who understand the quickest way to ruin a child is to place her in the hands of uncaring, incompetent, unmotivated bureaucrats might give her a reason to think before she cuts another promo that praises the murderous socialist ideal. If it doesn’t dissuade her, it might well give the other upper-class socialists reason to think twice before they let their red flags fly.
3) The person in the Department of Defense who gave the green light to the presentation that listed Catholics, Evangelical Christians, and Mormons as “Extremists”.
Some knucklehead inside the Department of Defense wants to take your free exercise of religion away from you. I have no idea what chain of command approved this presentation on religious extremist threats, but we need some names. The very idea that you could put Mormons on a threat list that also includes the Muslim Brotherhood and the Ku Klux Klan is so staggeringly ignorant I can’t comprehend how it exists. Still, lots of stupid ideas live happily in a lot of brains out there, which is why we need the public pillories. Shame is an excellent cure for public stupidity.
Whoever wrote that presentation (though ideally I want the guy who approved it) needs to spend a couple days in the stocks. I’d say they ought to get pelted by Mormons and Catholics and Evangelical Christians, but in my experience the devout believers wronged by the DoD’s presentation wouldn’t be all that interested in being part of a public spectacle. So we’ll find some stand-ins. Perhaps a few major-league pitchers, men with great arms and uncanny accuracy, could stand in for them on tomato detail.
4) The senior Obama administration official who said we need to tax retirement accounts that have more money than “is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving”.
The Obama administration wants to take your labor and your future away from you. How else can you explain a law based on the belief that a government official should decide what constitutes a “reasonable” retirement? Whose business is it if you work your tail off today, deprive yourself of luxuries while you are young, so you can do anything you want after retirement without having to worry about paying the bills?
I’m sure they’ll explain that they need the money to fund programs for children and poor people and widows and puppies and little ponies that don’t have enough hay, but that’s what power-hungry stooges always say. There are always poor people or deprived ponies who need help from a government that takes more than it gives, that funds lavish lives for the bureaucrats who want everything from you they can take. Stick them in the stocks. Let the working man whose gasoline bill is sky-high thanks to the ignorant meddling of progressive do-gooders have a day to jeer and shame. Let the poor person stuck for life in a system they can never leave because that guy in the stocks won’t let them go have a turn with the power.
Shame is a powerful weapon. Ridicule deflates overblown egos. Public disapprobation keeps the crazy behind closed doors where it belongs and out of your life. Maybe we ought to bring it back and see what we can do to take back control of our country and our lives. All it’ll cost us is a little lumber for the stocks and some old vegetables, right?
(Photo Credit: the wonderful @RuBegonia on Twitter)