Every now and then I get to thinking about shame; about its legitimacy as a teaching tool ("Kids are starving in China and you won't eat your peas?"), about its necessity in a civilized society ("Shut the door! Were you born in a barn?"), and about its mean-spirited use as a weapon ("What kind of #$&*% are you, anyway?").
I've been thinking about it a lot lately and I blame Donald Trump. If ever there was a poster child for resolute, shameless, bad-boy-ness, it's this guy. I wouldn't mind so much, except he thinks he's going to be our president come November, 2016.
In a sane world, he would be going about it all wrong. We tell ourselves we wouldn't in a million years choose a mean guy--a ruthless businessman, hilariously narcissistic to the extreme--as our leader, but then we remember that time we had to live through Bush/Cheney and we know all things are possible. Even here.
Dick Cheney, a man who should be hiding in a closet somewhere flogging himself bloody for his role in the Iraq debacle, is instead all over TVland complaining about President Obama's Middle East decisions--as if he were some sort of authority on those things. He knows no shame and flaunts it.
Shame is for sissies.
Fifty women and counting have accused Bill Cosby of sexual attacks over a 40 year span and Cosby says, in effect, "So what?" So far, he's not in jail. Shame, it would appear, is on the victims.
John Oliver skewers the televangelist greedmeisters in a devastating take-down, the likes of which would cause a normal person to weep and rend garments, but, as of this past Sunday, not a single one of his targets was a no-show. They were out there, going strong, still repeating their imaginary conversations with their shill, God, in order to separate the clueless from their money. Shame, my friends, is what you should feel if you don't open your wallets RIGHT NOW to these people barely even pretending that using religion to scam isn't the greatest gig EVER. (I wrote about them a few years ago. Nothing happened then, either.)
In my home state of Michigan, Tea Partiers Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, the two disgraced and demoted ex-legislators now out of a job, not just over their sleazy affair but because they played fast and loose with government funds, are. . .ready for this?. . .getting back into the race. They're going to run as candidates for their old jobs. The jobs they were just ousted from less than a fortnight ago. No shame, no blame.
And, as expected, just yesterday the Republicans (and two lousy Democrats) in the U.S House of Representatives voted to defund Planned Parenthood, a major lifeline for millions of women.
So how do we shame the shameless? The answer is, we don't. We can't. They're shameless. But we don't have to reward them, either. Shame on us when we do.