So You've Been Publicly Shamed

by Jon Ronson

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How does Ted Poe's public shaming compare to internet shaming in Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed?

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Ted Poe is a former Republican Congressman. Before entering politics, he was a state judge in Harris County, Texas, where he gained notoriety as "The King of Shame" for handing down sentences that publicly humiliated offenders. One such sentence involved a drunk driver being forced to stand outside a bar with a sign around his neck which read "I killed two people while driving drunk."

In So You've Been Publicly Shamed? Jon Ronson observes that, for many of the offenders subject to such public shaming, the experience wasn't half as bad as they thought it would be. In the case of the drink driver we've already mentioned, most of the onlookers were actually quite compassionate towards him. Ronson contrasts such treatment to public shaming on social media where individuals are often subjected to vicious, hateful vilification that destroys their lives and reputations and which—unlike the judicial punishments handed down by Judge Poe—offers little or no chance for redemption.

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