Yesteryear: Public Humiliation

A spot of public humiliation never hurt anyone. In fact, it is one of the major tools of yesteryear to keep uncivilized behavior under control. I’m sure that the love of fallen man for pointing fingers allowed such practices to get out of hand, and that the rules governing what was considered an offense worthy of such treatment would be considered odd, or even barbaric today, but the concept has merit, when considered in the light of the 21st century.

Take these for example.

Your Basic 17th century Pillory

For shame, sir!

Just your basic 17th century pillory. It’s nothing close to  torture. I’m not advocating thumbscrews or the Little Ease, or the Iron Maiden. Just a spot of helplessness in the town square. This ashamed cavalier may get some tomato shaped bruises, but he’ll only go home feeling like an idiot, not a pin cushion.

Imagine how useful this would be! If we could isolate, rebuke, and humiliate the infractions of the populace, I bet incidents would drastically decline.

Here are some scenarios where it is clearly overboard to yell “Off with his head!”, but in which Something Ought to be Done.

Line Budgers. You may call it cutting, but everyone hates the person who always pushes in front of people in a queue.

People Who Park in Handicapped Spots without a Little Blue Card
Seriously. What unutterable frogs.

Those who Do Not Silence their Mobile Devices at Events
If your phone goes off in concert, during communion, or at a funeral…

The French
Naw, that’s just not fair. Never mind.

Now, this is serious. Imagine a world where Public Humiliation and Potential Tomato-ing was an occupational hazard of Public Office. In fact, that is what brought this to my mind. Were we to conduct these current political debates with a handy civil judge to moderate and the pillories just outside the door where the candidates get to pass them on the way in, I bet we’d hear much more that was true. I don’t see a need to come down for one side or the other here. I just think that if America Laughed when Politicians Lie, and then threw a very soft and non-threatening Secret Service Approved Tomato in their direction, that we would have a very different state of affairs today.

So, your Honors, consider Public Humiliation as an alternative to fining people, and see if the tone of society don’t improve.



8 thoughts on “Yesteryear: Public Humiliation

  1. we would need a forest of pillories and everyone from the moderator to the participants and the reporters would still have to take a number for their turn in the pillory. but I like the idea. actually run those guys out on a pole like the scene in Oh brother where art thou.

  2. Interesting fact, some people left the pillories maimed for life because it was not at all uncommon for them to have rocks heaved at them whilst they were held in place and could not dodge away.

    Which is not to say that your idea has no merit, because such things could be better policed if we wanted to bring this back.

      • Just pointing out that the pillory isn’t entirely free of the risk of physical harm. I also didn’t pick up that the Secret Service portion applied to the pillory. This ought to teach me to read more carefully all the time. But I bet it won’t.

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