16 There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. -- Proverbs 6:16-19
The only time most people hear the word "shame" in any setting these days is when someone tells them, "You don't have to be ashamed." Unfortunately, in a society full of reality TV shows, overhyped marketing, and millions of people competing for attention on the Internet, we could use more shame, not less. The fact of the matter is that shame can be a very healthy emotion if you've done something shameful. Shouldn't rapists feel shame? How about the Westboro Baptist Church members who've protested at funerals? What if you stole a poor kid's lunch and it was the only thing he had to eat that day? There are times when shame is very appropriate.
Unfortunately, in an interconnected world where every malcontent, misfit, and misanthrope on the planet can get together via the Internet, there is no perversion, sickness, or cruelty that human beings can do to each other that won't be heartily applauded in some dark corner of the web. Over a decade ago talented liberal humorist Zack Parsons (who would undoubtedly hate this column) wrote an extraordinary piece about how the net helps encourage shameful and weird behavior.
…I’ve talked about how the Internet enables pedophiles, furries, and others to congregate and share ideas, but I only briefly touched on the most important aspect of this. In the endless expanse of communications the Internet is, probably the greatest and most terrible gift it offers to furries, pedophiles, and others, is the ability to shut themselves off from the mainstream. They huddle in cloisters that are virtually unassailable by the outside world and whisper encouraging things to one another that would be nearly impossible to say in real life. Free from the pressures of society to conform to a boring standard they go in the exact opposite direction, externalizing things that are roughly as far from “normal” as can be expected. Then, within their protected virtual enclaves, they declare these things to be the norm. By declaring their perversions, mores, and general imbecility to be their own status quo they have simultaneously validated their own existence and demonstrated the inferiority of outsiders.
A sense of belonging and community is disturbing and sad in the hands of furries and downright dangerous in the hands of pedophiles. Nonetheless, this is what the Internet has given to these groups, and it can be both a peril to the members and, in the case of menaces like pedophiles, a peril to the rest of us….
Unfortunately, the Internet isn't Vegas and what happens here, doesn't stay here. The mentality spawned by the Internet has infected our whole culture like a virus. No matter what sort of stupidity or evil that people engage in, they'll find legions of supporters telling them how wonderful it is or at least saying, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Well, we may not be in a position to judge whether someone is going to heaven or not, but a society where people no longer feel shame for bad behavior is destined to take a long, inglorious spiral into a sewer -- sort of like Miley Cyrus's career.
1) Acting Like A Skank In Public: Speaking of Miley Cyrus, remember when she was the wholesome, kid-friendly Hannah Montana? Well, as she aged out of the Disney demographic, the music executives promoting her decided she needed to change her image and the easiest way to do it was to act like the world's biggest skank in public. So, she twerked her way through a nasty performance at the VMAs and has been skanking it up ever since. She's not the first to do it or even the best at it. Madonna beat her to the punch. But from Miley Cyrus's perspective, the important thing is that it worked. She broke with her wholesome image and became a bigger star. But, at what cost to her and to other people? How many little girls who were Hannah Montana fans now think it's cool to act like a prostitute in public to get the attention of boys? Nobody is saying women should wear ankle length skirts and always be prim and proper to be decent (Well, I'm certainly not saying it anyway), but if you act like a skank, men will view you as a skank and treat you as a skank. Even if you're not ashamed of that, the people who raised you probably are and they should be.
2) Allowing Your Children To Inconvenience Other People: A few days ago, I came across a fascinating article. It was intriguing because the whole thrust of the piece was how rude a theater full of movie patrons were to a mother with a 23 year old son who was autistic. Apparently, the mother took her adult son into the theater and unsurprisingly, at least to her, he started loudly shouting. Eventually, this prompted mean comments and the mother was outraged that people were pleased that they left. While it was rude for the theater patrons to have made obnoxious comments, it doesn't seem to have occurred to the mother that she also shouldn't have subjected a theater full of people to him if he couldn't be quiet. The same goes for taking a baby to a theater. If the baby starts crying, sorry, but you need to take him outside. If your kid is acting like a brat at school, the problem isn't the teacher pointing that out to you, it's your kid. Discipline him. People shouldn't expect perfect behavior from children in public, but they do at least have a right to expect that someone who's responsible for that child will be ashamed that her kid is bothering other people.
3) Being On The Dole: One of the best scenes in Cinderella Man came after James J. Braddock had a hand injury that killed his fighting career and he was forced to get welfare to feed his family. You could tell Braddock was utterly humiliated by the experience. Afterwards, when he started making money boxing again, as a matter of pride, he went and paid the money back. If everybody felt that way, there probably wouldn't be a person alive who had a problem with welfare. Unfortunately, there are tens of millions of people who view being on the dole as a way to get easy money instead of evidence that they've so failed as a human being that they have to leech off productive people. I know, I know, there's always a sad story about why somebody "has to" take welfare. Fair enough. Want to know a little secret? I've had friends in really tough situations who've asked me for advice and there have been times I've recommended that they apply for food stamps or welfare. But, you know what? They felt bad about it -- and I didn't tell them not to feel that way because it's appropriate. You're supposed to be ashamed of not being able to pay your own way. It should be EMOTIONALLY PAINFUL for you to live off other people and if it's not, it's a sign that something has gone wrong with you as a human being.
4) Politicians Lying To The Public: Saying politicians lie to the public is like saying sex is going on inside a bordello. Nobody is shocked to find that out and it has been going on since the dawn of time. The difference between politicians today and the politicians of yesteryear is the lack of shame about what they're doing. There was a time when politicians took great care to parse their words, they bent over backwards to keep appearances up and slowly, reluctantly lied if they thought they could get away with it. Compare that to politicians like Barack Obama, who sold Obamacare entirely on lies that he knew would immediately be revealed when the law went into effect. There was no art to it, no reluctance and only the barest efforts to keep up appearances. In short, he lied to sell the bill, he's still lying about the law, and the most amazing thing is that very few of his supporters seem to care at all. He sold a major program to the American people based on large, willful, intentional lies and...so what? We're not even talking about areas where liberals and conservatives disagree (Did Bush know there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?), we're talking about plain bald-faced lies being told to the American public and that's perfectly acceptable to most Democrats and most members of the press. If you're a lying dirtbag, your supporters should be humiliated by your behavior. So should your family. When we just shrug our shoulders and accept that nothing a politician says means anything, we're begging for a society without honor.
5) Promoting Separatism And Race Hatred: There have always been people in America who've made a good living encouraging people to hate each other based on the color of their skin. In the olden days, they were slaveholders, the KKK, and Southern Democrats. Today, they're people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Toure, Melissa Harris Perry, the NAACP, and La Raza. The more hatred and discord they stir up, the more attention they get and the more money goes into their pockets. These are people who see racism and bigotry EVERYWHERE and work as hard as any Nazi to encourage outright hatred of people who have a different skin color. Their accusations ruin lives, encourage people to falsely think of themselves as victims, and create distrust, contempt and loathing where it didn't exist before. Do you ever hear any of them say, "Oh gee, I got it wrong. Actually, he wasn't a racist," or, "Maybe we should be careful about smearing someone as a racist just because he disagrees with me?" Do you ever hear them apologize for all the people they've hurt with their lies? KKK members are powerless, pathetic fringe losers who are laughed at, while these people are on TV and rubbing shoulders with politicians. That's why their behavior is even more disgraceful than that of some backwoods hick burning a cross. At least those hatemongers don't get TV shows on MSNBC for their shameful behavior.