The Supreme Court Monday allowed a California man to be sentenced to spend a day outside a San Francisco post office wearing a signboard stating, "I stole mail. This is my punishment."
The justices rejected an appeal by Shawn Gementera, who argued that this was designed to publicly shame and humiliate him. He said it violated the Sentencing Reform Act and the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Well, apparently the very act of stealing people's mail wasn't enough to shame you. Hopefully your punishment will.
Maybe this is exacly what our society needs--more shame. People don't feel enough shame anymore. Too many people don't give a shit about anybody but themselves anymore. Maybe it's because we've become so obsessed with making everyone feel good about themselves, from the third grader failing math to the criminal stealing mail. We've become convinced that it doesn't matter how we act--we're good people and we should be proud of who we are. Well, not always. Sometimes we do bad things and we need people to let us know that we screwed up--that there are indeed things about which we should feel shame.