Regarding shame

As a lazy, dishonest person, I appreciate the value of shame. Take this blog: were it not for the literally several of you who expect a post each weekday, I would probably wake up early and excuse myself from writing almost every morning. Fortunately, I find time in the day to do that anyway, but my point is that shame is a powerful motivator—for me, at least, and I suspect for a lot of other people, too. One of the aspects of conservative orthodoxy I actually agree with is that our contemporary culture exerts dangerously low amounts of shame. I totally disagree with conservatives about where that shame should be placed; we still exert way too much shame on gay people and immigrants, for example. That’s valuable shame that could be more effectively directed elsewhere. Maybe, as Thomas Edsall suggests in the Times, we could redirect our shame at people who make obviously false and/or misleading statements to the general public. Earlier generations called such statements lies.

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