“Big Brother is Watching You.” – George Orwell, 1984
I find it interesting that even though we now live in an era where security cameras and cellphones can monitor every public move; bad behaviour and criminal activity have seemingly not been deterred. Big Brother may be watching, but the bad guys (and gals) don’t seem to care.
All types of reprehensible actions have been videotaped and posted online for all the world to see, but it doesn’t seem to have curbed unethical and illegal actions. Wrongdoers brazenly steal packages which have been delivered to their neighbour’s doorstep, farm machinery is boldly taken from uninhabited farmyards, family pets are scooped up from private enclosures, and even flowers in cemeteries are being stolen from the dead! Thieves dash into convenience stores demanding cash and shoplifting continues at alarming rates despite sophisticated security measures. People take to the street to protest, but many more tag along in order to riot, vandalize public and private property, and loot businesses. And they do this in the very faces of police officers and security personnel who are often helpless against a barrage of rampaging lawbreakers.
Most bothersome to me are the acts of violence carried out against innocent victims. I watched some footage where an elderly woman with a walker was kicked from behind by a young fellow, and another where a woman in a wheelchair suffered a punch to the face from a complete stranger. Deliberate acts of cruelty against children are particularly despicable and just turn my stomach. I fail to understand the motivation behind and the satisfaction gained from such cowardly and shameful acts, but despite a growing outcry from the public, such senseless doings continue to occur far too often.
I always find it interesting when perpetrators of such crimes try to hide their faces from public scrutiny when they are apprehended. This led me to wonder if maybe some type of public shaming and humiliation might not be a better punishment (at least for some people) than what the courts are currently handing out.
The Metis buffalo hunters back in 1840 devised a number of rules which had to be strictly followed as a successful hunt depended on complete co-operation. One of those rules addressed stealing. According to Wikipedia and several other sources: “Any person convicted of theft, even to the value of a sinew, (were) to be brought to the middle of the camp, and the crier to call out his or her name three times, adding the word “Thief!”, at each time.”
Usually having to face such public accountability and shaming from their peers was punishment enough to prevent similar incidents in the future. The stocks used in medieval, Renaissance and colonial American times seemed to be effective deterrents for misdemeanours. Although officials of the day got carried away, a short stay in a pillory with rotten vegetables being chucked at the offender by the townsfolk, might make some potential wrongdoer think twice before acting.
And, for those folks who think public embarrassment has no effect on behaviour, remember the days when your own parents admonished you in public for unacceptable behaviour? I don’t know about you, but I didn’t want to receive a lecture (or worse) in front of my peers.
In this day and age of civil rights and freedoms, my suggestions will, no doubt, face much criticism (and maybe rightfully so). But let’s be honest, the penalties currently being handed out, don’t seem to be correcting any behaviours or attitudes. For many culprits there appears to be no shame or remorse for wrongful actions. It’s sad that we now live in a world where security cameras are needed at every turn, but what’s even sadder is that it hasn’t done much to prevent bad conduct.
“When a bully is held accountable for his actions, his future actions will change. Bad behavior only continues for those who allow it.” – Gary Hopkins