Ahhh, Internet shaming. Cyber justice. Condemning with the virtual scarlet letter. We all love it, don’t we? It makes us feel so good, and is in keeping with the relatively long tradition of airing our elected leaders’ dirty laundry whenever we can, so that we can provide a salve to our collective consciousness and moral self-uprightness.
After all, do not we love to hear about a politician’s latest affair; or bout with drug addiction; or details of his illegitimate love child, whom he has hidden away for years in his home district, out of sight? Are we not entertained?
Even our pets are not safe from public shaming and heaps of cyber abuse. Damn you, dog!
It seems the Navy SEALs are no strangers to it either, not surprisingly. In this edition of the Navy SEAL News Roundup, we are provided the story of one Brad Nagel, yes, a former SEAL, and (likely) former staffer for Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. Nagel, it was revealed in an article in The Daily Beast—horrors—posted ridiculous and outlandish memes about President Obama, Muslim women, and Mexicans on his Facebook page.
Now, do not take this edition of the Roundup as a wholesale defense of Brad’s posts. I admit, I know him, and he has always seemed like a good guy to me. I honestly have not read all the posts, and do not know what all they say. If they are as grossly inappropriate as reported, then I am sure I disapprove of their content. God knows, I do not want to be on the wrong side of the shaming brigade.
I do not agree, however, with the principle of public shaming. I am reminded of glass houses, throwing stones, eyes jammed with logs and specks, and many other admonitions to judge not others lest I shall be judged. I mean, seriously, there but for the grace of God go I. There is something bullying, shameful, and degrading about public shaming, all of which makes me extremely uncomfortable in jumping on the proverbial bandwagon when it does occur. It feels like a witch trial, oftentimes.
Nagel is sure to feel the heat for his reported posts, and who knows if he will survive (professionally speaking, as a staffer with Trump) his turn in the shame barrel. We shall see. Another Trump staffer has already been summarily dismissed following racist postings, after all.
In a separate, more passive-aggressive case of public shaming, and maybe this is a stretch on my part, we examine this article in the Norfolk, Virginia-based Virginian-Pilot newspaper, regarding a taxpayer-funded designated driver service for Navy SEALs in the Virginia Beach area. Essentially, the service was first paid for by public funds, and was contracted for use by personnel at Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG or DEVGRU) if individuals needed a sober driver after consuming alcoholic beverages out on the town. Seems wise, no?
The program was apparently so effective that it was expanded to include all Virginia Beach-based SEALs in its coverage, and funding was overtaken by the Navy SEAL Foundation, a local SEAL-focused charity organization. Again, to me, it seems prudent and on the up-and-up.
Well, the newspaper learned of the program from an anonymous source, who felt the program “encouraged unhealthy behavior.” So, let me get this straight: If a SEAL drinks, it is better that he drive home rather than use a designated driver service? Or should all SEALs, and everyone else for that matter, give up drinking in public? Is that the point? It seems to me the “unhealthy behavior” here is drunk driving.
Our anonymous tipper must have felt that some good ol’ fashioned public shaming would deal with this program once and for all, and discourage drinking. Hell, if we can discourage big-game hunting, public drinking, and the wanton abuse of stuffed animals by our domestic pets, all the better, right? The public shaming must work. I mean, the world will be a much better place once everyone submits to the morality of the mob, right?
Shame on, I guess.