Friday, August 24, 2012

What Does "Name and Shame" Mean?

What Does "Name and Shame" Mean?

"Name and shame" is something a government does to expose people or companies who violate certain laws or codes. This can include people who commit crimes or engage in anti-social behavior. The idea is that exposing the identities of these individuals will discourage others from engaging in similar activity for fear of also being exposed.

Governments "name and shame" when they release lists of the names of persons or companies who have engaged in illegal behavior. Often, this behavior includes acts that tarnish a person's reputation and standing within a community. Naming and shaming is commonly done to shoplifters, sex offenders, and those who visit prostitutes.

Another occasion when a government might "name and shame" is by identifying people or companies who have committed fraud. This might include lying to government agencies about taxes, stealing money, or perpetrating fraudulent schemes. Public officials who act unethically in elected or appointed positions may also be named.

The fairness and usefulness of the "name and shame" process is debated. Some see it as a positive form of peer pressure, discouraging bad behavior in society by making it known to all. Others see it as unfairly setting up citizens and companies for derision by neighbors and consumers.

While some "name and shame" lists are sure to embarrass those featured, certain types of crimes or behaviors may actually be encouraged by being given such notoriety. Anti-social behaviors such as spraying graffiti are popular in certain crowds, particularly amongst teenagers. Being "named and shamed" might be considered a badge of honor.

Another criticism of "name and shame" policies is the possibility of permanent damage to the reputation of those named. In some cases, a minor drug or shoplifting charge which could be expunged might remain in the public awareness for longer due to "name and shame" lists. Some argue that this is unfair, especially for young offenders who may find it difficult to cope with the public perception of them.

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