On Public Shaming
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Student Life

On Public Shaming

Is this kid really going to learn something if he's receiving death threats?

On Public Shaming

Over the Halloween weekend, as most of us living in Central Arkansas are aware of, a student at the University of Central Arkansas went to a Halloween party at his fraternity in Blackface. Only to make matters worse, when he offered a (questionable) apology, he stated that he just wanted to dress up as Bill Cosby (an alleged serial rapist) and that he had not been aware of the cultural significance of Blackface before he received backlash for his costume. The fraternity has been suspended and rumor has it that the student has been expelled. As I watched (and commented on) this student's story, I asked myself, "Is this kid really going to learn something if he's receiving death threats?"

There's absolutely no doubt that the student acted in ignorance. As we've seen so many times before in the world of social media, people make very questionable decisions and then because of those decisions, their stories become instant internet sensations and they are subjected to the opinions of millions of people. Some of these opinions are very valid and constructive, while others suggest violence, ridicule and shame as answers for educating someone who lacks knowledge on social and/or political issues. When commenting on these situations, it's often that I see friends attacking, rather than informing, the people they are calling out for poor behavior.

I am not going to pretend that I have not been a perpetuator of these opinions. I constantly use twitter and I will retweet, favorite or post opinions of a situation without much thought if I find them to be funny or witty. I won't pretend that this is a problem that can be easily fixed. It's hard not to be extremely passionate about the issues facing our cultures and societies today. While being actively involved in the betterment of our society is beautiful and very necessary, that passion can make it harder for our goals to be met. If we are hostile rather than constructively critical, it's likely that those whose behavior we are trying to change will only see the hostile opinions of themselves and focus on that rather than on the faults in their own behavior.

I'll repeat this. I am defending NO ONE. I absolutely do think that people who post racist or otherwise questionable posts online are subject to backlash. All I am saying is, if all we do is attack these people, how can we expect them to listen? It's hard to remember that we are talking about three-dimensional people when we are sitting behind a phone or computer screen.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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