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Reply To: The Power of the Personal,” with Mythologist Dennis Slattery, Ph.D.”

Dennis Slattery

    Yes, Shaheda, if I can use that spelling, out shame has been institutionalized in many ways. For example, I began my teaching career in the fall of 1968 teaching 11 “Special Education” students. Now some had neurological damage, others had trouble controlling themselves and had been put in this “Special” class to get them away from the “normal students” as the principal told me. Some were very bright and were bored in the regular classroom. But to be in the “special” class was a shaming of them and the other students in the school shunned them, as if they were carrying a disease.

    I also learned how psychological testing could be used to “dump” the student into the special class. I think poverty and keeping a large section of the population is a way of shaming an entire people.

    Another way is to shame a person who was once an inmate by restricting them from voting, acquiring certain jobs and more, so that their time in the “correctional” institution–what a lovely term, does nothing to alleviate the shame the culture bestows on these citizens by stripping them down into some less-than-human element.

    I believe that culturally-sanctioned and promoted shaming is a form of violence–shall I say even a rape–of individual dignity.

    Like rape, it is an act of violence that stigmatizes certain populations, thus keeping them in their “rightful place” in the hierarchy.

    I like very much what you say at the end of your fine observations; you are right–shaming is a way to silence individuals and entire classes in society. Let them be seen but not heard is the assumption from the ruling elite. Thanks  so much for your fine insights. I will indeed read Schultz’s essay very soon.  James, I will respond to your missive in the very near future. I enjoy so much both of you.