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Shame and punishment, democracy and anger

Pepinsky, Hal.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) The Red Feather Journal of Postmodern Criminology 8. Downloaded 2 June 2004.

Hal Pepinsky grapples with the questions why we in the United States are so punitive in our war on crime and how we can transform that punitiveness into peacemaking. He asserts that shame is the prime suspect for what makes us punitive. In contrast, democracy can transform shame into openness, into anger directed at the people who actually caused the hurt as against being projected onto other, more politically convenient targets. The point is not to act in more punitive ways but to let the anger go through open acknowledgment of what caused the harm and the consequent shame. Hence, Pepinsky proposes that we quit measuring trends in crime and criminality as identified by official crime recorders; rather, we focus on measuring how democratic and open human relations become.


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