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Shame is being weaponized by governments and corporations to attack the most vulnerable. It’s time to fight back.
Shame is a powerful and sometimes useful tool. When we publicly shame corrupt politicians, abusive celebrities, or predatory corporations, we reinforce values of fairness and justice. But as best-selling author Cathy O’Neil argues in this revelatory book, shaming has taken a new and dangerous turn. It is increasingly being weaponized — used as a way to shift responsibility for social problems from institutions to individuals. Shaming children for not being able to afford school lunches or adults for not being able to find work lets us off the hook as a society. After all, why pay higher taxes to fund programmes for people who are fundamentally unworthy?