Acculturated: Acting out in public means always having to say you’re sorry — at least if your actions are captured on video and posted online. (video at the link)....
She got drunk; she had a public tantrum. She launched an unprovoked attack on a man who was just trying to do his job. It’s hard not to sympathize with those who argue that this form of digilante justice offers swift, sure punishment to the entitled and badly behaved. We’ve replaced the public stocks in the town square with YouTube video shaming, a harsh but effective form of justice.
Ramkissoon at least had the opportunity to try to redeem herself by offering a nationally broadcast apology (she appeared on Good Morning America and declared, “I’m ashamed”; one imagines that had she not been a privileged medical resident, she’d have been giving that interview from the county jail, not across a table from George Stephanopoulus, but no matter).
And yet, those of us who film and watch these meltdowns aren’t entirely without fault either. YouTube is powered by schadenfreude, and ours is an era that has embraced a new voyeuristic bystander effect that encourages us to watch the shameful acts of others while reassuring ourselves that we would never do such a thing.
Perhaps we wouldn’t, but let he who has never had a bad day and said regrettable things in public cast the first stone.
Ramkissoon will soon fade from public memory, to be replaced by the next rude person unfortunate enough to have his or her behavior captured by a phone. But what shouldn’t fade is this question: Is this the kind of justice we want to encourage, one that rejects empathy for immediacy and forgiveness for shaming?