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Name and shame?

中国日报网 2015-06-19 10:47



Reader question:Name and shame?

Please explain “name and shame”, as in “a media name and shame campaign.”

My comments:

If the media, including newspapers, television as well as websites make a concerted effort to reveal names of polluting factories, it is a “name and shame” campaign against those polluters.

If the media makes a similar effort to reveal names of factories that sell fake and shoddy goods, i.e. goods that are no good at all, it is, too, a name and shame campaign against these firms.

Or likewise, if the media makes such an effort to identify, say, shops that sell meat of endangered species, such as shark fins, it is a “name and shame” campaign against those guilty shops.

To name and shame is, in other words, to name them and shame them. By revealing the identity of these firms, it is hoped that they will be shamed into remorse and therefore stop doing the terrible things they’ve been doing.

Obviously, “name” and “shame” are used together because they rhyme. “Name and shame” is quite a popular terms these days, a sign of the times we’re in, as more and more people strive for fame and success. They will do anything, you know, even by foul means. As a result, a lot of people end up achieving infamy and notoriety instead.

Name them and shame them, then, so that, hopefully, they’ll be so ashamed of themselves that they have to alter their behavior.

A name and shame campaign, by the way, is different from a smear campaign, another popular expression about giving people a bad name and tarnishing their reputation.

The thing with a smear campaign is that it can be done by bad people against the good, and it can be done by innuendo, i.e. by inventing stories that are not true.

Just to tarnish the good reputation of someone, a public figure especially. To smear, you see, is to stain, make dirty, like, rubbing ink over the beautiful portrait of someone you hate.

The thing with a name and shame campaign, on the other hand, is that the culprits always deserve it, or usually deserve it. Usually, you see, the misconduct has been done and well known. But for some reason, the perpetrators remain free and at large because, say, they are fined by authorities or the authorities choose to conceal their names to save their reputation. Or sometimes authorities refuse to reveal names just to save their own face. In the case of widespread pollution, for instance, if all polluters are named and shamed, very soon people are going to ask relative authorities who have given polluters their operating licenses to answer questions.

Often times, you see, authorities and businesses are cahoots, i.e. they’re in it together.

Therefore, that leaves the media, as the fourth estate, to do the proper thing – to name them and shame them.

That is, when the media are run by people who still have their good conscience and journalistic integrity intact. At least in some cases involving polluters, there are reports of bribery taking on the part of the media as well. Simply put, the media involved say this to the polluting factories: give us money and we’ll take your name off our shaming list.

A shameful act of its own, to be sure.

And this shameful act, too, should be named – by other media people whose sense of conscience and integrity, hopefully, are not yet gone to the dogs.

I believe these people, the good ones, exist – though they must be few and far between for we don’t meet them too often – like, not at all.

I mean, have you met one lately?

Anyhow, you’ve got the point.

Here are media examples of “name and shame”:

1. One real estate agent’s campaign to name and shame other agents who fall foul of the industry’s professional standards may soon become a reality.

John Keating’s 15 year- long campaign came to a head late last month, when the majority of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria’s (REIV) members agreed to his proposed policy change.

The name and shame policy, which would require internal publications to be used to report the names and penalties of agents found to have breached the professional code of conduct, now needs to be approved by the REIV’s board in order to be enacted.

An REIV spokesperson told Real Estate Business that the board would gather later this month to discuss the policy change, but it was unlikely to be implemented due to concerns that it could lead to defamation action by agents.

“While we have to leave the final decision in the hands of the board, I cannot see the motion being carried when they meet this month,” the spokesperson said.

- Agent pushes for ‘name and shame’ policy, RebOnLine.com, December 10, 2009.

2. Feminist Germaine Greer has suggested rape victims should name and shame their attackers online instead of reporting them to the police.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival yesterday the feminist author and academic proposed that women should create dossiers on men who have ‘form’ so that others could be made aware of the risks.

“I wish there were an online rapists’ register and that it was kept up to date, because we know the courts can’t get it right,” said Greer.

“When I say that to people, they get so scared, and say ‘Oh you can’t. What about privacy?’

“Years ago I knew we would never get convictions in a court of law for date rape, so I suggested women kept an online dossier, so if a woman had a date with a guy and he did something to her, or frightened her, and she asked him to stop and he didn't, then instead of going to the police she should put him online.”

“Other women could check this dossier, look up a guy and see that he has form. Then she can say no, or if she does go, goes knowing it’s a high risk strategy.”

Greer, who has spent years campaigning for law changes to boost rape conviction rates, suggested that public humiliation would be a more suitable form of punishment than a lengthy prison sentence.

“I don’t think a sexual bully should go to jail for seven years but a couple of months’ community service wearing a T-shirt with the word ‘rapist’ on it would be good,” she said.

- Name and shame rapists online, says Greer, TheWeek.co.uk, October 11, 2010.

3. BOLTON MP David Crausby has urged his fellow politician Dr Brian Iddon to name and shame MPs he heard discussing ways of maximising expenses claims.

In The Bolton News on Tuesday, Bolton South East MP Dr Iddon admitted to hearing colleagues discussing the practice of “flipping”, or switching their second home designation, in Parliament tearooms.

Now Mr Crausby, who represents Bolton North East, says he is going to send a copy of the paper to Sir Christopher Kelly, who has been tasked with leading an inquiry into the expenses system.

He said: “I think it is a bit out of order to generalise and not name those who he has heard discussing these kinds of practices.

“If these people are acting illegally then Brian should be reporting them to the police. If they are acting outside the rules of Parliament then he should report them to the authorities.

“These are very serious allegations and if there is evidence to support them, it should be handed to the Kelly inquiry.”

- Iddon urged to name and shame, TheBoltonNews.co.uk, June 17, 2015.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:王伟)

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