Friday, July 29, 2011

a sober declaration

On my way to work this morning, on a local state highway, I passed a work crew picking up trash along the roadway. As I approached a dark pink, square sign with it's corners pointing in compass directions proclaimed "DUI Utility Crew." My eyesbrows arched slightly: this was a first.

As I passed the crew I couldn't miss the yellow-green neon workvests sported by many roadwork crews, but neither could I miss the words blaring on their backs: I am a drunk driver. These were men and women, most of them between the ages of 20 and 40.

As my travels took me past and away from them I pondered the vests. My first reaction was that the identification of these workers as drunk drivers seemed shaming. I'm not a fan of using shame as a tactic to effect behavior. And then I thought again. Was this shaming? It was an honest statement, and communicated a great deal. Should the fact that they made a choice to drive while under the influence be hidden? Does it make an impact on them in a way that will effect that choice in the future?

I'm still pondering, and would be interested to hear what you think.


Nancy said...

Since they put others at risk of death when they drive under the influence, I think it is fair to identify them with the vests. Plus, it may cause others to reflect on whether they would like to be in the next crew cleaning the roadside in a reflective vest.

Allison said...

I'm greatly in favor of this tactic. I think there's a difference between shame as a weapon and shame as a tool. Allison

The Bug said...

I agree with Allison. There are some folks who won't care to pay a fine as long as other people don't find out. It might make them think twice before drinking & driving if they know that this might be a consequence.

Terri said...

Shame can be inflicted under inappropriate circumstances, one human being shaming another, with the intention of belittling that person. But this shame is an appropriate shame, the consequence of ones own behavior. Some suggest that we have lost our ability to feel ashamed for our actions, and therefore do more egregious things.

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