In the opening of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlet Letter, set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, a young woman who has been convicted of adultery is led through the streets of colonial Salem, a scarlet letter "A" pinned to her chest. The townspeople watch approvingly, gossiping and enjoying her humiliation.
Fast forward….Mothers Against Drunk Driving and their cohorts seem intent on resurrecting humiliation as an added punishment — but only in DUI cases. See, for example, The Scarlet Letters, The Return of the Scarlet Letter and The Scarlet Letter Revisited.
The most recent manifestation of this archaic witch-hunting:
Houston Man to Wear Placard Saying He Killed a Man
Houston, TX. April 19 - A driver who served time in jail for killing a man in a drunk-driving accident in Harris County will now have to advertise his crime by wearing a sign in public.
Harris County Court-at-Law Judge Michael R. Fields has ordered Michael Giacona, 39, to wear the sign, which states “I killed Aaron Coy Pennywell while driving drunk,” during four consecutive Saturdays as part of his two-year probated sentence…
Giacona was ordered to wear the sign from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the accident scene, starting this Saturday.
Aside from the issue of public humiliation generally, one has to ask the question: Why only drunk drivers? Why aren’t rapists, drug dealers, child molesters and murderers forced to wear signs as well?