For the record, I think judging the validity of public shaming as a tactical move to gain the upper hand in a debate should not depend on whether you're on the same side as the person or media outlet using it. Just saying.
I think that shame can be a very useful tool, although I personally dislike it and probably would not use it. However, the fact that I would not use it does not make it inherently an invalid tool - it just means that it's not a tool in my personal collection.
On the other hand, I have seen it used to great effect by other people, for specific furtherance of causes that I believe worthwhile.
I see where you're coming from and I agree it matters how things are spoken of in public, language is a power tool too. But I think someone had a point earlier in this thread that it's actually hard to find good examples of when the tactic of shaming a specific individual over something they had said and spreading that quotation around, just as a quote, with a shame commentary - when that kind has been essential in the long run to a struggle for liberating a group in society (women, blacks, colonized peoples etc). Focusing on things like corrupt justice and trumped-up trials, lynchings and half-regular brutalities (yeah, rapes too, used as a means of oppression), hokey jingoism feeding into war, stereotypes and dumb rules in education (almost typed deuceucation
, lol), election practices and efforts to keep some groups off the vote etc - highlighting those has been much more effective.
One good example of a viral "quote shaming moment" having been a key to changing the perception of an issue* is when McCarthy was actually featured in a tv documentary (See It Now
) and the U.S. people - those who had tv sets and the media, anyway, but by extension most people got to hear about it - could see and hear the way he questioned witnesses, see him calling the ACLU "a front for, and doing the work of" the Communist Party, accusing the Democrats (and Roosevelt) of treason against the nation and so on. That one helped swing how he, and his own story of protecting the free world, were perceived. The tv program helped create a counter-narrative and question how Joe and the HUAC were telling their story. But it did not show McCarthy in any kind of private, off-work space. The things he said in that one were not meant to have been digested by the wider public, but few of them, I think, were just private wisdom hauled out and paraded on tv.
The effect of the anti-McCarthy narrative was lasting. These days it's pretty much impossible for many of us to use the line "Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?" outside of an ironic frame, though when it was used at the HUAC, it was dead serious and could maul people's lives. His classic pick-up line has been shamed in retrospect!
So okay, that's a good one (though not about private
or semi-private quotes), but it's not that much about protecting an underprivileged group, unless radicals, communists and liberals at the time are seen as long-term underprivileged and oppressed, and I think the effect of that candid documentary had a lot to do with many people in Washington already beginning to feel mistrustful of Joe Mccarthy and wanting to downgrade him. The timing was right.
And it's still rarer to find instances where named shaming of somebody who is pretty much unknown to the wider public, just any John Blow, has been effective and worth the effort - without creating bad fallout. With a well-known politician, official or businessman, a public personality, it can work sometimes, but with unknowns that suddenly get spun around the public news scene and now the social media, it gets very tricky. There's a built-in risk for creating a shit-slinging fight, too, because either party will likely want to get the last word and insults (even if stitched together with real arguments) are good money in a fight online.
The context of shaming is extremely important, and cannot really be separated from its use. After all, I think it's wrong to shame a woman into trying to be less sexual. I have no problem with shaming someone - man or woman - into being less sexist, though.
I agree context is important, but once you've spoken, or once you're in a conversation that's in any sense public - or could open to the public a little while later - you can't fully control how your remarks get read, interpreted, heard. So you get a mutual, open-ended right to be offended, and to use that sense of offendedness to push each other around. And with "less sexy" vs "less sexist" the trouble in that perspective is that what one person experiences as "asserting myself as a sexual person, claiming my own sexuality" can potenatially be, to somebody else, one with "grabbing the right to indulge in sexism about me, my kind or other people - and/or invading my privacy by pushing their sense of sexiness up into everybody's faces". Sometimes 'having the space to be sexy in yourself' and 'acting/talking sexist at others' are two sides of the same coin and I don't think it's enough to just invoke that one camp - women, female geeks, or elder men, whtever - are *always* at a disadvantage in our culture and therefore should *always* have the right to do sexist talk or actions for free and not get called out on it.
It's not that I see you taking that line personally as a set thing, but if we don't have any other yardsticks than a)"I like this kind of shaming, but not that one, those doing it" and b)"my gang has the right to shame others and be blatantly sexist about others, but your group doesn't have the right to reply in kind, hey they're always the oppressors" then the conflict logic is gonna point that way sometimes.*edit 6 p.m. CET: a good example of the general dynamics of it, anyway. There were no one or two single quotes from that tv program that alone changed the image of Joe McCarthy, and he was not shown in private. But actually hearing the paranoid tone of his questioning and his other off-the-cuff remarks was essential, and this started a windfall in his public image.