I have been in touch with my fellow designers of weapons of mass destruction at Los Alamos, New Mexico, who have been driven out of town by the 90,000-acre Los Conchas wild fire. They tell me that law enforcement in the area is warning folks of fradulent phone calls purporting to be soliciting donations for the Red Cross. This has prompted a couple of thoughts on my part.
First, it is touching that people are so generous that the morality deficient among us are trying to get a piece of the action.
Second, this is outrageous in a peculiar way. These con artists aren’t robbing people at gunpoint. They aren’t stealing from people who are starving. They aren’t molesting children. What they are doing is just low.
It strikes me that this is exactly the kind of act for which public shaming would be the ideal punishment. I would be happy to put these people in stocks for a day in the public square in Los Alamos, and help hand out rotten fruit to passersby. It’s not like hanging them by the neck until dead, or letting them rot in jail, or fining them huge amounts of money. What it is is an opportunity for them to experience the profoundly deep sense of shame that is presently entirely missing from their character.