LETTER: A better way than shame

If you’ve come out from under a rock recently, you may have noticed a number of signs on campus with the word “Bigot” in big red letters. Often, the word is spray painted on the sidewalk, while in other places there are posters with phrases like “Do you ever use the phrase, that’s so gay?” or “Do you look twice at interracial couples?” under the emphasized red word, “Bigot.”

And while the intended aim of this movement is far from negative, the methodology employed in spreading their message could be so much better. The ad-campaign is based around the simple notion that guilt and shame are good motivating factors for change. Especially evident in the one-word spray painted signs, but also present in the more extensive posters, the word “Bigot” is aimed at a huge number of people, and its blood-red font is meant to make that group of people rethink the way they treat other people. The questions that sometimes follow attempt to increase this self-doubt and guilt. And once they feel bad enough about it, the idea is that they will change their actions.

The problem is, any type of change rooted in self-doubt and guilt will never be as conducive to real change as more positive methods could be. If you can show someone the right way to act, instead of pointing out the wrong in him or her, you will always be more successful in convincing him or her of your point.

Sadly, on Thursday, there was a man using a similarly shocking approach to push views that go strictly against those of the people behind the “Bigot” signs. This “preacher” was dressed in a red T-shirt that said in big yellow letters “All homos go to hell” on the front and “No homos go to heaven” on the back with a reference to Bible scripture under each.

Yet what both attempts at change have in common are their use of shock and shame to get a message across. We have a continued reliance on a type of morality that wants to punish people into doing what is “right,” instead of inspiring them through action. It’s this system of name-calling and labeling that pushes people first to self-doubt, then to self-hate and then finally to hate itself.

Imran Siddiquee

Senior in LAS