Shame is underrated as a deterrent to bad behavior. People who scoff at fines or even jail time don't like it one bit when they're shamed in public. Some governments still take full advantage of this, to hilarious and/or horrifying results.
#5. Colombia Dispatches Mimes to Shame Traffic Violators
Unless you actually are one, chances are you find mimes annoying as shit. Any actual artistic merit they once had is long gone, and all that's left is a shell of a caricature, a failed clown without the verbal skills required to excitedly ask kids if they're ready for a Bozo-riffic good time.
Ooooorrrr ... maybe not.
So it would stand to reason that being scolded by such an annoying, useless creature would be a good way to ensure that you stopped doing whatever caused the scolding. That's what the mayor of Bogota, Colombia was anticipating, anyway. Back in 1998, the city was suffering through a jaywalking epidemic. Unlike most places, where they pretend to care about jaywalking laws but never enforce them because otherwise everybody on the planet would be drowning in tickets, Bogota actually wanted to quell the problem. And they did so by publicly mocking and humiliating offenders via the power of mime.
When a pedestrian would jaywalk or commit some similar offense, a mime would appear and hold up a sign that said, "INCORRECTO," which, despite being an actual word, sounds exactly like a fake Spanish sound that people use when breaking out their award-winning Speedy Gonzales impression.
Via Harvard University Gazette
That bus driver is staring down more temptation than any man in history.
But a big pink sign wasn't enough; the mime would then go into full Mime Mode, mocking the jaywalkers by walking behind them and mirroring their movements, like the world's most punchable shadow. And as you might have already assumed, this asinine plan totally ... succeeded? Yes, it actually worked, without one mime so much as getting slapped in the dick. Turns out, traffic tickets mean nothing to the average jaywalker, since they're almost never large enough to matter. But everyone hates being humiliated, and so people started going to great lengths to cross the street correctly, lest they get laughed at by somebody whose basic job description does not allow for actual laughing.
It was so successful, in fact, that the initial platoon of 20 mimes was soon backed up by 400 more, meaning 420 goddamned mimes were running around Bogota, laughing at people who dared walk outside the lines. Thanks to them, traffic fatalities quickly dropped by half, only picking back up once the mayor left office and the mime program was discontinued. This proves that most cities, when given the choice of risking everyone getting hit by buses, or having their city overrun by one of the least popular forms of entertainment around, will take their chances with the bus, thank you very much.
#4. Hello Kitty Armbands for Corrupt Police
Bangkok, Thailand, had an issue with police officers who played by their own rules. And by that, we mean littering, mouthing off to superiors, being dicks to random citizens, and just generally being assholes. None of these offenses was egregious enough for an actual arrest, and firing the officers wouldn't have worked, since then Bangkok would have had, like, three cops left. And that's not nearly enough to quell the sea of drunk American tourists who keep walking up to random Thai girls and asking them if they secretly have dicks "like in the movies."
The big bosses clearly had to do something about this, and so they settled on public shaming, via shit like plaid armbands, signifying that the cop had done wrong. Problem was, many of these guys weren't all that capable of shame. The bands were marking a crime that they committed, and they were proud of it, turning the mark into a badge of honor. So the bosses needed to find a way to find something so shameful there was no way the cop could strut around proud of his accomplishments. That something was a sugary-sweet cartoon marketed toward little girls.
Ever had your ass kicked by a man in a Hello Kitty armband? Keep laughing.
Yes, the Bangkok police forced their errant officers to wear special armbands featuring the likeness of Hello Kitty, the mouthless cartoon cat that survives on a diet of love, hearts, and pink everything. She became part of the official Thai police fuckup uniform.
For a while, anyway; the armbands actually didn't last very long. As a tool of humiliation, they must have worked pretty well, since officers forced to wear them were absolutely furious. They hated it so much that they actually caused a rebellion, forcing the higher-ups to cancel the program. We can find no flaw in that logic whatsoever.
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"Officer, this is the fourth time you've pulled me over this week for a mandatory ass-kicking."
#3. Judge Forced to Mail 500 Pictures of Herself in Handcuffs
Joan Orie Melvin used to be a judge in Pennsylvania's Supreme Court, winning election in 2009 -- with a little help. See, Melvin's sister Jane was a state senator, and her office chipped in, money-wise and rig-the-polls-wise. In case you're wondering, that's nothing close to legal. Jane and Joan were arrested and charged with using office resources for Joan's campaign.
Now, it's always awkward when judges face trial themselves. What is the not-in-trouble judge supposed to do when deciding the fate of a former colleague? Should he give a little leeway, in the name of professional courtesy? Or should he throw not just the book, but the entire library at them, since the defendant disgraced their profession and all?
"You remember most of these people, don't you? It's like a family reunion!"
Well, Lester Nauhaus, the judge who decided the case of ex-judge Melvin did neither; he did not let her off scot-free, nor did he throw her into federal prison for 50 years. After Joan was found guilty, she was sentenced to house arrest and probation. Considering that punishment can be summarized as "sit at home and don't kill nobody," she seemingly got off light. Except no, she did not. Judge Nauhaus decided that Jane needed to really atone for her crimes, to the people hurt most by all this -- her colleagues on the bench. Therefore, he ordered Jane to handwrite individual apologies to every judge in Pennsylvania. All 500 of them.
That in itself would be pretty bad, especially once carpal tunnel kicked in. But Nauhaus wasn't done. Melvin was forced to write said apologies on a photo of herself, wearing handcuffs and looking rather mopey and defeated.
"Good, now put on this mascara so we can really see those tears."
Also, Melvin was forced to mail, and pay the postage on, all 500 photos by herself. This might have been the worst punishment of all. Not the spending-hundreds-of-dollars part, but rather the using-the-postal-service part. Did she even remember how? We know if we had to use the mailbox for anything like this, we'd need at least a two-week refresher course on how you don't use dozens of stamps to spell out your email address. Unless that is what you do? We're not sure.