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Judge Orders Woman to Wear ‘Idiot’ Sign

Judge Orders Woman to Wear ‘Idiot’ Sign

The “badge of shame” punishment tactic used in the 1850 book The Scarlet Letter seems to be making a comeback. Cleveland resident, Sheena Hardin, received a sentence on Monday to wear a sign labeling her an ‘idiot,’ after driving on a sidewalk to avoid a school bus stop sign.

School bus driver Uriah Herron caught Ms. Hardin driving on the sidewalk to avoid stopping for the students and videotaped her doing so. Herron told the police, and a few days later Hardin was caught doing it a second time.

In addition to a 30-day license suspension and a $250 fine for court costs, Judge Pinkey S. Carr ordered Hardin to stand in the intersection where the violation occurred wearing a 22″ x 22″ sign with the words, “Only an idiot drives on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.”

According to ABC News, Hardin must wear the sign next Tuesday and Wednesday, from 7:45am to 8:45am.

What are your thoughts on this sentence? Is Harrin’s shame-sign warranted?

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Megan Zehnder

Megan is an editor and producer for Care2's Healthy Living. Her main priorities are to live simply and build meaningful relationships with the people in her life. She loves to write and talk about environmental issues, healthy living, and women's rights. Beyond that, her interests change daily, but eating and cooking vegetarian food is always a favorite.


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3:39AM PDT on May 23, 2013

I think being humiliated is exactly what these stupid offenders need - she needs to be fined massively and then made to wear that idiot sign EVERYWHERE she goes, not just at the sight.

1:02PM PST on Jan 5, 2013

I love the idea. Humiliation is often a much better teacher than outright punishment which has nothing in common with the offense.

8:20AM PST on Jan 5, 2013

I think she got away lightly... a fair punishment

4:00AM PST on Jan 5, 2013

Very strange, hope it worked.

4:40PM PST on Jan 4, 2013

I think this judge is on to something. It is very obvious the traditional punishments are not working. He has come up with a relatively safe, cost effective and limited punishment. The number of people in jails and prisons is overwhelming. The cost to the nation is staggering. Jails and prisons have people incarcerated for repeated offences. The huge gang wars inside of this institutions is reflects the attitude on the streets. It reflects the moral disregard for the individual's right to live in a peaceful world without violence and guns.

The only way to change this vicious state of affairs is to think outside the box. I believe this judge is doing so.

4:23PM PST on Jan 4, 2013

I think that public humiliation for an act that was selfish, stupid and dangerous is likely to be a far more effective deterant than a mere fine.

2:04PM PST on Jan 4, 2013

Actually, wearing THAT sign doesn't go far enough: people could read it to mean she's pointing the sentiment elsewhere. I think the sign should continue with: 'I AM that idiot', lol.

Those not from the US might not know that it's against the law--and a serious violation here to pass a stopped school bus with its flashers on from EITHER DIRECTION. So many children were hit by drivers before the law was passed, so it's become part of our culture. THIS idiot (there's no other word which fits) deliberately chose to flout the law because she thinks she's either too important or somehow the only one it does not apply to? The judge was right and it IS within his discretion to make such a ruling. Judges can order street sweeping and other such 'punishments' when and where they think it will do the most good.

1:41PM PST on Jan 4, 2013

I agree.I live in UK where newspapers provide a name and surename+sometimes even the street (but not address)where people accused of crime live, to shame them and let the community know.

12:02PM PST on Jan 4, 2013

In Auschwitz, certain prisoners were made to wear 'idiot' boards. Check Primo Levi. The woman was obviously idiotic, but it seems arbitary that a judge can simply invent punishments...

3:50PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

I don't object. Peer pressure can be amazingly effective in gaining conformity. In this case, conformity with the law.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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