Ask Aliyah: Pregnant Smoking & The Ethics of Public Shaming

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I think I made a mistake. I am really not so sure, I haven’t made up my mind completely and not sure if I will ever come to a conclusion I can settle on.

Last week, while on vacation with my husband and toddler, I saw a pregnant woman smoking. She arrived to the beach with her group and immediately began lighting up one cigarette after the next. I snapped a photo of the woman and immediately tweeted it.

I was furious yet completely smug in my thought that this woman deserved every bit of shame that would come her way.

Now, over a week later, I am still thinking about my tweet and I am not so sure my public condemnation of her actions was appropriate. I still think she is a disgusting pig, and I can feel free to continue to think that way, but in reflection there are plenty of things I do as a person and a parent that I am sure would encourage an onlooker to shame me.

  • While in the security line at the airport, my daughter dropped her cereal bar on the floor – I picked it up and gave it back to her.
  • In her stroller at a crowded outdoor mall, my daughter became upset and needed a distraction – I gave her a tampon.
  • Insistent on eating what Mom and Dad were eating, I allowed my daughter to continuously scoop salsa into her mouth via handfuls of tortilla chips - Until the hotness finally caught up with her and she began to cry loudly in front of a packed patio restaurant.
  • Refusing both the poncho and umbrella I tirelessly tried to cover her with, I have walked through a busy parking lot in the rain with my daughter using both the poncho and umbrella for myself - Allowing my child to be drenched by torrential rains.

So there you go. Perhaps there are tweets, Facebook posts and Reddit photos of my “bad” behavior. I still do think the smoking pregnant woman is a disgusting pig and now feel not quite as bad about calling her out for it. Maybe.

Do you agree, readers? Is it okay to publicly shame strangers on the internet? Let us know what you think in the comments below. And don't forget to send your questions for Aliyah in to askaliyah@sacurrent.com!

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