Was 2011 the year that shame died?

Dominic Sandbrook today claims in the Daily Mail website’s ‘RightMinds’ section that ‘2011 was the year that shame died’. His reasons for believing this to be true are: the London riots; riots across Europe as austerity took hold; Liam Fox clinging to his job; Sally Bercow entering TV’s Big Brother; two England captains (John Terry, Football and Mike Tindall, Rugby) getting into trouble; fat cat bankers; Fred Goodwin and ‘two Croydon girls, drinking a bottle of looted wine at nine in the morning’.

Somehow, Sandbrook doesn’t find any room for even the faintest mention of the shameful state of the tabloid press or the days of appalling evidence of shameless tabloid actions collated so far by the Leveson inquiry.

Instead – like all good tabloid journalists – Sandbrook prefers to blame the normal groups for the death of shame; the ‘feral underclass’, the ‘Left’ and any kind of social liberalism in general. All of the tabloid cliches are wheeled out, including the classic Daily Mail fantasy:

Of course, few of us would enjoy life in the 1950s, when landladies put up ‘No Coloureds’ notices, and when ignorance and intolerance forced tens of thousands of women to seek bloody and dangerous back-street abortions.

Yet thanks in part to the decline of Christianity, we have lost the sense that morality is public as well as private.

The Daily Mail still holds dear the values of the 1950s – institutional racism, deep-rooted misogyny and a rigid, overbearing sense of class division – and as a newspaper is just completing another year of morally bankrupt and socially irresponsible journalism. It is ironic that Sandbrook writes a missive on the death of shame in a newspaper that has no shame, and Sandbrook just reinforces this by not even mentioning the Leveson inquiry of the general conduct of the press in 2011.

Sandbrook hopes that next year:

we can genuinely rediscover the virtues of social responsibility and moral austerity

But he isn’t convinced. I don’t blame him, when one of the most socially and morally bankrupt institutions in the world dares write about shame without even the merest acknowledgment of its own consistently shameful conduct, things are not about to get any better.

Remember when The Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and Sun run huge front page stories about Christopher Jefferies – painting him as a ‘nutty professor’, a ‘peeping Tom’, ‘strange’ and many other unproven smears? Remember when those same newspapers – when forced by the courts to apologise – then buried the apologies on page 2?

Shame is just another topic that no tabloid journalist should ever write about unless they are about to confess the sins of their profession.