The Puritanical code shamed vices in order to improve the common lot and aid common survival, and that unerring view continues to permeate not only New England, but an entire nation that remains, critics say, both egregious in its excesses and churlish in its judgments.
In recent years, some US judges have returned to the “scarlet letter” idea by forcing convicts to publicly display what crimes they’ve committed. The US public, skeptical about the rehabilitative effects of prison, has largely applauded such sentences, according to the New York Law School’s Justice Action Center.
The Zumba Madam case is, of course, different. The names are to be released as a matter of legal course. Soliciting a prostitute is a misdemeanor in Maine, meaning that those found guilty will face fines but no jail time. But the punishment of being publicly outed could be far worse for the politicians, policemen, farmers, accountants, and even a TV personality who are believed to be included on Ms. Wright’s client list.
“There's still some of that puritanical New England left around," Will Bradford, who owns a copy shop in town, told the Associated Press. "There are places in the world that would laugh at this."
Meantime, however, a counter-Puritan argument has emerged suggesting a more modern idea that the names should be sealed since it’s likely that innocent people will also be victimized by the release of the names.