Saturday, 7 February 2009

Let's stigmatise more!

One of those involved in the campaign to encourage pregnant women to give up smoking said: it is important we don't stigmatise women who smoke when pregnant, as they will then not approach anyone for help.

this sounds so eminently reasonable - but in fact it is not. It is because we no longer stigmatise divorce, abortion, promiscuity etc etc that they are rampant in our society.

To stigmatise means to make it clear that some things are not socially acceptable. It is a healthy and important part of the way in which civilised societies regulate the behaviour of individuals.

It does not, of course mean to persecute, but it does mean to disapprove. Once we cease disapproving of bad behaviour, as a society, it escalates rapidly.

Clearly stigamtisation may have some unfortunate consequences - such as a few people not asking for help they may need. However, the alternative seems to be to abandon any moral standards in society - and look where that has got us!

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