Two days after The New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin was suspended for exposing himself during a Zoom call with colleagues, Christian author Anne Lamott said on Twitter that the public shaming needs to stop.

“Nobody — NOBODY — deserves the level of humiliation that Jeffrey Toobin is being subjected to,” Lamott wrote on Twitter, where she was swiftly criticized for her opinion.

“This is an infuriating take on this issue, I’m unfollowing,” one person posted. Others just simply wrote “unfollowing” or argued that Toobin, who is also a legal analyst for CNN, deserves to be shamed.

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The discussion brought to light an existing divide between people who say public shaming is important and necessary and those who say we should take the high road and avert our eyes when others behave badly. That division reappeared shortly after The New Yorker announced Monday that it had suspended Toobin for last week’s action, which was first reported by VICE.

On social media, some people gleefully ridiculed Toobin, a married father and author of nine books (including one about President Donald Trump, released in August). Others winced, uncomfortable with both the subject matter and the ethics of further goading someone who has been suspended from two jobs and swiftly apologized for what he called “an embarrassingly stupid mistake.”

Conor Friedersdorf, a writer for The Atlantic, wrote on Twitter, “When Occam’s Razor suggests someone humiliated himself through a combo of technological error, pandemic circumstances, bad judgment, & bad luck, it seems like we should react w/ empathy, politeness, & forgiveness, as we would want to be treated, rather than punitive mockery.”

For Lamott, a politically liberal author who found fame writing about her Christian faith, the tweet was in keeping with her faith, which emphasizes forgiveness and mercy. One of the most famous stories of the New Testament of the Bible occurs when Jesus stops the stoning of a prostitute by saying, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

And a Twitter account that publishes Lamott quotes recently posted, “All of us lurch and fall, sit in the dirt, are helped to our feet, keep moving, feel like idiots, lose our balance, gain it, help others get back on their feet, and keep going.”

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Some people who criticized Lamott, however, noted that shame acts as both punishment and a regulator of behavior. Others said that excusing Toobin is unacceptable in the age of #MeToo. “A lot of us are very tired of the excuses made for powerful men,” one person wrote.

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The Toobin story is less than a week old, and much remains unknown, including whether he will lose his high-profile jobs. America has shown a tendency to forgive some transgressions swiftly; others, with time.

As L. Gregory Jones, dean of Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, said in a Deseret News article about the return of golfer Tiger Woods, “This is a phenomenon in American culture in which people make a mistake and then there’s a PR campaign, largely superficial, to say ‘I’m sorry if anyone was offended,’ and then they’re back pretty quickly, after just a month or two out of the limelight.”

But not everyone climbs back to their previous professional heights after being publicly humiliated. Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, who spent 18 months in prison for sending sexually explicit texts to a teenager, is now the CEO of a countertop company, People magazine reported last month.

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