"Wall of Shame" is a negative term for a separation barrier that, in the opinion of those using term, brings shame upon the builders or others. In some cases, it is the circumstances of the wall's construction or its intended purpose that is fingered as bringing dishonor. In other cases, a collection of photographs or names is posted on the wall, for the purpose of shaming those listed there, or the actions or situations depicted or described. The term may also be used to refer to a published collection of names or photographs (such a newspaper column or web page) which follows this convention.
In the sense of a collection of information, a wall of shame is the opposite of a "wall of hope", "hall of fame" or an "honor roll". Another name for "wall of shame" is "hall of shame."
Use of defensive walls
In ancient times, defensive walls
were an integral part of the military
defense strategy of many cities, and in some cases (such as the Great Wall of China
and Hadrian's Wall
) large territories. Later developments in warfare technology, such as artillery
, and missiles
, have rendered the defensive wall considerably less effective at preventing full-scale invasion.
Use of term
The term was first used in reference to the Berlin Wall
, which separated East Berlin
from West Berlin
. In 1961 the government of East Germany
named the erected wall as the "Anti-fascist protection wall", a part of the inner German border
; many Berliners, however, called it "Schandmauer
" ("Wall of Shame"). Outside Germany it first appeared as "Wall of Shame" in a cover story published by Time Magazine
, and President of the United States John F. Kennedy
referred used the term in his Annual Message to the US Congress
on the State of the Union
, January 14
Some people have referred to other walls, fences and barriers in this manner, including:
Criticism of term
The modern physical walls described above are often criticized as "walls of shame" because as separation barriers
they prevent the free flow of civilians. They may also be perceived as a tool of some other form of oppression
or injustice, such as the maintenance of an authoritarian
regime or territorial expansion.
The term "wall of shame" is not used by the creators of these physical walls. Military, security, and economic reasons are most commonly cited to justify the building of such barriers.
- "The Democratic Invention" academic article by Mário Soares, former Prime minister and later President of Portugal (1986-1996), referring to the Berlin Wall as the "Wall of Shame". Journal of Democracy 10.2 (1999) 105-112
- "Our Europe" Speech by Jacques Chirac, President of France, to the Bundestag, 27 June 2000, referring to the Berlin Wall as the "Wall of Shame"
- 2002 Speech by Romano Prodi, Prime Minister of Italy and former President of the European Commission, referring to the Berlin Wall as the "Wall of Shame".
- "Gibraltar: The Legal Issues" academic paper by J. E. S. Fawcett in International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs), Vol. 43, No. 2 (Apr., 1967) , pp. 236-251, mentioning Spain and British Gibraltar border as a "Wall of Shame"
- In 1998 UNIFEM organized a photo exhibit at the United Nations that contrasted a "wall of shame," focusing on women's plight and suffering, with a "wall of hope" showcasing initiatives to end violence against women
- A wall, allegedly built to hide the realities of Dominican Republic poverty from the visiting dignitary or tourist, is known by everyone there as the "Muro de la Verguenza", or the "Wall of Shame"
- Academic paper by M Lachance (York University) "Geographies of protests: spatialities of social movements activities" (2003), about the Quebec "wall of shame"