A Modern Day Hester Prynne
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines shunning as "to avoid deliberately and especially habitually." This narrow definition doesn't begin to cover how those who have been shunned probably feel. To be shunned is to be completely shut out from your society, leaving you surrounded by people but still alone. Shunning was very important in Puritan society to keep people in check. If behavior deviated from what was acceptable at the time, shunning was used as a punishment to keep this behavior from happening again. Shunning has not stopped today, it has just taken a more informal form. It continues because we still have a desire to point out the faults of others, perhaps in an attempt to make ourselves look better by comparison. Shunning today takes forms like bad media coverage, losing a court case, or being rejected by fans.
One example of shunning in modern society is recent tobacco litigation and regulations set up against tobacco companies like Philip Morris.
Philip Morris and other major tobacco companies have worked hard over the past few decades to cover up evidence that smoking is bad for your health. Tobacco companies conducted their own research that showed smoking their product could cause potentially fatal diseases long before this information was revealed to the public. Some such diseases shown to be caused by cigarette smoking are emphysema, lung cancer, and bronchitis or asthma. In addition to withholding this information, tobacco companies have manipulated the levels of nicotine in their product to get more people addicted to it. Tobacco companies have also marketed cigarettes to an age group that is not of legal age to smoke them. For these many atrocities, society has punished tobacco companies.
The shunning of tobacco companies started in the form of litigation. Thousands of plaintiffs brought...