What are people’s objections to using the pillory where the only physical element is the plainness of eating just bread and water and the discomfort of standing or kneeling? The device need not involve starvation, whipping, stoning or any of the like, especially if such abuses are forbidden and sealed with punishment. There is one problem with the punishment:
From a modern penological standpoint, the interesting thing about the pillory was that it confused deterrence and vengeance with retribution. Retribution, as Ernest van den Haag points out, ‘is not inflicted to gratify or compensate anyone who suffered a loss or was harmed by the crime — even if it does so — but to enforce the law and to vindicate the legal order.’ Furthermore, ‘retribution is to restore and objective order rather than to satisfy a subjective craving for revenge.’ (Carolyn Strange, Qualities of Mercy: Justice, Punishment, and Discretion, 35)
Those who wanted the pillory to fall out of use, then, cited primarily “the very real opportunity it afforded for the kind of proletarian usurpation of judicial authority that could occur when a ferocious mob nearly killed an offender for a non-capital crime” (ibid.).
But certainly there are ways to protect criminal punishment, and criminals themselves, from the irrational temper of the crowd. For any punishments we have in the United States there are measures against abuse. Thus the primary characteristic of the pillory can be public shame for a crime, which in my book is entirely appropriate for penal justice, if those present will treat it gravely and soberly.
If, therefore, the only issue is that the use of the pillory seems archaic and too traditional, then I do not see that as a strong case against using it as a punishment in different degrees for insobriety, fraud and other crimes. Do you think the pillory should indeed have become a relic of the past? Why?