There is a strong Jewish prohibition against embarrassing someone in public: public humiliation is equated with murder.
Character assassination is almost unknown, except in cases when it is unexpected. Reality television has leapt into the breech. Sad, slightly whacky, purposefully unknown and truly sick people have been enouraged to apply to compete in singing, dancing, and knowledge feats. If, for no other reason, to be ridiculed by people who are in little to no way qualified to judge their peers.
In Jewish theology, someone saving a life is thought to have saved an entire world. Would those who aided or abetted Paula Goodspeed’s rush to fame — and public humiliation — be guilty of having destroyed a world? Certainly, Ms. Goodspeed’s world has disappeared.
I fault not the specifics, but the general: Paula Abdul is culpable of trying to save her “career,” along with her showmates, by lending her name and aura to the “American Idol” contest. But she bears, as do her showmates and anyone associated with the show, responsibility for bringing the concept of “Idol” from the theoretical to the real idolatry of a cult of personality, of a cult of fame, of a cult of despair.
Shame on you, Ms. Abdul. And shame on the system, and the viewers, for participating in this particularly cruel Bread and Circus pageant.