Woman Forced to Wear ‘Idiot’ Sign as Punishment for Driving on Sidewalk

Punishment through public humiliation is nothing new.

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As Cleveland resident Shena Hardin discovered this week, today’s justice system is not above embarrassing wrongdoers.

Hardin, 32, was caught on a cell phone video driving on a sidewalk to avoid waiting for a school bus last month. After witnessing  Hardin bypass his vehicle repeatedly, the bus driver contacted authorities before his route one day and recorded the crime, CBS affiliate WOIO reported. The footage, posted on YouTube, shows police pulling the offender over immediately following her stint on the walkway.

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The Associated Press reported Hardin appeared on Monday at Cleveland Municipal Court, where a judge decided that she must wear a sign bearing the message, “Only an idiot drives on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus” while standing at the intersection of East 38th Street and Payne Avenue. The punishment will occur between 7:45 and 8:45 a.m. on Nov. 13 and 14. In addition, Hardin’s license was suspended for 30 days, and she had to pay $250 in court fees.

Punishment through public humiliation is nothing new. Throughout history, punishers have turned individuals into public spectacles thanks to devices such as scold’s bridles — a forehead-enclosing iron instrument with a metal gag used to torture nagging wives and gossipy women in Europe during the 1600s — and dunce caps. And this isn’t the first time this year a judge has employed sign-shaming to penalize lawbreakers. NBC affiliate KSDK reported an Indiana judge forced a man who skipped jury duty to hold a sign with the message, “I failed to appear for jury duty” outside the Crown Point courthouse for two days in January. In 2009, two Bedford, Penn. women who stole a child’s gift card on her birthday were compelled to display signs that said, “I stole from a 9-year-old on her birthday! Don’t steal or this could happen to you!” outside of Bedford County Courthouse as part of their plea agreement.

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