For shame

Last month, a 13-year-old girl committed suicide.

Izzy Laxamana had disobeyed her parents by snapping a revealing selfie and texting it to a crush. As punishment, the seventh-grader's father cut off all her hair and then filmed the distraught teen's reaction.

By the next morning the video, posted to YouTube, had gone viral among Izzy's peers, who passed the clip from cellphone to cellphone.

The following day, Izzy jumped off a freeway overpass. She died May 30.

Reportedly, it's Izzy who actually uploaded that video. Regardless, the shaming it brought—both in her home and online—effected a brutal result.

Such shaming has become such a modern cultural phenomenon that there's a new book, Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed, devoted to the subject. The takeaway: Mistakes are made and the collective Internet rushes to eviscerate the guilty. I've witnessed it with public figures. I've witnessed it among my own online community. I've been guilty of such shaming, too.

I've thought about this a lot lately. About my own culpability. About Izzy.

I've thought about it, in particular, as I've read endless posts, tweets and comments on Rachel Dolezal, the white woman busted for pretending to be African-American—a decade-long ruse that earned her, among other things, a job as the head of the Spokane NAACP.

Unlike Izzy's teenage mistakes, Dolezal's adult actions were deplorable and indefensible. Still, it's unsettling to observe the way we leap to rip her apart.

Dolezal, who resigned from the NCAAP, will likely, and rightly, face consequences for her misdeeds and lies.

For better or worse, she'll also likely find that, when it comes to the Internet's thirst for acting as judge, jury and executioner, no punishment will ever be enough.