Hello Kitty, keeping cops honest

In Thailand, unruly officers are forced to accessorize with a Hello Kitty armband.

Published August 6, 2007 9:12PM (EDT)

Thailand plans to shame rule-breaking police officers by making them accessorize with that icon of ultra-girly girlhood: Hello Kitty. No matter how minor the officers' infractions, they will be forced to wear "hot pink armbands featuring 'Hello Kitty' ... sitting atop two hearts," reports the Associated Press. Police Col. Pongpat Chayaphan explained that warnings no longer do the trick, so they're bringing out the big guns of embarrassment. "This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor," Pongpat told the AP. "[Hello] Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It's not something macho police officers want covering their biceps."

The plan seems plain silly, and a sober policy analysis would be similarly silly. But it does have an interesting cultural resonance and raises all sorts of humorless questions: What does it mean for Thailand's female police officers that a cartoonish symbol of femininity is used to shame disobedient colleagues? Will this type of shaming -- which announces that femininity is antithetical to authority and power -- discourage women from joining the ranks of the police?

More important: Will unruly officers also be outfitted with this adorable little handgun?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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