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Welcome to the Snitch Organization

What is a snitch? Someone acting as an informer (snitching), or decoy for the police, or perhaps give away confidential and damaging information by snitching about somebody who has done something wrong, illegal or immoral.

Unfortunately, there's a phenomenon promoting a "no snitching" code of silence regarding reporting crimes to the police. Many young people (under 25 in particular) feel it's a crime in the community to be a snitch." This no-snitching "value" has transcended through time and remains an active cultural directive among various criminal gangs, prisoners and parolees.

Presently, this no-snitch culture now exists within the mainstream. In fact, it's so common that commercial enterprises are now profiting from the sales of bumper stickers, window decals, T-shirts and other items of clothing which contain the "no-snitch" logo. These items are sold online and in any number of retail outlets. Hip Hop music is rife with the "no-snitch" message and now the effects of this commercialization are showing its impact here in our own communities.

There are many reasons given by supporters of a "no-snitch" value. The predominant value that informs this phenomenon is the community cannot and should not trust the police. There are a few examples of police misusing their authority for sure, but the vast majority of officers are among the best of all of our citizens in terms of ethics, morality, respect for our constitution, and for having a selfless interest in serving others. Contrarily, the criminals who are urging others to clam up from the police are, well, just criminals. Criminals are clearly the benefactors of any social trends that keep them shielded from the law.

Those who are the biggest advocates of not being a snitch by not reporting crimes or being a witness and have a an interest in staying out of the law's reach. By intimidating potential witnesses and victims into avoiding the legal system, illegal drug and gun dealers, murderers and the like can enjoy lower chances of going to prison. Curiously, these criminals are finding that their self-serving message, which attempts to make snitching socially unacceptable, is resonating with a surprisingly large number of persons within our society.

In local area communities, the local police are finding that the "no-snitch" message has caused negative outcomes for individuals, families and neighborhoods. I can think of a number of instances in which there was a homicide, drive-by shooting, major fight, or other violent event. When the police arrive, those present disperse like rats jumping off a sinking ship. As for any remaining stragglers, most all of them deny having heard or seen anything. The officers know better, as the circumstances of many of these cases involve large parties or other group gatherings where any number of people could not have missed all or part of the event. As expected, these crimes have a significantly lower chance of being solved and the perpetrators caught.

The majority of this society's members do not ascribe to the "no-snitch" rule - fortunately. But young people in the 14-25 age group are the generation most exposed to the "no-snitch" mantra and, not surprisingly, they are the ones who will most suffer from the lawless consequences. It might appear to be no problem at this time for them, but as crime continues and the number of victims grows to unacceptably high levels, the aforementioned generation of this society may well regret their past actions. Clearly, the seeds they sow today are likely to haunt them later when criminals become more emboldened, fewer crimes are solved and more people feel as if in a state of imprisonment. Their ignorance is setting the stage for a life sentence of living in a society overrun with crime.

Our criminal justice system is founded on the concept that the majority of people are good, and as such, those members of the community will not tolerate crime without taking appropriate action to inform the proper authorities. This is the essence of partnership between the community and law enforcement. In the absence of this active partnership, we all will lose the rule of law and consequently, will start experiencing the early stages of anarchy.

It is easy enough to consider only the immediate impact of not snitching on those individuals who break the law, especially in cases of violent felonies. Witnesses and victims who assume that position may well be spared some retribution, harassment or finding themselves as social outcasts. Over time, however, the negative cumulative effect and outcome on our community will have devastating consequences on present and future generations.

Essentially, criminals will, in effect, hold these new victims in a virtual hostage situation, subject to their treachery, whims and desires. This phenomenon is totally unnecessary and completely avoidable. For one, the word "snitch" is negative in nature, and does not recognize the honorable actions of those who are willing to take a stand for themselves and their community. To snitch is to steal, rip off, or walk away, just like the criminals who advocate this way of thinking. As members of our democratic society, we have an obligation to report crime, or be willing to bear witness against those who commit the crimes, in order to keep a safe place to live for ourselves and future generations. We all know the difference between right and wrong, we simply need to live by what we already know.

Many communities across the country now offer the "silent witness program" for people to come forth with knowledge of crimes and remain anonymous.

"Whistle blower" is a well-known term for a "Snitch"

The term "whistle blower" is connected in the public's mind to words and phrases used to villainize those who disclose information to the detriment of an organization or betray their associates. "Informants," "snitches," "rats," "tattle-tales," "stool pigeons," "back stabbers," "squealers," "traitors," "turncoats," "double crossers," "narcs," and "finks" all turn on their organizations, associates, or their groups by exposing embarrassing information or evidence of crime. Sometimes the words are doubled up for added emphasis, as in "ratfink" or "back-stabbing traitor. " Sometimes simply the names of historical figures instantiate the ideas of organizational apostasy and traitorous acts: "Brutus," "Judas," "Quisling," "Benedict Arnold."

The emotion behind the terms describing those who turn against and undercut their organizations, whether those organizations are as large as a culture or as small as a street gang, is often a combination of loathing and disgust. These informers divest themselves of trust, community, and friends to expose the truth. But the pejorative terms mentioned above originate in the perspectives of those within the organization, those who feel or fear the consequences of the betrayal and have little interest in understanding or plumbing the reasons for the acts. Against these impulses, Americans are famous for transforming "betrayal" of the group into heroism when the well-being of society is served.

Americans frequently deify the person who pursues truth or right against the perverse and illegal actions of a group. In film and literature, those who stand up against the group are usually portrayed as heroic and courageous and emblematic of the ideal citizen. In Serpico, The Insider, Silkwood, and The Pentagon Papers people of rare courage turn against their corrupt organizations for the benefit of society. Thomas More, Peter Zenger, Jane Addams, John Scopes, Sojourner Truth, Zero Mostel and many others have been immortalized for risking their well-being in the service of truth; in the service of all in society rather than for the few in an organization.

Whistle-blowers are those who "commit the truth" to their detriment and for the benefit of society. Whistle blowing is a metaphorical suicide, hence the term "committing the truth." But the effects are anything but metaphorical. If death is a passing to a new life, so too usually is whistle blowing. Their sacrifice for society costs them their careers, skills, friends, families, wealth, and sometimes their sanity. To those who understand sacrifice, the term "whistle blower" connotes rectitude, courageousness, justice, and self sacrifice, while to agency managers whistle blowers are "traitors" or "disgruntled employees." Getting past the term is a job in-and-of-itself, for it imports both negative and positive connotations and spawns ambivalence. Our political leaders, at least, must get past that hurdle and see the reality, see the people, see the pain, see the heroism, and see the patriotism of whistle blowers. Whistle blowers are brutalized by their own government, by other public servants with less fidelity to the United States and its people than to the masters they serve and their career ambitions.

The very people appointed to protect whistle blowers historically have no loyalty to the truth or to the good of society. The Office of Special Counsel, ostensibly the chief mechanism of protection for whistle blowers, is a hopeless failure. From the beginning it has been controlled by the desires of executive agencies and presidents and has never had the objective distance to perform its functions as intended by Congress. Early in OSC's history, one Special Counsel referred to whistle blowers as "severed heads," "uninformed, disgruntled or disaffected," "carrying bags and walking up and down Constitution Avenue," "blackmailers," and "malcontents." That ill-perception continues to this day. I have heard whistle blowers referred to as the "undead," people "staggering toward the graveyard," "dead men (or women) walking."

References to death in describing whistle blowers are ubiquitous. Whistle blowers are isolated, shunned, and "killed" within their organizations. Their friends are warned not to interact with them and management exerts its control over a whistle blower's 1 Westlaw 131 Cong. Rec.H 6407-02 colleagues by threat and intimidation that they will suffer the same fate as the whistle-blower if they do not conform to agency desires. The whistle blower is a spectacle inside the organization, an object lesson put on display but disconnected from organizational functions; he or she becomes an "undead" warning to others not to commit the truth. But if this is what happens to the "average" whistle blower, the fate of the national security whistle blower is even worse.

National security whistle blowers are at even greater danger and with less protection than whistle blowers in other settings. At least in the non-national security setting the federal whistle-blower has access to some process and may resort to publication and news media, fully consult counsel, and access evidence relevant to his or her case. But national security employees are ensconced in secrecy. They are hemmed in by security clearances and access, threats of criminal prosecution, and non-disclosure and pre-publication contracts.

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