Monday, August 1, 2016

Week of 08/01/2016

Our Hypocrisy Over Whistleblowers
“If you see something, say something.”
How many times have we heard that?
It’s been etched into our brains thanks to the media and by war-wacky wingnuts and their Orwellian propaganda.
“If you see something, say something.”
If you see your neighbor say or do something that could lead to a terrorist attack, we’re supposed to call the police on them.  If you see your coworker threaten to do something violent at work, or talk about violence, or even give that “funny look”, we’re supposed to let someone in management know.  If you see kids that look like they’re abused or victimized, we’re supposed to call Child Services and the police.  If you know where drug dealers operate, we’re supposed to call the police.
“If you see something, say something,” we are told over and over and over again.
Remember when being a tattletale was a bad thing?  There used to be TV sitcoms like “The Brady Bunch” that told us that tattletales were bad people.
Today, they’re called “whistleblowers” and “confidential sources”.  The very behavior that we used to be scolded for as children is now considered acceptable as adults.
But if we really want the masses to “say something” if they “see something”, we’re certainly doing nothing to encourage it.  In fact, we’re pretty much guilty of crass hypocrisy on the subject.
Just look at recent events.  Melania Trump, the current wife of GOP presidential wannabe Donald Trump, was discovered to have plagiarized her speech to the GOP National Convention with passages that were lifted from First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech.  The response?  Denial, doubling-down, and then blaming the Democrats and Russia.  Blame the media for reporting the plagiarism.  Blame Russia.
The whistleblower website WikiLeaks, no stranger to our society hypocrisy, recently released thousands of emails they acquired that showed that officials in the Democratic National Committee actively conspired to influence their party’s primary process so that Hillary Rodham Clinton would become their nominee and to undermine the campaign of challenger Senator Bernie Sanders.
But instead of condemning the blatant rigging of the political process and demanding accountability and possibly even investigations by the proper oversight agencies, the media circle the wagons around Hillary and blame the whole thing on Russian hackers.  They condemn the whistleblowers instead of doing their jobs and investigating the accusations.
The DNC isn’t even denying the emails!  They’re not trying to explain them.  They’re just blaming it all on Russia.
Funny how Russia ends up being the default scapegoat no matter the political party.
All of those media agencies that claim to be “holding the powerful accountable” apparently cherry-pick which powerful groups they want hold accountable.
But then again, this isn’t the first time that members of the air-fluffed ego-driven media were guilty of protecting Clan Clinton. 
Remember the whole Monica Lewinsky matter twenty years ago?   Well one of the key witnesses to that particular messy stain was a civil servant named Linda Tripp.  She was the whistleblower of the whole matter.  You couldn’t forget her, and the media didn’t want you to either, because every time they showed her, they used still images that made her look like she was about ready to vomit all over the camera.  They always showed her with a sickening look and a slightly open mouth to give the impression that the bile was just at the base of her throat and the slightest bump would send it spewing out all over the media.  They wanted you to be sick of her so you would discount anything she had to say.
But even when the media isn’t intentionally playing into it, we have a hard time accepting the word of whistleblowers.
Remember Jerry Sandusky?  The one-time assistant football coach for Penn State got caught and was convicted of rampant cases of child molestation, but it took decades before anything could be done about it.  It was recently revealed that “legendary” Head Coach Joe Paterno knew about Sandusky’s activities as far back as 1976!  Forty years until something was done about it! 
“See something, say something”? 
They did.  For. Forty. Years! 
Oh, but that was a different time, wasn’t it?  It wasn’t a “serious issue” back then, was it?  Still, even when it was a “serious issue”, the people that could “say something” were bullied into silence because they didn’t want to disrupt the god-almighty cult of college football!
And to think I haven’t even gotten to the subject of pedo-priests in the Roman Catholic Church!  “See something, say something” you say?  “We’re going to give you some money and a non-disclosure agreement, and if you say something, we’ll sue you so far into bankruptcy that your great-grandchildren will be paying off the debt.”
Even the local media are full of people who refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing from those in positions of power.
You know what’s been going in Flint, Michigan, with their drinking water?  Local officials knew... they... knew... that their efforts to save some money were poisoning the public.  But every effort to “say something” when they “see something” ended up being swept under the rug... until children started getting poisoned.  Until they couldn’t keep it quiet anymore.  And now those in power are scrambling to keep themselves out of prison, and they’re busy blaming the underlings... blaming the very whistleblowers that tried to stop it.
In Tacoma, Washington, a woman saw a dog locked in a hot car in the middle of the summer.  She does what she is told to do, she reports it, only to find the local hospital then tells her to shut up and they ticket her and bar her from the hospital.  She did what everyone told her she had to do, and the people in power punished her for it!
In my neck of the woods in Barrow County, the former executive director of the Adult Literacy program admitted to stealing over $100,000.  But good luck getting that into the thick skulls of the good ol’ boys in Barrow County, who decided that somehow it’s the fault of the newspaper for reporting this legitimate local news, and not the crook who actually stole the money.  No, that somehow became a “personal matter”.
So even when the media are the whistleblowers, they’re treated like everyone else who “say something”.  They’re treated as tattletales; as societal scum.
And yet we are still being told “see something, say something” when it comes to the bad things in this world.
Why the hell should anyone be willing to stand up and speak out when this is what happens to them?  Why do the “right thing” when doing so means being vilified, bullied, cajoled into silence?  When their reputations and their good name are smeared simply for doing what is right?  When the bad deeds go on unabated?
Oh, and I haven’t even gotten into our fascination with gossip!  We just love the rumors and innuendos, don’t we?  We love watching TMZ and getting the latest from the paparazzi when it comes to celebs and what they do on any day of the week.  We love hearing about the latest from Britney Spears and the whole Clan Kardashian and Taylor Swift.  But then we’re told that we shouldn’t do that when it comes to our own lives and our own workplace.  Oh, spread the word about your neighbor down the street, but shut the hell up when it comes to your job.
The hell?!?
Let’s get brutally honest here... as long as we have this ongoing hypocrisy when it comes to speaking out about the bad things in society, we have no moral right to either demand that people do so, or to criticize them when they do.
At the very least, we need some kind of actual consequence for those that try to silence whistleblowers.  Yes, there are supposedly laws in place to protect some of the whistleblowers.  Unfortunately, George Washington had better teeth than what is in those laws.  And we should be ashamed that we need laws to protect those who speak out about the bad things in this world, never mind that we don’t really protect them.
And when there is wrongdoing, we need to keep our focus on it and not about how it was acquired.  Is it true?  Is it real?  If so, then it needs to be dealt with.  That’s what we tell ourselves when it comes to terrorism, drug dealers, and human traffickers, right?
And if we are going to say that it’s now okay to be tattletales, that we do need to “say something” if we do “see something”, then we need to accept the reality that at some point our own little misdeeds and failings are subject to be tattled on as well.  We may not have something truly scandalous under our rugs like a big corporation like Sony or a political party like the DNC would have, but we need to accept the reality that if someone else knows about them, they’re going to be encouraged to speak up.  If we want our fellow American to fink on terrorists and human traffickers and drug dealers and child abusers, and even on people who leave babies and pets in hot cars, then we need to be ready to have our own scandals laid bare as well.
The 1970’s TV show “Baretta” had a theme song by the late Sammy Davis Jr. that starts out “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, yeah.”  Well the same needs to apply to our own lives, and especially to those in power.  Don’t do the sin if you can’t tolerate the scandal.  Then at least we can tell ourselves “see something, say something” in this supposedly “new normal” and actually mean it.

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