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Snitch nation
Hot Air ^ | July 16, 2014 | Noah Rothman

Posted on 07/17/2014 12:21:01 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

We are fast becoming a nation of Pavlik Morozovs.

Little Pavlik, you may recall, was the 13-year-old subject of a dubious Soviet story about how a young boy’s loyalty to the state trumped his love for his parents. Pavlik was supposedly witness to his father, the chair of his local Soviet, giving aid to enemies of the people. The boy turned his own father in to Stalinist authorities, the story went. Enraged by the betrayal, Pavlik was killed by his own family and was posthumously dubbed a martyr for socialist values.

Though the tale was later proven to have been wildly exaggerated, Morozov’s actions were hailed by Soviet authorities for 59 years.

Loyalty to the collective over one’s neighbors and even one’s family has always been a socialist ideal, but it was never an especially American one. Ruggedly individualist, Americans have traditionally been uncomfortable with the notion that the authorities in some distant capital have their best interests at heart. Certainly not more so than do one’s neighbors.

While it remains hyperbolic to suggest the United States is fully embracing a Stasi-like culture of denunciation, the times are changing.

California is in the midst of a historic drought this year, one which is forcing authorities to institute particularly strict restrictions on water usage in arid parts of the state. As an enforcement mechanism, some California municipalities are encouraging their residents to become professional snitches.

“Some towns are even encouraging ‘drought-shaming,’ asking residents to rat out their neighbors breaking the new water conservation laws,” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported approvingly on Wednesday. She noted that this encouragement from authorities is resulting in a “flood of incriminating photos” posted online featuring local residents violating the dictates of the state.


The tactic has been quite successful. “The snitch campaign has resulted in 3,245 water waste complaints in 2014,” read a dispatch from the city of Sacramento in April of this year.

The efficacy of snitching campaigns can trump concerns about violating civil liberties. In 2013, Ed Krayewski, writing for the libertarian magazine Reason, expressed his apprehensions about a Palm Beach, Florida plan to create a “violence prevention unit.”

“We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor and he’s gonna shoot him,” said Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw when asked about the proposal by a local paper. “What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’”

“Bradshaw says his department knows ‘how to sift through frivolous complaints’ in regards to obvious worries about the prime opportunity this hotline provides for abuse by score-settling neighbors,” Krayewski reported, betraying his own justified skepticism about this claim.

These phenomena would seem to go beyond neighborhood watches which create disincentives to engage in criminal behavior, or “see something, say something” terror prevention initiatives adopted by major urban centers. There is something deeply troubling about state, local, or federal authorities encouraging citizens to inform on their neighbors.

The prevalence of snitching culture goes well beyond crime prevention. The public has for some time been primed to alert the authorities when even their sensibilities are offended.

Take, for example, the purge of photographs of women breastfeeding their children from Facebook. A simple Google search will reveal thousands of complaints of young mothers who had the images of them proudly nourishing their children stripped from their personal pages. Why?

“Please note that the photos we review are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other Facebook members who complain about them being shared on Facebook,” read a clarification posted by a company monitor after hundreds of complaints.

Complaining about content is fast becoming a national pastime. In this country, however, a culture which values at least the concept of free speech prevents that perfectly human instinct to belong to a greater whole by ratting on one’s neighbors still keeps the wolves of tyranny at bay. But the standard of conduct established in other nations, where a similar culture does not exist, is providing our aspiring censors with a model for change.

“Last week, a man in Scotland was probed by police for making dark jokes about terminally ill footballer Fernando Ricksen. Then, in a more high-profile case, two men were arrested on Monday for making ‘offensive comments’ on Twitter about Mikaeel Kular, the three-year-old Scottish child who was found dead in Fife last Friday,” Rob Harries reported for the U.K.-based Spiked in January. “Each of these so-called trolls was arrested after their posts were reported to the police by other social-media users.”

Make no mistake, the value Americans put on free speech is fast being suppressed by the minority’s need to protect ourselves from our own sinister thoughts.

“Stricter regulation of Internet speech will not be popular with the libertarian-minded citizens of the United States, but it’s necessary,” wrote Sean McElwee in a January op-ed in The Huffington Post. Quoting extensively from The New Republic to make his case, he asserts in his call to action that “hate speech is not going to disappear from twitter on its own.”

American free speech jurisprudence relies upon the assumption that speech is merely the extension of a thought, and not an action. If we consider it an action, then saying that we should combat hate speech with more positive speech is an absurd proposition; the speech has already done the harm, and no amount of support will defray the victim’s impression that they are not truly secure in this society. We don’t simply tell the victim of a robbery, “Hey, it’s okay, there are lots of other people who aren’t going to rob you.” Similarly, it isn’t incredibly useful to tell someone who has just had their race/gender/sexuality defamed, “There are a lot of other nice people out there.”

Those who claim to “defend free speech” when they defend the right to post hate speech online, are in truth backwards. Free speech isn’t an absolute right; no right is weighed in a vacuum. The court has imposed numerous restrictions on speech. Fighting words, libel and child pornography are all banned. Other countries merely go one step further by banning speech intended to intimidate vulnerable groups.

All of this is to say nothing of the abhorrently un-American plague of restrictions on constitutionally protected free speech in places like American college campuses, where nothing so offends as does a nonconformist thought. In campuses across America, Orwellian “free speech zones” and “speech codes” are established providing aspiring informants with the parameters in which they can justifiably inform on their peers.

There is value in collective self-policing, a feature of health societies that will never and should never disappear entirely. And public shaming has a rich, if lamentable, Western tradition dating back to the stockades. But the rise of an informant culture in America is distinct from self-policing, and many appear to participate in the encouraged practice of informing on others more in service to a base desire to indulge in a little schadenfreude than anything else.

Whether these developments suggest that America is going down a dark path is perfectly debatable… for now. Fearless public discussion and debate is precisely what is at stake. This century has been characterized by regular demands that we all watchful eye on our neighbors. Maybe, though, it would be better for the pendulum to swing back a bit to an era when minding your own business was an admirable trait.

TOPICS: Conspiracy; Government; Local News; Society
KEYWORDS: california; collectivism; fascism; surveillance

1 posted on 07/17/2014 12:21:01 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Inflicting the might of the state on someone for what they said, or legally did, is reprehensible enough. What makes it worse is that such incidents are not uniform in their application. Some groups are given pass after pass, despite saying, thinking, and doing truly offensive things, even when specifically called on it i.e. Islam, Homosexual activists, anti-lifers etc.

Worse, eventually the “protected” groups are going to come into conflict with each other. Some Muslim is going to be “offended” by homosexuality, or vice versa some homosexual will become “offended” by Islam’s prohibition (and capital punishment) of homosexuality. When the state sets itself as the arbiter of “good” thought, it then has to adjudicate whose thought is “better”.

2 posted on 07/17/2014 1:03:27 AM PDT by Little Pig
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: 2ndDivisionVet
California is in the midst of a historic drought this year, one which is forcing authorities to institute particularly strict restrictions on water usage

Why people are putting up with this lie is beyond me. Here are current graphs for the three largest reservoirs in California: Shasta, Oroville and Trinity.

The red line shows where we were in 1977. The dark blue line is where we are today. Clearly, this is not "a historic drought." What a bunch of baloney. This is simply a put up job by fascists who want us to get used to snitching on one another.

BTW, the baby blue area shows the average. About half the time, you expect to be below average, and we are. But we're nowhere near being in the midst of an historic drought. Even in 1977, they weren't telling people to snitch on each other. In most jurisdictions (even hard-hit ones) compliance with water saving measures was voluntary.

4 posted on 07/17/2014 2:38:16 AM PDT by LibWhacker (A New WPA: Hire blacks to surround illegal enclaves and round up job-stealing illegal aliens)
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To: F15Eagle

Gun owners in states that require a firearms owner ID card are especially vulnerable to the disgruntled liberal neighbor with a bone to pick & access to a state-monitored snitch line. NY & Mass in particular.

Just a single phone call suggesting that the guy down the street with the NRA sticker & Gadsden flag may not be playing with a full deck, & the po-po are at his doorstep to confiscate his guns in the interests of public safety.

That’s if he doesn’t get a SWAT raid called down on his @zz.


5 posted on 07/17/2014 5:25:04 AM PDT by elcid1970 ("In the modern world, Muslims are living fossils.")
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: 2ndDivisionVet; COUNTrecount; Nowhere Man; FightThePower!; C. Edmund Wright; jacob allen; ...
Vote Fascist photo VoteFascsist_zps2e456e0a.jpg

Nut-job Conspiracy Theory Ping!

To get onto The Nut-job Conspiracy Theory Ping List you must threaten to report me to the Mods if I don't add you to the list...

7 posted on 07/17/2014 6:31:20 AM PDT by null and void (If Bill Clinton was the first black president, why isn't Barack Obama the first woman president?)
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To: F15Eagle

My second sentence should have read,

“...and a judge instantly revokes his FOID, then the po-po show up at his door to confiscate his guns, since he has been legally deprived of the privilege of owning them.”

8 posted on 07/17/2014 7:41:55 AM PDT by elcid1970 ("In the modern world, Muslims are living fossils.")
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