In George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Thought Police (Thinkpol) used informants to gather intelligence on potential subversives and eliminate them. The superstate’s power was largely derived and maintained from their ability to turn everyone, including children, into informants, or ‘snitches’, for Big Brother.
Though his predictions have materialized into non-fiction, Orwell wasn’t a psychic. The culture of snitching has long been the foothold of tyrannies throughout this planet’s history. Through fear, entire societies are convinced by their rulers that a certain group of people is “the enemy” and they will not be “safe” unless they inform the government about the behavior of “the enemy.”
Throughout history, extensive propaganda campaigns have been waged on citizens by governments — defining their enemy. In the Ottoman empire, Christian minorities, including Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks were labelled as the enemy and citizens turned in their neighbors as more than a million people were marched to their deaths. During the Holocaust, the Germans were told to that the Jews were their enemy and we know how that unfolded. The same goes for the Slavics in Russia, the Chinese in Japan, the Haitians in the Dominican Republic, Tibetans in China, and son on.
All that governments throughout history have had to do to wage mass murder and genocide against an innocent group of people is declare them the enemy and ask their citizens to report them. As police cannot be everywhere all the time, citizen snitches are the real ‘Big Brother.’
In fictional dystopias and in non-fictional dystopias like the ones mentioned above, the state relies on its subservient and obedient informant citizens to police their own. This distrust among neighbors promotes group think and makes those who may have rebellious tendencies stand out.
Since 9/11, the US government has ramped up its propaganda on encouraging citizens to snitch on each other. In every airport, bus station, and populated area in general there are signs constantly telling Americas if they “see something, say something.”
Fast forward to 2020, during a COVID-19 pandemic and the fear-ridden populace has been primed to do the bidding of the state. Across the country tip lines have been established for citizens to rat out their neighbors and, across the country, those tip lines are flooded by government informants telling on their neighbors for not staying six feet apart. Some 9-1-1 call centers have even been inundated with calls by citizens reporting their neighbors for coughing. Seriously.
It is important to point out that when we are saying “snitch” in these terms, we are not talking about people who call tip lines to report murderers, rapists, and thieves. If you report an actual crime, with an actual victim, this doesn’t necessarily make you a snitch, it makes you not want to see criminals get away with hurting people.
However, if you report someone for coughing — you are the worst kind of snitch and you would do well to start reading more books — starting with 1984.
The thing about snitches is that most of the people who would turn someone in for a victimless crime would not go up to that person themselves. They want to use the state to implement their will and hide behind the cops that have to respond to someone’s house for coughing.
In Missouri, however, where officials set up a tip line for people to report their neighbors for not social distancing, they were told their information would be public if it were ever requested. Still, over 900 people in St. Louis snitched on their neighbors for not social distancing or for keeping their non-essential business open.
Now, the snitches are fearing retaliation after all their names were published online by a man named Jared Totsch, who received the list after it was requested under the state’s Sunshine Act.
“We’re in a society where doing what’s right doesn’t always get rewarded,” said one of the “tipsters” named Patricia, who reported a man for trying to feed his family during the pandemic by keeping his business open.
Now, Patricia is scared that she may face retaliation for what she says was “doing what’s right.”
While we disagree with turning in people for attempting to feed their families during the pandemic, we also disagree with retaliating against these people for snitching. Two wrongs do not make a right. Only through a lesser ignorance will Patricia ever learn that using government force to implement her fearful will, is wrong.
Also, she should have read the disclaimer.
“If they are worried about retaliation, they should have read the fine print which stated their tips would be open public record subject to a Sunshine request, and should not have submitted tips in that manner to begin with,” wrote Totsch. “I released the info in an attempt to discourage such behavior in the future.”
A disclaimer that form submitters had to acknowledge before sending says, “I have been advised that this form and any other communication may be considered an open record pursuant to the Sunshine Law, Chapter 610 RSMo. St. Louis County may be required to release this form as well as other communications as a matter of law upon request by any member of the public, including the media.”
Though Patricia thinks Totsch’s post on Facebook was done out of revenge, he says he released the list to discourage people from this behavior in the future — not to retaliate.
Some of the folks on that list even ratted out their own employers for remaining open and providing them with a job while tens of millions of others go on unemployment. When asked by KSDK how he felt about the possibility that someone who reported a business might lose their job, Totsch wrote, “I’d call it poetic justice, instant Karma, a dose of their own medicine. What goes around, comes around. They are now experiencing the same pain that they themselves helped to inflict on those they filed complaints against.”
While we certainly do not wish ill will on anyone, even ignorant people who would call the cops on someone for coughing, perhaps allowing the accused to face their accuser or at least know who they are, may turn out to be a good thing.
Free societies are not built around distrust and government informants. They are built through relationships and reliance. In a true free society, we would never need government to force us into our homes during a pandemic. We would protect the vulnerable and allow others their discretion when making choices.
Politics and informant lines have only created a larger divide and have led to nothing positive during this pandemic. Instead of fighting with one another over which politician’s view of the COVID-19 outbreak we support, how about we look to logic and reason and make informed and voluntary choices for ourselves? Calling each other names or getting angry over what you feel should happen or ratting out a person trying to feed their family will never lead to progress.
We must address the underlying issue, do you need to be threatened with government force to make decisions that keep you and your family safe, or not? I am going to go with the latter.