THE BLOG
07/30/2006 08:41 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Teach Your Children Well: Rat-Finking Is A Virtue, Not a Vice

Whistle-blowing is the art of rat-finking as applied to the adult world.

Imagine what a better world there would be if there were more whistle-blowers.

I am talking about whistle blowers who may have been inside the plot when Enron energy traders comspired to rig prices, may have been in the room pre-Iraq war "intelligence" was cooked to justify invading that nation or who overheard discussions about how to disenfranchise voters to prevent them from titling an election away from a candidate who would appoint judges that would save the babies.

Oh, for the want of a whistle-blower who was in the room when Cheney met with energy department officials and drafted a pro fossil-fuel policy. Or witnessed a beating of a Prisoner of War in Iraq or Gitmo, and the quick discussions undertaken to "prevent this from getting out." Or happen to know about a pro-developer county official's secret bank account, which athletes are doping up and haven't been caught yet and joke about it, or happened to witness that conversation in the bar between a professional athlete and someone close to those who make book.

So why don't we have more whistle-blowers?

There are several reasons. Two of these are by the time a potential whistle-blower gets into a circle where he or she can witness or oversee wrong things done and said by important people, they feel they have too much to lose. I mean, if they whistle-blow, who is going to believe them and more importantly, what happens if they get fired? What about that mortgage on the $1.2 million home?

Too often, then, telling the truth comes up short when stacked up against the potential economic, social and even physical harm that can be visited upon the whistle-blower.

But there is another reason why we don't have more whistle-blowers. It goes back to the code that so many of us learn as children.

I remember growing up when being labeled a "rat-fink" was one of the worst slurs you could hear about yourself.

I could always keep my confidences, but even in my formative years, I had trouble understanding why being a rat-fink was a sin in light of worse transgressions such as say, cheating on tests by tapping twice on the desk if the multiple choice answer to question 12 was (b).

As an adult, I have come to realize that although the betrayal of confidences should never be undertaken lightly, it is a joyful act when applied to the documented revelations of evil doings.

Lots of my colleagues feel this way.

That's what has attracted many of us to journalism, and even to blogging.

So that we can vette, and then help the whistle-blower.

A whistle-blower who understands that rat-finking is a virtue, not a vice. A whistle-blower who is prepared to lose their job, their mortgage, their friends, their country-club memebership, even their spouse for the greater good of honor.

A whistle-blower who understands that the only way to heal our cynical society of the increasingly widespread belief that everything is a plot and most people in power are crooked ass-coverers is to expose so many of these evil-doers to the light that the citizenry will once again embrace the notion that if you do wrong you will be caught.

The fact that the good, and the right, should never be subsumed for fear of being labeled a "rat-fink" is a value that we must learn as children.

A value that you must teach your children- and teach them well.