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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Booooooo, Hisssss to the Supreme Court

A while back I wrote that while I love so many elements of hip-hop culture - it's what I grew up in - I was salty with those rappers who've been pushing those stupid "Stop Snitchin'" T-shirts. It's a bad message to send that if you see a crime (I don't mean jay-walking or absentmindedly walking out of the office with a company ink pen) you shouldn't tell, because you have some allegiance to the criminal, since you and he are friends or neighbors or something.

And no, this ain't a black thing. Dang shame that I have to clarify that. But someone would suggest it otherwise. So don't bother suggesting it here, unless you can prove cause and effect to me: that the color of someone's skin compels them to act a certain way. Philosophy 101 - all poodles are dogs, unless they live in Miami Beach, in which case they are people too. But not all dogs are poodles. Burnettiquette 201 - some criminals look a certain way, but not all people who look that way are criminals.

Anyway, at the same time I scolded cops in my last market (prior to Miami) of Milwaukee, Wis., where three officers were recently acquitted in court of charges that they brutally beat an unarmed suspect at one of the cops' house party. One of the reasons the case failed was that even though dozens of cops were at the scene - some on duty, some off - only a couple acknowledged seeing a handful of their buddies and co-workers beating a man just a few feet away. Most, perpetuating that blue wall of silence, insisted they didn't see or hear a thing.

I said then that we can't expect impressionable kids to willingly tell authorities when they see crimes, if "authorities" are unwilling to report crimes committed among their own ranks.

And that leads me to the U.S. Supreme Court. They ruled yesterday against an assistant prosecutor from California who had sued over what he said was retaliation by his bosses, after he blew the whistle on crooked activities he saw in the office.

He was passed up for a promotion later and suspected it was payback for him blowing the whistle. And he sued, saying the (alleged) retaliation was a violation of his 1st Amendment free speech rights.

The Supreme Court said no dice. They said government employees-turned-whistleblowers have no free speech protections at work and that there were other safeguards at work to prevent them from suffering retaliation after whistleblowing.

So let me get this straight: I work for a government agency. I see co-workers stealing boatloads of money from the orphans and widows fund. My conscience compels me to report that to management. My co-workers are appropriately busted, fired, arrested, charged, tried, etc. Someone in management now views me as a rat. I'm up for a promotion and most qualified. But I'm passed over 'cause one manager doesn't like "rats." That's not wrong?

Great message justices. Let's hope none of these kids who now think "Stop Snitchin'" is cool because they're young and dumb don't get jobs as government employees when they grow up.


  • I was just as appalled as you when I heard that ruling. Another George W. moment, I would say.

    By Blogger EclecticGrl, at 8:45 PM  

  • Yeah. That ruling was a tad, how you say, retarded.

    By Blogger Rune, at 11:06 PM  

  • Oh for a Just judiciary! & that goes for over here as well, sometimes.

    Then they wonder why people don't respect the 'rule of law' any more!

    By Anonymous Bronchitikat, at 3:11 AM  

  • What's convenient is how whistle blowers tend to pop up right before elections. Not really sure what the prez has to do with the supreme court's decision...

    Also, this is the wonderful supreme court that made a 'fantastic' decision on "Eminent Domain" not too long ago.

    By Anonymous ChrisA, at 12:14 AM  

  • Isn't there anyone in the US judiciary who has even READ the Constitution any more?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:09 AM  

  • What's convenient is how whistle blowers tend to pop up right before elections.

    Or right before terrorist attacks. I hate when that happens.

    And so does the Bush Administration.


    By Anonymous Samuel Alito, at 8:15 AM  

  • I don't know about any connections between the POTUS, elections, the timing of whistleblowing, etc. But I do know that if it turns out a whistleblower is telling the truth, he or she should be protected in their jobs and given trophies.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 8:03 PM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:16 PM  

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