Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Promise You Won't Tell?

Are you a snitch?

Are you now, or have you ever been, a rat, a stoolie, a fink, a squealer, a buttinsky or an intermeddler?

Has your treasonous tipsterism ever squawked up a Tsunami of Dopplering discontent?

I'm going to guess—uh, yeah, it probably has.

As my mentor and role model, Mike Brady, so eloquently offered to his lithping thtepdaughter Thindy:

Kids are notorious tattlers. They're highly motivated to tell on others because it quells the heat of their own misbehavior and exacts revenge on the offender.

The youngest of three children, I told on my sister for anything and everything. If she sang too loud or chewed with her mouth open, I filed an immediate grievance with management.

Sometimes she just looked at me weird.

My brother, six years my senior, rarely played with me, so when he did, I tightly monitored his behavior. One such occasion, while playing H-O-R-S-E in our backyard, he missed a shot.

"Dang it!" he bellowed.

Paydirt. I immediately jogged into the house where my parents sat reading the newspaper.

"Tom just said 'Dang it'." I stood proudly, waiting for the payoff, the moment my dad would fold the paper, rise from his chair, open the sliding glass door and cuss my brother out for swearing.

My mom spoke. "Saying 'Dang it' isn't swearing."

"Yeah it is. Mom, he said 'Dang it'."

"Right. That's not swearing."

I slinked back into the backyard to resume our game immediately after receiving my brother's punitive slap to the back of my head.

"You little nark. It's your shot."

Most of us outgrow our bent for routine tattling around junior high, when the snitch label assumes an ominous prison yard stigma. At that point, we could bear witness to hollowed out algebra books stuffed with weed and vodka, yet anything short of waterboarding won't get us to sing.

No one wants to get shanked by a dull number two pencil between the band room and woodshop.

Things tend to even out as we mature into adulthood. We're still not squealers, yet injustices no longer go unnoticed. The problem is, most of the stuff we'd love to report isn't reportable.

After all, to whom to we complain about the guy who pulls two newspapers out of the machine, or the kid who throws a Heath Bar wrapper on the sidewalk, or the car that barrels through a crosswalk, just missing an elderly woman?

So here's my question, and I'm really interested in your opinion: How do you feel about the ultimate nosey parker, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks?

Mr. Assange is currently under investigation for espionage by several national governments, including Iceland, Kenya and yes, the United States. His accusers have labeled him a traitor for uncovering and publishing incriminating information, including a video showing the killing of several Iraqi civilians and journalists by a United States Army helicopter in 2010.

Convinced that the military industrial complex depends on an ignorant public to achieve its devious ends, Assange has launched an all-out assault on secrecy in the name of skulduggery.

In a recent Rolling Stone interview, he claims that the United States military possesses 4.3 million security clearances, a higher number than the entire population of New Zealand, yet a completely closed shadow society within a seemingly open American state.  

Should the American people be allowed access, even partially, to such a stockpile of information? Assange believes that yes, we absolutely should, that such large scale withholding has resulted in government censorship run amok and a serious threat to a democratic society.

His revelations have proven not so much subversive as embarrassing to free and oppressive regimes alike, and many credit WikiLeaks' disclosures with sparking the recent Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

Do we, the people, have a right to know what kind of covert casserole is baking in our own kitchen, or is Julian Assange nothing more than an opportunistic, treasonous gossip?

What do you think? I promise I won't tell.

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