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Stop (Not) Snitching! Part 2

Updated on September 1, 2012

Continued from Part 1 (

Another issue surrounding the idea of “snitching” is one just touched on…that of how such counter-productive thinking wrecks havoc on communities at large. But in order to understand this, it may help to know that in many of the minority neighborhoods where the “don’t snitch” mentality has become a cardinal rule of life, there is a mistrust of police officers in particular, and authority figures in general borne partially out of years of official abuse, misrepresentation, and/or out-and-out misconduct by those who supposed to represent the interests of citizens. In fact and in many instances, individuals who harbor this mistrust do so only because they were taught by their social environments to mistrust authority figures—especially police—and not so much learned as a matter of firsthand negative experiences. But it doesn’t help weaken the veracity of this mistrust whenever high-profile incidents of police misconduct are reported in the media. So as a matter of response, citizens of limited economic means, who feel further disenfranchised and underrepresented by institutions whom they feel should exist to work on their behalf but fail to do so, developed a counter-response to the overwhelming power of police, the courts (whom many also do not trust with the same level of ferocity), and other authority figures…weaken their power by interfering in their ability to investigate and function within the scope of their missions. In other words, don’t snitch” and they can’t oppress us. And police should not be so surprised that such a citizenry would develop a counter to their “blue wall of silence” that officers use to protect one another from charges of official misconduct.

But the problem is that the “don’t snitch” mindset has been taken to its irrational conclusion, to the point where is disrupts both social and officials institutions which are geared toward helping us as a society. The end result is that we now live in an era of pervasive moral impediments which cut to the very core of our humanity. The instance of the dying teen in Chicago earlier this month who refused to reveal to police officers the name of his murderer provides one instance of attestation. Anyone who disagrees with how much this “don’t snitch” mentality has corrupted our moral fiber need only look to an earlier incident in Las Vegas, one which made international headlines with its level of unbelievable apathy toward a fellow human in distress, and which should have set off social warning lights then. In 1997, a 7-year old girl named Sherrice Iverson was molested and strangled in a Las Vegas casino women’s bathroom stall after she had wondered away from her guardian, who was playing slot machines elsewhere in the casino. Casino surveillance video clearly captured a teen, Jeremy Strohmeyer, following Iverson into the women’s bathroom. Although Strohmeyer eventually confessed to the crime, police revealed that their investigation was initially handcuffed because Storhmeyer’s friend David Cash, who acknowledged witnessing the event but did nothing to participate or intervene in it, did not feel compelled to notify authorities about it. This is the end result of “not snitching.”

Although extreme examples, less destructive but no less disruptive examples of how “not snitching” pervade other institutions geared toward the greater good. Take for example the public schools in our larger cities. Anyone who has the patience and constitution to attempt to teach on average 80 (or more) students a day in a classroom, try to impart into each of them the importance of an education in trying to attain a better life, despite seemingly apathetic parents, and under possible physical threat knows how much of an staggering responsibility this…one I can personally attest to. Now imagine how much harder such a task is when students who disrupt these classes in major ways cannot be made accountable or even disciplined because fellow students—who almost invariably witness such disruptions—fail to provide names or details of incidents and instigators due to their “don’t snitch” mindsets. What happens is unproductive classes, the appearance of “failing schools,” angry parents (many of whom are unjustified in their anger), and teachers who get blamed for ineffectiveness despite the reality that no one else in their right minds would or even could handle their responsibilities.

Finally, in high crime areas where crime seems to be allowed to rage unchecked and the “don’t snitch” mindset is partially the reason for this, there is often poor schools, substandard services, high unemployment, and many other pathologies which bring down the value of life. Whereas an influx of potential (not to mention stable) employers could conceivably move into these areas and bring jobs paying decent wages, high crime is often cited by potential employers as the major reason why this does not happen. Understandably, what employer would want to hire a workforce—despite their eagerness to work—comprised of people with such a counterproductive mentality?

“Don’t snitch” is a destructive, counter-productive mindset which has no place among civilized men and women. If a group of people wish to express dissatisfaction with the institutions which are meant to work on their behalf, surely there are more effective and socially less destructive ways to address this. Turning a silent lip to the victimization of others creates an atmosphere whereby crime blooms and values whither.  And while it is somewhat understandable that such a way of thinking is and will always be a part of the criminal underculture in America, that it has made its way into the thinking of the general population does nothing to benefit individuals in the short-term, nor our communities in the long-term.


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    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

      terrific hub read life is hard to decide sometimes thanks

    • Beyond-Politics profile image

      Beyond-Politics 7 years ago from The Known Universe (

      Thank you. I work with at-risk teens, and the "don't snitch" mentality makes it extremely hard to perform my duties to a successful end.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      You make a very good point. There needs to be a balance, because not snitching is harmful. Thanks for writing.