It is when creating a nation of rats. Snitches. Informants. People who will turn immediately to the police to alert them to someone doing something they don't like. Odd perhaps. Or just something that annoys them. Because you never know, and the worst that will happen is that the police will investigate and decide that it's not a danger. No harm, no foul. Better to snitch at the drop of a hat then risk silence and allow evil to prevail.
Not just the grownups hear the pitch, but the children as well, indoctrinated to a world where we tell on others. Snitching as a cultural imperative, for our safety. Fear mongering is a very effective way for a message to seep into the subconscious. Television is a very effective delivery mechanism. Children are easily influenced, and believe what they see and hear, especially when it comes via a trusted medium over and over.
The changes in the internal methods of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, ranging from picking through trash for fun and pleasure to roaming the internet in search of someone to investigate provoked Harvey Silverglate, author of Three Felonies a Day, to write a letter to the editor of the New York Times.
You miss the main threat posed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s assuming the power to spy on all of us by physical surveillance, covert infiltration and even trash-picking, all without reasonable grounds for suspicion, much less the constitutional standard of “probable cause.”
The F.B.I. claims merely to want to find information by which it can squeeze citizens to cooperate in federal investigations. But what can possibly be found in the average person’s trash that would make him squeezable? The answer lies in the extraordinarily vague laws that characterize the sprawling federal criminal code.
The average law-abiding person probably engages in some act during the course of a typical day that an inventive agent or prosecutor can use as the basis for threatening a prosecution in the absence of “cooperation.” And once the citizen’s decision is made to cooperate, the feds excel at teaching their cooperators to become witnesses who know not only how to sing but also how to compose.
Going through the trash is simply the first step in an increasingly pernicious system that targets the innocent as well as the guilty. The Justice Department and its agencies and bureaus have completely lost sight of the limits that the Constitution was supposed to have imposed on their power.
HARVEY A. SILVERGLATE
Cambridge, Mass., June 19, 2011
No matter if the television commercials fail to persuade every American to do his civic duty and rat out his neighbor. Even so, it's always preferable to have redundant systems.
Cooperation is such a benign word. It's cheerful and happy, raising images of hand-holding and voices singing in perfect harmony. Working together. Achieving a common goal. Cooperating.
All the while federal agents rummaging through out garbage to find something they can use, anything that raises the stench of wrongdoing, to convince us that joining the chorus is far better than being thrown in the hole.
Agents sift through garbage, looking for something to use against us. Rats sift through garbage as well. There is nothing benign about the word "rat."