Who first said that people shouldn't tell on each other for doing bad things?
Teachers who don't like to hear the complaints of victims in school are only letting potential future monsters get away with stuff and giving them the freedom they need to take over the world with their grubby little grabby hands. The tattletale was usually the least popular kid, and maybe he did crave attention, but wasn't he just doing what he thought was right? And really, wasn't he just doing what WAS right? When did it become normal to just let bad stuff happen without saying a word?
I'm not necessarily advocating telling people's secrets to anyone who will listen. But the chances are probably near 100% that we all know a cheater, a dealer, a speeder, an evader, a liar, etc. We all hate lying politicians, but give the benefit of the doubt to pretty much everyone else we encounter. Getting away with unfair things all their life creates lying politicos. These are the people who had enough personality, charisma and influence to get others to hold their tongues. How many people you know could be a politician with no closet skeletons? This Schultzian "I know nothing" behaviour begets worse down the road. It must because we learn so much from our successes and failures. Every time a kid gets away with something it gives them confidence that they will get away with it again. A successful bluff in poker will never be the last bluff.
I know some of you are thinking that some of my best friends are probably cheaters and dealers and speeders and evaders and liars. Yes, this is all possibly true, but that's because we have bad laws and some of our norms are horribly outdated. We need to make better laws and discuss our norms honestly then then enforce the new ones that should hopefully actually make sense. Prohibition on drugs is not ever going to work. Legalize, regulate, educate about and tax. Speed limits are too low. Increase them to realistic numbers and enforce them consistently. Simplify the tax system and get rid of loopholes. Cheaters and liars who do real harm, like swindlers of the elderly with money scams or credit card fraudsters, for example, should be put in jail for a really really long time and should go on a published and public registry like released molesters.
Gangs, police, governments, social status, families, friendships, unions, charities, etc. all rely on fudging the numbers and turning the proverbial blind eye (!!) to stay in business. Don't rock the boat, be a team player, don't bite the hand that feeds you, toe the line or in other words, shut up and play nice, no matter what you might encounter. It's not your place to comment; it's not up to you to pass judgment. In my small sampling, cheating in schools is worse than it was just 5 years ago. Kids today either cheat or shut up. No one would dare tell on a cheater in today's classrooms.
Big business and banking have been so successful, so often, because of all the stuff we don't know about. Back-room deals, Swiss bank-accounts, tax-evading, where chemicals are dumped, what chemicals are used and have there been enough studies and a hundred other horrible and unjust things are some of the ways that governments and businesses get away with the swindles every day. And they are all products of this new-ish secretive norm. Look at this oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. It's been spewing for a month and everyone knows... and what? Hot potatoes are passed, facts and fudged and denied, governments are slow to react, companies will just pay some cash and stock prices will drop a little and they will go on making billions. Isn't this something we should have figured out by now?
All those great exposé documentaries and the non-fiction section in any bookshop tell tales of corruption, lying, cheating and greed. These books and films are the big and modern equivalent of finking on your friend for stealing the Hershey Bar from Kim's Grocery and while they do get more respect generally from the artsy crowd with a keen sense of justice, they do not have the effect they should. The exploratory reporting of papers like the Guardian and the New York Times is read daily and debated and commented on by interested people on all sides of every debate, but almost nothing changes. Look at a popular show like 60 Minutes. It makes a small dent in things once in a while, but ultimately not much is different. We all know this. And yet, the shut-up-and-play-nice thing is still the norm in most of society. Investigative journalism has cornered the market on finking without prejudice.
A few people complain and protest, but they are called radicals, rabble-rousers, trouble makers, the lunatic fringe, communists, anarchists and the like. I'm not personally fond of protesting, but I'm sure glad someone does it...