February 6, 2014

Petition to Change the Face of Whistleblowers – They Are Not Rats, Finks, Stoolies, Snitches…

whistleChange.org petition link

We have made some progress in how we feel about whistleblowers.  Perhaps it was the 9/11 wakeup call of how dangerous the world has become.  Maybe we no longer trust the government to look out for us the way we think it should.  Or maybe it is simply about corporate plunder and the ever-widening gulf between the haves and have-nots.  Whatever it is, a new mindset is beginning to emerge — where getting involved is the right thing to do; where if you see something you actually ARE supposed to say something.

Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.  Whistleblower retaliation is on the rise despite the greatly expanded legal protections that now exist for most whistleblowers.  And it goes well beyond demotions, pay cuts, firings and estrangement to include harassment and even physical violence.  Our 2013 Whistleblower of the Year, Taylor Radig, was even criminally charged and threatened with jail-time for her efforts at uncovering animal abuse at one Colorado factory farm.

Sadly it seems, that old school-yard “nobody likes a snitch” mentality has not fully released its tight grip, even among the most enlightened of us.  Look no further than the recent opinion piece by Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus where she broad-swiped whistleblowers as having a “personality [that] is rarely an attractive one” and who “tend to be the difficult ones, the sort who tend to feel freer to speak out precisely because they don’t fit in.”  Certainly not the most flattering or accurate portrayal of whistleblowers, nor the perception you would expect from such a highly regarded, liberal-minded award-winning journalist.

But an even more extreme (and shocking) example of the misguided view of whistleblowers that still infects the mainstream is how whistleblowers are depicted by Thesaurus.com and Merriam-Webster, the two leading resources for everything word-related.  Of the thirty synonyms these publications provide to describe whistleblower, the vast majority of them are deeply derogatory and paint the whistleblower as dishonest, disloyal and driven by unsavory motives.  Here is just a small sampling: BetrayerBigmouthBusybodyFat MouthFinkGossipRatRumormongerSnitchSquealer; Stool PigeonTattletale; and Troublemaker.  In maintaining this lexicon, these online publications — which collectively boast 90 million monthly visitors — are perpetuating the negative stereotype of whistleblowers, contributing to their continued persecution and mistreatment and providing a strong disincentive for others to step forward in the face of fraud or injustice.

Please help us change this archaic, fallacious and downright shameful portrayal of whistleblowers.  Sign our petition on Change.org to Thesaurus.com and Merriam-Webster where we urge them to redraft their listings of whistleblower synonyms to more accurately reflect these brave and selfless souls who have risked so much to make this world a better, safer and more just place.

Please also provide in the comments section below the synonyms you believe best describe whistleblowers so we can guide these publications to the most appropriate selection of synonyms.  Here are two possibilities to get the ball rolling: fraud-buster and watchdog.  With your help, we can change the face of whistleblowers and hopefully bring them a bit more of the respect and recognition that still all too often escapes them.  At the very least, we can join together in one strong voice and declare loud and clear that whistleblowers are not rats, finks, stoolies or snitches!

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If you would like more information or would like to speak to a member of Constantine Cannon’s whistleblower lawyer team, please click here.

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20 Responses to “Petition to Change the Face of Whistleblowers – They Are Not Rats, Finks, Stoolies, Snitches…

  1. A view from the UK (where our legislation and treatment of whistleblowers is still light years behind that of the USA) :

    A Whistleblower: someone who is not afraid to look into the soul of the man in the mirror.
    (PS. it works for women too!)

    Ian Foxley
    Whistleblowers UK
    Fighting for Justice for Whistleblowers

  2. I am not a snitch. I told the truth. All evidence shows, harms were intended to me by government officials. Many of them. Laws show they should have helped me at many levels. They did not. They lied. They also cost the taxpayers millions.

  3. My ex-employer was embezzling large sums of money from retirees pension funds I could’nt find an attorney or agency for nine years to investigate this fraud my life was constantly endangered

    I contacted the United States Attorney General for an investigation the money was returned I could’nt. get protection from local or federal authorities people need protection

  4. Whistleblowers are brave people who are not afraid to tell the truth, right a wrong. We are witnesses to a crime. I had a woman that i work with tell me it was a sin what i did. She said that i should have quit and not caused all those people to lose their job. I allowed her to get to me now i look at the source and realize she participated in the fraud. If you see someone rob a bank you tell, the same that a WhistleBlower does. I read this somewhere the only difference between a bank robber and a white collar crime is one uses a gun the other paper and pen.

  5. Many people don’t even think themselves as whistle blowers initially, You only become a whistle blower when you realize that the thing you questioned was so current that all came out to silence you.

    Prior to that you innocently believe that as a citizens you have a duty and moral obligation to address a wrong you have uncovered.

    I live int he least corrupt country in the world I foolishly believed that we were the least corrupt because we took corruption seriously.

    However we are the least corrupt because we do not define corruption and silence any one who questions serious wring doing. Look no corruption in New Zealand , we would never cheat at rugby but we cheat at corruption .. got to keep the investment $$$ rolling in.

    the petition should have international significance.

  6. To be a whistleblower is synonmous with abolition, rebellion and fighting for human rights.
    I believe us not to be “whistleblowers” but merely self-reliant as Ralph Waldo Emerson defined “Self Reliance” “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.”

  7. People forget there were plenty of us who came before any “reward” ever existed. I know there is much controversy re: the huge rewards, but I truly believe we all would have or done this with or withoud a reward. That is just who we are,
    The reward offers us a chance at a life to those who have given up any in the process. We will no longer work or do what we are best at, be friends among our peers who we spend more time with than our families, earn our living and any life ceased for only doing the right thing.. The worst is that we did the best at what we were hired to do. I can only hope that firms will look forward to seek red flags instead of destroying someone who tries to raise one.

  8. As one who has traveled this road I know the power of word’s, please consider adding the definition ethictician. One who has ethics and practices them.

  9. I was imprisoned in the UK for 29 nights for telling the truth in the Public Interest to save innocent human life. It has since been held to be an unlawful imprisonment. My life was destroyed. I was unlawfully bankrupted. My extremely successful career was destroyed. I was severely beaten up three times. I have had three death threats.

    You know what though…I would Whistleblow again because I can at least live with my conscience and those innocents are still safe today.

    A Whistleblower is: A Purveyor of Principles
    A Whistleblower is: A Servant of Society
    A Whistleblower is: A Soldier for the very principles of Society.
    A Whistleblower: Treasures the Truth

  10. Whistle-blower synonyms: Justice-seeker, truth-teller, brave-hearted, exposer of unpleasant truths, fights against ingrained/ entrenched systems to challenge inequities, expose corruption and lies, and criminal/ unethical behaviors.
    We need whistle-blower protection now, maybe more than ever.

  11. courageous person willing to publicly expose wrongdoing in Organisations or society. Public demonstrator promoting investigation into unlawful, unethical, improper conduct. Conduct of a person knowingly exposing wrong doing and accepting to be damned for their action or damned in history for their inaction.

  12. A whistleblower is a truthteller, corruption buster, a person of courage who makes public concealed information about unjust, unethical or questionable practises.

  13. They are liar-exposers, whether it be Daniel Ellsberg telling about the government lies to the public re: the Vietnam War, or Karen Silkwood exposing unsafe conditions at a nuclear power plant, or W. Mark Felt (then known only as Deep Throat) exposing the lies, illegal break-ins, covert operations, and campaign violations of the Richard Nixon administration, culminating with Watergate and Nixon’s forced resignation as President.

  14. I’ve signed and hope Thesaurus.com and Merriam-Webster will do the right thing to honor and protect whistleblowers. Here’s another synonym for whistleblower to add to the list: Truthteller.