Monday, March 16, 2020

Broadly This Mirrors My Observations and Experiences With WhistleBlowing


nakedcapitalism |  I have had a lifetime to think about why I acted (unsuccessfully) and so many others do not.

I remember once reading about inner city police corruption which seems to come and go in cycles. The article proposed credibly that 90% of policemen were essentially followers and would follow the existing culture of their institutions. The key to eliminating corruption is in the other 10%. People like me. 

10% will act according to their own perception of right and wrong. 90% will imitate the culture that surrounds them. Those ten percent can be as easily agents for bad as agents for good. I would not make the claim that some of us are intrinsically good or bad. I have made many bad choices in my life, despite appearing to make myself the hero of this story. I could easily see myself as one of the mavericks who turned a police force corrupt.

But even among the 10%, I think I am part of an even smaller group. I think only 1% are fearless enough to buck the dominant culture. When a police force goes bad, 9% are leading the bad behavior, and 1% are trying to reverse it. Similarly, when a police force is good, 9% are leading the good behavior, and 1% are trying to reverse it. Often the key to protecting an institution is crushing people like me by “hammering the nail that is sticking out.”

Throughout my life I have been the rare person trying to change the culture wherever I go. Usually I am unsuccessful. When I am successful, I sometimes do more harm than good. We should be glad there are not more mavericks in the world. It would be anarchy. We should be glad that 90% of people fundamentally work to protect their institutions, even if those institutions are flawed.

Returning to the role of the enabler, let’s talk about Hillary and Jim Jordan. Of course, both people are part of the 90%. Of course, the Secretary of State, and a coach at a major university, have primary responsibility to protect their institutions. Protecting the institution is the very definition of those roles. Despite the significant power that they could have used to thwart evil, doing so would have undermined their primary roles. And like the Tuck Dean in my story, I am not even convinced they had anywhere near enough insight (if any) to have taken credible action.

In my case I may have done some good, even though it did not feel like it at the time. Although the parents I approached vociferously defended my father, I do know that my fathers’ access to him decreased, and had the situation continued there was less likelihood of those parents remaining enablers. I also know that word got back to my father, and although we broke off any further relationship, he had to be aware that people were watching him.

Years later I discovered that there was open communication amongst our family about my fathers’ predation, which surprised me. I always thought it remained a hidden secret. Maybe my actions had something to do with this. The life lesson for me is that speaking out is effective for would-be enablers despite the violent push-back and self-doubt. It sets the tone for everyone else in your system.