Edward Snowden: Appeal from a Whistleblower

I was excited to watch last night’s NBC interview with Edward Snowden, so I guess I’m a political nerd, or a news junkie, or just genuinely fascinated with the current American landscape. We haven’t been exposed much to Snowden, and I was genuinely interested to hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. If nothing else, he has become iconoclastic, if not an icon. I admit I’m still undecided about his actions, mostly because much of the opinion can only be formed based on media commentary and government propaganda. I have to say, my impression of Snowden has improved because of this interview.

I’ve taught a few classes of technical writing, which focus on elements of business correspondence. We’ve dealt with the issue of whistle-blowing in these classes, and I usually have a bad taste in my mouth after mimicking the claims made in several of the textbooks concerning whistle-blowing. A general synopsis: employees should seriously consider the repercussions of whistle-blowing, like losing your job, challenging authority, losing legal battles, having a blight on your resume, and hurting the operations and financial stability of your corporation. I usually add my own commentary about whistle-blowing, which usually expands upon the evils of corporate tactic, but I don’t elaborate much because I don’t want students to get the wrong impression and hurt their own chances at finding work and keeping a job. There are obvious repercussions to whistle-blowing: just look at Snowden. However, there are obvious problems in our government systems, our corporate businesses, our healthcare system, our legal system, our education system, our consumer systems…and everybody’s encouraged to keep their mouth shut and let those who supposedly know better dictate how we are supposed to live.

Don’t rock the boat. There are too many people on it. If you try to rock it too hard, then we’ll cast you overboard…and we’re light on life preservers.

I agreed with much of Snowden’s testimony because I’ve seen it myself in action within a corporate working environment. You spot some error or unethical tactic in the operations. You report it to your superiors, using the right channels, and you are told, “Yeah, it sucks, but that’s the way things operate.” Administrators are put in charge, and they have the final say in all matters…and I’ve yet to find an administrator who’s willing to change the system for good communal ethical reasons, instead of gate-keeping minutiae, corporate politicking, increased authoritarian power, financial profit, or personal gain. I found myself nodding in admiration of Snowden more than disgusted by his “traitorous actions.”

I think I spotted one mistake of Snowden’s. When asked if he was a patriot, he said yes. The look on his face told me, “Oh crap…I shouldn’t have said that.” Considering many of the news headlines are running, “Snowden calls himself a patriot,” he probably should have abstained from the gotcha question. Unfortunately, much of what he said will be lost because of that inane designation…and it’s a shame because almost everything else was quite relevant and well-spoken.

John Kerry seems to have taken it upon himself to oppose Snowden’s testimony. He seems most incensed by the “patriot” comment. Today, he piped up about Snowden “being a man.” In light of the close scrutiny of the misogyny displayed by the Santa Barbara shooter, perhaps Kerry should have chosen his words more carefully…maybe consider how telling someone to be a man can create a bit of pressure on a male, under which some men snap or make the wrong decision. Does Kerry seriously think “being a man” means to turn one’s self over to a metaphorical lynch mob? Is serving jail time part of that masculine identity? If a woman had whistle-blown on the NSA, then should she “be a man” and face the music, played by a government with egg on its face? A very desperate ploy, Secretary Kerry.

I think John Kerry would be better served to first consider the sins of the father before chastising the son. There is little admission of guilt about what seems to be legitimate violations of citizens’ privacies by government institutions. By the day, more and more of Edward Snowden’s account seems to be kosher. Our government representatives are bellowing louder and louder at Edward Snowden, hoping to pin all of the injustices and mistakes upon one, solitary whistleblower.

Methinks our government doth protest too much.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
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Michigan City, IN 46360

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