Not long ago, the “Stop Snitching” campaign was reported and examined in the media. The crusade is aimed at providing encouragement for people with knowledge of criminal activity to remain silent. It was originally a movement within the so-called “hip hop culture”. It has, for years, been celebrated in rap “music”, chanted like nursery rhymes that teach criminality the same way traditional nursery rhymes teach simple life lessons. The phrase, “Stop Snitching”, can still be found printed on t-shirts, usually overly long and ridiculously baggy t-shirts.
When the campaign was originally reported by the media, mainstream America expressed a significant degree of disgust. People who believed in justice and the rule of law were appalled that anyone could view lying and the protection of criminals as a form of integrity. It was unfathomable anyone could be so stupid and immoral that there could be equivocation of honesty and lying. The fervor of the media a few years ago has subsided, but the “Stop Snitching” issue lives on, stronger than ever.
T-shirts with the words, “Stop Snitching”, are not nearly as prevalent now as they were five years ago. The instruction for people to not cooperate with police investigations is not as prevalent as it was either. However, this is not an indication that logic and morality have overcome insanity and depravity. On the contrary, the campaign was so wildly successful that the direction to be uncooperative with criminal investigators had evolved into a cultural standard for acceptable behavior. When incidents in which someone refuses to cooperate with police reaches the media, the only real outrage comes from investigators, prosecutors and victims’ family members. In other words, the only people who see a real problem with the behavior are those personally affected when justice is thwarted.
The rest of American society, for the most part, dooesn’t seem to care too much about anything that doesn’t affect them directly. This is a clear indication that there is no recognition of, or commitment to, principles. The larger concepts in life, such as integrity and justice, are not acknowledged. One would have to imagine there would be few people interviewed during a “man on the street” poll who would be able to accurately define either concept. Because of this inability to think critically or see beyond their Facebook account on their tablet, people have no perspective for judging the act of “snitching” as being either good or bad. As long as a rapper or hiphop “artist” can make it rhyme like a Dr. Seuss book, it’s accepted as truth.
While there is little hope for American society as a whole to wake up and suddenly embrace enlightenment and morality over ignorance and depravity, there is the possibility for honesty to be forced out of people. The criminal justice system routinely punishes people for failing to cooperate with criminal investigations. People are held in contempt of court or charged with obstruction of justice. While this punishes the behavior of the individual, it doesn’t provide an enormous motivation for others to act properly. However, when such an instance is reported in the national media, there is an opportunity for the masses to be taught there are repercussions for defying the pursuit of justice.
This week, the girlfriend of an accused murderer and NFL Star, Aaron Hernandez, was indicted for perjury (New York Post Article). Shayanna Jenkins faces imprisonment if found guilty of lying to protect her boyfriend. This is an opportunity for those who subscribe to the belief that lying to police is a demonstration of integrity to be taught there are repercussions for putting this belief into practice. If she is convicted, and severely punished, there may be some effect on the culture to counter the damage of the “Stop Snitching” movement. The audience is perfect in this case. If the case didn’t involve someone in the entertainment industry, NFL player Aaron Hernandez, few people in need of the message would actually receive it. There is little hope anyone will suddenly wake up and realize there is no honor or integrity demonstrated by helping criminals to avoid apprehension or conviction, but perhaps some will realize it is in their own personal interest to cooperate with police. Self-preservation could be a stronger motivator than rappers’ nursery rhymes.