Little Squealers, apply here

The folks at the nursing home did not want my mother-in-law attempting to get out of bed. Likewise, they did not want her attempting to stand up when she was sitting in her wheel chair. So they clipped this little wire to her nightgown or blouse. If she misbehaved, it sounded an alarm at the desk.
She had a name for that clip: the Little Squealer.
I cannot help thinking about her saying that every time I see those promos on local TV stations encouraging people to make anonymous calls to report the wrongdoings of public officials. You, too, they seem to say, can be a Little Squealer.
As a journalist, I realize this may sound a bit hypocritical or even foolish. After all, the “tip,” anonymous or otherwise, has been a valuable asset throughout the history of this business. Watergate for example, perhaps investigative journalism’s finest hour, would not have happened without well-intentioned sources talking “off the record,” anxious to see justice served but reluctant to put their heads on the chopping block to help do so.
Still, there’s something creepy associated with “ratting” someone out. Back in the day, “I’m telling,” was the pitiful threat of wimpy kids. Telling whom? Well, the teacher, I guess. Or their mommies. I’m not sure because I do believe they never actually “told.” Or if they did were never taken seriously.
Little Squealers rarely are.
The thing that gets me about the TV invitations to squeal, I guess, is that most of the callers will be the “I’m telling” crowd. For every worthwhile tip, I’m betting there’ll be a hundred if not a thousand whiners looking to get their kicks by “getting someone in trouble.” Just they way they did when they were eight years old.

Ed Ackerman