Jesse Jackson, Jr., Informant or Tattler?
Jesse Jackson, Jr. has been providing the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago with information about alleged bribes by Rod Blagojevich and details of meetings for months. Some call him an informant. Jackson rejects the label.
I would ask this: If Jackson, Jr. went to the feds to report what he perceived to be a personal bribe by Blagojevich -- a scheme in which Jackson believed himself to be a victim -- is that informing or reporting a crime?
Ratting and snitching are done for personal benefit -- either money or rewards of leniency for one's own misdeeds or for promises to lay off family members. Reporting a crime you witness, without needing, asking for or receiving any personal gain in exchange for the information doesn't seem to fit the label.
Snitching and ratting are bad. I don't think any site attacks the practice of Government purchased testimony from informants, snitches and rats more than TalkLeft. But... [More...]
If we reduce the word "informing" to a level where we discourage citizens from reporting a crime they observed, or a crime in which they were the victim, but not a perpetrator or coconspirator, the words will lose their meaning, and their power.
I'd rather see the words "snitch" and "rat" reserved for those with whom the Government makes deals, providing the rats with money or other inducements like sentence concessions or immunity from prosecution.
Snitch testimony is purchased testimony. It is bought with promises of leniency. Freedom is a far more precious commodity than money. The incentive to lie is enormous. Only by telling the Government's version of the truth does the snitch get his pay-off: immunity from prosecution or a lesser sentence for his own misdeeds.
The details aren't out yet on the extent of Jackson, Jr.'s involvement with the feds. We don't know his motive or whether his information was limited to events he witnessed. Did he go to the feds because he feared he had done something wrong or because he was offended the Governor would try and bribe him? Perhaps investigative reporters can dig and determine whether JJJ also feared he had personal liability and wanted the Government to give him a pass in exchange for his cooperation. If he had no liability of his own and he felt personally victimized by what he perceived to be a criminal attempt at extortion, I think he's a tattler, but not the classic informant or rat. If he was trying to protect himself from criminal charges, then the label may fit.
Right now I'd say Jackson is in the tattler category. If it turns out he wore a wire to help the feds catch Blago or someone else in not-yet committed crimes, I'd say he was an informant. If he was only interviewed about what Blago and others told him in the past which he perceived to be criminal attempts to bribe him, then I think the use of the word is overkill.
On a related note, since I'm glad to see the words "snitch" and "rat" have entered our national discourse with a negative connotation, I'm re-offering our line of anti-snitch products. They make great gifts.
The coffee mug may start a discussion, as might the teddy bear or the mouse pad. End result: Every person who asks you about it gets to hear from you just what the problem is. It's not saying citizens shouldn't report crimes or agree to provide information about crimes in which they were victimized. It's about selling your information for a personal benefit -- either money or leniency for your own or a family members' misdeeds.
- The No Snitch Mousepad
- The No Snitch Coffee Mug
- The No Snitch Teddy Bear and his companion bear, whose shirt says, in an attempt at humor, "Nobody Talks, Everybody Walks."
- The No Snitch T-Shirt
They make great Xmas presents, as does our Fourth Amendment Subway Tote for those pesky bag checks you encounter at subways, buses, and trains. What better way to hand over your bag for a search than to present the searcher with the words of the Fourth Amendment?
The TL Gear Shop is here.[Note: Post tweaked for grammar and typos.)
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