The dilemma – to snitch or not to snitch?
We are all governed by sets of codes, whether moral, behavioral, professional, etc. Most of us understand the stark differences between right and wrong, and in case of difficult situations, we try and abide by our moral beliefs and justify our code of honor. Society has a general code of behavior, and you may say that criminals and gangsters abide by the ones that differ from the accepted ones. Ethics are principles of right and wrong that govern our behavior regardless of the sanction attached.
One strict code of silence that criminals and young street kids often abide by is that no one should snitch. In this case, snitching is about informing on another person, and is this is a code of silence that is an unsaid agreement between criminals and gang members. Ratting out a fellow member or another criminal is looked down upon; it is essentially creating a culture of preventing the law of the land, the judicial system, from being applied to a particular group of people or gang members and criminals, making them their judge, jury, and executioner at the same time.
The moral implication behind not snitching
All human beings are in the pursuit of justice, whether personal, professional or otherwise. Snitching or ratting on someone violates the strong bonds formed with another person; they have enough personal or professional information on the other person to be able to get them into trouble or incarcerated, in extreme cases. This is a prominent value that is most pertinent, however not exclusive to, the criminal circles.
Snitching is believed to be a fundamental and rudimentary error, following a flawed thinking pattern; as this is most prevalent in criminal circles, financial and societal circumstances can be partly to blame for the mentality. The code of silence can apply to, but not restricted to, lower socioeconomic groups of the society; the code of silence is often relative to the loss of position in the peer group, dissociation with the peer group, and consideration by peers as a social outcast, without the sense of belonging. Hence, the cultural virtue and value of not blowing the whistle become a moral imperative in this case.
Ratting on others is often related to the feeling of culturally seated disgust; snitches arouse feelings of disgust, leading to contempt and in many extreme cases, ostracization from their closest people. As people who snitch or rat on their associates and close friends have very little credibility, due to untrustworthy behavior, snitches often find themselves alone and without many friends, family, and associates.
While many argue that snitching is based purely on self-interest, the ingrained, disgust and contempt overpowers the rationality of being one. In cases when a person has snitched or ratted on a group of some types of underhanded activity, it may have been done to avoid pain rather than for any sort of gain. It is also done frequently to vary the snitches’ relationship with the person or body of authority for some kind of gain.
To refrain from snitching is an unsaid code of ethics for street criminals; any person snitching can expect retaliation and a start of a vicious cycle of retribution that may or may involve themselves and their families and loved ones. To snitch means breaking a moral imperative, and many choose integrity and honor over ratting out deserving, as well as, under-serving people alike.