Whistleblower – would you have what it takes?
Whistleblower (whistle-blower or whistle blower) a person who exposes misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in an organization. The alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health and safety violations, and corruption.
Whistleblowers frequently face reprisal, sometimes at the hands of the organization or group which they have accused, sometimes from related organizations, and sometimes under law. Questions about the legitimacy of whistleblowing, the moral responsibility of whistleblowing, and the appraisal of the institutions of whistleblowing are part of the field of political ethics.
Some examples of famous whistleblowers:
This New York City police officer, attempted to confront the rampant corruption within the police department. He left the force after being shot in the face during a botched drug raid and later moved out of the country. He was later portrayed by Al Pacino in the 1973 movie ‘Serpico‘.
Like Frank Serpico, Karen Silkwood was played in a movie named for her, in this case by Meryl Streep in 1983. She died mysteriously in 1974 in the midst of a campaign to challenge Kerr-McGee about the safety of a nuclear facility. The circumstances of her death have been the subject of great speculation.
Jeffrey Wigand began working for Brown & Williamson in January 1989, and was fired in March, 1993. He says that he was fired because he knew that high-ranking corporate executives knowingly approved the addition of additives to their cigarettes that were known to be carcinogenic and/or addictive, such as coumarin. The former tobacco company executive made enemies by claiming on “60 Minutes” in 1996 that cigarette companies were fully aware they were packing their products with addictive levels of nicotine. Russell Crowe played Wigand in the superb 1999 film “The Insider.”
Possibly the least well know of the whistleblowers on this post, but without doubt one of the bravest and most intriguing of all. One who’s story is filled with conspiracy, vulnerability, and sacrifice. A story that needs to be more widely known and appreciated, particularly by Americans.
This diminutive Aussie ex-exotic-dancer / rock-band agent, gathered evidence, and then blew the whistle on a Mafia like group of corrupt American Army sergeants, who managed the military clubs. They made millions during the Vietnam war by demanding kickbacks from all booking agents and sales people, as well as ‘fixing’ slot machines, bringing in professional gamblers to cheat the GI’s at cards, running prostitution, smuggling drugs and automatic weapons into the U.S., and blackmarketeering.
After Collins blew the whistle, she was hated by some, called a heroine by many more, and became part of the history of the Vietnam War.
The Khaki Mafia, which Collins co-authored with Robin Moore, author The French Connection, became one of the best selling books on the Vietnam War.
The Khaki Mafia was the first of June’s books about her time in Vietnam. She has since written two true stories; Goodbye Junie Moon, and a sequel, Junie Moon Rising.
This sequel to Goodbye Junie Moon begins where she left off in Washington. After escaping death threats by the army sergeants in Vietnam, she gave testimony in Senate Hearings about those who sought to permanently silence her. She had sacrificed her business, and put herself at risk by succumbing to her conscience and becoming a whistleblower.
Both books are well worth reading, and will leave you in awe of this gutsy Aussie who’s post-war life was no less remarkable.
I’ve been told that this song became a bit of an anthem in Vietnam. It’s not hard to understand why.
Thanks for calling by, and if you want to see what others are doing for ‘W is for -‘ today, check out some of the other great blogs on the A to Z Challenge