It looks like much-despised Washington Commanders’ owner Daniel Snyder will soon sell the football franchise he purchased almost 25 years ago. In response, some local fans are calling on the prospective new ownership to change the team’s name, potentially even back to the controversial Redskins, according to ESPN panelist Kevin Blackistone.
But not if people like Maryland native Jared Hautamaki have anything to say about it — Hautamaki has been running a years-long campaign demanding Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) ban attire bearing Native American mascots, according to an April story in The Washington Post. Hautamaki has even demanded MCPS punish students who wear the attire of the Washington Redskins. “For as progressive as Montgomery County likes to make itself out to be, it can be certainly close-minded on a lot of issues, and this is one of them,” said Hautamaki.
That’s one way to look at it. Another might be to wonder at the fact that a grown man never matured out of tattling. Has this man nothing better to do? Of all the causes with which to invest his limited time and energy, Hautamaki chose this? Sadly, wasting energy complaining about children’s sports paraphernalia is one of the least dangerous examples of how the proliferation of our tattletale culture is ruining American society.
Consider the Atheist Street Pirates, who roam the highways of America seeking to clear public land of what they call “religious propaganda,” according to a recent article in the Religion News Service. The group maintains a map of approximately 1,000 markers for religious signage on public land that have been reported, tracked, or removed in states across the country, according to The Washington Post. Bright yellow “JESUS SAVES” signs are quite common in North Carolina. Evan Clark, a leader of the atheist group, claimed that “Christian nationalists, evangelicals and other types of religious fanatics are using our public land illegally for their proselytizing.”
Clark is right about one thing. Putting religious, political, or commercial signs on public land is illegal. In my native Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Transportation is “authorized to remove any sign that is in violation of state code” and can “levy a $100 civil penalty for each sign violation.” I presume rarely do the authorities actually enforce this regulation, given the signs usually have the endorsement of many locals — besides, the penalty is $100. And once you get outside of blue Northern Virginia, you’re likely to regularly see religious signs alongside the road, often stapled or nailed to telephone poles. I typically find such exhortations encouraging, as do my Virginia relatives.
Compare that to any major metropolitan area. Practically every street corner is flooded with liberal political posters, plastered over just about everything in sight: public, private, whatever. You’ll see signs condemning Trump and the Republicans and warning about global warming, white supremacy, and homophobia, among other evils. Scratch some of those posters, and you’ll likely find many layers, revealing decades-old stickers condemning George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Yet one never hears complaints from secularists or liberals about those violations of public ordinances.
Tattling on Others to Elevate Self
There are other insidious forms of tattling, many aggravated by a social media culture that enables people to monitor and launch rapid attacks against ideological opponents.
Washington Post reporters Felicia Sonmez and Taylor Lorenz have shamefully used their perch to malign and defame not only their political enemies but their journalism colleagues, even at their own publications! According to Hotair.com, Twitter previously banned accounts at Lorenz’s request, which is not a little ironic given that she risibly claimed she suffered PTSD because of the animosity she endured from her online critics. In both cases, it seemed the journalists were eager to burnish their own public profile at the expense of others.
Then there is the rise of “digilantism,” the practice of “internet vigilantes” who engage in online shaming and doxxing in the name of identifying and punishing criminals, racists, homophobes, and other malcontents. This has often resulted in punishing the wrong people, leading to threats toward innocent business owners and accusing the wrong people of pedophilia, often causing terrible damage to such persons’ personal and professional lives.
Consider the pregnant physician assistant recently accosted by several young men, while people looked on and recorded the incident on their phones. As The Federalist reported, social media tattlers immediately accused the woman of being a “white supremacist” and “weaponizing her tears,” and urged the hospital to fire her. She was then put on leave by her employer — yet her lawyer has provided receipts that he claims show she indeed purchased the bike.
Entire families have suffered these kinds of indignities from people because of old vendettas. There are entire net-based communities that celebrate and congratulate each other’s successes in digital vigilantism while ruining other people’s lives.
The Best Antidote for Tattletales
If you remember anything about tattletales from your grade-school days, you probably recall how the teachers dealt with such students. As long as the offenses were not egregious (and they rarely were), the best educators simply ignored them, often with a slight rebuke. “Allison, please go back to your seat and mind your business,” they’d say.
Perhaps that’s an effective strategy for dealing with tattletales in our contemporary culture. We shouldn’t be giving them oxygen to flame their fires of manufactured grievance. We should be rebuking them for their inflated self-importance and inexcusable behavior of bullying.
But in examples like grown men complaining about the sports attire of grade schoolers or atheists applying a double standard to signs in public, we should be calling out their flagrant foolishness and intellectual incoherence. “Your child’s school has hundreds of children in need of free or reduced school meals, and you choose to spend your time scolding them about the Redskins?” we should ask. “You’re incensed by signs spreading messages of faith and hope, but indifferent to the innumerable posters portraying people’s political enemies as monsters?”
Many years ago, tattletales were an annoyance in the classroom or schoolyard, people to be ignored, if not mocked. But now they leverage all manner of social and political power to bully and silence dissenters in our ascendent woke age. Like our wise teachers of old, we need to put these people in their place. Otherwise, we risk becoming a nation dominated by the power-hungry and their fabricated grievances. In many cases, sadly, we already are.