Tattle tale tit,
Your tongue shall be slit,
And all the dogs in the town
Shall have a little bit! – trad. schoolyard taunt
How bizarre it is to come to a time in these sort-of-United States where certain people who might otherwise have been mistaken for grownups appear to take great pleasure in channeling their inner selves; that of a malicious, sneaky tattle-tale, running to the teacher to inform on their fellow students at every opportunity. We do not — yet — have the equivalent of the East German ‘Stasi’, where half the population eagerly and voluminously informed on the other half. I would have assumed that Americans, young and old, despised tattletales – the adult version every bit as much as the juvenile variety. But we have moved on, it seems. A certain kind of mentality seems bound and determined to sign up as informers even before such volunteers are requested by the authorities in various venues.
Still, I would have thought that public scorn, derision, and ridicule would at least have kept adult tattle-tales in check. At least, some sense of probity among the authorities whom the adult tattle-tales run to would have kept them from behaving like grade school monitors chastising the kids being tattled upon. But no – this the age of the Twitterified lynch mobs with a penchant for descending upon the luckless, or more usually on the employers of the luckless demanding that the luckless be pink-slipped at once. To their shame, the employers have complied in most of the incidents which make it into public knowledge. Honestly, I wish that employers thus descended on would sack up and say, “Mr. or Ms Soandso is a valued member of our team, and no, we will not request their resignation over what is clearly a misunderstanding/a bit of personal bad luck/an unconsidered word spoken in anger – so go away.” This would have the charm of variety, at least.
The latest incident of this kind concerns two male friends, professional musicians mildly joshing with each other; one white Brit, one black American. As has been reported, a female bystander took offense at a conversation in which she had no part – and went and tattled to the employer of the white Brit, claiming that he had said a naughty, racist thing to his friend. His contract as conductor of a music festival was cancelled three years early, without any more ado than that. The takeaway from this is that one must be careful now in public spaces, lest one be overheard and tattled upon by officious do-gooders secure in their own conviction of righteous superiority … officious do-gooders such as Lena Dunham, she of the oft-displayed yet unappealing and tatted corpus. Having lately spun a tale of overhearing a conversation between a pair of airline employees and indignantly tattling to their supposed employers in what I can only assume was an attempt to get them fired, MS Dunham is now warning travelers that she is traveling again – and in her words; “…When I’m at the airport, they have to f#cking watch out for me. I hear and see all.” Nice of her to post a warning; I can picture her sitting in the middle of an empty space, as those travelers and airline employees recognizing her get the hell out of earshot, lest she come up with materiel for a fresh tattle.
What fresh new hell this will create for Americans out in public; I can imagine how quiet we will all become, glumly staring straight ahead at the restaurant menu, at the airline scheduling screen, the trees in the park, the players on the field, and the speakers table at a conference, not daring to say anything save juiceless pleasantries to the person next to us – lest we be overheard and reported for badthink.