New Internationalist

Blowing the whistle: could you? Would you?

The whistle [Related Image]
In acting as the conscience for us all, whistleblowers deserve our backing. by New Internationalist

Do you have what it takes to be an effective whistleblower? Or could you support others who have blown the whistle? Take our quiz to find out.

Whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden ask of us a question: should keeping secrets and loyalty come at the price of remaining silent about wrongdoing? While some of us would consider disclosures of corruption, injustice and deception as acts of bravery, sacrifice and heroism – those in power rarely take this view.

Whistleblowers belonging to the armed or secret services are treated especially harshly – they are branded as traitors, handed lifelong prison sentences and appear fair game to certain media outlets that gleefully expose their private lives in heartbreaking ways.

And in society, often the treatment of people who expose uncomfortable truths is deeply ambivalent, even callous. Is it because their revelations remind us of the extent to which we – the public – are being deceived by the states that rule us? And what does it say about us if the societies that we live in cannot tolerate disclosure and transparency?

The April issue of New Internationalist examines these questions and the motives of the people who feel compelled to expose wrongdoing, even if it means losing their jobs, relationships, freedom and citizenship.

The whistleblowers who are household names are but a few. Let’s also spare a thought for those who blow the whistle out of the public eye: the people who have been silenced, ridiculed, who have lost everything, even their lives, to quietly, determinedly, speak the truth.

Whistleblowing is not glamorous or easy; it is, in the words of someone who has done it ‘a near suicidal vocation’. In acting as the conscience for us all, these individuals deserve our backing. Take the quiz and buy the April issue on whistleblowing or try us for free to access a digital copy.

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About the author

Lydia James a New Internationalist contributor

Lydia James is currently a freelance writer and doer. She was an editorial assistant at New Internationalist between 2013-14. Her particular interests include resistance, climate justice, disability, women's rights and refugee issues. She also enjoys taking photographs. Her past work experience is an eclectic mix of farming, reporting, learning disability support, and communications. She is partial to chocolate courgette cake.

Read more by Lydia James

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