Can you be an effective advocate for whistleblowers’ rights if you don’t believe retaliation is immoral?
Readers of this website know that I am not a fan of Tom Devine, Legal Director at the Government Accountability Project. I believe that he possesses/possessed far too much influence in whistleblower circles, given that (a) at bottom he does not believe in the rule of law (by his own admission to me), and (b) he does not believe that retaliation is immoral, by his own words to the public just last month. Take a look:
“I don’t even think of retaliation as immoral, at this point.” -Tom Devine, Legal Director at the Government Accountability Project, speaking at Harvard Law School in October 2013 at a program organized by Ralph Nader
Fuller video/context for fact-checkers here.
I’m not going to belabor the point. I’m just going to put this out there: would a so-called abolitionist have been taken seriously in the 1800′s if he didn’t see slavery as an immoral institution? Would a suffragist be taken seriously at the turn of the 20th century if she didn’t see disenfranchisement as immoral? Would a civil rights activist in the 1960′s be taken seriously if he didn’t see segregation as immoral?
Is retaliation for speaking the truth a lesser form of struggle than the above?
Were slavery, disenfranchisement, and segregation not also defended on naturalist, universal, and timeless grounds before this fallacy was exposed for the power-entrenching excuse that it is?
If one doesn’t believe in the rule of law or the immorality of retaliation (or injustice and denial of due process), and one holds a large degree of influence over the development of whistleblower rights for 30+ years, what is the likely degree of health and vitality of those rights, 30 years out?
Despite what my detractors say, my objections with Devine are rooted in the fundamental difference that retaliation is not a natural part of life that we must resign ourselves to and accept. It’s a social norm that can be regulated and abolished. And it is this difference that colors my ethics and motives, as well as his.