Commentary: Snitching is doing the right thing

The Miami HeraldOctober 16, 2009 

I don't know Michael Brewer, but I can tell you that he is an upstanding kid because even though fearful, he did the right thing.

Brewer, 15, was doused in rubbing alcohol Monday afternoon near his Deerfield Beach neighborhood by one classmate and then set ablaze by another -- both miscreants part of a group of five who allegedly surrounded Brewer during the immolation so he couldn't escape.

Police say the accused wanted to punish Brewer because one of them was arrested after Brewer reported the attempted theft of his father's bike.

In trendy speak, Brewer snitched.

And for doing so he suffered second- and third-degree burns over 65 percent of his body. Doctors at the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Burn Center say that if he survives he'll be hospitalized for months.

In the midst of our sorrow for Brewer and outrage over the actions of his attackers, there is a double-edged fallacy that needs to be corrected: that "snitching" is only about alerting authorities to criminal acts in urban communities and that there is an epidemic of not "snitching" among teenagers so broad that it represents moral decay.

Snitching is also the act of calling out bad behavior, even if just for the purpose of condemning it.

So yes, there is an epidemic of not snitching. But it is in American society as a whole, not just the under-25 set and not just in the so-called 'hood.

To read the complete column, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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