The Information Center

Is a ‘Snitch Line’ the Way we Want to Go?

There is quite a bit of talk around town about what the City of Boston’s 311 phone line may be morphing into.  Some are calling it the Boston Snitch Line. One local has even named it Gestapo Central.

For those who still may not be familiar with what exactly the 311 call number is or was, it’s a number set up that gets you connected directly with Boston City Hall to answer a wide variety of questions on the minds of Bostonians.  If the answering operators don’t have the answers themselves, they will connect you with the correct department and give you the direct phone number of the department for future reference.  The operators that answer the 311 number when you call are said to be college seniors and are always very pleasant and professional when helping callers.  Overall, it’s a very good, creative and innovative method of assisting those residents in need of city services. For the most part, it is a very positive and useful service.

But as of late, the 311 line has taken on a new task in addition to the original.  And this new task is troubling to a lot of locals and is what has it being nick-named ‘The Boston Snitch Line’. People are now encouraged to call it to inform on neighbors, who are suspected of not following the proper guidelines and restrictions related to combating the corona virus.  If someone feels a family’s back yard party has too many people in attendance, call 311 and report it.  Someone on the beach not wearing a mask, call 311 and report it. Taking pictures, putting them online on social media and sending them in to city hall or to the news media are other ways to ‘drop a dime’ it turns out.

Hearing the complaints, grumbling and anger this ‘snitch line’ is causing made me curious.  So, I called 311 myself and asked the operator if it was in fact the truth.  The operator was very , but I could hear the embarrassment in her voice when she had to answer yes, It was in fact happening and is now a function of the 311 line. When people called in with ‘tips’ about rule breakers, 311 will notify police and the police would be sent out to respond.

Now, some of our readers might agree with this new policy.  I know many of you don’t by the feedback I’m getting. And as an American, I believe that all of us have the right to our own views and opinions. Personally, I’m not comfortable with government encouraging neighbors to inform on each other, virus or not. If there is a serious crime being committed, that’s one thing. But the restrictions in place during the current situation are at the very least, questionable as far as being Constitutional. If you paid attention to history lessons in school, you are well aware that when governments begin to go this route, it can go downhill fast and often does not turn out well. There is a meme going viral on social media that some believe speaks to this controversy.  It shows a person on the phone, calling authorities. The words below the photo read “Hello, I’d like to report some people not living in fear”.

If this is what we as a society are turning into, where anyone not hunkering down inside their homes in fear is looked upon as being evil and selfish and must be reported to the authorities, it does not bode well for our nation and is definitely not what America’s Founding Fathers envisioned for America.

Moving on, as we all know, America’s thriving economy has taken a massive hit because of the response to the Corona Virus. There is only so much money, and trillions of dollars are being spent to help keep our citizens from going under.  People are hurting and need some relief and thanks to the strength and resilience of the US economy, they are getting relief to varying degrees. But as taxpayer dollars are being spent in huge amounts to help those in need, questions arise as to why so much funding is given to recipients who may not actually need it. Hollywood comes to mind as just one. Can anyone enlighten our readers as to why Hollywood movie studios, which can afford to over pay their actors millions of dollars per film should be entitled to $1.5 Billion dollars of taxpayer money each year? The movie industry has been draining our tax dollars for decades and in return, very often gives us low grade entertainment, while it consistently bashes this country at every opportunity. There are Americans who have lost jobs, small businesses that have gone under and families barely able to make ends meet. That 1.5 billion dollars would be far better spent on helping real Americans instead of being spent to float a bloated, extravagant and morally bankrupt Industry that looks down its nose at the country that makes it possible to even exist.