Protection for Chicken Pluckers but Not for Whistleblowers?
November 10, 2010
In Featherville, the locals really love their chickens. In fact, the town funds a chicken sanctuary and hired Mr. John Smith to run the place. Mr. Smith gets help from some of the townspeople who enjoy volunteering their time to take care of the chickens. But all is not well. Someone has been plucking the chickens.
One day, the Featherville Police Chief comes into the sanctuary and tells Mr. Smith privately that he’s conducting an investigation. Nobody besides the police chief and the sanctuary director know any details but all of the sudden, Mr. Smith comes out and tells the volunteers to leave. They ask when they can return but Mr. Smith refuses to answer. They ask if they’ve done something wrong but again, Mr. Smith refuses to answer.
At the next town meeting, people are quite upset over events at the sanctuary. Several ousted volunteers stand up and tell their neighbors that they’ve personally witnessed Mr. Smith plucking chickens. They say they never said anything before because they were afraid he’d kick them out and then the chickens wouldn’t have anyone who really cared about them at the sanctuary. The police chief will say only that there is an investigation underway but won’t say if it’s about the chicken plucking or something else.
Now people are really upset. They don’t know if the volunteers were banned because perhaps they alerted authorities to the alleged chicken plucking by Mr. Smith. They don’t even know if the chicken plucking is being investigated at all. The town turns to Mr. Smith for answers. Mr. Smith addresses the meeting, “I’ve never heard a thing about any chicken plucking. The volunteers have been banned. There’s a secret investigation going on. Now I’m not saying the volunteers are the chicken pluckers but…” *nudge, nudge* *wink, wink* “I want to assure everyone that I will take these reports of chicken plucking seriously and look into the matter.”
The town funds this sanctuary because the people care about chickens. They pay Mr. Smith’s salary. Now volunteers have accused him of chicken plucking and he has banned them. He promises to investigate the allegations against him. The police chief may know something about the chicken plucking but isn’t saying.
Seems farcical, doesn’t it? And yet, similar scenarios play out regularly in real life all over the country with regard to animal shelters and abuse allegations. The authorities say they can’t comment on the investigation – even to tell the public what the investigation is. The shelter bans the volunteers who say they have been afraid of this very thing happening so they didn’t speak up about the abuse sooner. The shelter promises to investigate itself. Meanwhile, taxpayers are supposed to sit down, shut up and keep paying these people accused of abuse.
In short, the alleged chicken pluckers can not expel the whistleblowers and investigate themselves while holding the chickens and the entire town hostage. This is outrageous and absurd and taxpayers should demand better.