When should we dob?

Last week, I was encouraging readers to dob in a Trot. But in the Sunday Age yesterday IPA Review Editor and semi-regular blogger Chris Berg argues that dobbing could undermine community trust:

Trust is at the centre of every personal and economic relationship we have and without it, any community in the meaningful sense of the word is impossible. Encouragement by the government to dob each other in discourages the formation of that trust. The extreme example of a government actively encouraging the breaking of that trust suggests how important it is. In totalitarian socialist and fascist societies, the state broke down civil society to such an extent that people would report even their own family members for any perceived minor infractions.

The context for this is controversy about the Victorian government’s Dob in a Water Cheat line, designed to detect those breaching Melbourne’s tight water restrictions:

MARGARET Norriss is living in fear. The retired teacher is so scared of the emergence of water vigilantes that she doesn’t dare hose her front garden, even though she has been using a rainwater tank for the past nine years.

“The whole thing is turning the community against one another,” Ms Norriss told The Sunday Age. “It’s becoming like Big Brother and I’m starting to feel very uncomfortable.”

In the ethics of dobbing, I think there are at least two clear categories and a more complex one in the middle – where I think we find water dobbing, but Chris does not. We both agree that dobbing in criminals and terrorists is ok. As Chris puts it:
Continue reading “When should we dob?”