The Whistleblower’s Dilemma

A lot of hot air has been expended wrangling the moral dilemmas that entangle the responsibility of the unhappy whistleblower. You go to work for the Port Authority in New York City, say, and you find that your boss, who claims to have an MBA in Business Administration in fact has no such training, and that the long lunch hours he claims are spent studying transport processes are in fact spent studying strippers and drinking bourbon on Forty-second Street.

Or you are appointed Associate Professor in English Literature at a prestigious North-eastern university and find out, accidentally and unwillingly, that your boss, the Department Head, on a huge salary, who claims to have studied Early Modern English Literature for ten years and excelled at it, in fact failed his BA degree in Basic Freshman English and then forged his degree certificate, and in fact knows nothing about Thomas Wyatt or Philip Sidney.

Or you spend a lifetime studying poetry, mastering the rhymed sonnet, Romantic poetry, Victorian poetry, the prose poem, French Symbolism and contemporary American poetry including the work of Anthony Hecht, Louis Zukofsky, Carl Rakosi, Howard Nemerov, Ezra Pound, John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch and one hundred others, only to discover a fresh new conceptual artist who calls himself a poet, but who can’t rhyme, who knows nothing of any contemporary American poetry, and who can only copy other published writing at length, and who writes about himself and his own self-absorbed experiences.

You know deep down that the guy is a callow fraud, a con man, a faker, a talentless young man who takes advantage of the current US fad for faking it, to make a huge name and a large fame for himself. You know that in ten years this hollow shell, who has less practical talent and is less creative than Andy Warhol, will be totally forgotten. So why don’t you just let it all go?

Does your lifetime of deep study and hard work at the art interface present you with an obligation to tell those who wish to listen that the Emperor Has No Clothes? Look what they do to whistleblowers. The average person who blithely allows this person his minute of fame would be crushed and humiliated at the way you have exposed their gullibility, and they would hate you for that. So just shut up.