Whistleblowing - Why I Love the Sound of a Whistle

According to an official U.K. Government source:

Whistleblowing is when a worker reports suspected wrongdoing at work. Officially this is called ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’.

A worker can report things that aren’t right, are illegal or if anyone at work is neglecting their duties, including:

  • someone’s health and safety is in danger

According to Wikipedia, the term whistle-blower has its origins with the referee in football.

Not so.

There were whistle-blowers long before the invention of the Acme whistle.
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The term has its origins in the metaphorical "giving the game away", which happens when someone blows a whistle in a specific situation.

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So, you are a steam locomotive driver and you are way behind your departure schedule. You screw down the safety valve to increase the steam pressure above safe limits at risk to life and limb. This will allow you to go faster to catch up on time. However, even while the loco is standing in the yard, someone notices that the pressure is in the red and vents steam in the quickest possible way for a non-driver. They quite literally blow the whistle.

The revelation that the safety valve has been screwed down leads to the instant dismissal of the driver.  Or, perhaps, pressure builds until the safety valve emits a whistling sound. If you want to see the first recorded instance of someone trying to silence a whistle-blower, please see -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_Friend_of_Charleston

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It should be plain, in the words of Peter Rylands M.P. speaking in 1873 that we should alert the public when some organization takes "a course like that of a man who sat upon the safety valve whilst the steam was rising in the boiler, and thus occasioned an explosion which spread death and destruction around".

Whistle-blowing whether literal or metaphorical can save lives.  And that, my friends, is why I love the sound of a whistle.

All images above courtesy Wikipedia / Wikimedia.

Unfortunately, embedding is disabled for the Boxcar Willie video.