Society of Snitches
Health department logs reveal a sad time of neighbors tattling on neighbors for Covid violations
In mid-September 2020, six long months after the beginning of the pandemic shutdowns, someone decided to host, at their home, what appears to have been a child’s birthday party. Guests milled in the backyard and inside the house. A band played outdoors. Adults and children, totalling an estimated 50 people, enjoyed themselves. At some point, a person arrived with a truck and a trailer containing a live pony. The kids took turns riding the pony. With the exception of one or two people near the beginning of the party, none of the guests wore masks.
This is a summary of one of the many complaints—some of which were bizarrely detailed like this—that were submitted to the Santa Clara County, California, complaint department, where citizens were encouraged to rat our their fellow county residents for violating health orders. I gained access to a government spreadsheet of some of the complaints [which I’ve included at the bottom of this post] while reviewing legal documents for my article about the lawsuit of Santa Clara vs Calvary Chapel for Covid violations.
Reading the complaints gives a window into the psyche of our fellow Americans during the pandemic, and introduces serious questions about the healthy functioning of a society that encourages neighbors to snitch on neighbors for minor offenses.
In late November, a household was tattled on for regularly holding social gatherings, and doing so without people wearing face coverings or social distancing. At one of the gatherings kids from different families were running around together. To make matters worse, the complainant said that “contractors working at the premises do not wear face coverings” . . .and they were “chatting and laughing.”
The following day, a complaint came in about a neighbor who has a “swing band” that gets together every Saturday to practice. They don’t wear masks or distance, and they were “playing loud wind instruments.”
What’s so amusing, and perhaps unsettling about many of the complaints is their odd degree of specificity. A swing band? Really?
And was it actually relevant to inform the complaint department that the maskless children were taking turns riding a pony?
Aside from complaints about masking and gathering, quarantine violations were also noted frequently. Often, people’s social media posts gave them away.
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