Writing 04: Whistleblowing

I believe that disasters are disasters, and they’ll happen. Disasters aren’t that bad when no one’s life is at stake. If people’s lives are at stake, and it is known, measures would be taken to carefully evaluate the situation. With Challenger, this was the case. The engineers used the term ‘acceptable risk’ to create a balance between the risk at hand and the consequences of that risk. There is room for acceptable risk. However, the circumstances at the time were certainly not anything that they’ve seen before, thus, the risk should not have been classified as an acceptable risk. I think that if the circumstances at the time were the same ones that they’ve seen before, then they should have classified the risk as an acceptable one. If this acceptable risk somehow still resulted in an explosion, it would have been justified. There is literally no way to make sure that anything is 100% risk free. Driving to work is a risk. Going down the stairs is a risk. However, these are acceptable, since there is only so much we can do to prevent the risk of something going wrong. However, the Challenger situation is not similar in this regard. They did virtually nothing to minimize the risk. On the note of Roger Boisjoly whistleblowing, I believe that it is a personal decision that you have to make. I don’t think that there is an objective universal answer to the question of whether or not we should whistleblow. I think it depends on the situation, and, very much, on the very person who is doing the whistleblowing. Whistleblowing has many implications on one’s life, that may extend beyond the organization that that person blew the whistle on. Roger was ostracized even when he went back home for what he did. Therefore, when deciding on whether or not someone should blow the whistle, you should also take into account whether or not the person would be able to handle the implications of such actions. It is not fair that someone’s life has to get screwed up all for the sake of telling the truth. In a perfect world, the whistleblower is respected even after the fact. However, we are not in a perfect world, and have to consider these very real repercussions. If someone knows that them blowing the whistle would cause them to lose a hold of their lives, they should NOT blow the whistle. For example, if they have a family to support, and them blowing the whistle leads to them never getting a job again, they should not blow the whistle. If the person may not be able to handle the emotional and mental strain of blowing the whistle, such that they may get PTSD, as was the case with Boisjoly, they should NOT blow the whistle. However, if the potential whistleblower is okay with these possible scenarios, they should blow the whistle. This is why I believe that the decision on whether or not to blow the whistle depends on the factors exterior to the person (how many people are being impacted, how bad is it) just as much as it depends on the person themselves (can I handle it, is it worth it for me).