In one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books he talked about how respect for authority has caused a massive number of plane crashes over time. Basically, the relationship between a senior and junior pilot was so severe in many countries that the co-pilot (junior) knew that his effective boss could bury him in an instant, and so he walked extremely delicately around him.
Unfortunately, this translated to not telling him when he was making a safety mistake, such as an incorrect fuel or course estimation. As a result, this fear-based hesitation essentially nullified the entire purpose of having two people in the cockpit, i.e. to serve as a check against one-another.
The same thing seems to have happened in a recent child-rape case at Penn State. Story after story I hear about, “Delicate situations”, and so and so being, “a very senior coach”.
Fuck that. That’s how plane crashes happen. It’s also how priests get away with child rape. Their positions are so respected that you basically need something on video before you’ll push beyond that sacred stiff-arm.
These are all the same problem: co-pilots respecting pilots too much, junior coaches worrying about the anger and legacy of a senior coach, or priests getting moved to another Parish instead of being fired. In all cases it’s a force of authority that suppresses an acolyte’s sense of conviction — whether that be morality or security-related.
This has to stop. The airline industry stopped it by giving very strict training on how there is no rank in an airplane. When people are there to check one another, rank means fear, and fear means holding your tongue, and holding your tongue means a chance of people dying.
We need the same sort of anti-authority training for any other arena where powerful people are not reported for crimes because the juniors are in awe of them, or because they think it’ll hurt their careers in the future.
If you find yourself in such a situation, step away from it. Look at it from the perspective of someone outside the system. You’ll see instantly what should happen, and don’t be afraid to take action. Rank and authority be damned.