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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Snitching vs. Throwing Under the Bus

Snitch is defined as: “inform on somebody: to tell somebody in authority about another person's wrongdoing.  (Friends don’t snitch on each other).”  Encarta Dictionary.

To throw (someone) under the bus is defined as a: “phrase meaning to sacrifice some other person, usually one who is undeserving or at least vulnerable and often a friend or ally, to make personal gain.”  Wikipedia.

Snitch includes the elements of telling authority about another person’s wrongdoing, whereas to throw someone under the bus includes the elements of, for personal gain, sacrificing another (often a friend or ally) who is undeserving or vulnerable.  In some communities there is a strong anti-snitching ethos.  Law enforcement in these cases is made difficult.  No one dare be considered a snitch.  In prison it is readily understood that snitches will often face retaliation from other inmates.  The primary enforcer of the anti-snitch ethos is intimidation and fear.  Throwing someone under the bus does not necessitate the elements of authority or wrongdoing.  Rather, it stems often from the desire not to be embarrassed by a personal blunder.  Rather than taking responsibility ourselves, we instead throw a vulnerable individual under the bus. This practice is for personal gain—it takes the blame or embarrassment off of us and places it on the one tossed under the bus. This practice can also, however, resemble snitching, but the occasion involved does not rise to the level of wrongdoing.  After a largely inconsequential false step, one is gratuitously identified as the source of the blunder. Often this is done to simultaneously put ourselves in a better light (for personal gain).

The term and expression, while at first glance appearing similar in meaning, are in fact quite different.  Nevertheless, as friendship serves to curtail snitching, it also is likely to be anticipated that any friendship will be strained by the habitual practice of throwing one another under the bus. A breach of loyalty is the common thread inherent in both concepts.

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