Libertarians; Equal Opportunity Defenders

Dave Killion — July 5, 2012

Libertarians go through a lot of ink criticizing police, and not much criticizing private security guards. There’s good reason for that. When mall guards interact with mall visitors, they are keenly aware that their employers will take a dim view of aggression and discourtesy. The feedback mechanism from consumer to employer to guard is is very responsive. With publicly-employed police, there is a greater disconnect, and officers do not face the same incentives to conduct themselves well. The results are entirely predictable. Today, however, I bring to your attention the cause of an RCMP officer that definitely merits libertarian support

  “An RCMP code-of-conduct inquiry is underway into a Mountie who played a part in the investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton and appeared on a website posing in sexually explicit torture images reminiscent of the pig-farmer’s crimes.

In some of the graphic pictures obtained by The Vancouver Sun, Cpl. Jim Brown appears to wear only his regulation-issue Mountie boots and an erection as he wields a huge knife and a bound naked woman cringes in terror.”

If Cpl. Brown were a private sector worker, I would have no objection to his boss firing him for any (or no) reason what so ever. But tolerating the persecution of a public “servant” for engaging in legal and consensual adult activity while off-duty is a different matter. Before firing workers, private sector employers must consider that there are costs to doing so. This consideration encourages tolerance on the  part of the employers, and affords workers some degree of protection. Public sector employers face no such limitations, and are free to act on purely political considerations. Is the difference a big deal? Well, if the photos in question were of a private security guard, do you think we’d be reading newspaper articles about it?

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