Monday, May 10, 2021

Police Should Sometimes Avert Their Eyes

By Walter E. Block - May 10, 2021 at 09:12AM


Many policemen have been kicked under the bus. It is now more difficult to attract people to this profession; numerous retirements have occurred, and the quit rate is high. But we need police officers to protect the most vulnerable in society. How can we solve the hemorrhaging of this sector of the labor force?

How, then, can policemen, white and black, but particularly the former, save themselves from injustice? Well, at least reduce the risks thereof while remaining in their present jobs? It is simple: embrace avert their eyes from victimless crimes; become libertarians. This is the philosophy predicated upon the non-aggression principle, private property rights and free association. In literary terms, it would be: “That government is best which governs least.” Here, the law would only prohibit “uninvited border crossings,” such as murder, rape, theft, kidnapping, car-jacking, fraud, and the threats thereof. Full bodied libertarianism would allow for private, not public, police, but we are not now discussing that truly radical step.

How, then, can members of the thin blue line better protect themselves? By ignoring all crimes other than those prohibited under libertarian law.

For example, Breanna Taylor was shot subsequent to a drug bust. But under libertarianism, all drugs, without exception, would be legal. If the cops operated under the libertarian legal code, they would have refused to honor orders to arrest anyone for such a “crime.” Now, of course, outright refusal would have resulted in being summarily fired. But you guys know the drill: misunderstandings, looking the other way, the paperwork got mislaid, heck, we went to the wrong address, etc. No more drug busts, and that goes as well for prostitution and pornography (but only between consenting adults), gambling, etc.

Similarly, Eric Garner was killed by police when he resisted arrest. His “crime”? Selling “loosies.” Say what? Loosies are cigarettes sold not by the carton, nor by the pack, but individually. You may search high and low in the libertarian code; you will not find any such activity proscribed. Thus, if the police had found something else to occupy their time, this tragedy simply would not have occurred.

The same applies to the most recent case in point: George Floyd was arrested for counterfeiting. Now, it is one thing to counterfeit licit money; that indeed, would be a real crime. But counterfeiting counterfeit money? That is a horse of an entirely different color. Although there is some dispute on this matter within the libertarian community, it is not at all clear that this is a real crime. If the police had just been “busy with other responsibilities” this man might now still be alive, and Derek Chauvin and his three colleagues would still be walking honorable beats.

Will this advice to adhere to the straight and narrow of libertarianism protect all honorable constables? No, they will still be maligned even when doing their duty in this regard.

Consider the case of the even more recent death of 16 year old Ma’Khia Bryant who was shot in the act of knifing another young girl. Now this is black letter libertarian law. The heroic cop who shot her saved the life of the victim. Yet, even he got in trouble. The philosopher LeBron James, who really should stick to what he does best, made what could easily be interpreted as a death threat against him: “You’re next!” In a civilized legal order, this basketball champion would now be sitting in a hoosegow.

Or, take the case of Rodney King, who was arrested for driving at speeds of 115 miles per hour while drunk on city streets, and thus threatening the lives of innocent pedestrians and other motorists. He, too, was properly arrested. Yet this brought a ton of woe on the right acting officers.

So, no, doing your job even under libertarian law will not save you from grief. But it will significantly reduce the probability of such occurrences. Thus, the case for all members of the thin blue line embracing libertarianism.

from Ron Paul Institute Featured Articles


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