Yesterday the Post Dispatch reported on ten St. Louis cops who are under investigation for… well, no one seems to be sure what they did wrong. Except for me, of course.
They allegedly used World Series tickets last fall that had been confiscated as evidence from so-called scalpers, and then returned the tickets to evidence after attending the game. The Post Dispatch reports, “As the department considers discipline, legal minds ponder what crime might have been committed, and who the victim might be.”
This is actually a very realistic approach, and I think I’ll use it. Let’s identify the victim first, and that should tell us what crime was committed. Let’s start with the person who was selling his tickets outside the stadium. Some people call them scalpers because they think they have a natural human right to attend baseball games for what they think is a reasonable price. In reality, they have a right to freely contract, just like every other human — including the one selling the tickets.
Scalping is not a crime, because there is no victim. Both the seller and the buyer enter into the transaction voluntarily, and they both mutually benefit from it (or presumably they wouldn’t go through with it). No one’s rights are violated, and both parties get what they want. To put it simply, there is no crime.
Once you look at the story from this perspective, it is easy to see who the victim was: the person or person(s) who had their property stolen by police under color of law. What the police did with the stolen property after the fact is irrelevant — the crime had already been committed.
But, of course, you won’t hear anyone at the Post Dispatch report on that. They’ll ask the question, who is the victim? But they don’t really want to know the answer.