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Royal Canadian Masochism & Phallus
July 8, 2012 4:23 PM   Subscribe

In Canada an active duty RCMP officer is under investigation for posting sexually explicit photos on the private Fetlife service. Further details of the alleged photos seem to describe a relatively hardcore but completely consensual male/female bondage scenario.

In other RCMP related news, the head of the department is finally getting the power to fire "rogue" mounties, rather than leaving them on indefinite paid suspensions. The new billion dollar RCMP facility in Surrey, BC will serve booze, despite being located in an area that can only be reached by driving (are officers supposed to drive home drunk?).

Another recent collision between Canadian prudery and the judicial system involves a Manitoba judge who posted naked photos on another private members-only site. Her critics allege that the very existence of naked photos negates her ability to sit in judgment of others.
posted by thewalrus (86 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jeez. Are they still testing people with the fruit machine too?
posted by modernserf at 4:36 PM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Her critics allege that the very existence of naked photos negates her ability to sit in judgment of others.

Eh...I'm not really seeing that from the links. It's true that people who have been before her in family court have made generalized accusations of perversion, but at the root of the proceedings is the question of whether she took part in or attempted to conceal sexual harassment of her husband's legal client. It's a wacky case, but there's certainly more at stake than the mere existence of kinky photos (the existence of which was apparently disclosed in the course of her judicial appointment, and which proved no barrier thereto).
posted by anigbrowl at 4:41 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I believe part of the issue is that the photos are taken in an area that looks like Strathcona and this officer was assigned, at least for a time, to the case that eventually led to a serial killer who lured women from the same area and then tortured and killed them.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 4:42 PM on July 8, 2012


According to the Manitoba Judge (Douglas), her husband (King) posted the nude photos without her knowledge.

King took the photographs of Douglas during sex but she never viewed them. They were for his use only, Block said.
posted by bread-eater at 4:43 PM on July 8, 2012


From what I gather, the Robert Picktoncase scarred Coquitlam's psyche, particularly since it took a really long time for the cops to investigate those disappearances. For a cop involved in the case to act out a scene that was similar and share it with the world is in incredibly poor taste, no matter how sex positive one is. I'm kind of shocked that anyone would debate that.
posted by peppermind at 4:45 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Eh...I'm not really seeing that from the links.

"and that, as a result of the public availability of intimate sexual pictures of her on the web, posted there by King, she is unable to continue sitting as a judge." from here
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:46 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brutalize someone on duty: a few week's leave with pay.
Have consensual kinky sex: have your name spread across the national news media and be the subject of an inquiry putting your job and reputation at risk.
posted by Benjy at 4:48 PM on July 8, 2012 [40 favorites]


They came for the Fetlife users, and I did nothing, for I was completely encased in Saran Wrap
posted by thelonius at 4:50 PM on July 8, 2012 [45 favorites]


I believe part of the issue is that the photos are taken in an area that looks like Strathcona and this officer was assigned, at least for a time, to the case that eventually led to a serial killer who lured women from the same area and then tortured and killed them.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 4:42 PM on July 8

I believe a bigger part of the issue is that people should mind their own damn business.
posted by Benjy at 4:53 PM on July 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm somewhat confused as to how the alcohol thing fits in here. If people should be allowed to have sex responsibly in their own time, they should be allowed to drink responsibly in their own time, too.
posted by gracedissolved at 4:53 PM on July 8, 2012


After CBC News asked the RCMP if Brown was under investigation, Supt. Ray Bernoties replied on June 27 that Brown's involvement with the website, “was deemed to be adult consensual activity during which the implicated officer was not representing himself as a member of the RCMP, thus it did not meet the threshold for a code of conduct investigation."

"And so naturally, the only right thing to do is to suspend him, and launch a pointless investigation into his fully legal and consensual off-duty kinks."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:54 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


From what I gather, the Robert Picktoncase scarred Coquitlam's psyche

Not scarred so much that the pig-farm isn't going to be redeveloped into condominium and townhouse housing, if you look at the map of where it is and the adjacent real estate developments. How much do you want to bet that the real estate agents involved neglect to mention the history of the land unless somebody asks them a direct question?
posted by thewalrus at 4:55 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


"and that, as a result of the public availability of intimate sexual pictures of her on the web, posted there by King, she is unable to continue sitting as a judge." from here

That's not the same thing as "the very existence of naked photos". At all.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:56 PM on July 8, 2012


they should be allowed to drink responsibly in their own time, too

What part of responsible drinking involves drunk driving?
posted by elizardbits at 4:57 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Outside of a few transit cities, most bars in the US are places you drive to. I don't know how ubiquitous public transit is in that part of Canada, but.
posted by samofidelis at 5:03 PM on July 8, 2012


Surrey, BC is a sprawling suburb type place that is completely designed around the car, has very limited public transit, and the location of the new RCMP headquarters is pretty much exclusively designed around reaching it by car.
posted by thewalrus at 5:04 PM on July 8, 2012


The new billion dollar RCMP facility in Surrey, BC will serve booze, despite being located in an area that can only be reached by driving (are officers supposed to drive home drunk?)

They can take the bus home, it seems:
"Public Works and Government Services Canada's biggest B.C. office project is tucked behind Fraser Health's Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre, beside the Surrey Nature Centre."
"A bus stop is located at the front of the Outpatient Centre."

Maybe they have rooms for overnight visitors?
And:
"The licensed mess/canteen must abide by the same rules as other licensed premises. They may not over-serve their members, serve minors, or promote over-consumption, and they face strict penalties for doing so.

While the Liquor Act does not specifically prohibit consumption by on-duty emergency workers, there are other statutes and policies that protect the public in this way. For example, the federal RCMP Act prohibits consumption of liquor by RCMP members who are on-duty. As well, the Motor Vehicles Act prohibits the operation of vehicles by an impaired driver, and there is case law that on-duty emergency workers who are intoxicated are subject to civil liability."

By the way, why and when does beer change the name to "booze"? I have never heard people say,"I'd love to have a cold bottle of booze".
posted by iviken at 5:06 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can't say the RCMP have done much to help me feel good about them, what with the abuses of power, the scandals, the crimes. But I can't say as I really give two shakes about what cops and judges do in their private time, so long as it involves informed consenting adults. Even if it is tasteless.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:08 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The actual availability of transit after 9:30 pm at that location is scanty to nonexistant, depending on where in Surrey you're trying to go. If you wait a half hour you might get a bus that goes to the Skytrain station and that's about it.
posted by thewalrus at 5:09 PM on July 8, 2012


By the way, why and when does beer change the name to "booze"? I have never heard people say,"I'd love to have a cold bottle of booze".

It's "booze" when people you don't like are drinking it.

(Appropriately enough, the phrase I learned to illustrate this principle was "I am 'sensual,' you are 'kinky,' he is 'a goddamn pervert'.")
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:12 PM on July 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


Oh man. From the third link: "...appearing to wear only his regulation-issue Mountie boots and an erection...." Now that's Pulitzer material right there.

Wait. Canada. What's the appropriate snarky comment about purple journalistic prose if the author's in Canada?

posted by nebulawindphone at 5:19 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


By the way, why and when does beer change the name to "booze"? I have never heard people say,"I'd love to have a cold bottle of booze".

Doesn't a liquor license give legal license to serve... liquor?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:22 PM on July 8, 2012


By the way, why and when does beer change the name to "booze"? I have never heard people say,"I'd love to have a cold bottle of booze".

That's Mister Booze to you.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:25 PM on July 8, 2012


Are there no cabs in Canada, then? Are Mounties not allowed to ride in each other's cars? This is a dudgeon in search of a problem.
posted by Etrigan at 5:31 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The folks posting here that what an RCMP officer does on his/her own time is their own business really should educate themselves more about the Robert Pickton case. The RCMP and the Vancouver PD have a lot to answer for, and because of that what the members of each police force do in their off time is open for discussion.

This is not to say that people active in the BDSM scene have unhealthy sexual attitudes, but there are certainly members of the RCMP etc who do, and that may have contributed to ignoring the fact that 50+ women were tortured, murdered, dismembered, and fed to pigs.

Besides, as far as I know, police and law enforcement are commonly held to a higher standard than the rest of us.

It would be interesting to hear from people who are knowledgeable about kink and are also knowledgeable about the Pickton case comment here in this thread.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:45 PM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is not to say that people active in the BDSM scene have unhealthy sexual attitudes, but there are certainly members of the RCMP etc who do, and that may have contributed to ignoring the fact that 50+ women were tortured, murdered, dismembered, and fed to pigs.

There are also people outside the BDSM community who have unhealthy sexual attitudes. I just think that's a dangerous conflation to make. In the end it doesn't offer anything constructive about the RCMP, the BDSM community, or the Pickton case, but does sure help actively feed stereotyping about kinksters.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:51 PM on July 8, 2012 [12 favorites]


I suppose you're the person who determines what sort of sexual activity is healthy, and what's "unhealthy"? The woman in the fetlife BDSM photos was a consensual partner. Is it your right to decide that her propensity towards kinky activity is "unhealthy"?
posted by thewalrus at 5:52 PM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


The folks posting here that what an RCMP officer does on his/her own time is their own business really should educate themselves more about the Robert Pickton case.

Previously on Metafilter
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:56 PM on July 8, 2012


I suppose you're the person who determines what sort of sexual activity is healthy, and what's "unhealthy"? The woman in the fetlife BDSM photos was a consensual partner. Is it your right to decide that her propensity towards kinky activity is "unhealthy"?

Hi, kinkster here. If this comment was directed at me, I'll say that informed consent usually determines a healthy sexual activity. My point is the core of the problem with why the Pickton horrors happened concerns attitudes about removing the humanity and ability to consent from women; to regard them as cattle, disposable commodities. Trying to shoehorn BDSM into the problems within the RCMP or the Pickton case isn't helpful to anyone and teaches us nothing.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:59 PM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


That comment was directed at KokuRyu.
posted by thewalrus at 6:03 PM on July 8, 2012


Okie dokie!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:04 PM on July 8, 2012


This is not to say that people active in the BDSM scene have unhealthy sexual attitudes, but there are certainly members of the RCMP etc who do

So it would be good to identify them and deal with them/discipline them accordingly. Your assumption here that people who have unhealthy sexual attitudes can be identified by their involvement in BDSM, therefore this particular individual is one of the people the RCMP needs to weed out of its ranks. They might, in fact, need to weed him out of their ranks, but I'm not convinced that this particular activity is why.

Although I do think that this kind of thing can seriously compromise the public's trust in an officer of the law and that a good case could be made for him being put in a position where he never encounters victims of sexual violence.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:09 PM on July 8, 2012


I think the RCMP officer is being investigated because his specific actions were insensitvie and in violation of the code of conduct, not because BDSM is on trial.
posted by peppermind at 6:09 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


(And by "this kind of thing" I mean posting pictures of yourself glorying in the pain of another person. Not the kind of thing that is appropriate in any way for someone who can be expected to encounter victims of violence in their professional capacity.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:11 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation. " Trudeau, Pierre Elliott
posted by thewalrus at 6:24 PM on July 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Worth noting: one can only view Fetlife pictures and profiles as a member. So whoever discovered the questionable photos was either a kinkster him/herself, or created an account in bad faith in order to find and "out" other people.
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:25 PM on July 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


This dumb post is a damned Conflation.
posted by ovvl at 6:39 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, just more than one thing...
posted by ovvl at 6:56 PM on July 8, 2012


Yes, this is a highly annoying post. These are two very, very different things, and any chance of seriously discussing either is ruined by the conflation of this post.

For what it's worth, Christie Blatchford has done a consistently good job over the last couple of years in her columns of summarizing the ridiculous way in which Lori Douglas is being re-victimized by the cretinous complainant in her case (Margaret Wente has also admirably weighed in). That Douglas is being investigated is a travesty, when the only wrongdoers in her case are her husband, who grossly violated her trust and privacy, and Alex Chapman, who blackmailed the judge and her husband, then, years after the fact, breached a confidentiality agreement that was part of the settlement he entered into as a result of his blackmail, for reasons known only to him.

As for the RCMP thing, I have no idea why this post doesn't explicitly mention the fact that the guy was essentially re-enacting the crimes of the worst mass murderer in Canadian history. I'm not sure whether he should lose his job for it (it having been consensual and harmless), but that's rather an important detail.
posted by Dasein at 6:57 PM on July 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


KokuRyu: "It would be interesting to hear from people who are knowledgeable about kink and are also knowledgeable about the Pickton case comment here in this thread."

I don't know much about either but I do know fallacious bullshit when I see it.
posted by klanawa at 7:27 PM on July 8, 2012


The new billion dollar RCMP facility in Surrey, BC will serve booze, despite being located in an area that can only be reached by driving (are officers supposed to drive home drunk?).... The actual availability of transit after 9:30 pm at that location is scanty to nonexistant, depending on where in Surrey you're trying to go. If you wait a half hour you might get a bus that goes to the Skytrain station and that's about it.

If you walk 25 minutes, you're actually at the SkyTrain station (It's about a mile long walk, assuming Google doesn't have the address totally wrong). The SkyTrain provides 8-10 minute headways as late as 1:28 AM. Further, the availability of transit in the area may be expected to increase after a facility employing 2,700 workers replaces an empty field. From a Vancouverite's perspective, Surrey may be a transit-sparse suburban wasteland, but I'd reckon that at least 75% of Canadians and 80% of Americans work in areas with poorer transit service.

I think RCMP staff are supposed to either not drink so much as to become drunk, or to call a taxicab, or to have a designated driver, or to walk that impossible 25 minutes to the transit hub. Much the same as the rest of us do.

Creating hyperbole over hypothetical future misconduct diminishes complaints about actual past misconduct.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:39 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dammit, Homeboy Trouble, I was going to try and convince him that there were no cabs in Canada, and we all had to ride giant beavers, a feat only to be attempted sober, as drunk they would surely leap out of control and eat pedestrians.

Ok, I'm done being silly, you can go back to your examination of whether consensual sex can influence an on-duty officer.

I'm further glad that I don't post pictures of my face online much, even though I don't get up to much that I would object to online anyway.
posted by Canageek at 7:50 PM on July 8, 2012


I think RCMP staff are supposed to either not drink so much as to become drunk, or to call a taxicab, or to have a designated driver, or to walk that impossible 25 minutes to the transit hub.

Or have a cunning plan.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:02 PM on July 8, 2012


I suppose you're the person who determines what sort of sexual activity is healthy, and what's "unhealthy"? The woman in the fetlife BDSM photos was a consensual partner. Is it your right to decide that her propensity towards kinky activity is "unhealthy"?

Well, the context here is the relationship between the RCMP and the hyper-sexualized violence of the Pickton case, and I think someone in a position of power, in an organization that basically wrote off the lives of 50+ prostitutes, and who was involved in the investigation, and who likes to hold knives to the throat of a female sexual partners does indeed to deserve to have his sexual life examined.

Well I can appreciate your intellectual rigour requires you to take a stand on behalf of sexual libertarianism, this is not about you and this is not about BDSM.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:03 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obviously I agree that the Pickton photos were in bad taste considering the context of the murder case, but nobody decides what turns them on. People are attracted to what they are attracted to, and as long as they're not hurting anybody else I don't feel they should be judged for that - regardless of how tacky it might be.

If these photos had been posted publically, then obviously I would agree that this Mountie brought it all on himself. But the only person who could have found them was somebody who actively sought them out. There's a saying that may fit here: "If you spend your time peeping through other people's windows, don't expect to be happy at what you see."
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:20 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


FetLife is a well-run online community that is a home to not only many in the BDSM community, but also to many of those who don't fit neatly in the whole gay/straight dichotomy. There are many FetLife members, for example, who are transgendered, bisexual, etc., and who need a safe online place to interact with each other. FetLife is that, largely because it's not fully indexed by search engines, and it has a lot of the positive aspects that sites like LiveJournal did, with a kind of anonymity through obscurity... without all the negatives of total anonymity.

People's name and reputation on FetLife matter, both online and in the real world. You can tell who people are, in a significant way, and what kind of friends and circles they run in, which provides a good basis for trust and getting to know someone, but you can still be as anonymous as you need to be.

It's a shame that the RCMP took it upon themselves to intentionally violate the privacy of not only their own personnel, but also of this huge online community and all its members, as you cannot access FetLife without creating an account first. I wonder what handle they chose to use, and why they took it upon themselves to violate the terms of use / community guidelines that they indicated their approval of when they signed up to use the site. After all, everyone who uses FetLife knows very well that you are not allowed to publicly reveal private information in the manner that they did.

"Mike Webster, who has had a career counselling police officers and advising departments, including the RCMP, said:
"The fact that Mr. Brown could engage in these activities without considering current attitudes . . . indicates to me that his empathetic abilities are impaired."


Yes... by all means, let's get "experts" involved, supporting gross intrusions onto people's private lives so that private, consensual sexual behavior can be audited and judged on the basis of "current attitudes", as opposed to, say, basic goddamn rights.

After all, what will the neighbors think?!
posted by markkraft at 8:22 PM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Public office holders are generally required (in Canada at least) to conduct themselves not just in a legal manner, but in a manner that can withstand public scrutiny.

While he and his partner may have had an absolute right to stage these scenes, photograph them and post them online and you can say people shouldn't be upset or interested, the fact is that in administering the functions of government one has to deal with the public as it is, not as one might wish it to be.

In this case people are understandably sensitive about anything that is suggestive of sexual violence, given the manifold failures of law enforcement to act in the Pickton case. As unfair as it is to the officer, and as unfair as it might be to the wider perception of the BDSM community, an investigation is both necessary and appropriate.
posted by Grimgrin at 8:57 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Public office holders are generally required (in Canada at least) to conduct themselves not just in a legal manner, but in a manner that can withstand public scrutiny.

Only the photos were posted on a private, members-only website that only other members could have seen; not before public scrutiny.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:01 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


When will our culture realize that what consenting adults like to do in private is nobody else's goddamn business? Who are the people who care about other people's sex lives so much, and why did we decide to put them in charge?
posted by Scientist at 9:27 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Grimgrin got there before I could, so I'll just add that once you agree to those regulations, more of your private life becomes an object of public scrutiny than it would otherwise. Your private life is less private if you agree to carry out your private life in a way that upholds specific standards and you can loose your job over it. I'm trying to think of a good example but nothing's coming to mind at the moment. People are getting up in arms over a percieved attack on the BDSM community, and I don't think that's what this is.

As for comments about not being able to control what turns you on, I think those arguments need to be used exceptionally carefully. Because while they can be used for good (defending gay rights), they could also be used for evil (defending, say, a pedophile or rapist). While you may have little control over what turns you on, you have control over what you do about it, and what you do about it does not have to include taking photographs and posting them online, with your identifying characteristics visible. I mean really, it's the internet. It's not that private, "members only" or not, and being in a position of power means being careful to consider the consequences of your actions. It's not surprising that picture posted in an online community could make their way into a public sphere where those images could be hurtful to the people the RCMP are mandated to serve. In fact, that kind of thing happens fairly frequently, and it's something the officer should have considered before posting them.

Also, while kinkiness may not necessarily be a problem in and of itself, I'm pretty sure that only being able to be turned on by one very specific thing can become worriesome. Especially if that very specific thing is reenacting murder scenes by someone whose job places them in a position of real power in the investigation and control of those kinds of cases. Would you want the violent murder of a loved one handled by someone who's getting off on the details?
posted by windykites at 9:31 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Marisa: The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service which is binding on RCMP officers requires that public servants "[act] at all times with integrity and in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that may not be fully satisfied by simply acting within the law."

It doesn't matter that it was a private photo on a private website. It doesn't matter that no laws were broken. The standard is that all your actions as a public servant be able to withstand public scrutiny. Now, to be sure, this is an almost impossible standard to meet, which is why there's also an process for dealing with violations with quite a bit of discretion in what if any disciplinary measures are to be taken. However, it is the standard and given the officer's job and wider context, an investigation is reasonable.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:37 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have to wonder, just how safe did this officer feel in accessing in-house RMCP treatment resources?
I imagine that talking to someone who **on paper** is supposed to keep patient confidentiality but who you suspect is going to passing on their findings to your supervisors, might leave a traumatized officer feeling like there a few safe places to go in order to process this very serious and horrific sexual mindfuck that has been hoisted upon you by your job.
Maybe acting out the traumatic event in a controlled environment with a trusted community member seemed like the safer option than going to management. If so, the fall out from all of this is even more fucked-up.
posted by echolalia67 at 9:38 PM on July 8, 2012


I think it's a really far stretch to say that the fact this particular man likes to receive oral sex from consensually tied-up women is in any way whatsoever related to the Pickton case. There are a lot of kinky people out there who engage in oral sex while tied up, it does not mean that their thoughts are anywhere remotely near what goes through a serial killer's head.
posted by thewalrus at 9:40 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


thewalrus, I believe media have reported that he worked on the Pickton case. That doesn't, of course, mean that he got turned on by it. But the Vancouver and Tri-City (Coquitlam) area has heightened sensitivity about this sort of thing. Canadian obscenity laws revolve around community standards and the Criminal Code163(8) states:

For the purposes of this Act, any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence, shall be deemed to be obscene.

It's possible that these materials might be considered to exploit sex and violence.

Also, as noted above, RCMP officers are subject to public scrutiny regulations.

And the officer is reported to be wearing his RCMP uniform boots.

So, any inquiry will most likely have to look at community standards, public scrutiny and obscenity - all in the context of a Pickton case officer living in Coquitlam and possibly wearing his uniform.

From what I understand it, those are the legal issues that will probably come into play.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:00 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Canadian obscenity laws have been held by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional. The test case was regarding the importation of printed material. The fetlife web server(s) are located in the United States. Canada is not in the practice of censoring or filtering its international Internet connections to the US. I'm sure that in the unlikely event that a person were to be prosecuted in Canada for posting consensual bondage photos of activities between two age 19+ partners, that their lawyer would cite the Little Sisters bookstore case.
posted by thewalrus at 10:09 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


peppermind writes "I think the RCMP officer is being investigated because his specific actions were insensitvie and in violation of the code of conduct, not because BDSM is on trial."

If BDSM isn't on trial then there wouldn't be a violation of the code of conduct. IE: if the pictures were of the officer receiving oral from his unbound wife in his bedroom this story would not have turned into this media shitstorm.
posted by Mitheral at 10:13 PM on July 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


I believe a bigger part of the issue is that people should mind their own damn business.

Or, the officer in question shouldn't upload his pictures to a webserver or leave them in a USB drive plugged into a public computer at his workplace.
posted by docgonzo at 10:17 PM on July 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


The fact is, having the RCMP going public about investigating people and their backgrounds on FetLife has a rather chilling effect, especially on a site that is based in Canada... and especially after the media attracts a crowd of lookie-loos, interested in peering into the private lives of their neighbors.

FetLife is of value to people because you *can* have an identity... and an open, revealing one at that. You can be somoene contemplating sex reassignment surgery, or a recovering addict, or have certain specific feelings, fetishes, or particular issues related to being different/kinky/queer, and find groups and people to interact with, specific to your needs. Likewise, the nature of the site tends to make meeting others far safer to do.

Which means, incidentally, that the RCMP's adventures on FetLife tend to make things less safe for about a million people who use FetLife. People won't be as open, because the personal risks of doing so will increase.

So, yes, what the RCMP did was damaging. It wasn't intentional, perhaps, but it was damaging nonetheless.
posted by markkraft at 10:27 PM on July 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


markkraft, I believe the RCMP investigated because a member of FetLife complained. They would have to log on to the site to see what's there. And the Globe and Mail reported that, 2 years ago, the officer left a flash drive plugged into his computer - and it had S&M photos on it. It didn't sound like they launched an investigation until this recent complaint was made.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:42 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


- I believe a bigger part of the issue is that people should mind their own damn business.

- Or, the officer in question shouldn't upload his pictures to a webserver or leave them in a USB drive plugged into a public computer at his workplace.


Eh, yeah, both - I get both reactions to this myself. I do find it deplorable that his name has been spread across national media and his reputation put at risk (why?! if there is still an ongoing enquiry shouldn't it be internal and anonymous!?), and I also find it deplorable that the privacy of a website for kinksters gets violated like this, and I don't like the idea that private engagement in kinky stuff is itself worth such scrutiny...

On the other hand, you have to acknowledge this is about a public officer and there is a code of conduct and the simple fact is, he uploaded those photos where he is perfectly recognisable. That's very naive at best, if you have a job like that! From that point of view, I totally understand this: "Webster said that an officer posing naked in RCMP riding boots is inappropriate, even if his sexual partners are consenting adults."

And ok, the pics are not directly accessible to the wider public, only to members of fetlife, but it takes zero money and just a couple of minutes to sign up, and there are lots of users.

I sometimes wonder, even those who have no such public role with associated code of conduct to adhere to, do they ever stop and think for a second about the implications of that? The possibility of getting recognised outside, bumping into someone who's seen their photos of very intimate activities, maybe in a work setting (and the kinky stuff involves an intimacy that goes way beyond "plain" sexual activity itself, and it will always look weird at best to outsiders).

So well it's really simple, if you are working in a position that involves responsibility to the public, and have to maintain a higher degree of respectability accountability ethical code blah blah, be more careful and don't post recognisable pictures of yourself doing kinky stuff on the internet. Sorry but just the fact that he never thought about the implications of that as a police officer makes him look at best a bit daft.
posted by bitteschoen at 1:40 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I sometimes wonder, even those who have no such public role with associated code of conduct to adhere to, do they ever stop and think for a second about the implications of that?

Maybe he, like others in the community, figured that since he wasn't doing anything illegal, and that he was sharing this material within the confines of a private, members-only website, that there was absolutely nothing wrong with him engaging in some consensual BDSM play. A quaint notion, it seems.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:20 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Marisa, I do totally agree with that, don't get me wrong. I agree there is nothing wrong in any consensual play of any kind, and there's also nothing wrong in posting pictures about it in what is supposed to be a private community.

The other aspect of it I see from a purely pragmatic "this is how it is, no matter how we'd like it to be different" point of view. The community is indeed private and requires registration but anyone can easily access it and all photos on it; he is a police officer, he knows he has to take extra precautions with his private life because of that public role and the code of conduct it entails, which is after all a lot about the public perception of the role - and aah I'd really love it too if the general public devoted more interest to actual issues of ethics in police behaviour rather than what people do for fun in their own private time, but you have to work with the reality, not the ideal...

So, I am horrified by the intrusion involving his naming and shaming in public media for something that is very private - I think he should counter-sue for damages and especially the person who started all this "reporting" his pictures and violating the community's privacy - but I am just saying, he could have been more careful and sensible and pragmatic and responsible himself, because he's not just an ordinary citizen, he has a public role. It doesn't put him in the "wrong", not even in a legal sense in my impression, but damn, he could have easily avoided all this by either not posting pics or not making himself recognisable in them. It can be done, I've seen it on fetlife too.
posted by bitteschoen at 2:40 AM on July 9, 2012


Thanks for that response. From a purely pragmatic point of view, I think it is unfortunate that he would have to be careful about having anyone find out he engages in this kind of play; that it would reflect poorly on him in the eyes of the public. The naming and shaming going on only encourages people to keep this to themselves, in turn encouraging it to stay fringe, in turn supporting the notion that there is something unhealthy about BDSM play. Whether he should have been "careful", well, pragmatically speaking, yeah, careful-er anyway. Whether the reaction of the RCMP should have been more reasoned and informed: absolutely.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:09 AM on July 9, 2012


When will our culture realize that what consenting adults like to do in private is nobody else's goddamn business?

The necessary corollary to that is that you have to actually keep it private. There's an argument to be made that this was not public, but it also wasn't private in the sense of being limited to the people involved.

From a purely pragmatic point of view, I think it is unfortunate that he would have to be careful about having anyone find out he engages in this kind of play; that it would reflect poorly on him in the eyes of the public.

Meh. His job is not just to avoid conflicts of interest, but to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, because maintaining public trust in officers of the law is so important to a free and orderly society. Of course there are bigger issues with the RCMP that violate the public's trust in them that need to be addressed as well and probably first (like actual misconduct by officers, sexual harassment, and the like).
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:03 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


FetLife is of value to people because you *can* have an identity... and an open, revealing one at that.

And if your identity is "person who gets off on things that look identical to sexual violence that has been ignored and dismissed by the police" and you are a member of the police, then maybe you should not be open and revealing about that, if just out of empathy and consideration for the people you serve.

The more I think about it, the more I think this guy is more of a jackass than a victim. Sorry, fellow BDSM-types.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:10 AM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Meh. His job is not just to avoid conflicts of interest, but to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, because maintaining public trust in officers of the law is so important to a free and orderly society.

And what if someone dug up his profile on a gay dating site then, and he was an officer of a small, rural, decidedly homophobic town? Has he still violated the public trust? I get what you're saying here but I really think the onus is on the RCMP here, in choosing to make this a BFD. Conflating BDSM with the Pickton case sure doesn't help matters, either.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:21 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Publicizing it was certainly stupid as it furthered the problem. A profile on a gay dating site is different in a lot of ways. Acknowledging that you're interested is gay dating is significantly different from posting pictures of yourself being aroused by what looks like non-consensual sexual sadism.

I have no doubt that some of the blowback here is of the "ew, BDSM" variety, but I imagine that a lot of it is more like "wow, it looks like that dude is getting off on the sexual violence that it is his job to investigate and prevent, while wearing part of his work uniform".

Please note that I said looks like. Obviously something looking non-consensual doesn't make it so, but in this case looking bad is bad enough for it to be a serious fuck-up.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:06 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah there's that part, they had to go and dig up the members-only profile, that's what makes the naming-and-shaming even more repulsive -- and ah the media are responsible for that too.

And even in general I'd be curious to know the legal implications of such an unauthorised third-party disclosure when the photos are on a semi-private profile on a semi-private website. It does look like a full blown violation of privacy rights, but I guess maybe the law hasn't caught up to the complications of that yet?
posted by bitteschoen at 5:18 AM on July 9, 2012


(by third party disclosure I mean, the person who originally found the profile and alerted the RCMP... for god knows what reason, personal grudge maybe?)
posted by bitteschoen at 5:19 AM on July 9, 2012


are officers supposed to drive home drunk?

No. No more than anyone else is supposed to drive anywhere drunk. I'm pretty sure that even where there is public transit available, drunk driving has been known to occur.

I have alcoholic beverages in my house as do my friends and associates. We consume them from time to time but seldom get drunk.
posted by juiceCake at 6:08 AM on July 9, 2012


I imagine that a lot of it is more like "wow, it looks like that dude is getting off on the sexual violence that it is his job to investigate and prevent, while wearing part of his work uniform".

Which is where, I think, someone needed to stop forward and explain to folks the difference between play and reality; i.e., that Doms are not closet rapists and so forth. But this being a fringe activity, it looks more like the RCMP were more willing to go the public shaming route for the sake of their own image, as trying to convince the general public that BDSM is not Serial Killer/Rapist Training is too complicated and messy. One of those things that I understand the mentality behind, and am aware would not be an easy choice should I be top brass on the police force, but still not something I can agree with.

Please note that I said looks like. Obviously something looking non-consensual doesn't make it so

Yeah, I do appreciate that, but as bitteschoen points out, the general public would likely never have stumbled upon this harmless, fully consensual activity of his without someone going out of their way to violate his privacy and take it to the RCMP and/or the media, where he was summarily pilloried.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:09 AM on July 9, 2012


People are getting up in arms over a percieved attack on the BDSM community, and I don't think that's what this is.

While I to some extent understand the desire to protect those victimized by the Pickton case and thereby pre-emptively eviscerate the actions of Jim Brown, I have to say that the above statement is not true at all. As Marisa said, if this simply had to do with vanilla sex photos, there would be no investigation at all. If this involved a shoe fetish, a tickling fetish, a cross-dressing fetish, there would be no investigation at all. The reason that there is an investigation is because BDSM is scary, and people who get involved with BDSM must be fucked up in the head somehow. You see this attitude even on MeFi, over and over again.

And this is a problem every time BDSM somehow makes it into the media. Every article about how 50 Shades of Gray proves that women just wanted to be oppressed all along. Every Dateline episode about a master-and-slave relationship that ends in brutal murder and a polyamorous third wheel who abetted the crime. Every "love in the modern age" wanna-be-documentary that bookends a Dom/Sub relationship with ominous music and To Catch A Predator style visuals. Every time, people wonder:
"Do we really believe that any man who gets off on degrading women in his ‘private life’ somehow doesn’t bring those views into any other arena? Is his fantasy of abuse and domination erased the minute he shuts off his laptop or leaves the brothel? Based on the upset and the level of disgust coming from the public with regard to Brown’s behaviour, the answer is ‘no.’ If we truly believed that what happens behind closed doors has no real social impact, I doubt that people would be so upset."
Based on the upset and level of disgust coming from the public, I would say that the public is uncomfortable with deviant sexual acts...but that's not a sensational storyline. And the reason people are still "wondering" is because no one in the media bothers to talk to people in the BDSM community. They just assume, because they don't engage in the kink, don't know of anyone who's willing to admit to engaging in the kink, and don't care to listen to anyone who does engage in the kink, that what you do in the bedroom gets carried over to what you do in real life. A Twitter friend of mine has been trying to talk to the author of that Rabble.Ca article over Twitter last night. The response: Allow me to finish this argument for you all. Choice! Freedom of speech! Identity! Don't judge me! Me! Because, I guess, members of the BDSM community offering their perspectives on why they don't want to be called dangerous perverts simply for being into BDSM are the ones being selfish?

I don't know what Jim Brown is like. Maybe he really is a psychopath who abuses BDSM and uses that as a release valve for his truly horrendous misogyny. Maybe not. (Even if he were, I would still find BDSM to be about as harmful as the baseball bat that was used to bash someone else's head in: a tool in the wrong hands, but it certainly doesn't say anything about anyone else who owns a baseball bat.)

But let's not pretend that this moral panic has nothing to do with BDSM.
posted by Phire at 7:27 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


People keep saying that if the pictures were not BDSM specific, there wouldn't be an investigation. That assumption seems untrue. An officer posting any pornographic pictures of themselves that were found would probably face some fallout, just like an officer who also worked as a stripper and got caught would face some fallout. I'm not saying that's necessarily as it should be. But that is how it is.

Doms are not closet rapists

I used to be into the scene, and one of the many reasons that I left was that so many of the Doms and Masters that I met were genuinely predatory and/or abusive and/or controlling people, and so many of the subs I met (including myself- full disclosure), were genuinely damaged people still suffering from trauma and consistently being re-traumatised through scening. Not all, but a really significant percentage, especially the really hardcore.

I won't say that BDSM is an invalid sexuality or that it's not a good way to work through your issues- it can be both. In an ideal situation, a Dom is a decent, non-predatory, non abusive person and many Doms probably fit that mold. But don't kid yourself; it's a hugely abusable scenario that is frequently abused. So if there's a person in a position of real power, it's valid to want to make sure that person's not one of those abusers when this new information about them comes to light.
posted by windykites at 8:40 AM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I won't say that BDSM is an invalid sexuality or that it's not a good way to work through your issues- it can be both. In an ideal situation, a Dom is a decent, non-predatory, non abusive person and many Doms probably fit that mold. But don't kid yourself; it's a hugely abusable scenario that is frequently abused. So if there's a person in a position of real power, it's valid to want to make sure that person's not one of those abusers when this new information about them comes to light.

Funny how the fact that a great number of rapes are committed on dates doesn't automatically make people assume there's something wrong with dating. And they shouldn't, either. But here we are, offering this as a supposed valid criticism of BDSM.

And as long as we're submitting anecdotes, in my experience, people in the BDSM community tend to be very self-aware and balanced. This is because they've had to sort through their baggage, examine what makes them what they are, and that pairings are almost always prefaced with a lot of talktalktalk about boundaries and preferences and limits. That's the nature of informed consent for you.

That's not to say that there aren't some genuine fuck-ups in the scene, as there certainly are. But I'd prefer it if we not pretend that vanilla dating is de facto safer and healthier than BDSM.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:55 AM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's something I'm confused about and which I think is relevant. Are the pics just of some standard male-dominant BDSM in which the dude is wearing his RCMP boots? (which, dude, come on, that was dumb.) Or are they evocative of the Pickton case? Or do they appear to be a re-enactment of the Pickton murders?

I am, ahem, a big fan of BDSM, and an even bigger fan of the fact that you can't choose what turns you on and people may be tremendously aroused in fantasy by things that they would find utterly horrifying in reality. But I also think that IF this dude were re-enacting the most sensational serial killer case of the area, which he was investigating in an official capacity, and regarding which there are standing serious allegations about the RCMP's attitudes towards the worthiness of the victims. . . well, I don't think the BDSM aspect of that is the troubling part, frankly.
posted by KathrynT at 11:00 AM on July 9, 2012


Let's be straightforward about the comparison being made between serial killers and those that practice BDSM here.

What we can tell about serial killers from profiling and surveys is that most are male, heterosexual, Caucasian and with a Christian upbringing -- in this country -- and of fairly respectable levels of intelligence. The most commonly shared aspects they tend to have is social isolation, repression, dysfunction, or abuse -- usually from the parents -- from an early age, combined with daydreaming and increasingly fixated, troubling fantasies.

These fantasies are *not* heterosexual-specific, despite the fact that most serial killers are heterosexual males. They are not homosexual-specific. They aren't revenge-specific. They aren't BDSM-specific, either. They vary significantly from person-to-person, based on their own backgrounds and fixations.

They *do* often reflect a kind of god-complex, where people who feel unable to function/succeed/interact in society act in ways fully adopt a mindset that makes them feel important and powerful, with control over life and death. That, however, has very little to do with BDSM, D/s, etc.

What we are really talking about here are people with natural impulses and feelings of all sorts that have been repressed, left to twist and fester, until they erupt into open brutality.

"The naming and shaming going on only encourages people to keep this to themselves, in turn encouraging it to stay fringe, in turn supporting the notion that there is something unhealthy about BDSM play."

... which is, in itself, every bit as damaging as repressing heterosexual feelings, homosexual feelings, etc. We *need* a society where kids can grow up, talk about, and work through their problems and feelings, even if they are disturbing to some.
posted by markkraft at 11:04 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


KathrynT, according to the national post article I linked upthread:

"The narrative of the still photographs, posted on an S&M website, progresses from an apparent street scene of the woman walking past Brown sitting on a wall; he overpowers her; he hog-ties her, he imprisons her in a cage, he threatens her with a large butcher knife and he slashes her."

Sounds pretty reminiscent of the Pickton case to me. If it were just garden variety kink and he wasn't wearing parts of his uniform, I doubt anyone would care that much.
posted by peppermind at 11:08 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


- the scenes are reminiscent of the Pickton case
- the officer was peripherally involved in the investigation of the Pickton case (worked in the same area; passed on a tip from Pickton's lodger that something was going on at the farm)
- the police collectively did a terrible job of investigating the Pickton case, taking so long to do so that Pickton was able to murder many more women

It's not so much BDSM on trial (the RCMP have said they're OK with the consensuality and legitimacy of the sexual activity, notwithstanding the fact of the mountie boots), as the question of whether this officer took the Pickton case sufficiently seriously as an investigator. Did he respond to the tip in a sufficiently timely or serious fashion, for example?

Suppose you lived in his district and were a Fetlife member who had had an abusive experience at the hands of someone who seemed dangerous that you wished to report to the police. Would you feel comfortable reporting it to someone whose hobbies included re-enacting gruesome local murder cases that they helped to investigate? It's all very well to say Fetlife is private, but the reality is that if anyone of adult age can sign up for an account, it's only semi-private. If you're a public servant, then you're subject to an extranormal level of scrutiny, and it might have been more appropriate to blur your face or wear a mask so that your off-duty activities don't interfere with your work.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:00 PM on July 9, 2012


The website Erotic Vancouver has been working this story for a couple of days now. They're stating that the man in the knife photos was not the RCMP officer but in fact someone else in the local kink community.

The local media have largely ignored the story since Erotic Vancouver began to dispute it, likely because they want to get a better handle on it before they run any more stories. This could be lawsuit material, after all. The RCMP is keeping pretty quiet on it too.

There is a FetLife thread on the issue, for those interested in reading it on that site.

As for the RCMP bar in their new facility, Surrey city council has opposed the idea.
posted by showmethecalvino at 1:14 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not a FetLife member; can someone summarize the thread here?

After reading that erotic vancouver link, it sounds like someone took a bunch of unrelated photos of someone else's play, and added in a picture of this guy in an effort to draw him as part of a narrative that 1) he wasn't part of and 2) never existed. Is that about right? If so, that is pretty goddamn crummy. Although I still maintain it was a dumb idea to wear part of his work uniform for sexy pictures.
posted by KathrynT at 1:22 PM on July 9, 2012


Oh boy. I'm very familiar with the Vancouver kink community and I lived in Coquitlam during the Pickton case -- in fact, my grocery store at the time was built on Pickton land, I believe, which was kind of an unpleasant discovery.

Anyway, the RCMP/VPD undoubtedly handled the whole Pickton inquiry extremely poorly, but to my mind the problem was that the police repeatedly ignored the family and friends of missing women because they often were prostitutes or homeless. Pickton was able to get away with his horrifying crimes for so long because of this systematic approach across both forces. It was and remains a gross miscarriage of justice that contributed to the death of several women.

However, I do not see any reason why the above paragraph means we get to tell police what sexual activities they can and cannot get up to in their spare time. There is absolutely no correlation between two consenting adults engaging in BDSM and ignoring the case of a missing prostitute because she's the low man on society's totem pole.
posted by jess at 2:26 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


However, I do not see any reason why the above paragraph means we get to tell police what sexual activities they can and cannot get up to in their spare time. There is absolutely no correlation between two consenting adults engaging in BDSM and ignoring the case of a missing prostitute because she's the low man on society's totem pole.

There's not a one-to-one correlation, but to dismiss the possibility entirely would be foolish. There are members of the BDSM community who are just assholes, and their conduct in the community may well be indicative of their attitudes outside it.
posted by Etrigan at 2:39 PM on July 9, 2012


However, I do not see any reason why the above paragraph means we get to tell police what sexual activities they can and cannot get up to in their spare time.

Honestly, the only way I think it applies is if the same officers who degraded the victims by their actions or lack thereof engaged in sexual roleplay and re-enactments in which they, the officers, figuratively took the place of the killer in degrading stand-ins for those same victims. Even consensually. That's the narrative that was presented in the original article, and which seems to fall apart under scrutiny.
posted by KathrynT at 2:40 PM on July 9, 2012


Etrigan writes "There's not a one-to-one correlation, but to dismiss the possibility entirely would be foolish. There are members of the BDSM community who are just assholes, and their conduct in the community may well be indicative of their attitudes outside it."

I think you'd be hard pressed to come up with a community that doesn't contain assholes.
posted by Mitheral at 4:55 PM on July 9, 2012


Funny how the fact that a great number of rapes are committed on dates doesn't automatically make people assume there's something wrong with dating. And they shouldn't, either.

This doesn't really work as a counter to the point of view that BDSM is higher risk than vanilla, and with worse downsides when you make the wrong choice.

A better parallel would be between BDSM and the sort of collegiate party where people drink a lot and try to hook up. I wouldn't suggest that the drunkenness automatically invalidates consent given in those circumstances, but it does give me cause to worry.

The latter case is probably riskier than BDSM generally is, because of the attitude that people who advise caution hate fun. Committed BDSM relationships have the advantage of a subculture devoted to examining the particulars of the power differential. But I'm not really sure it's safe to assume that participants in BDSM hook-ups and/or play-parties have the same advantages.

As I lack experience in this area, I have no opinion; only a doubt.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:45 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Although I do think that this kind of thing can seriously compromise the public's trust in an officer of the law and that a good case could be made for him being put in a position where he never encounters victims of sexual violence.

Are you saying that I can't empathize with rape victims because my sexual kinks include violence?

Or for that matter, are you saying that you only want police involved with investigating sexual violence, who function under the premise that there's something wrong with S&M? That's really not a good thing either, especially if say, I was raped or assaulted and I needed to discuss the likely sorts of situations with the officer- statistically most likely to domestic/partner violence, and given my incurable sexuality, do you want me in a position to be explaining things to someone who thinks I'm a menace to society?

Acting as if this weren't part of the normal spectrum of human sexuality encourages people to hide, and hiding helps predators. Furthermore, the logic which bans kinksters (or in this case doms?) from positions of care and control also should ban say, people who do karate. He wouldn't be able to empathize with those punching victims, you know?

Windykites, your discrimination towards me for my sexuality makes me sad and hurts my feelings. Please remember that some = many arguments are discrimination.
posted by Phalene at 10:19 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


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