by Asar Imhotep Amen aka Troy Thomas
I do not accept the common usage of the term “crime.” Why? Crime is not solely the violation of legal codes. It encompasses behavior that violates human rights. But beyond the legal understandings, crime shatters relationships, both social – including political and economic – and interpersonal.
Substance abuse and prostitution, activities defined as against the law, certainly impact the lives and the rights of others but could be addressed more effectively outside the criminal justice system. Crime is a relative matter that changes with the disposition of legislative bodies.
Homicide is typically considered a crime unless the perpetrator acted in self-defense, by reason of insanity, or “in the line of duty” as a member of a police force, a legal execution team or a military body. Indeed, soldiers might be criminally liable for refusing to kill on order – or for refusing to register with selective service.
It is considered criminal behavior to lie under oath, but otherwise lying is lawful for everyone from presidents to common folk. It is illegal to speak about classified documents, and it is illegal not to speak before grand juries – unless the speaking would involve self-incrimination, in which case it becomes legal not to speak (unless one has been granted immunity from prosecution, in which case it becomes illegal not to speak!).
In short, everything from killing (or refusing to kill) to speaking (or refusing to speak) is or is not a crime, depending on the widest range of circumstances. So divorced is civil law from moral reflection that we barely blink when presidents somberly intone that we have to stop violence in America, while as a nation “we” spend thousands of dollars a minute building bombs.