From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
It's a
Crime icon.png
Articles on illegal behaviour

Crime refers to a breach of a rule or a law. Crimes vary widely from a culture to a culture. Something can be a serious offense in one culture and punishable by death, while the same action may not be even considered a crime in another culture. For example, witchcraft was considered a serious offense during the Renaissance while this is not considered a crime in the modern western society.

Things designated as crimes can be of two types, malum in se (something that is wrong in itself), and malum prohibitum (something that is wrong only because a government prohibits it). Things like murder, robbery, and rape are almost universally considered malum in se. Downloading pirated music, selling alcohol to a 17 year old, and vandalizing Conservapedia owning a handgun in Chicago (no longer!) possessing marijuana are examples of malum prohibitum. In reality there does exist a broad area of laws where it is not clear which category they belong in, for example animal cruelty and drinking and driving.

Another division of crimes is between misdemeanors and felonies, which has a long tradition somewhere way back there in common law but today seems like an arbitrary distinction, with legislatures designating ever more things as "felonies" to show how tough on crime they are, and inventing new "felonies" out of thin air such as "racketeering" and "money laundering", whatever those are.

Examples of crimes in Western culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. Wearing Crocs and socks is similar (or wearing Crocs at all), but most cities don't prosecute for that.