The paper attempts to explore the issues involved in defining the concept of crime in the ensuing paragraphs. Defining Crimes in the Past It is a well known fact that different eras in the history defined crimes in their own way. While going back to the era of 400-450 B.C. in Greece, Socrates was adjudged criminal in the eyes of court as he had committed crime of corrupting the youth of Athens through his teachings but the world today recognize him as one of the greatest philosopher of the ancient times. Durkheim (1966) puts it correctly that Socrates is a criminal if seen from the view point of those rulers; however, when seen from the current perspective, his contribution to mankind is immense as a pioneering advocate for the human freedom of expression and thought. The point is that crime cannot be seen as an abstract viewpoint; it is a complex process in itself and that is why defining the same is a most complicated exercise. Defining Criminality in the Twentieth Century Between 1920 and 1947, M. K. Gandhi, during independence struggle of India, was imprisoned several times for his satyagrah and disobedient movements against the then British regime but the entire world now recognise him in high esteem as the biggest proponent of non-violence movement. In 1960s, Martin Luther king was imprisoned for his Civil Rights Movement as he had committed crime in the eyes of court then. Same is applicable to Nelson Mandela as he was imprisoned for 26 years in South Africa. His crime was that he was opposing a government who promoted the apartheid policies depriving the vast majority from their fundamental rights. The list is endless and it is very difficult to define the crimes of these people in most of the cases. It will be most appropriate to go through some of the most recent events and examine the various perspectives in defining the crime. Terrorist Attack and Criminality Issues On 11 September 2001, one of the terrorist groups called Al-Qaeda destroyed the Twin Towers in New York killing thousands of people in the process. The US Secretary of State then declared it a massive crime against the US. The noteworthy point is that Al-Qaeda was created, supported and financed by the CIA of the US to wage a war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The question does arise who is real criminal? After the incident, the US president divided the world in two factions – one that is with the US and the rest who are not with them will be construed against them. Senate and the US Congress authorised the President to use force against organisations, groups or nations that according to them had participated in support of the terrorist attacks. The point is how abruptly and swiftly the crime and criminality definitions take new forms and means. In 1945, the US forces dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki towns killing over 400,000 people directly and indirectly; however, after the war, only Japanese war criminals were tried and no one was adjudged criminal from the allied forces side. Was it because the Japanese were a defeated group and allied forces had emerged victorious in the war and therefore it was their prerogative to define who the criminals are? Euthanasia and Criminality Perspective Practicing euthanasia in the UK is considered a criminal offence because law does not permit it even though a motive behind the act may be good (Smith, 1996). In spite of this, doctors in the UK have been found assisting terminally ill patients to die (Hooligan, 2012). The point is – can authorities ever establish and file a case against doctors practicing
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Crime is associated with unlawful acts such as violence or arson, destruction of public and private property, harm inflicted to individuals and similar acts. Defining Crimes in the Past It is a well known fact that different eras in the history defined crimes in their own way. …
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