Thursday, March 21, 2013

So you're tired of hearing about "crimen exceptum"?

Someone asked me today, “What is ‘crimen exceptum’ anyway? I’m tired of hearing about it.”

Yeah, I hear ya. I’m tired of talking about it. But I’m going to keep talking about it because people like you keep asking that question.

Crimen exceptum is when guilt is determined before it is proven.

Crimen exceptum is a crime of such importance that merely to accuse someone of it means they are guilty of it.

Crimen exceptum is when witnesses say nothing happened, but can eventually be threatened into testifying anyway.

Crimen exceptum is when some things, like witchcraft or terrorism, are too important to discuss without burning someone at the stake to show how serious we are about it.

Crimen exceptum is when a bandwagon of people is so hungry for blood on a particular issue that they will punish whatever hint of that issue they can find, even if they only have a few scattered reports from a sensationalist corporate WMD-are-in-Iraq media to go on.

Crimen exceptum is necessary in a police state.

Crimen exceptum is when complete strangers on the internet argue ferociously that they know exactly what happened thousands of miles away.

Crimen exceptum is when private information is illegally stolen by vigilantes, we don't care about the intrusion as long as it helps us.

Crimen exceptum is when anything suspicious needs to be immediately reported to armed representatives of the security state because no one else can be trusted to deal with allegations beforehand.

Crimen exceptum is so important that if it might have happened, even the alleged victims are not smart enough to understand that armed state agents and the media need to be promptly notified, so it has to be done for them whether they wanted to make it an issue or not.

Crimen exceptum is when stunning displays of privilege and willful ignorance combine to create this.

So yeah, I’m sorry you’re tired of hearing about it. But I wouldn’t expect us to shut up anytime soon. Nor should we. Crimen exceptum is a two-edged sword. The less important the concepts of "evidence" and "fair trials" become, the less effective those defenses will be when a different crimen exceptum is levied against a different perpetrator. Jury trials, a requirement of reliable evidence, and the idea that it is wrong to threaten potential witnesses with violence so that they'll help a prosecutor, are all protections that might help your "side" later on, and should not be tossed aside so lightly.

UPDATE: I will no longer be publishing comments which caveat the discussion of crimen exceptum with the idea that some people accused of crimes might not be guilty of them. There is a reason for this, which you can read here.

(Update 2: Just in case you missed the link, the extra-parochial paragraph above about not publishing comments was based on the original. Link clickable right here.)


  1. I'm not at all tired of hearing about crimen exceptum. That our society is devolving ever deeper into a police state is one of the more important topics out there.

    That comparatively few people are concerned about it is almost as an impressive commentary on our time as is the public yawn that occurs when some jamoke gets launched by a judge, vindicating his own perversion by making reference to the "standards of law-abiding society" being imposed at last.

    1. (It was painful writing that repetitive, parochial dreck, but even lazy satire has to have *some* relation to the original.)