The other day I was reading some story about a guy who was sneaking people into the U.S. illegally and pretending to be another guy. The story wasn’t really that interesting, but what he was charged with got me thinking. He was charged with criminal impersonation. I know what criminal impersonation means, but the literal part of my brain wonders why it’s a crime to impersonate a criminal. Would they think you were the fugitive and arrest you instead? Why the hell would anyone want to impersonate a criminal. I mean, if your impersonation was too good, they’d never believe you weren’t who you said you were.
This got me thinking about other weirdly-worded charges. For example, gross indecency. Is there ever a nice kind of indecency? I assumed indecency was gross. I know they don’t really mean gross as in disgusting, but every time I hear that term, all I can think is “eeeewwww! Gross!” That’s probably because the person involved is being charged because they showed off Mr. Willie or wacked off in front of someone or something.
Then there’s the term forcible rape. Hmm. It’s rape. What other kind of rape is there? I guess there’s statutory rape, but I think most rapes are forcible, don’t you? That seems like a bit of overkill.
Then I heard once that someone was charged with aggrovated murder. I understand aggrovated assault, if you beat someone really badly, but how can you kill someone really badly? They’re either dead or not dead. How do you decide that one person’s murder was worse than another one’s?.
And in the overkill department, what’s up with the term “aiding and abetting”? If you go to dictionary.com, you’ll find that aiding and abetting are synonyms of each other. So if someone gets charged with aiding and abetting, they’re charged with helping and helping? Why all the redundancy?
Maybe I just think too much. There’s probably a perfectly good reason for these weird terms. But for some reason, a whole bunch of them came to mind.