Preface [chapter]

1979 Political Crime in Europe  
Today one hears the expressions political crime, political criminals, and political prisoners bandied about in the press and in public discussion with little precision of meaning. They are used, more often than not, in a pejorative sense. 1 To many Americans these terms suggest the legal persecution of unpopular dissident groups or individuals for their political, religious, or ideological beliefs, and therefore lend themselves easily to polemical discussion. With little discrimination the
more » ... er may apply them to those operations of the criminal justice system which he detests and to those objects of it with whom he sympathizes. Almost invariably the very same operations carried on by governments with which the speaker sympathizes against those groups or individuals whom he detests are not regarded as "political" or, if they are recognized as such, are not viewed as persecutions. 2 Current usage is so highly subjective that for analytical purposes popular definitions must be rejected as worthless. With such usage, it is simply a question of whose ox is being gored.
doi:10.1525/9780520347069-001 fatcat:5nnhlabm5zhozk3exukv3qjpqi