British researcher Joanna Bourke takes a look at the cultural interpretations of rape in her new book Rape: A History From 1860 To The Present. Turns out she's having just as much trouble as the the rest of us in defining "rape" in any definitive manner. Says the Independent: "Bourke's own working definition of rape as whatever anyone - whether 'participant' or 'third party' - thinks of as rape is so broad as to render impossible any general argument about one specifiable crime. The book's pointedly gray cover already makes it seem more likely that Bourke's history of rape will be at pains to avoid simple black-and -white categories of judgment." Even the cover is gray. How's that for literally illustrated ambivalence? [The Independent]
@blueberrypancake: Actually, looting for food, diapers and water is straight up theft, and exceeding the speed limit to get to the hospital is still speeding. The motivation behind the crime does not always obviate responsibility for the crime. A "good" motive may keep you from being prosecuted or reduce the punishment you get, but "motive" is not something that has to be proven in court for someone to be convicted of a crime. If I embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars from a heartless multi-national corporation to give to charity, I will still get prosecuted and thrown in the slammer if convicted.
To me, the "shades of grey" in crime reflect the severity of the offense and available punishments for that crime (i.e. severity of first degree murder > second degree murder > voluntary manslaughter > involuntary manslaughter) not whether an offense actually occurred.