Monday, September 25, 2006


The Dictionary Of White-Collar Crime

Here - from a legal public relations consultant, no less - is a light (although perhaps not lighthearted) piece about the euphemisms commonly employed to describe "white-collar crime". These tend to "whitewash" (no pun intended) the crimes committed by well-showered men in expensive suits. Did I say "committed"? Actually, only violent crimes are "committed" - white-collar crimes are merely "carried out". Here's another one that I sure as hell never heard of. If some scruffy miscreant acquires illicit access to your mail or e-mail, that's called "identity theft". If a corporation - like, say, HP - does something similar, it is called "pretexting". What, you ask, is that? It sounds like something your Blackberry might do.

The article goes on to give examples of what various common criminal activities might sound like if they were described using the vocabulary of white-collar crime:

Armed robbery - "Forced financial acquisition"

Drug possession with intent to distribute - "Recreational substance pre-marketing"

Prostitution - "Erotically assisted aerobics"

Armed bank robbery - "Financial-institution property removal"

Mugging - "Sidewalk-based personal property removal"

These are mildly amusing, only medium clever, but I think you'll get the point. I was certainly enlightened (er, I mean, "got wise").

"The white-collar Webster's" from the Philadelphia Daily News

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