I think much confusion has been occasioned, and much difficulty placed in the way, by the unfortunate and misleading legal nomenclature already alluded to, which charges a man in a bill of indictment with a hypothetical crime, where a real and actual one could just as readily be named. Thus, even in the current works on medical jurisprudence, as well as in the law books themselves, under the three general heads of Sodomy, Lewdness and Indecent Exposure, we have bestiality, buggery, fornication (?), exhibition, "lascivious cohabitation," and a whole host of similarly meaningless, or equivocal terms, each accompanied by limitations and conditions which only make the sense still more problematical and obscure; when a simple definite term, which should be of common significance to both law and medicine, could just as easily be employed, and the whole field of legal technicality cleared at once of a useless mass of etymological rubbish.
To show from what a miserable root this confusion and vagueness of verbiage have arisen, I quote from the English and American Encyclopaedia of Law, Art. "Lewdness": "No particular definition of what constitutes pross lewdness is given in statutes prohibiting it. The indelicacy of the subject forbids it, and does not require of the court to state what particular conduct will constitute the offence. The common sense of the community, as well as the sense of decency, propriety and morality, which most people entertain, is sufficient to apply the statute to each particular case" (!). (State v. Millard, 18 Vt. 574, judge's charge.) "And yet it has been held that the specific act of lewdness must be alleged." (Dameron v. State, 8 Mo., 194.) Wonderful! It has even "been held" proper to advise the accused of the specific charge he is called upon to answer !
Now, instead of all this tedious, confusing and unnecessary mass of supposition, inference, and hypothesis, if the individual's "lewdness" took the form of public masturbation, rape, violation or pederasty, why not, in the name of common sense, say so in the bill of indictment, specifying the crime, and not leaving it to the public's sense of decency to determine either the nature of the offence or the degree of punishment? Medicine has already cleared herself of a similarly grotesque mass of verbal rubbish, the legacy of mediaeval ignorance; may we not hope that her sister Science will soon follow the example?