In Linux (and whatever else; don't fuck with me!), this directory is where 95%+ of configuration files and directories for the Linux system and programs belong. Binaries should never be placed in this directory. This is definitely not a directory you want someone deleting (can you say "all-nighter"?)

Important files (that should be) in /etc:

/etc is where the is most often kept. And the is a mighty file indeed. If you can interpret you will have the keys to great riches, for it is written in a secret language.

Binaries CAN be in /etc, they were just moved to /sbin very early on (SVR3, i believe)

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