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I am worried, however, that abuse of this technique, vis a vis the use of negative pixel ranges to hide content off screen and et al will mean that site will be flagged for having "crooked" content.
There are no absolute answers to this kind of question, of course, but if you are comfortable that you are doing nothing dicey I wouldn't worry about it.
Penalizing absolute positioning will be a step in the wrong direction for everybody.
I've wondered about the same thing regarding DHTML drop down menus,...technically it's hidden content (and absolute positioning),...but I didn't want to give up the oohs and aahs from the art director's short bus.