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Friday, April 23, 2021

"Anti-Social Behavior"

I guess it was sometime in the 1960s that criminologists came up with the useless and imprecise term "anti-social behavior." Like most social science jargon, the phrase, while virtually meaningless, sounds intellectually profound. But what in the hell does it mean? In some places exercising free speech is considered anti-social behavior. So is buying a gun; being rude and insensitive; protesting government policy; or acquiring a legal abortion. In other words, this vague, pliable term can be used to describe everything from mass murder to littering. It's mainly a value judgment. People cannot effectively communicate using jargon which is the enemy of precise language, understanding, and clarity of thought. Bad behavior can be more precisely described, for example, as offensive, inappropriate, stupid, dangerous, greedy, immoral, deviant, dishonest, or criminal. Moreover, bad behavior comes in degrees of badness. Since the introduction of "anti-social," our ability to communicate clearly and with meaning has been further attenuated by politically motivated catchphrases like "social justice", "equity," and "root cause."

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