Shallow and boring semiotics and their dumb uses in politics

Nothing brings out battling over semiotics better than a US presidential election.

Not long ago we had Hillary attacking Pepe the frog as racist.

Even the ADL weighed in on that one, giving the charge far more prominence than it deserved, though they did conclude in their last paragraph that the poor frog was only a racist symbol if someone festooned it with real racist symbols.

Still, use of the green frog meme did decline after Hillary’s claim and this slightly weakened her opposition for a day or two because Pepe was a rallying symbol (for Trump, against her). Hillary made temporary small gains in this semiotic skirmish, though a probable aftereffect was her opposition rebounded and gained ground once the vacuity of her argument was fully understood.

More recently, use of the word “globalist” by Trump and his supporters has been branded as “antisemitic.” This is so dumb it’s hardly worth analyzing, but if you care to read all about it, Jonathan Taylor has a good article: Trump, Anti-Globalism and the Anti-Semitism Slur. It surprised me to see how many people take the charge seriously.

Taylor makes the most important point—that branding someone else’s semiotics as bad is a lazy way of making them shut up. (It is very bad to do this in my book.)

When it comes to semiotics, Donald Trump has shown his moxie. His continued use of semiotics deemed bad by his opponents has weakened their ability to limit or define debates in such a shallow manner.

This shows me that Trump is a smart man. It takes brains to see those little buggers for what they are and ignore them. Much of PC culture is based on the fake inarguable rightness of shallow semiotics.

A good sign coming out of this campaign is Hillary’s overuse of  semiotic hot buttons has weakened them and hollowed out arguments that use them.

Notice that her constant use of the bad Russia meme as an excuse for all her problems is falling flat because no one believes it. It’s so weak it has given rise to an answer that works well against her: “So Russia hacked the NSA and put those emails on Weiner’s computer so the FBI would find them when they investigated him for illegal sexting.” Right.

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