Snowflake: a Safe Substitute Symbol, I Hope

Herb Block political cartoon: 'Say, what ever happened to 'freedom-from-fear'?' (August 13, 1951, during McCarthyism) published in Washington Post; see characters, the ones used online at any rate, include symbols that aren’t letters of the alphabet, punctuation, or numbers.

So far, so obvious.

I was replying to comments this afternoon, and figured I’d use the emoji/dingbat/whatever “okay” hand sign. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

But I also figured that, since folks who don’t live in my part of the world read this, I’d better do a little research.

A gesture that means ‘I’m leaving now and had a good time’ in one culture can, I’ve gathered, mean ‘I reject you’ in another, and I’m wandering off-topic.

Anyway, I did a quick Google search to see if there were cross-cultural landmines hidden in that touch-the-thumb-and-index-finger gesture.

And, wouldn’t you know it, there are. Sort of.

It’s a good thing I didn’t use Unicode character 128076. Seems that it’s now perceived as a white supremacist symbol.

Strickland Constable's illustration of 'low types'. (1899)Although I’m not “white” by some standards, which haven’t been current for several generations now, I’m definitely melanin-deficient.

So finding some symbol which wouldn’t be quite so likely to inspire alarm and revulsion seemed prudent. Since we had a (very) little snow earlier this afternoon — and because I like the shape — I used a snowflake (❄) instead of that (divisive?) gesture.

I talked about perceptions, labels, fear, and making sense last month:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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