Blaming Conservatives For Pipe Bombs: They are totally at fault here.
Understanding how conservative epistemology drives the semiotics of manufacturing actions.
Yesterday morning, I woke up to the inevitable conclusion of a semiotic journey — an outcome that I understood was destined to happen, but perhaps wasn’t ready to accept. As the bombs began arriving, a steady drumbeat of alarm carried the pulse of the news. On live television, CNN’s emergency alarms began blaring, literally.
Perhaps you’re not comfortable assigning blame yet. You looked at all the facts currently available evidence, and said…
“Well, this could be anyone. We don’t know their motivations. It could be one person. It could be a group. No one knows yet. In fact, this whole thing could be a false flag operation by the Democrats to gain votes before an election.”
Pipe bombs were mailed to prominent Democratic politicians, donors, fundraisers, and also — one actor, (noted Donald Trump critic) Robert De Niro. There is one common thread among all of these bombing targets, and there can be no doubt about what happens when that thread is pulled: It leads to the rhetoric and inflammatory language of the conservative media, which isn’t isolated to Donald Trump, his twitter account, or his rallies.
Right now, Americans are getting a crash course in semiotics, whether they like it or not.
Bear with me here, because I’m going to attempt to distill some “Masters-degree-thesis-level-shit” into a concise idea about how words have meaning, those meanings are interpreted by people as signs, and then we decide how to act on those signs.
Semiotics are the philosophy of how human beings interpret signs and language, and then take actions based upon those signs. In the interest of keeping it simple, I’m going to (mostly) stick to the ideas of Charles Sanders Peirce, and Ferdinand de Saussure.
A good example of how we interpret signs, and then take action, would be the CNN clip above. Two people heard alarms in their building, which are audible signs. In real time, we can watch how those signs are interpreted, without any filter. One anchor mentions it must be a fire alarm, which is an indicator of a dire or life threatening situation.
Fire alarms are signs that are universally understood, regardless of language. That’s why we don’t have fire alarms in any specific language — because fire alarms need to be universal. The semiotics of a fire alarm are easy to understand: You have heard a loud, unpleasant noise, and you are inside a building. Your next action should be to leave that building.
Conversely, people who live in tornado country, or tsunami-prone areas, have outdoor sirens. If you hear a loud, piercing siren, it’s a sign that you should take cover inside, or get to high ground, depending on the context of where you live.
Semiotics can be boiled down to three stages, as defined by Dr. Charles W. Morris. (Signification and Significance, 1964)
- The perception stage — the person becomes aware of a sign.
- The manipulation stage — the person interprets the sign and decides how to respond to it.
- The consummation stage — the person responds.
Have you ever taken part in a fire drill? Great. You understand semiotics. Let’s move forward then, shall we?
Epistemology is the study of how we acquire knowledge, then separate valid belief, from opinion. Valid beliefs are universally held as true, real, and foundational. It’s okay when people have different opinions, as long as those opinions are based upon the same foundational truths.
Truth is that concordance of an abstract statement with the ideal limit towards which endless investigation would tend to bring scientific belief, which concordance the abstract statement may possess by virtue of the confession of its inaccuracy and one-sidedness, and this confession is an essential ingredient of truth. (Peirce 1901, see Collected Papers (CP)
So, what the fuck does that quote mean? Truth, in the eyes of Peirce, is this: If we had unlimited time and resources, to go through every variable, and every shred of evidence, every single person who evaluated all the evidence would arrive at the truth. Truth is supposed to be universal.
That’s why what The Dude says in The Big Lebowski is actually much more profound than you really think it is: When opinions are presented as facts, we’re left with a quandary. What happens when bad opinions are presented as facts, and those bad opinions are so pervasive, and prolific, that people begin to interpret those bad opinions as the truth?
It’s unreasonable for someone like Lou Dobbs to arrive at the conclusion that the bombs mailed to roughly a dozen people were all fake bombs. In fact, it really defies all logic. Various law enforcement sources, the Secret Service, and the FBI, all independently have verified all the bombs mailed were, in fact, real pipe bombs, with very real potential to kill and/or maim.
But Lou Dobbs, a person who has a prominent television show, on a cable news network, is casting doubt on the truth.
Usually, I wouldn’t give a discarded foreskin like Jack Posobiec the time of day, but it’s important that we understand his role in manufacturing doubt. Posobiec is implying it’s unbelievable that all the mail bombs arrived at their destinations at the same time. I can only assume this is because Posobiec has never sent multiple packages, from a roughly equidistant location.
Dobbs and Posobiec want to obfuscate the truth with their bad opinions. Moreover, they want you to believe that their bad, unfounded, and completely illogical opinions should be held as the truth.
That’s why both of these men frequently use the term #FakeNews to justify their statements. When epistemology breaks down, it has semiotic implications. “Fake News” isn’t just a statement meant to cast doubt anymore. It has taken on meaning as a sign that whatever you’re seeing, reading, or experiencing is a lie. Signs are meant to be interpreted as actionable items.
Let me restate that so it’s abundantly clear: Conservative media outlets and talking heads, from Sean Hannity, to Breitbart, to Charlie Kirk, to Fox News, to Candace Owens, to Kellyanne Conway, to The National Review, to Red State, and even (sometimes) The Wall Street Journal — they are all implicitly creating an adversary for their audiences, through semiotic means.
I mean this in the most literal sense: Sean Hannity has no problem calling Democrats a “clear and present danger to all Americans”. In fact, just three days before the election in 2016, Sean Hannity claimed Hillary Clinton was doing Satanic rituals. Of course, that’s not fucking real, but the problem is that people believe his bullshit. These wild claims aren’t on the fringes of 4Chan or Q Anon. These are mainstream, ring wing media figures, and they’re quite simply lying to their audience.
This wouldn’t be a huge problem if the name of the network was “Fox Opinions” — because then their audience would understand the implicit bias being dialed in.
Fomenting awful opinions isn’t a crime by itself, but the match to the gasoline of rhetoric comes from the very top, whereby taking action based upon these flawed opinions is actually applauded, and encouraged.
Donald Trump is a nationalist. I think that, because he fucking said it.
Nationalism is bad. If you don’t understand why, uhm… go read a history book? Fuck, I dunno man. I’m surprised you got this far. Anyway, I digress…
Nationalism is typically marked by creating an adversarial dynamic between its supporters, and “everyone else”. A good example of this dynamic is literally any Trump rally, where he stands before his audience, and tells the crowd before him that ‘the Democrats are trying to hurt you, take away your livelihood, take away your money, take away your jobs, etc’ — and then he proceed to brag about jailing his political opponents.
His claims, from an epistemic standpoint, are almost exclusively lies. Trump lies with such frequency, Toronto Star journalist Daniel Dale has turned fact-checking Trump into his (exhausting) full time job. The problem is that Trump’s base probably doesn’t read much of what Daniel Dale writes, and they likely receive most of their news from biased right wing news sources. Trump’s audience is going to receive flawed, or inaccurate information, and not fact-check it for truth. They blindly follow their leader, in true nationalistic fashion. (This story tends to repeat itself a few times throughout history.)
So here’s what we know:
Donald Trump, and the conservative media are feeding people outright lies, and misinformation.
Donald Trump and the conservative media have labeled journalists and media outlets as enemies of the state.
Donald Trump and the conservative media have labeled specific politicians and donors as enemies who “must be stopped” lest there be dire consequences.
… and lastly, and most importantly, Donald Trump has time and time again, supported acts of violence, and attacks, against the media, and people who oppose him, or his base. Even as recently as last week, Trump reiterated his support for Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte, who body-slammed a journalist.
“Any guy that can do a body-slam, he’s my guy.” — Trump, on Gianforte
Thus, we have completed our semiotic triangle. People receive a signal, they decide how to interpret that signal, and then they take action. It’s linear. It’s founded in our basic biology. It’s highly effective.
We have arrived at the consummation stage of the semiotic triangle, and conservatives are solely to blame for it.
Maybe you’re a conservative reading this, and you’re not comfortable accepting blame for someone (or a group) mailing pipe bombs. The problem is, by supporting the GOP, you’re supporting Donald Trump, and his consummation of semiotic reactions. You cannot divorce yourself from the first two parts of this narrative, and then claim consummation was someone else’s problem. Trump has never sought to unite America, and that was clear from Day 1 of his campaign.
It’s not just the pipe bombs. It’s White Nationalists sending robocalls in Florida, with horrific and deeply bigoted messages against Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum.
Well, hello there. I is the negro Andrew Gillum and I be aksin you to make me governor of this here state of Florida.
People are taking action because they have been fed lies, and do not fear the consequences of their actions. We know that two thirds of all terrorism in the United States happens because of right wing extremists, yet Trump and the GOP are continuing to fuel their fire and hatred, positioning Democrats as a dangerous mob.
We know that at recent rallies, far-right militias were perched on rooftops, with long-guns, ready to murder their fellow Americans. We know that in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer was murdered, and dozens others were injured, when a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of people. That crowd is typically demonized by Trump and his base. They are no longer seen as fellow Americans, but rather, those who must be stopped. The same angry mob of nationalists also assaulted numerous people in a parking garage.
Just last week, the Proud Boys committed numerous assaults against “Antifa supporters,” (also known as Americans) after hosting a meeting at the…
Metropolitan Republican Club. Gee, it sure sounds like Republicans want these people around, doesn’t it?
This lie-motivated action also extends to politically motivated violence in women’s health clinics, like when Robert Dear Jr. shot up an Planned Parenthood in Colorado, because he thought the health clinic was selling baby parts. (That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.) He was fed lies, and he acted upon those lies, because he genuinely believed he was doing the right thing.
So, my dear conservatives, let me speak directly to you for a moment.
Don’t try to moonwalk away from this and pretend to be nonviolent, when you fomented violence against your fellow Americans for years and years. You created this culture, with your lies, and manipulation — and now you have the audacity to step back and say, “Whoa whoa. This isn’t what we were trying to do. We don’t condone this.”
Even I have been on the receiving end of politically motivated violence, when five Trump supporters saw my “Fuck Trump” hat, and decided to assault me on an elevator. I suffered two broken ribs, and a concussion. That’s because after (dare I say) decades of being programmed to see “Libtards” as adversarial, someone finally told them it’s okay to attack people who don’t believe their brand of propaganda, or speak out against their leader. That person is the President of the United States, and he’s a Republican.
We are 11 days away from voting day, and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch is encouraging NRA members to bring their guns to the polls with them. That sure sounds like you’re mobilizing an armed force to suppress voters with a threat of violence, doesn’t it? That’s semiotics, all in one place: A statement (which isn’t true), interpretations (do you have a gun?), and an actionable consummation (bring your gun to the poll if you believe what we’re telling you).
Allow me to make it abundantly clear: If anyone dies because of these pipe bombs, the entirety of the conservative media, and GOP is culpable.
You’ve done everything possible create an epistemic crisis of fundamental truth in our country. You’ve made them believe that Democrats are a threat, the media is fake, journalists are enemies of the state, and “something must be done.”
Republicans have manifested a semiotic crisis in our nation, taking us right up to the brink of a civil war. Their message is responsible for this, because that’s how semiotics work. I have no doubt in my mind, that the person who sent those bombs genuinely believes they’re a patriot, doing the right thing, trying to protect America from the “dangerous liberals.” They heard a message, believed it to be true, and acted upon it.
Do you know why I think that? Because I’ve had Fox News on the entire time I’ve been writing this, and I’m listening intently to how they cover this bombing plot. Even when their fellow Americans are in clear danger, they don’t know how to tone down the rhetoric. There are two ex-Presidents that had pipe bombs mailed to their houses, and Fox News has covered “leftist mobs” six times in four hours. Newsflash, motherfuckers: We aren’t a dangerous mob. We make pussy hats, and I’m not even particularly proud of that. Those hats are stupid as fuck, but last time that I checked, none of you motherfuckers were getting knitted to death.
Because honestly, this bullshit isn’t on “us” — and by “us”, I mean “us”, as in “Americans”, because you wanted it to be Us vs. You. I used to see Republicans as my fellow Americans as well, until I realized you don’t want to be Americans. You want to worship at the altar of Donald Trump, and accept his nationalist agenda. You want to use violence and fear to control people. Those aren’t the values of our country, and they certainly aren’t the values of the majority.
So my Republican friends, on November 6th, I want you to take something to the polls with you. Take this L, because you are about to lose in the most epic way imaginable. It’s called Democracy. You’re gonna hate it.