On signifying

Unsolicited advice for sign-making protesters:

  1. Check your spelling. Don’t thank anyone for keeping you “infromed”. Don’t accuse anyone of being “morans”. Okay?
  2. Also check if you’ve correctly understood the difference between capital and normal letters, or you WilL loOk siLly. (Then again, as idiotic presentations convince only fellow idiots, this is a good policy if you’re strongly anti-elitist.)
  3. Have some sense of proportion. Avoid Hitler. Really, really avoid comparing your cause to the Jews and the ovens; if it’s that bad making a sign won’t help and if it’s less you will seem a tad thick.
  4. The previous point again: proportion. And what I said about Hitler goes double for anything with Hitler and Photoshop!
  5. One exclamation mark per sign, max. More than that is the signical equivalent of running around naked hollering and slapping strangers with your genitalia, and somewhat as likely to get your message a warm reception. (i.e. fifty-fifty, no more)
  6. Lines that do not work: “Would they have given the Nazis the Olympics??”, “Behead those who say Islam is violent”, “Get a brain! Morans”.
  7. Not advice, but observation: no sign ever mis-spells the word “sodomy”.
  8. Lively language is good; but it is easy to overdo. Remember, your message will be lost if the reader gets lost trying to picture the thing taken literally. Pictures can make this worse. “President don’t rape our lawn!!!”
  9. Not that trying to keep things simple always works either; for an example, “Save freedom” sounds like one ought to have a jar and a rationing plan ready.
  10. Always plan ahead to be sure there enough space for all the lettrs u want
  11. Might not be a good idea to have your children hold the signs. I mean, what if someone comes and starts asking them pointed questions? Or if a TV reporter comes and lets them blather? Do you really want to have your 8-year-old pontificating about the Federal Reserve?
  12. Then again, if you have some sign that you’re pretty sure is a tad extreme, have a kid hold that, with orders to cry if anyone comes around all indignant. Instant PR victory!
  13. For heaven’s sake, if you are going to be sullen and angry, don’t be so shy and folksy about it. Say what you really mean. (Try “Kill All Politicians”. Sure to attract attention.) If you are known to be forthright, be a bit more folksy the next time. Say “Fiercely urinate on the Danish people (smiley)”. Variation’s the key!
  14. Humor helps; but it helps if you actually have a sense of humor. Here’s a hint: finding the most insulting combination of stereotype and slur doesn’t usually count as humor. (Then again, if you’re unknown and trying to get fame, not so much agreement, then going full neolithic with xenophobia works fine. Best of all, if you choose your words carefully, no news station will actually utter them, saving at least a shred of your dignity. And you’ll be (in)famous!)
  15. Also, one final thing. Keep looking for the guy whose placard says “I HAVE A SIGN”, “God Hates Signs”, “I’m With Stupid”, “We have no idea what we’re talking about”, or something like. There’s always one around.

Personally, if I ever happened to attend a sign-holding event, my sign would probably be “SODOMY / BABY KILLING / HIGHER TAXES / EUTHANASIA / GODLESSNESS / PORNOGRAPHY / VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES / we need more of all these”.

(“Castrate the Cardinals” would be logical, but unlikely to attract support. And, er, the ecclesiastical ones, not the sports team. Though come to think of it there are more than enough jocks around already.)

The last piece of advice to remember is that there will always be people who look at your signs signifying the end of the world and all that is good, and will not recoil in horror and rise in indignation, but shrug and say: “Hey, yeah, cool, man! Who sells the tickets to that thing?”

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