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Can we stop pretending the circle game is racism?


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You put your hand below your belt and if you can get someone to look at it, you get to punch them in the arm.  If you can stick your finger in the circle and break it, you get to punch that person.  That's it.  It's a stupid game most guys learn when they are in junior high.  It was widely played all over the country for decades.  

IT IS NOT A WHITE POWER SYMBOL OF HATE! 

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Playable anywhere, the Circle Game is initiated when one person makes a circle with their forefinger and thumb, resembling the OK gesture, and holds it below waist-level. If someone else makes eye contact with the circle, then the “circler” gets to punch them in the arm. Players especially enjoy the game in inappropriate situations, sometimes setting elaborate or creative traps for their target.

In one common variation of the Circle Game, if the target person breaks the circle with their finger, they get to punch the “circler” instead.

The origins of the Circle Game are disputed. People anecdotally recall playing the game in the schoolyard in the 1970–80s. Vice traced the game to one, Matthew Nelson, who claims credit for inventing it in New Bremen, Ohio in the early 1980s—though there’s no proof he either created or named the game. The TV show Malcolm in the Middle, which featured the game, helped popularize the Circle Game in the 2000s.

In the 2010s, references to the Circle Game have grown in popularity, often as an online meme, marking a new digital era of the schoolyard game. Its contemporary usage may be driven by millennial nostalgia (or an effort to capitalize on it) or simply by the possibilities the internet has opened up for the game.

Pictures of people making the circle with their hand, particularly as a way to photobomb an otherwise serious photograph, are often accompanied by the phrase got ‘em or simply gotem, meaning that the circling hand has “got” whoever is looking at it. Not surprisingly, the popularity of the Circle Game and “got ‘em” has been commercialized to sell t-shirts and coffee mugs.

https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/circle-game/

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9 minutes ago, Juxtatarot said:

Until yesterday, I had never heard of this game.  I don’t think it’s as popular as you state.

You should look it up.  It's been around since the 80's.  And it was so popular that 4chan decided to start a rumor that it was a white supremacy sign.   

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Note: For reasons explained below, particular caution must be used when evaluating this symbol.

The “okay” hand gesture—in which the thumb and index finger touch while the other fingers of the hand are held outstretched—is an obvious and ancient gesture that has arisen in many cultures over the years with different meanings.

Today, in a usage that dates to at least as early as 17th century Great Britain, it most commonly signals understanding, consent, approval or well-being. Since the early 1800s, the gesture increasingly became associated with the word “okay” and its abbreviation “ok.”  The gesture is also important in the Hindu and Buddhist worlds, as well as in yoga, where it is known as mudra or vitarka mudra, a symbol of inner perfection.  The "okay" hand gesture also forms part of the basis for a number of words or concepts in American Sign Language. It appears in many other contexts as well.

Use of the okay symbol in most contexts is entirely innocuous and harmless.

In 2017, the “okay” hand gesture acquired a new and different significance thanks to a hoax by members of the website 4chan to falsely promote the gesture as a hate symbol, claiming that the gesture represented the letters “wp,” for “white power.” The “okay” gesture hoax was merely the latest in a series of similar 4chan hoaxes using various innocuous symbols; in each case, the hoaxers hoped that the media and liberals would overreact by condemning a common image as white supremacist.

In the case of the “okay” gesture, the hoax was so successful the symbol became a popular trolling tactic on the part of right-leaning individuals, who would often post photos to social media of themselves posing while making the “okay” gesture.

Ironically, some white supremacists themselves soon also participated in such trolling tactics, lending an actual credence to those who labeled the trolling gesture as racist in nature. By 2019, at least some white supremacists seem to have abandoned the ironic or satiric intent behind the original trolling campaign and used the symbol as a sincere expression of white supremacy, such as when Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant flashed the symbol during a March 2019 courtroom appearance soon after his arrest for allegedly murdering 50 people in a shooting spree at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The overwhelming usage of the “okay” hand gesture today is still its traditional purpose as a gesture signifying assent or approval. As a result, someone who uses the symbol cannot be assumed to be using the symbol in either a trolling or, especially, white supremacist context unless other contextual evidence exists to support the contention. Since 2017, many people have been falsely accused of being racist or white supremacist for using the “okay” gesture in its traditional and innocuous sense.

Other, similar-seeming hand gestures have also been mistakenly assumed to have white supremacist connotations as a result of the “okay” hoax. One of these is the so-called “Circle Game,” in which people attempt to trick each other into looking at an okay-like hand gesture made somewhere below the waist. Another is the hand sign of the Three Percenter movement, a wing of the anti-government extremist militia movement. Three Percenters, who are right-wing extremists but are not typically white supremacists, often make a hand gesture to symbolize their movement that uses the outstretched middle, ring, and pinky fingers to represent a Roman numeral “3.” This gesture, from certain angles, can often resemble an “okay” hand gesture and has been misinterpreted by some as a white supremacist symbol.

Because of the traditional meaning of the “okay” hand gesture, as well as other usages unrelated to white supremacy, particular care must be taken not to jump to conclusions about the intent behind someone who has used the gesture.

https://www.adl.org/education/references/hate-symbols/okay-hand-gesture

I remember reading the article above but forgot about the circle game sentence.  It’s good to know.  I doubt people are “pretending”. They just didn’t know. 

In conclusion, I blame 4Chan and white supremacy for all of this.

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5 minutes ago, shadyridr said:

Yep I saw outrage at the army navy game because kids were playing the circle game. I feel like I'm living in bizarro world sometimes.

I first found out about the symbol representing "white power" a month or so back when that Disney character/mascot did it in a picture with a mixed race kid.

Yeah, it's not the circle game anymore and these guys know this.

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14 minutes ago, TheIronSheik said:

You should look it up.  It's been around since the 80's.  And it was so popular that 4chan decided to start a rumor that it was a white supremacy sign.   

Whether it started as a rumor or not, it is now.

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50 minutes ago, TheIronSheik said:

You put your hand below your belt and if you can get someone to look at it, you get to punch them in the arm.  If you can stick your finger in the circle and break it, you get to punch that person.  That's it.  It's a stupid game most guys learn when they are in junior high.  It was widely played all over the country for decades.  

IT IS NOT A WHITE POWER SYMBOL OF HATE! 

I played that game as a kid. Below the waist was a key part of it. You try to get your buddy to look down at it so you can punch him in the arm. I don’t know the motivation of a particular person and why they would hold up that sign in the air in a photo or on video.  But I’m guessing it may be for a reason other than the circle game because (1) it’s not below the waist; and (2) who are they going to punch? However, the way it was done at the Army Navy game does look more like how you would play the game, though I guess question 2 still remains. 

Edited by bigbottom
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7 minutes ago, bigbottom said:

I played that game as a kid. Below the waist was a key part of it. You try to get your buddy to look down at it so you can punch him in the arm. I don’t know the motivation of a particular person and why they would hold up that sign in the air in a photo or on video.  But I’m guessing it may be for a reason other than the circle game because (1) it’s not below the waist; and (2) who are they going to punch?

They ask their buddy if they watched the game.  Then they punch him.  It's a very elaborate plan to get someone.  The same reason they send it in pictures.  And it is below the waist.  That's why you never see these people's faces on broadcast.  Because the circle is below the belt.

Let's not be ignorant about this.  Let's not look for racism where racism doesn't exist.  Let's not turn something that kids invented in junior high into a nationwide symbol of racism.

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25 minutes ago, eoMMan said:

Whether it started as a rumor or not, it is now.

But it's not. That was the joke. It's the ok symbol. The most innocuous thing in the world. They proved the point that they could make people think racists were everywhere because who doesn't use an Ok symbol?

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53 minutes ago, TheIronSheik said:

They ask their buddy if they watched the game.  Then they punch him.  It's a very elaborate plan to get someone.  The same reason they send it in pictures.  And it is below the waist.  That's why you never see these people's faces on broadcast.  Because the circle is below the belt.

Let's not be ignorant about this.  Let's not look for racism where racism doesn't exist.  Let's not turn something that kids invented in junior high into a nationwide symbol of racism.

See my edit. What happened at the Army Navy game looks like the circle game. I’ve seen other group photos that look nothing like it, particularly when ten dudes are all holding the sign up at head level. And I never suggested that flashing that sign is racism. There are a whole bunch of different meanings for that symbol. I just said it wasn’t necessarily the circle game. 

Exhibit A: https://qtxasset.com/styles/breakpoint_sm_default_480px_w/s3/2016-04/vibe-vixen-james-harden-houston-rockets.jpg?qrO4k3xIVq.AqwesoD74dOVHJU8RBO7i&itok=QvNqY0KW

Edited by bigbottom
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Why not just cancel the project, announce that any attempt to synthesize schematic diversity of thoughts and feelings is fraught with such fringe racism as to be inherently evil yet ineradicable, and therefore the only solution is all out war all the time or simply cowed obeisance to those whose diversity trumps your own.  

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Oh, and I knew about the okay symbol since about 2017, but I listen to awful European punk bands who make videos making fun of this stuff, so it's a little weird. 

I don't think kids making the okay symbol from certain parts know about it. I would highly, highly doubt such public displays of casual racism were being made.  

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28 minutes ago, rockaction said:

Oh, and I knew about the okay symbol since about 2017, but I listen to awful European punk bands who make videos making fun of this stuff, so it's a little weird. 

I don't think kids making the okay symbol from certain parts know about it. I would highly, highly doubt such public displays of casual racism were being made.  

It seems really unlikely that both cadets and midshipmen would be showing hate signs on national TV. If this were just one time, maybe (even then a reasonable presumption would be the circle game). 

It's stupid, they should all be disciplined in a lesser form, not expelled or denied commissions. Any time you put the academy in a negative light there needs to be some ramifications. Just don't end their career before it gets started.

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They challenged themselves to take one of the most commonly used hand signals used worldwide and convince the media it was a symbol of hate.  Even they thought it was going to be impossible.  It literally took them just a few months to get media outlets to start reporting it.  

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7 minutes ago, -OZ- said:

It's stupid, they should all be disciplined in a lesser form, not expelled or denied commissions. Any time you put the academy in a negative light there needs to be some ramifications. 

I wonder, though, how one would justify punishing unknown signs or gestures implying racism when the cadets' defense will be a lack of knowledge of said memes. Are we putting too much on the expectations of cultural literacy on the plate of those that we don't really want awash in pop culture anyway? 

Just spitballing.   

Edited by rockaction
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1 minute ago, TheIronSheik said:

They challenged themselves to take one of the most commonly used hand signals used worldwide and convince the media it was a symbol of hate.  Even they thought it was going to be impossible.  It literally took them just a few months to get media outlets to start reporting it.  

And to get the Pearl clutching mom's frothing with anger over seeing it. 

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3 minutes ago, -OZ- said:

It seems really unlikely that both cadets and midshipmen would be showing hate signs on national TV. If this were just one time, maybe (even then a reasonable presumption would be the circle game). 

It's stupid, they should all be disciplined in a lesser form, not expelled or denied commissions. Any time you put the academy in a negative light there needs to be some ramifications. Just don't end their career before it gets started.

But why?  A lot of these kids don't even realize it's supposed to be a hate symbol to some.  They are playing a game.  This is like getting in trouble for playing Go Fish.  Sure, Go Fish is a game everyone knows, but some people view it as a game of hate towards the Dutch.  And even though that's not true, people who play Go Fish should know better.

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1 minute ago, TheIronSheik said:

They challenged themselves to take one of the most commonly used hand signals used worldwide and convince the media it was a symbol of hate.  Even they thought it was going to be impossible.  It literally took them just a few months to get media outlets to start reporting it.  

Who is "they?" The progenitors of the alt-right meaning behind the okay? 

I'm assuming you didn't mean the cadets or midshipmen. 

By the way, apropos of nothing, Cadette sounds like a hot chick's name.  

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Just now, rockaction said:

Who is "they?" The progenitors of the alt-right meaning behind the okay? 

I'm assuming you didn't mean the cadets or midshipmen. 

By the way, apropos of nothing, Cadette sounds like a hot chick's name.  

4chan.  They are the ones who came up with the idea to take something that wasn't racist and convince the world it was.

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Just now, TheIronSheik said:

4chan.  They are the ones who came up with the idea to take something that wasn't racist and convince the world it was.

Impressive. First you have to get the right to adopt it, then you have to convince everyone else you mean it...

They were shooting fish in a barrel convincing the world, through the media, that it was. 

Come to think of it, the okay is a grand old #### you sign to the ninnies that permeate SJW Twitter feeds and conscious or woke media outlets.They really can get bent, IMO 

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2 minutes ago, TheIronSheik said:

4chan.  They are the ones who came up with the idea to take something that wasn't racist and convince the world it was.

Answer honestly.....does it even matter how it started?  

Also, finger symbols can mean different things with the same symbol.  For example, putting two fingers in the air could mean the number two or could mean "Peace".

I've seen pics of where people meant to put up the "Westside" symbol and they instead put up the "Shocker" symbol.

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1 minute ago, timschochet said:

And the seasons, they go round and round...wait, I’m not sure this is what Joni had in mind. 

Or who is the Marxist woman that sang "I think this is a case of history repeating" to that Bossa nova beat? One has the title, the other the crux.   

Anyway, that Joni Mitchell song made me a little sad, especially realizing that they'd written the song when the drinkin' age was eighteen, placing every birthday after one's day of majority largely meaningless.  

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25 minutes ago, eoMMan said:

Answer honestly.....does it even matter how it started?  

It matters because when words or images or symbols in the lexical or symbolic dictionary of common usage go out the window, we lessen the ability to communicate properly and richly. That 4Chan could get away with making a sign of my youth into ugly racial overtones says a lot about the power of communal acceptance of memes as culture writ large. There seems to be quite the dynamism to viral memes, and one, to be fluent in pop culture, must know a bunch of them and their form, etc. 

It's a minefield to take away benign words and signs and put them into new contexts all the time, all redundant, ad nauseam.  

Edited by rockaction
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2 minutes ago, rockaction said:

It matters because when words or images or symbols in the lexical dictionary of common usage go out the window, we lessen the ability to communicate properly and richly. That 4Chan could get away with making a sign of my youth into ugly racial overtones says a lot about the power of communal acceptance of memes as culture writ large. There seems to be quite the dynamism to viral memes, and one, to be fluent in pop culture, must know a bunch of them and their form, etc. 

It's a minefield to take away benign words and signs and put them into new contexts all the time, all redundant, ad nauseam.  

But that symbol was in existence before the circle game. 

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16 minutes ago, eoMMan said:

Ah, this thread got "rockactioned" and I responded...my bad....I'm out.

That's awfully odd to feel the need to print that when all I did was stick to topic and comment on ephemera. 

Not sure what you're getting at, but fine. Carry on as you wish.  

eta* Tell me what that about that last comment I made in response to your protestations that they knew it and have it coming, essentially, and I'll show you personally and go through minefields of your posting to nitpick. I can't see a thing wrong or "rockactioned" about it. 

Edited by rockaction
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8 minutes ago, eoMMan said:

But that symbol was in existence before the circle game. 

Yes, it was.  And it meant OK.  Before 4chan, that symbol had nothing to do with white power.

99.999% of people who use it aren't using it in a racist way.  When guys make three pointers in the NBA, are they flashing WHITE POWER as they run down the court?  Should they get in trouble for it?

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36 minutes ago, TheIronSheik said:

They challenged themselves to take one of the most commonly used hand signals used worldwide and convince the media it was a symbol of hate.  Even they thought it was going to be impossible.  It literally took them just a few months to get media outlets to start reporting it.  

Did white racists start using it to signal their racism?  Never been clear on that part of the story.

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Just now, Dinsy Ejotuz said:

Did white racists start using it to signal their racism?  Never been clear on that part of the story.

Apparently a couple have since the media started declaring its a racist symbol.  But they are dumber than the media, so that's not surprising.

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3 minutes ago, TheIronSheik said:

Apparently a couple have since the media started declaring its a racist symbol.  But they are dumber than the media, so that's not surprising.

Just a couple?  Like two or three?

I think we're done here.  We all agree that most of the time people use that signal they're saying "OK" or playing the circle game, but sometimes now when people do it it's a racist bat-signal and doing it "downward" is ambiguous enough that you probably want to think about it before you do it with people who don't know you.

Edited by Dinsy Ejotuz
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15 minutes ago, rockaction said:

I wonder, though, how one would justify punishing unknown signs or gestures implying racism when the cadets' defense will be a lack of knowledge of said memes. Are we putting too much on the expectations of cultural literacy on the plate of those that we don't really want awash in pop culture anyway? 

Just spitballing.   

 

14 minutes ago, TheIronSheik said:

But why?  A lot of these kids don't even realize it's supposed to be a hate symbol to some.  They are playing a game.  This is like getting in trouble for playing Go Fish.  Sure, Go Fish is a game everyone knows, but some people view it as a game of hate towards the Dutch.  And even though that's not true, people who play Go Fish should know better.

In most colleges, not a big issue.

With the military academies? Assuming it's just the circle game (which I assume it is), it still shows a lack of awareness and a certain lack of professionalism. By all means have fun, many of the pregame videos for the rivalry are just having fun with the rivalry. 

But they really do need to be aware of the culture, the ways their actions can be interpreted. Maybe it's unfair to hold college kids to a high standard, but these are soon to be officers in the Navy or Army, about to lead kids from different backgrounds. The expectations and standards are high. 

When I say "discipline", I mean anything from real discipline to extra training. 

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1 minute ago, -OZ- said:

In most colleges, not a big issue.

With the military academies? Assuming it's just the circle game (which I assume it is), it still shows a lack of awareness and a certain lack of professionalism.

Fair enough. The circle game seems a little undisciplined whether it has racist origins or not, if one wants to get all authoritative. It's not very professional in the least. 

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