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Ross: Do we have to accept new definition of ‘OK’ symbol?

The definition of the "OK" hand symbol has changed. (D Wang, Flickr Creative Commons)

The latest eruption of the “OK” gesture as secret sign of White Power is a video clip from the broadcast of the Army/Navy game.

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You could see two of the cadets nearby making an upside down “OK” gesture.  And if you’re wondering why “OK” suddenly means “white power,” here’s how a spokesman for the anti-Defamation league explained it:

“Some people suggest the three fingers looks like a ‘W,’ and when you have a circle in your hand it looks like a ‘P,'” he described.

Yes — apparently anybody can just go on the internet, re-define a common gesture, and if they get enough views, we all have to accept it.

Or do we?

Because it turns out that for middle schoolers, making very same “OK” sign can  mean something completely different. It turns out it’s  part of a super-fun punch-me game — if you can get someone else to look at your hand making the gesture, apparently you get to hit them in the arm.

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Just a stupid but harmless little game. So maybe the cadets weren’t being racist, but just being middle-schoolers.

There will, of course, be a full investigation. However, I am compelled to point out that the confusion over the “OK” gesture does present the very real possibility that white supremacists making what they think is their secret sign are going to get punched in the arm by a middle-schooler.

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