The Semiotic Web of the Law

  • Robert W. Benson


As I read this I was astonished by the semiotic intuition of the protesters, by the way they simultaneously wove together subtle signs from American legal, political and pop culture to give Justice O’Connor’s texts new meaning. Their play on the near-homonyms “Sandra Day” and “Sandra Dee” was particularly astute. Sandra Dee, for those of you who make it a point not to store the trivia of pop culture in your memories, was a blonde movie star of the ’50s known for her role as the original “Gidget,” a naive character who hung out at the beach and adored the boys who exploited her while they pretended to teach her how to ride a surfboard.3 A decade later, her innocence was satirized in the musical Grease by a chorus of street-wise young females chiding, “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity.” 4Thus was the first female Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court reduced to the level of a Malibu surfer groupie. And thus did the protesters produce a new meaning for Justice O’Connor’s judicial opinions: namely, if I may offer a bowdlerized version, that her opinions represent naive, old-fashioned submission to male dominance, here in the form of the aggressive Rehnquist.


Cultural Unit Legal Realist Legal Meaning Critical Legal Study Legislative History 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. Benson
    • 1
  1. 1.Loyola Law SchoolLos AngelesUSA

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