Semiotic Analysis of Robert Byrd’s Senate Floor Speech on Iraq War Decision


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On February 12, 2003, Robert Byrd gave a speech on the Senate floor that some have referred to as the “We Stand Passively Mute” speech. Byrd provided these remarks in order to bring attention to the complacency and lack of debate in Congress surrounding the run-up to the Iraq war. The speech was bold, powerful, and poignant, at a time when few elected officials were speaking out against the planned invasion. In this paper, I conduct a semiotic analysis of the codes, metaphors, metonyms, myths, and narratives that Byrd uses to address the Senate.

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