This isn't even remotely cool September 3, 2009 8:33 AM   Subscribe

"Gypsy values"? "Morals of gypsys"? "Classic Romani strategies"? What the fuck paulsc?
posted by aspo to Etiquette/Policy at 8:33 AM (514 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I'm so glad someone called this out.
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:44 AM on September 3, 2009


But let's never confuse the failures of one family to morally instruct their young, with our whole country's problems. Larry and his family may have the morals of gypsys...

The irony of these two sentences being adjacent.
posted by DU at 8:44 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


That comment really brings out the subtext that was present in the article in the first place.
posted by BinGregory at 8:46 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I look forward to his next comment about how black culture keeps the black man down.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:46 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


paulsc says something fucking stupid and offensive again, won't back down on it no matter what. In other news, bears shit in the woods.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:48 AM on September 3, 2009 [13 favorites]


That was so explicitly racist that my reaction was mostly confusion. I mean, sure, some people are racist, but don't they know they're supposed to keep it a secret? I thought we had at least gotten to that point. Now i'm kicking the car seat. Are we there yet?
posted by prefpara at 8:48 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing that someone missed the memo on the use of the word "gyspsy."

From other comments by paulsc:

"If your needs can be flexible as to time, you have a better chance of attracting quasi-volunteers or folks looking for side gigs. Beware the gypsy hacker.

read their carefully composed faces as a gypsy reads tea leaves.
"


Consider this callout the beginning of your education on the matter.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:49 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know who else had Gypsy issues?

Cher.
posted by buzzman at 8:49 AM on September 3, 2009 [37 favorites]


I'm guessing that someone missed the memo on the use of the word "gyspsy."

The use of "Romani" kinda belies this. This isn't some guy saying "I was gypped!" and unaware of the etymology.
posted by DU at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


To be fair, she differentiated gypsies from tramps and thieves.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2009 [27 favorites]


Paulsc and his family are f***ed up
posted by boo_radley at 8:51 AM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


--won't back down on it no matter what--

That's unfair. As far as I can see, paulsc has made no further comment yet. Let's see what he has to say first, eh?
posted by peacay at 8:52 AM on September 3, 2009


Consider it an educated guess based on history, peacay.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:56 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Linking to this thread in that one is probably a good idea.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:56 AM on September 3, 2009


It's interesting that he took it to the extent of interpreting these things as "values" in a way. I guess I would have assumed most racists/bigots would accuse the Romani of not having values, not that their values were in fact, values/morals, but just bad ones.
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:57 AM on September 3, 2009


I was pretty surprised to see that this comment was still there, floating, as LanguageHat once said, like a turd in the MeFi punchbowl. Someone's nasty and pointless comment from this morning about how a black musician got a degree in "chicken and waffles" got zoinked nearly instantly. Was paulsc's so long, and the racism somehow so embedded, that it didn't attract the same degree of flagging?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:57 AM on September 3, 2009


Was paulsc's so long, and the racism somehow so embedded, that it didn't attract the same degree of flagging?

I sense an upcoming MeTa requesting a new feature called the "anti-sidebar".
posted by DU at 8:59 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wow, today is going to be MetaTalk heavy, huh? Everybody, brace yourselves and adjust your work schedules accordingly, we are entering a no-productivity zone!
posted by iamkimiam at 9:00 AM on September 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


foxy_hedgehog, I think part of it is that it's not nasty and pointless. It's not a crappy joke. It's apparently a sincere sentiment that also happens to be pretty overtly racist.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:01 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gypsy diss, wow, Paulsc is old school. You should hear his stories about running the Irish out of town or the time he beat up that old Italian witch for stealing his baby and replacing it with an elf.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:02 AM on September 3, 2009 [104 favorites]


Wow, today is going to be MetaTalk heavy, huh?

I'd like to preemptively offer my sympathies to the mods.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:02 AM on September 3, 2009


And two people gave him kudos for the comment... I'm trying to rationalize that... maybe they skipped over the first couple lines?
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:03 AM on September 3, 2009


How is this horribly racist comment still up in the threads, mods? I mean, yes, paulsc makes some good points elsewhere in the comment about how different people react differently to the culture of poverty, but you are letting a direct racist attack on a marginalized group that is currently the target of murderous violence stand on the Blue.

Guys? Really? Rom and Sinti people, including little kids, are getting killed right now by people who believe the shit that paulsc is putting out. Don't let it stand there.

And to be honest, I kind of want to know who favorited that shit.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:06 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Gypsy diss, wow, Paulsc is old school.

I wish it was old school. I mean, I'm the first person to get miffed by "paddy wagon" or "welsh on a bet" or "Dutch courage" but anti-"gypsy" prejudice isn't a matter of hurt feelings--it's a matter of people killing kids, right now.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:08 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing that someone missed the memo

You're kidding, but I wish there really were memos. Several years ago, I used the word "oriental" in a meeting. Now, I live in a city where there is an Oriental Rug Warehouse and a restaurant called The Oriental House. And honestly, I had no idea that term had passed from common usage to racist. (Needless to say, the other people in the meeting educated me.)

Not saying by any means that paulsc didn't know what he was saying. But it would be nice if there was some kinda central registry for things we're never supposed to say. With email notifications when it's updated.
posted by jbickers at 9:09 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sidhedevil, you can click on the word "favorites" to see that, I believe..
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 9:09 AM on September 3, 2009


Was paulsc's so long, and the racism somehow so embedded, that it didn't attract the same degree of flagging?

I saw it this morning about an hour before this MetaTalk started and I saw it because people had flagged it as fantstic and then noticed other people had flagged it as offensive/etc. So, once something is in MeTa our options are basically

- delete it, have a debate about it in its absense or have someone repost it here, if it's reposted here it's lower profile but it's by no means gone from the site
- leave it as it is, tell people "we're leaving that because we're talking about it" direct people's reactions to it to this thread

I lean towards the second option because otherwise we have the double discussion of "you can't just ignore rascism by covering it up" at the same time as the main conversation.

And, a personal aside, I lived in Romania for a year and have a personal knee-jerk reaction to the sort of casual "well we all know about gypsies, it's okay to say it because it's true!" comments. Where I lived in Transylvania, people were routinely burning the Roma's houses down and would tell me stories with a totally straight face about how the Roma would cripple their own children so that they'd be better at begging. Creepy stuff.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:13 AM on September 3, 2009 [10 favorites]


Gypsy diss, wow, Paulsc is old school.

As much as this comment actually made me snort out loud, unfortunately Roma-hating isn't as old school as you'd hope, and there's actually been multiple outbreaks of anti-Roma violence in places like Hungary in the past few weeks.

On preview, what Sidhedevil said more eloquently.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:13 AM on September 3, 2009


This from the article Sidhedevil linked is chilling--

"The extreme right-wing party accuses Jews of buying up land across rural Hungary and believes so-called Gypsy crime is the top problem in the country.

Recent polls show between 15 and 18 percent of Hungarians support the party. If those numbers hold through elections next spring, Jobbik is poised to become the third most powerful political party in Hungary. "
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:14 AM on September 3, 2009


You're kidding, but I wish there really were memos.

When I taught at Unnamed State University, we did get memos. I remember one that included, along with stuff like "'Oriental' is an inappropriate term for people of Asian descent; please use "Asian" or "Asian American" or specific national terms like "Chinese" or "Korean" where appropriate," the following postscript:

[i]Note: It is offensive to refer to people of South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, etc.) origin as "dots" or "Patels."[/i]

The vision of someone who was earnestly using those terms not to be an asshole, but because they honestly didn't know any better, cracked us up for weeks.

"So, as we look at this work of Salman Rushdie's, we see the influence of his Patel heritage. Sanjit, do you have any insight into this? Oh, whoops, sorry, you're a dot."
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:14 AM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]




I kind of want to know who favorited that shit.

I hope and believe that the favorites are for the rousing "Ad Council meets Paul Harvey in the trailer park" bare-butt-spanking story, rather than the racism. No that that's necessarily much better.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:16 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I look forward to his next comment about how black culture keeps the black man down.

Actually I would expect it to be about their love of watermelon.
posted by pianomover at 9:18 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, it's not like anti-Romani sintiments have ever had significant real world impace.

Oh. Wait.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:20 AM on September 3, 2009


How is this horribly racist comment still up in the threads, mods

Jessamyn addressed it well already. I agree with her that given the two choices we typically have in this sort of situation, this is a case where it makes more sense to let people address it in place than to nix it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:20 AM on September 3, 2009


Wait, "paddy wagon" is offensive?
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:22 AM on September 3, 2009



I wish it was old school. I mean, I'm the first person to get miffed by "paddy wagon" or "welsh on a bet" or "Dutch courage" but anti-"gypsy" prejudice isn't a matter of hurt feelings--it's a matter of people killing kids, right now.


Oh totally, I just have no notion of how to react to such a blatantly racist statement except to make a joke about how one navigates through their life to arrive in 2009 and thinks it's ok to express such a sentiment. You and others are giving Paul the flogging he deserves.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:23 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn addressed it well already. I agree with her that given the two choices we typically have in this sort of situation, this is a case where it makes more sense to let people address it in place than to nix it.

You guys are the doctors, and I bow to your modding wisdom. I don't remember ever seeing such a shockingly direct bit of racism left to stand in the Blue before, but I generally stay out of racewanky threads, so that may be my observation bias.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:23 AM on September 3, 2009


Wait, "paddy wagon" is offensive?

Yes, it's the wagon that you bring out to haul all the drunken, brawling Irishmen ("Paddies") home on a Saturday because they're ape-like, simple people who are the slaves of their passions [/19th-century US WASP]
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:27 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


haveanicesummer: "And two people gave him kudos for the comment... I'm trying to rationalize that... maybe they skipped over the first couple lines?"

Yep, that's about right for at least one of us... actually I skipped all but the last two paragraphs, which is what I quoted in said kudos. Having read the rest of it, I feel pretty dirty, especially given that my next paragraph (1) immediately contradicts the spirit of what paulsc said earlier in the same post which (2) not only blurs the point I was trying to make but also seems to support shit I disagree with in my very first FPP.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:28 AM on September 3, 2009


Sorry, by "home" there, I meant "to jail."
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:28 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read in this order:
1) This meta
2) paulsc's comment
3) The article in the original post

and boy was I confused to find out the perp was black. paulsc's comment doesn't even make sense, besides being offensive. wtf do "gypsy values" have to do with some black kid in Chicago?
posted by desjardins at 9:30 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am a drunken, brawling Irishman, and I approve of "paddy wagon".
posted by adamdschneider at 9:32 AM on September 3, 2009 [14 favorites]


I mean, I'm the first person to get miffed by "paddy wagon" or "welsh on a bet"...

Embarrassingly, I'd always thought that expression was rooted in some instance of Racquel Welch being a sore loser.
posted by CKmtl at 9:33 AM on September 3, 2009




It's the whole Gypsy lifestyle with the "I gotta get my bling bling now" and the baby mamas and the gangsta rap and the ohgodpeopleofcolorscareme.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:33 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I kind of want to know who favorited that shit.

If you want to know, it's easy to find out. Just remember, people use favorites for all kinds of things. It's not always a sign of agreement. It could be someone keeping track of certain comments for their masters thesis on "Prejudicial Statements and Community Response on the Internet."
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:33 AM on September 3, 2009 [13 favorites]


Also, the correct plural is "gypsies", not "gypsys" which looks like a DLL file.
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 9:33 AM on September 3, 2009 [15 favorites]


people had flagged it as fantstic and then noticed other people had flagged it as offensive

This is why we need 'fantastically offensive' and/or 'offensively fantastic' flags.

Someone's nasty and pointless comment from this morning about how a black musician got a degree in "chicken and waffles" got zoinked nearly instantly

We need names, dammit!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:34 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


My wife and I were in Rome in May for a day-trip, and the tour guide on the bus into town warned us to beware of Gypsy buskers, as they would gang up on you and steal your wallet if you gave them any money. This was pretty much patently bullshit - I've seen beggar/pickpocket and beggar/mugger combos in many cities, but the Romani who were busking or begging clearly didn't have that going on. Doing a little digging when I got home, and it seems Berlusconi and other right-wing politicians are trying to place the blame for Italy's economic woes and high crime rate square on "The Gypsies." The reason there were so many Romani begging was that they are being systematically denied job opportunities or government services. What the hell else are you going to do?

As a matter of fact, someone did try to lift my wallet - but it was in Naples, and the woman I caught with her hand in my pocket was blonde-haired and blue-eyed.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:36 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I WAS THROWIN AIRSTREAMS AT TEH MUDBALLS AND I GOT A WHUPPIN I'LL TELL YEW WHAT AND NOW I HAVE NON-ROMA VALUES.
posted by everichon at 9:37 AM on September 3, 2009 [10 favorites]


It is well known, also, that both Paddys and Gypsies prefer Emacs over vi. Which, really, what more need be said?
posted by everichon at 9:38 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you want to know {who favorited that shit} it's easy to find out.

Thanks, everyone who alerted me to this feature. I'm not going to be using it in this case because I only kind of want to know. But, yeah, of course some people use it as a "follow" tool, and some people didn't read paulsc's post so carefully and may have missed the crazy anti-"Gypsy" racism, and some people may not be alert to anti-Rom and Sinti racism, and some people may have had their cat jump on their lap and accidentally click the mouse while it was hovering over 'favorites' . There. I feel better.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:40 AM on September 3, 2009


It's well known that cats are incorrigible gypsy haters.
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 9:41 AM on September 3, 2009


It's well known that cats are incorrigible gypsy haters. (R_Nebblesworth)

Given that cats sort of hate everyone, this is not surprising.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:43 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not that I really use the phrase, but a little bit of my childhood just died upon learning that "paddy wagon" isn't just an innocent part of a Keystone Cops parade routine and a funny name for a bike. Is nothing sacred?
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:44 AM on September 3, 2009


I actually encountered some people recently who did not believe that "Gypsies" referred to real people. They thought they were mythological creatures like elves or pixies.

These were adult Americans and Canadians; I was on a writers' board and the topic of a very racist-against-Rom and Sinti fantasy story came up, and they were all "You mean, when the writer wrote 'The gypsies will steal you away' they meant actual PEOPLE? Ew!"
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:44 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Was that Gypsyworld, by any chance? I really liked that book when I was growing up, but I did always think its premise was pretty problematic.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:46 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sidhedevil: Yes, it's the wagon that you bring out to haul all the drunken, brawling Irishmen ("Paddies") home on a Saturday because they're ape-like, simple people who are the slaves of their passions [/19th-century US WASP]

Wait, really? I thought it was because they were driven by your stereotypical Irish policeman. I mean, obviously, still offensive and shouldn't be said, I just thought there was a different offensive origin for the term.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:47 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


AW MAN AND JUST WHEN WE WERE ALL DONE LOVINGLY STROKING HIS GENITALS OVER A BUNCH OF BULLSHIT :(

Optimus, you seem to have some beef with me for making that (separate, unrelated) post, since it fits into your conviction that paulsc is a horrible person with regard to everything. If you'd like to take it up with me, please do so via MeFiMail rather than derail here.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:47 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I lived in Romania, the Roma were always trying to buy my jacket from me. The stories that I heard from people who worked for the Roma Rights organization was that in Romania specifically, the Roma totally ran the black market during the Ceausecu years. Meaning that if you wanted nylons or good chocolate or US dollars or, especially, birth control, you had to go through them.

This sowed even more resentment than the Roma usually have in Europe because not only did people view them as beggars and thieves, they also simultaneously had to rely on them to control their reproductive health at a time when the incredibly horrible government there was trying to make everyone have a lot of babies. I can't even imagine the congnitive dissonance that was going on there at the time and it sort of helped explain to me how the bizarre anti-Roma sentiment made even less sense than a lot of the general xenophobia that you'd find in Romania in 1994-5.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:48 AM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Is this the thread where I get to post my awesome Stevie Nicks anecdote?

(Reading the paulsc comment, when I got to the gypsy reference, I thought that was the beginning of the revelation that the whole post was a facetious joke. I kept thinking that for quite a while, since the references just got worse and more pervasive and specific. While I now think it was a sincerely offensive post, I'm going to just pretend it really was a bizarre and poorly-executed joke, rather than a sincerely offensive post.)
posted by The World Famous at 9:49 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


a funny name for a bike

A fixed-gear bike, an anachronistic racist name, leading us to hipsters and Gypsies. Thank goodness MetaFilter has new gods so I no longer have to worry about the old forbidden topics.
posted by GuyZero at 9:54 AM on September 3, 2009


I do think it's quite possible that many North Americans might think gypsies are fictional. They aren't covered in your basic world history classes (or in your average discussion of the holocaust), they aren't focused on by the media. Combine that with the fact that "gypsy" is often a catchall term for nomadic people of various areas who don't necessarily have any link, it's more than a bit muddled. However paulsc specifically referred to the racial group and not just gypsies. So. Yeah...
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:54 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always thought it was "paddy wagon" because in the US Irish Americans are traditionally cops.

Live and learn.

also... wtf, paulsc?!
posted by Kattullus at 9:55 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


re: Paddy wagon, because of the way (racist) slang comes about, it may very well be both explanations. Certainly if not originally intended that way enough people interpret it that way that it might as well mean both.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:01 AM on September 3, 2009


Meeting Reminder: Saturday night, Thinner at Paulsc's place.

I'm bringing pie.
posted by adipocere at 10:02 AM on September 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


I kind of want to know who favorited that shit.

I realize this doesn't forgive the implied support of his racism, but most likely his comment got favorites because:

1. Ye olde time family hour goes over big on Mefi.
2. It's long as hell. By the time I got to the end I'd almost forgotten about the gypsy stuff.
posted by graventy at 10:02 AM on September 3, 2009


I hope and believe that the favorites are for the rousing "Ad Council meets Paul Harvey in the trailer park" bare-butt-spanking story, rather than the racism. No that that's necessarily much better.

Beautifully put, dirtdirt!

I was getting so huffy & puffy about the odious, prolier-than-thou tone of the whole comment I wanted to snark than the Airstream husband was probably beating up his wife behind the shiny exterior door (the 'other' side of 1957 values). And I'd have been guilty of adding to the mess. Your comment made the point much better with humor.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:04 AM on September 3, 2009


It is a difficult and complicated issue. They are outsiders, but partially of their own choice and by nature of their insular culture. They are marginalized and hated, but it is indeed the case that scamming and trying to abuse and exploit the trust of others for their own benefit is a part of their MO. Which came first? It is a viscous circle.

In Poland many years ago, I suddenly heard rustling in my kitchen. There was a Roma dude, who suddenly wasn't sneaky quiet but instead showed me some random bullshit he was selling door-to-door. See, the trick is you knock. If they answer, too bad, but you fall back on the begging / selling ruse. If they don't answer you try the door, and rob the place.

The gang was systematically going through the town, and were temporarily camped in a campground on the outskirts. Was it wrong that a gang of local toughs broke up their party on the third evening and encouraged them to move along?

On a course in Sofia, one in which we all worked very hard to reach out and find local disadvantaged Roma to give free English lessons to, we ended up getting robbed blind over the course of three classes. Suddenly there was no paper, pens, coffee, sugar, dictionaries... And we had to have staff "standing guard" before and after class to be sure they left with no more than they came with. Tell me this: is it a stereotype, or is it an aspect of Roma culture that thieving from the others is OK?

Back in Poland, my naive young private student was in Krakow for the day to buy new shoes. He was cornered by a group of ladies who would tell his future. But first he had to show them some money. "No, that bill is too small, I cannot see your future without your biggest bill." You can guess the conclusion of this one.

I have worked with some honest, moral Roma people. But these stand out as exceptions. Stereotypes don't just spring out of nowhere, and the vast majority of my experiences with Roma, over many years in Eastern Europe, confirm for me that there is an entrenched set of Roma cultural values, beliefs, and practices much as described by paulsc.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:07 AM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Optimus, you seem to have some beef with me for making that (separate, unrelated) post,
posted by foxy_hedgehog


I don't have a beef with you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:07 AM on September 3, 2009


Meeting Reminder: Saturday night, Thinner at Paulsc's place.

I'm bringing pie.
posted by adipocere


Nonono, if paulsc kills a gypsy girl he gets his soul back.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:08 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I sense an upcoming MeTa requesting a new feature called the "anti-sidebar".

Strangely ... alluring.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:09 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn, did you just have a really awesome jacket or is there something cultural significant about buying a lady's jacket? If it is the former, could we see the jacket?
posted by boo_radley at 10:13 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb: I have worked with some honest, moral Roma people. But these stand out as exceptions.

I have worked with some sober Irishmen. But these stand out as exceptions.

I have worked with some energetic, motivated Mexicans. But these stand out as exceptions.

I have worked with some honest, moral black folks. But these stand out as exceptions.

I have worked with some generous, open Jews. But these stand out as exceptions.

Stereotypes don't just spring out of nowhere.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:14 AM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


Stereotypes don't just spring out of nowhere posted by Meatbomb

No, they spring out of limited interactions with individuals coming to define an entire race of people. If the guy in your house had been 6'7" would you all tall people who stole things? Would you note that Michael Jordan might be okay, but you'd be suspicious of most anyone over 6'?
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:15 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Stereotypes don't just spring out of nowhere, and the vast majority of my experiences with Roma, over many years in Eastern Europe, confirm for me that there is an entrenched set of Roma cultural values, beliefs, and practices much as described by paulsc.

So what you're saying is that it's essentially fine to characterize black people as lazy, thuggish, and prone to violence because there's a certain amount of truth to the gangster culture that fills the gaps in marginalized poor neighborhoods in America? Because that's very analogous to what you're implying here.

Oh, and let's not forget that Paulsc decided to use the word "gypsy," which isn't quite as loaded as "nigger," but is probably equivalent to "darkie" or "blackie." I can't even get behind the "WTF Paulsc" sentiment, since it's the kind of insensitivity I've come to expect from his posts.
posted by explosion at 10:15 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I used to buy hash from the gypsies in Palma. They were always totally nice to me; good prices, good product, A+++, would buy from again.

I find long comment fables from paulsc about the loss of family values and the resultant need to rebuild such a tad disingenuous as a rule, since he generally also comes down squarely against government assistance (including public option health care) of any sort. The gypsy hate thing just seemed ridiculous but then I'm like Divine_Wino and I thought we had, as a culture, moved on to new sources of loathing and ridicule. Everything old is new again, more's the pity.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:18 AM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Meatbomb: Stereotypes don't just spring out of nowhere.

*sigh*

It is of course quite possible to make empirical claims about the cultural values of an ethnic group without being racist: you can carefully chart the reasons why, for example, concepts of masculinity in African-American culture may have led to a greater proportion of single parent families in black America than white without claiming that "black men make worse fathers because they're just like that." But paulsc wasn't doing this kind of nuanced sociology, and neither were you except just possibly in the first paragraph of your post. And that really is the only way to discuss this kind of issue without just fueling the stereotypes yourself. Which is racist.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:19 AM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]



I have worked with some honest, moral Roma people. But these stand out as exceptions. Stereotypes don't just spring out of nowhere, and the vast majority of my experiences with Roma, over many years in Eastern Europe, confirm for me that there is an entrenched set of Roma cultural values, beliefs, and practices much as described by paulsc.

But Meatbomb, the comment wasn't a nuanced, complex exploration of the development of these cultural norms and expectations -- which would require an equal consideration of how the Roma's status as outsiders and pariahs contributed to these practices. It was a simplistic and irrelevant invocation of a blanket stereotype with regard to a bunch of non-Roma Americans -- which only demonstrated the absurdity and ignorance of the comment, since it's very clear these "values" aren't specifically "gypsy" values at all.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:19 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's pretty easy to lay the blame for petty crime at the door of a culture that disproportionately represents that sort of crime, especially when that group is marginalized and denied opportunity. I see it happen on discussion forums all the time with black people. That somehow there is a culture of lawlessness that black people share, and they have to collectively take responsibility.

Interestingly, when white people commit crimes, nobody ever discusses a culture of crime shared by white people, even though we have our share of movies celebrating crimes committed by white people, and we have our share of murder ballads and criminal folk heroes.

This is exactly how racism works. It makes a people collectively responsible for the crimes of individuals, and claims there is something inherent in that race that breeds criminality. We should not be participating in that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:20 AM on September 3, 2009 [56 favorites]


You're kidding, but I wish there really were memos. Several years ago, I used the word "oriental" in a meeting. Now, I live in a city where there is an Oriental Rug Warehouse and a restaurant called The Oriental House. And honestly, I had no idea that term had passed from common usage to racist.

Fair enough, but this isn't a case of terminology - he didn't say he was gypped; he said both "gypsies" and "Romani", and what people were offended by was not the word but the stereotypes he embraced. Accidentally using outdated terms can certainly be innocent enough, and though people may correct you, and perhaps be bothered if you do not shift your language to what's currently favored, they're unlikely to be outraged by it. Promoting ethnic stereotypes is a different thing.
posted by mdn at 10:21 AM on September 3, 2009


shakespeherian, what about dealing with the substance of my comment? Because, see, I do not actually believe any of the sentences in your cute word substitution game, but have extensive life experience supporting what I said about Roma people.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:23 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Incidentally don't let white people near your Airstream, they are NOTORIOUS for messing with them. My grandfather from CO could tell you a story and a half... hooooo'boy.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:24 AM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Astro Zombie: Interestingly, when white people commit crimes, nobody ever discusses a culture of crime shared by white people, even though we have our share of movies celebrating crimes committed by white people, and we have our share of murder ballads and criminal folk heroes.

This, a hundred times. Every single time I hear some conservative white guy talk about the violence and misogyny in rap (which is a problem, of course, but is usually mentioned as proxy comment re: those people) I ask him if he's never heard white country music.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:25 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Meatbomb,

What ON EARTH have your experiences of Poland's underclass du jour got to do with an anecdote from 1957 set in "a trailer park in Aurora, CO, near the now closed Denver Naval Air Station, where my dad was stationed..." which unblushingly uses racist terms to illustrate fine family values?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:25 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Meatbomb, you're essentially saying "It's okay for him to be racist about them BECAUSE IT'S TRUE!" You don't see that as problematic?
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:27 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have worked with some energetic, motivated Mexicans. But these stand out as exceptions.

I have never understood the stereotype of the "lazy Mexican" because around here, the only Mexicans I see are busting their asses 12-14 hours a day doing landscaping, roofing, restaurant work, etc. Meanwhile virtually all of the white people I know are sitting at desks, chatting up coworkers and/or surfing the Internet half the day.

Can someone explain where this stereotype even comes from? I literally have no conception of it.
posted by desjardins at 10:29 AM on September 3, 2009 [65 favorites]


Meatbomb: shakespeherian, what about dealing with the substance of my comment? Because, see, I do not actually believe any of the sentences in your cute word substitution game, but have extensive life experience supporting what I said about Roma people.

Meatbomb, you appear to only have extensive experience with Roma people when they puncture the social divide between your class and theirs. If you don't spend much of your time actually living with Roma people, then the only interaction you'll have with them will tend to be sought out either by you or by them-- and, things being what they are, the most frequent occurrences of this seeking-out embodies the wealth disparity between the two parties. It's exactly the same as an American midwestern housewife who thinks that all the gays parade around in ridiculous feather costumes all the time, because her only exposure to them is seeing clips of Pride Parades on the teevee-- anecdotal evidence, even anecdotal evidence repeated over a period of several years, does not mean shit.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:31 AM on September 3, 2009 [15 favorites]


In Search of the Wily Filipino, by Steve Martin.
posted by mattdidthat at 10:33 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm almost as offended by the "what these damn kids need is a good thrashing from a domineering father" gist of the comment as I am by the no-nothing anti-gypsy stuff.
posted by octothorpe at 10:35 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb, you're essentially saying "It's okay for him to be racist about them BECAUSE IT'S TRUE!" You don't see that as problematic?

To be fair, their tomatoes have a weird texture and disconcertingly remind me of testicles, so that is one strike against them.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:35 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Can someone explain where this stereotype even comes from? I literally have no conception of it.

I assume it's linked to cultures where a middle-of-the-day siesta is a traditional part of life. Totally agree with you though.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:36 AM on September 3, 2009


Interestingly, when white people commit crimes, nobody ever discusses a culture of crime shared by white people

I agree in principle, AZ, but I think the punks, chavs, Juggalos, trailer trash, skids and junkies would like to have a word with you about how equitably that's applied across different sociocultural strata.
posted by Shepherd at 10:36 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have a problem with the casual bigotry in that comment.

We'd all be better off if there is less bigotry on this site. And I think one way to emphasize this is to call this bigotry, not racism. Racism is a mere form of bigotry, but it is not special in its own regard. But bigotry in all forms is wrong for the same reasons this is wrong.

I think a good rule of commenting should be: "Please do not make any bigoted comments based on race, creed, gender, sexuality, or nationality. We would like everyone to feel welcome here." I wonder if paul would have said that knowing that an anonymous contributor he respected would fill unwelcome because of it?
posted by dios at 10:39 AM on September 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


I agree in principle, AZ, but I think the punks, chavs, Juggalos, trailer trash, skids and junkies would like to have a word with you about how equitably that's applied across different sociocultural strata.

It's not. But nobody is claiming crime committed by certain subcultures that happen to be white are demonstrations of white crime. People can use the same tools to defame based on class or despised cultural groups that they use to defame based on race.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:41 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would really like to know, given the digging up of anti-Romani sentiment apparently displayed by paulsc, what his deal is with Romani? Ignorance? Bad experience? Or just a convenient group to use as a foil since it's not politically correct to hate any other (read: women, gays, blacks, Jews, Native Americans, Asians, etc.) oppressed minorities now?
posted by Lynsey at 10:41 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is a difficult and complicated issue. They are outsiders, but partially of their own choice and by nature of their insular culture. They are marginalized and hated, but it is indeed the case that scamming and trying to abuse and exploit the trust of others for their own benefit is a part of their MO. Which came first? It is a viscous circle.

Viscous circle? What about the historical legacy wherein European governments forcibly assimilate their tribes and then cut off valid means of economic mobility? What about when Nazis tried to exterminate them? Police brutality, burning Romani houses, and other ways, systematic and arbitrary, that mainstream European peoples employ to let Romani peoples know they are not wanted.

All your anecdata points out that you've dealt with oppressed peoples who have lived on the very margins of society for hundreds of years. Europe brushes the Roma under the rug, ignores them when they're quiet, denies them citizenry, legal jobs, most government programs, and even basic squatters' rights, but damn, when the poor people try to make a living the only way available to them, then they're all crooks and vagrants.

There's a similar trajectory in the stereoptype of greedy Shylocks who hunger for a pound of gentile flesh, a stereotype that demanded European Christians to conveniently ignore the fact that it was taboo for Jews to be doctors, lawyers or shopkeepers, so Jews became usurers.

You missed the forest when you started talking about trees, Meatbomb.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:43 AM on September 3, 2009 [13 favorites]


Meatbomb, your "extensive life experience" (excluding the second-hand anecdote) seems to consist of two instances, in one of which you assume criminal intent and the other of which is crime so petty that it's pitiful. Nice try, no cigar.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:45 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


re: Paddy wagon, because of the way (racist) slang comes about, it may very well be both explanations.

That's seems to be the case at Wikipedia concerning the origin of the term.
posted by ericb at 10:49 AM on September 3, 2009


Excerpted from the offending post:

* When you've wronged someone, you owe them an apology, and they shouldn't have to ask for it.
* An apology should be sincere, and heartfelt.
* An apology, by itself, means nothing, if you don't learn something from your action, and try to make amends.
* You have to make amends, to the very best of your ability.


I'm looking forward to seeing paulsc's beliefs in action.
posted by marsha56 at 10:50 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wonder if paul would have said that knowing that an anonymous contributor he respected would fill unwelcome because of it?

I dunno... I tried that line of reasoning on some other commenter on this site who was making bigoted comments (not paulsc), and I got the response, "That's stupid! No one from GroupX reads this site because StereotypicalTraitY!"
posted by muddgirl at 10:51 AM on September 3, 2009


Can we cut out this discussion of the viscosity of circles? I don't think there is anything more inherently viscous about circles than any other geometric form.
posted by kingbenny at 10:51 AM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


What a gross comment that was (paulsc's, I mean). The "gypsy morals" part was the worst, but none of it was good, or even made much sense. Was it just an excuse to say "my dad spanked me and that made me be not a criminal"? I mean, what?
posted by rtha at 10:52 AM on September 3, 2009


I lean towards the second option because otherwise we have the double discussion of "you can't just ignore rascism by covering it up" at the same time as the main conversation.

Good call.
posted by caddis at 10:53 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you don't spend much of your time actually living with Roma people

Has someone here spent much of their time actually living with Roma people? I have not. I have spent some limited time hanging out in Roma camps, but that was more than 15 years ago, and it was fairly limited.

I'm just curious: Has someone here actually spent significant time living with Roma people who can give a firsthand account that contrasts sharply with the stereotypes?

I'm not saying the stereotypes are true or justified. Nor am I justifying or defending the statements made in this thread about Roma people. I'm just asking if there are any firsthand accounts to be heard here that contradict those statements based on extensive personal experience with the Roma.
posted by The World Famous at 10:54 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


re: Mexicans being lazy.

This generally only happens in Mexico, when it's f***ing hot. They are not being lazy. They are being sane.

since it fits into your conviction that paulsc is a horrible person with regard to everything.

the name paulsc rings a bell with me. We must have disagreed about something in the past, or maybe he favorited me ... or whatever. I certainly never consigned him to my evil-MeFite-avoid-at-all-costs blacklist. And I'm not about to now.

He slipped up with his gypsy comments. He revealed a shadowy part of himself. Reminds me of a few awfully homophobic slurs I dropped way back when, when my mouth ran faster than my brain and my empathy. Fortunately, I got called to task and grew up. Fortunately, I didn't do it online, in writing.

Demonizing him is stupid. Demonizing period is stupid. Look no further than the Cyclist vs Attorney General thread where, on first report, we had a psychopathic car driver singling out an innocent cyclist and murdering him with his car. Now, of course, based on what seem to be facts (ie: verifiable evidence), the whole incident is looking a lot more complicated, sad and grey around the edges ... kind of like life in general.
posted by philip-random at 10:54 AM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


I have yet to hear people with extensive personal experience with the Roma. I have heard some people who have had limited personal experiences with a few people who happened to be Roma.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:55 AM on September 3, 2009


it is indeed the case that scamming and trying to abuse and exploit the trust of others for their own benefit is a part of their MO. Which came first? It is a viscous circle.

You have got to be kidding me. How about, it's the M.O. of those Roma who choose to be criminals to abuse and exploit the trust of others. Just like it is the M.O. of those Italian Americans who choose to be in the mafia to abuse and exploit the trust of others. When I was in Romania, there were certainly Roma who were criminals. There were also plenty of white people who were certainly criminals. There were also Roma in bars and clubs and every other part of town that were behaving as normal citizens - going to university, or working like honest folk, etc etc. Of course, that did not seem to stop the attitude, similar to yours, of several Romanians I knew who claimed that Hitler unfortunately did not finish the job he started with Jews and Gypsies. So, I guess I could use your logic and say that it is the M.O. of all Romanians to be Hitler-loving, Holocaust supporters, except for a handful of exceptions who are fine folk.
posted by spicynuts at 10:56 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can we cut out this discussion of the viscosity of circles? I don't think there is anything more inherently viscous about circles than any other geometric form.

Ever dealt with a circle of maple syrup? Visouser than a motherfucker.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:57 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have never understood the stereotype of the "lazy Mexican"...
Can someone explain where this stereotype even comes from? I literally have no conception of it.
posted by desjardins at 6:29 PM


Northern Europeans also think of Southern Europeans as lazy. Much of it is for the same reason I think - climate.

"Why isn't everyone working at noon? Why are they inside resting???"
"Uh...because its over 100 degrees F outside..."
posted by vacapinta at 10:57 AM on September 3, 2009


I have never understood the stereotype of the "lazy Mexican" because around here, the only Mexicans I see are busting their asses 12-14 hours a day doing landscaping, roofing, restaurant work, etc. Meanwhile virtually all of the white people I know are sitting at desks, chatting up coworkers and/or surfing the Internet half the day.

Can someone explain where this stereotype even comes from? I literally have no conception of it.


I think we go on welfare or something because we are lazy and don't work. AND THEN WE STEAL YOUR JOBS!!!!!!! INSULT TO INJURY!!!!!! BOOYAH IN YOUR FACE!!!!
posted by kathrineg at 10:57 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Visouser

Go home dad, you're drunk.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:58 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a viscous circle.
posted by ODiV at 11:00 AM on September 3, 2009


because its over 100 degrees, F outside...

Note how the simple addition of a comma turns vacapinta into migs.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:00 AM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


wow. 14 favorites on that comment. maybe meant to be ironic?

i hope i hop i hope i hope
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:00 AM on September 3, 2009


prolier-than-thou

Awesome.
posted by nicwolff at 11:01 AM on September 3, 2009


"Why isn't everyone working at noon? Why are they inside resting???"
"Uh...because its over 100 degrees F outside..."


I don't think the mid-day nap is really attributable to heat. I don't think it's laziness, either. But "it's hot outside" is not really a valid explanation. It's a cultural convention (and one that I really like). I really don't know the origin of the custom. Even if hot summer afternoons are the true origin (which is not in evidence here), I really don't think "it's hot so we're not working" is the reason for the current practice.
posted by The World Famous at 11:03 AM on September 3, 2009


I think the punks, chavs, Juggalos, trailer trash, skids and junkies would like to have a word with you

I'm imagining now the greatest conference room ever convened. "Hold your horses, Juggalos! The agenda clearly states that the chavs are next to speak."
posted by Skot at 11:03 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


I am surprised that will all the news about what happened to Madonna that paulsc was so clueless as to how this would be interpreted.

As for all the favorites I doubt anyone of those folks even saw those slurs buried in that huge comment, at least I hope so.
posted by caddis at 11:05 AM on September 3, 2009


I don't think the mid-day nap is really attributable to heat.

In Gone With the Wind, they take a nap in the hottest part of the day, too. Well, the ladies at least. The men argue about the Yankees.
posted by kathrineg at 11:05 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, if it's in a fictional movie from 1939, that's as good a basis for cultural anthropology as I need.
posted by The World Famous at 11:08 AM on September 3, 2009


I don't think the mid-day nap is really attributable to heat.

As someone with relatives in different parts of Mexico, I can tell you that it is more common in the hotter parts of the country. I know correlation does not equal causation but...

My Portuguese wife also tells me that the people from the Alentejo region of portugal are stereotyped as lazy. Alentejo also happens to be the hottest part of the country....
posted by vacapinta at 11:08 AM on September 3, 2009


I'm just curious: Has someone here actually spent significant time living with Roma people who can give a firsthand account that contrasts sharply with the stereotypes?

not significant, really, but I lived and worked with a family for a week in Eastern czech. They were nice. They fed me a shit ton of food.
posted by Think_Long at 11:09 AM on September 3, 2009


In Gone With the Wind, they take a nap in the hottest part of the day, too. Well, the ladies at least. The men argue about the Yankees.

Weird. We do the same thing right here in NY.
posted by cedar at 11:09 AM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


> It's not my personal experience, but I found Bury Me Standing to be an illuminating read about modern Roma life in Europe. I haven't yet seen a critique that argues that she grossly misunderstood or misrepresented the culture and experience of the people she lived with.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:09 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Astro Zombie: I have yet to hear people with extensive personal experience with the Roma. I have heard some people who have had limited personal experiences with a few people who happened to be Roma.

I'm not 100% sure why the burden of proof would have to be placed on those claiming that you shouldn't judge five million people spread all over the world because of two or brief incidences in your life.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:10 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I take a nap in the afternoon, when I can. But it is because I am always exhausted as the result of being a party boy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:10 AM on September 3, 2009


I'm not 100% sure why the burden of proof would have to be placed on those claiming that you shouldn't judge five million people spread all over the world because of two or brief incidences in your life.

No? Next you'll be saying we shouldn't judge an entire book because we didn't like the first sentence.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:11 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Note how the simple addition of a comma turns vacapinta into migs.
posted by cortex at 7:00 PM


Oh damn. I also just mentioned my Portuguese wife. People are gonna figure this one out real soon, aren't they?
posted by vacapinta at 11:11 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


>Where "she" = Isabel Fonseca, the author. Stupid post-lunch doziness.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:11 AM on September 3, 2009


I'm just asking if there are any firsthand accounts to be heard here that contradict those statements based on extensive personal experience with the Roma.

Whether or not I have personal experience with a particular targeted group, I think I can still recognize — in an abstract way — prejudice based on an assumption of stereotypes rooted in fear, hatred and ignorance.

What paulsc wrote is not much dissimilar from saying Jews like to drink the blood of Christian babies, or gays want to recruit your children, in that he sums up a group of people with assumptions (influenced or otherwise) or singular experiences that form the basis of what many later use to rationalize their bigotry ("there's a kernel of truth to every stereotype, etc.").

There's something very meta, for lack of a better word, about the expression of fear and hatred in paulsc's comment. It crosses cultures. Perhaps it is even rooted in some instinctual tribal wiring in our heads.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:14 AM on September 3, 2009


People are gonna figure this one out real soon, aren't they?

Quick, go hide behind that perfectly-prepared martini.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:15 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, if it's in a fictional movie from 1939, that's as good a basis for cultural anthropology as I need.

Well, people from their culture telling you the purpose of a particular practice is probably the best you're going to get, when it comes to ethnographic stuff.
posted by kathrineg at 11:15 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm just curious: Has someone here actually spent significant time living with Roma people who can give a firsthand account that contrasts sharply with the stereotypes?

I'm pretty sure Django never mugged anyone. And Joaquin Cortés can only be accused of too much hotness. Kubitschek was a well loved brazilian president and he wasn't even caught being corrupt! Cantona does have a temper and likes to talk in metaphors.

Let's see... has anybody made a analysis on the correlation between the gypsy music festivals and the increase in muggings in the city where they're being held?
posted by lucia__is__dada at 11:15 AM on September 3, 2009


I don't know racism comes from tribal wiring as much as from various cognitive biases; segregation; and purposeful manipulation.

That's probably sort of what you're saying, but I don't think that there is any basic human desire to hate people with x characteristic.
posted by kathrineg at 11:18 AM on September 3, 2009


There's something very meta, for lack of a better word, about the expression of fear and hatred in paulsc's comment. It crosses cultures. Perhaps it is even rooted in some instinctual tribal wiring in our heads.

Don't go painting me with your "all humans are inherently racist" stereotypes!

(actually I agree with you but I couldn't resist)
posted by DU at 11:19 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Humans aren't inherently racist, we're inherently stupid.
posted by kathrineg at 11:20 AM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "What paulsc wrote is not much dissimilar from saying Jews like to drink the blood of Christian babies"

What do you make your Bloody Marys with? Tomato juice?
posted by Joe Beese at 11:21 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Clamato.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:21 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Clamato.

YOU INHUMAN MONSTER!
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:25 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Astro Zombie: No? Next you'll be saying we shouldn't judge an entire book because we didn't like the first sentence.

Not unless it's A Tale of Two Cities, because that first sentence is longer than some books I've read.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:27 AM on September 3, 2009


Some points:

1) I regret the disabling of the account [NOT MINE] 'you got a favorite for being stupid'.
2) That was an astonishingly and overtly racist comment to make.
3) meatbomb's original comment is coming off less well than I think he intended on account of he's assuming that a lot of the nuance and background are implicit and don't need restated. I could be wrong, but meatbomb's history here leads me to give him the benefit of the doubt in this instance.
4) I worked with a gypsy once. The bastard was always stealing company time by discussing baseball on facebook, talking smack about 90s rock bands and trying to find a career compatible with both his master's in library science and MS. Strangely enough, I also know a guy whose grandparents were Irish Travelers in LA. He works as a bike messenger by day and plays pedal steel in about 15 different bands by night.
5) When I own an Airstream, and so help me I will, I am going to spend a week polishing it before inviting my friends over to drink beer and huck mud pies at my trailer. Holy shit, that sounds fun!
posted by stet at 11:27 AM on September 3, 2009


Clamato.

What fucking rocket scientist took a sip of tomato juice and thought "Hey, this isn't disgusting enough, let's add some clam juice"?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:29 AM on September 3, 2009 [37 favorites]


But surely you know that Clamato is pure Christian baby blood!
posted by nicwolff at 11:30 AM on September 3, 2009


Weird anecdote about fear/hatred of Gypsies: when visiting Russia a few years ago, my family was told to watch out for the Gypsies in their bright clothes and their deceitful ways, as we were bound to be overwhelmed and robbed. We were warned the most in Moscow, when we were going to travel on the subway. It came to be a joke with us, because we never felt threatened, nor did we see anyone in overly bright clothes, but we were still warned. And it wasn't just older generations of Russians. Looking back, it's sad for the people who live there and are persecuted.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:30 AM on September 3, 2009


What fucking rocket scientist took a sip of tomato juice and thought "Hey, this isn't disgusting enough, let's add some clam juice"?

I can't fucking favorite this hard enough. "Yum, you know what would make a refreshing beverage? Liquified molluscs!"
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:31 AM on September 3, 2009


What fucking rocket scientist took a sip of tomato juice and thought "Hey, this isn't disgusting enough, let's add some clam juice"?

The same one that put a man on the moon and launched the GPS system because that stuff is GENIUS.
posted by GuyZero at 11:31 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


paulsc's been in my personal "never take him seriously" category for some time at this point, but I'll go ahead and add this to his file.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:33 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is it too late to post this?
posted by jbickers at 11:33 AM on September 3, 2009


You are a sick, sick man, GZ.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:33 AM on September 3, 2009


posted by lucia__is__dada has anybody made a analysis on the correlation between the gypsy music festivals and the increase in muggings in the city where they're being held?

When I was traveling through Europe, I went to a gypsy music festival and I left a half-eaten doner kebab on the edge of a table, and a gypsy dog snatched it and ate it. Gypsy dogs are not to be trusted.
posted by mattdidthat at 11:34 AM on September 3, 2009


I notice that, most times, whenever anybody posts more than four sentences of comments, it immediately gets more than 5 favorites. It doesn't even matter if the person is saying something totally incoherent. It's as though the person is getting kudos for spending more than a second typing a comment. Or maybe the person is favoriting it so they can spend time reading it carefully later...
posted by anniecat at 11:35 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


When my family lived in England, we had a woman of the Roma who cleaned our house. There was one very frightening thing about her. She looked, spoke, and acted just like all the other English we encountered over there.

...

She blended right in, she walked amongst them, there was no way to differentiate them. Eeee!
posted by Atreides at 11:35 AM on September 3, 2009


I do think there is something in the culture of dogs that influences them to be dog thives. I've never met a dog who, given a chance, won't steal somebody's food.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:35 AM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Oh, on Clamato: add cheap beer & a few dashes of hot sauce. Stir w/ celery and drink in hot weather. Sounds gross, is delicious.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:35 AM on September 3, 2009


I kind of want to know who favorited that shit.

I did. Not for the racist content, but for the rest of the content, which was really quite good story about how he came to learn moral behaviour from his parents. Shame they didn't teach him about racism.

Also, you can click the favourites flag to see a list of who favourited.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:36 AM on September 3, 2009


People get away with racism and other forms of this kind of unfairness because we let each other do it. It's easy to be unthinkingly offensive when the majority agrees with you enough that you get away with saying or doing it.

The majority has lots of ways of justifying being hateful. Hits include:
- Minority group deserves criticism because it is scientifically proven to be inferior
- Minority group deserves criticism or feedback because they're different and have made no effort to assimilate
- Minority group deserves criticism because they're lazy
- ad nauseum

This holds for all kinds of different minorities who get the short end of the stick. I'm not comparing the pain suffered by each group to each other's. This kind of comparison is not useful - each group has suffered enough that it's meaningless to try to compare the pain and figure out who's supremely hurting. But I do think that the reason that people are unthinkingly hateful to different minorities is essentially the same.

Of course the most ironic (and for some folks, entertaining) times are when one person or a group that is a member of one minority is unthinkingly hateful towards another.

To me, though, this unthinking hatefulness is a human quality, and it's a lot of work for each of us as individuals to overcome it. We at Metafilter suck at keeping ourselves from being rat bastards to fat people and sometimes transsexuals, for instance, though we're collectively sensitive to the easier for us to identify racisms, even towards relatively obscure minorities like the Romani.
posted by kalessin at 11:37 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't take the word "gypsies" the least bit seriously. NO matter how it's uttered, it always arives with bugged-out eyes and waggling fingers, and is followed by an imagined "wooOOoo!!!!"
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:38 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I never assume anythign about favorites. Sometimes I am tempted to favorite something, not because I liked it, but because it gives me an easy way to reference what an idiot somebody is when I need to track it down for future reference.

I assume that's where most of my favorites come from as well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:38 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Well, if it's in a fictional movie from 1939, that's as good a basis for cultural anthropology as I need.

Well, people from their culture telling you the purpose of a particular practice is probably the best you're going to get, when it comes to ethnographic stuff.


Since Margaret Mitchell and Sidney Howard were not from Mexico, and Gone With The Wind is not about Mexico or Mexican culture, I'm not sure how a scene in Gone With The Wind constitutes "people from their culture telling you the purpose of a particular practice." The weather very well may be one part of the reason for mid-afternoon naps in some cultures. But "Gone With The Wind has a scene like that" is not a terribly strong foundation for the assertion, for the same reasons that basing an opinion about Romani culture on a viewing of From Russia With Love or Snatch might not be all that sound.

Moreover, an ethnographic study consists of a lot more than simply taking a single respondent's statement about their own interpretation of a cultural practice as true. Having studied ethnographies, I can tell you that "people from their culture telling you the purpose of a particular practice" is certainly and emphatically not "the best you're going to get, when it comes to ethnographic stuff."

I'm pretty sure Django never mugged anyone.

As a guitarist, I feel like I just got beat up every time I listen to his awesome playing. Does that count? And by the way, if Django had lived in a country with socialized medicine, his hand might have been properly repaired after the fire and he would never have played guitar the way he did. So, you know, there's one really strong argument against Death Panels.
posted by The World Famous at 11:38 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


What fucking rocket scientist took a sip of tomato juice and thought "Hey, this isn't disgusting enough, let's add some clam juice"?

Clamato was actually invented by a Canadian. And we all know about the morals of Canadian families.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:40 AM on September 3, 2009


Bloody Mary's made with Clamato are called Bloody Caesars. And they are DELICIOUS.
posted by josher71 at 11:43 AM on September 3, 2009


Both Snatch and paulsc's story involve the plot points of gypsies and R.V.s.

Coincidence?!?!?!?!
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:44 AM on September 3, 2009


kalessin, you're focus on majorities/minorities is misplaced. Bigotry is not dependent on demographics.
posted by dios at 11:44 AM on September 3, 2009


it's essentially fine to characterize black people as lazy, thuggish, and prone to violence because there's a certain amount of truth to the gangster culture that fills the gaps in marginalized poor neighborhoods

Black culture war.

I suspect there is a kernel of truth in what Chris Rock is saying. Is there not an inner-city black sub-culture in some of the large cities that more or less matches what Rock claims?

That is not to say that the individuals have a whole lot of choice, what with being raised from infancy in that culture. It is to say that the sub-culture exists.

IMO YMMV. Not living in one of those large cities, I rely on what the media shows.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:44 AM on September 3, 2009


five fresh fish: Watch "The Wire", that is all.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:46 AM on September 3, 2009


Case in point: the majority of americans are overweight, but bigotry towards girth is no less inappropriate because overweight individuals represent the majority.
posted by dios at 11:46 AM on September 3, 2009


Ravenloft.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:47 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but fat people are lazy because it's hot at midday.

Wait... what?
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:48 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tomato juice -- *shudders.*

Clamato -- *just vomited a little bit in my mouth*
posted by ericb at 11:48 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Irish people in Ireland call them Paddy Wagons pretty much exclusively so I wouldn't worry about it being offensive.
posted by minifigs at 11:49 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whoa whoa whoa... let's calm things down a touch? clam juice is a delicious way to celebrate our human powers.

It's JUICE... made of...

CLAMS!!

*applause*

No, really, it's was nothing... I am MAN after all... best of all the thumbed-ones!

Don't get me started on fake crab though... that sh*t is just F'ing WRONG.
posted by MeatLightning at 11:49 AM on September 3, 2009


Until a month ago I honestly thought Clamato was just an unfortunately named V8 knockoff that had nothing to do with clams.

Now I kindof want to try it and I don't like tomato juice so I don't see how adding clam to it could make it better. Still.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:50 AM on September 3, 2009


I don't think the mid-day nap is really attributable to heat.

Air-conditioning is a luxury that elsewhere is not nearly as ubiquitous as it is in the US. When the indoor temp is a piddly couple of degrees lower than outside, it tends to sap one's energy.

Also consider the historical impact of agricultural work; you'd have to hold a gun to my head to work in a field with the sun at its zenith in 100 + degree heat. And I'd probably choose the gun.
posted by romakimmy at 11:52 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Clamato -- *just vomited a little bit in my mouth*
Yeah, it even used to say that on the bottle.

Best Bloody Mary
1/3 Clamato
1/3 Tomato Juice
1/3 vodka
healthy dollop of horseradish.
Fresh pepper
worcestershire
celery

posted by dirtdirt at 11:53 AM on September 3, 2009


minifigs: Irish people in Ireland call them Paddy Wagons pretty much exclusively so I wouldn't worry about it being offensive.

Irish people in America, however, have asked that the rest of us refrain, so please do.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:53 AM on September 3, 2009


I have no direct opinion on Roma, having no experience with them. But I do want to chime in that the 'lazy Mexican' thing is about as wrongheaded as anything in my experience. Those guys work incredibly hard. When I was working the front office for a roofing company, they were without exception the most polite, hardest working, and best-behaved of any group we employed. For the occasional jobs that paid piecework, they were usually the top earners.

Now, I imagine my positive opinion is from a self-selecting bias, because our workers had green cards and were, obviously, motivated to succeed; they'd come a long way and gone through a lot of hell to get those roofing jobs. It's probably true of green card holders in general, I just happened to be dealing with Mexican ones. But those guys were awesome. I liked them very much.

I also want to point out that cultural forces are very real. The Jewish people, for instance, obviously have some very strong shared values that have held a substantial fraction of them together for almost two thousand years since the Diaspora. And, from my limited knowledge, the Roma have existed for nearly as long. You can talk about cultural values without believing that they're inherent to their genes or something. It's not like a Jewish or Roma kid will somehow magically come programmed for those cultures if they're adopted; it's a social construct, not a racial one.

Conditioning is very probably the single most powerful force in human behavior, and the steadfast denial I see here of the fact that this conditioning could even exist means that it's hard to grapple with the real causes of the racial issues. They have nothing to do with race, but have everything to do with culture and conditioning. And that's true of all sides, not just those of the minorities. We're ALL conditioned, and we need to understand how in order to break out of it. Denying that the conditioning could even exist makes it impossible to even start dealing with the real underlying problems.

Another way of looking at paulsc's observation is that he believes that the conditioning of the Roma culture is making them hard to integrate into mainstream society. I have NO idea whether or not that's actually true, but it strikes me that approaching it from that angle would be a lot more productive. Is there any truth to what he says? Are the Roma conditioning themselves to be this way? And if they aren't, why are we conditioning ourselves to believe they do?
posted by Malor at 11:53 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Clamato was actually invented by a Canadian.

Adding to our everlasting national shame, I'm well aware.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm now feeling strongly ambiguous about Clamato... do I try it and risk projectile vomiting or the even more hideous possibility that I'll crave it uncontrollably and become known as That Guy Who Drinks Clamato? It's like that metal pole outside on a subzero day, daring you not to lick it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:57 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I really don't think "it's hot so we're not working" is the reason for the current practice.

The heat sure is a part of the rationale in Mexico, where the siesta lives on. I belive they also have a siesta in the hotter parts of Spain (although it was hard to tell when I was briefly there, because almost everything in continental Western Europe shuts down for a couple hours midday, hot or not, because that's the norm there).

A siesta certainly isn't part of American 9-5 culture, but then again, I've never heard of a person of Mexican descent in the States demanding a siesta.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:59 AM on September 3, 2009


I've worked outside during an incredibly hot summer here in Texas. At noon, the heat from the sun is unbearable, but we wore hats.

Right around 4:30, the heat trapped in the humid Texas air peaks and it is like working in a sauna. Hard to breathe, and incredibly hard to think. I made all my dumbest decisions at the end of the day. Eventually, we learned to retire to our air conditioned offices at 4 and come back after the sun had set, if necessary.

So yeah, if we didn't have air-conditioned offices to return to, I can completely imagine laying down in the shade and napping from 4-7 or so.
posted by muddgirl at 12:00 PM on September 3, 2009


dios: "Case in point: the majority of americans are overweight, but bigotry towards girth is no less inappropriate because overweight individuals represent the majority."

I've wondered how much longer the culture can continue jeering at we fatties when we make up an increasing majority of its market.

It's like apartheid with donuts.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:00 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never heard of a person of Mexican descent in the States demanding a siesta.

I sure as hell wish they would. I'd be in on that nap action so damn fast.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:01 PM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


They got stick a beef, he got up salad, no trouble clam man, man.
posted by breezeway at 12:01 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I do want to chime in that the 'lazy Mexican' thing is about as wrongheaded as anything in my experience. Those guys work incredibly hard. When I was working the front office for a roofing company, they were without exception the most polite, hardest working, and best-behaved of any group we employed.

So, Goatemalans, Salvadorans, other Latinos, they didn't shine like the Mexicans, huh? Or did you just not distinguish?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:02 PM on September 3, 2009


I've wondered how much longer the culture can continue jeering at we fatties when we make up an increasing majority of its market.

The skinnies' day will come, comrade, sooner than you think.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:02 PM on September 3, 2009


you know, from goatemala. I'm typing in the dark.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:04 PM on September 3, 2009


You know, call-outs really aren't any fun when the person being called out doesn't show up. Someone's got to have his number or something. Send out the alert, folks!
posted by Grither at 12:05 PM on September 3, 2009


Here is Wikipedia on the origins of the siesta. Here is a sciencey looking abstract about the siesta.
posted by rtha at 12:10 PM on September 3, 2009


The Bloody Caesar is the awesomest drink ever. Especially when consumed with as breakfast.
posted by rocket88 at 12:11 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do want to chime in that the 'lazy Mexican' thing is about as wrongheaded as anything in my experience. Those guys work incredibly hard.

This, too, is a prejudiced statement.
posted by applemeat at 12:13 PM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Clamato is delicious, especially the extra spicy stuff. I could drink that stuff warm. But, y'know what goes almost as well with clam juice as tomato juice and spices?

Video cameras, peer pressure, and silly twinks eager to prove their manhood.
posted by CKmtl at 12:13 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I suppose the real question we should be asking of paulsc is whether a gypsy could take flight from a treadmill.
posted by explosion at 12:14 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Back in Poland, [...]

I have worked with some honest, moral Roma people. But these stand out as exceptions. Stereotypes don't just spring out of nowhere, and the vast majority of my experiences with Roma, over many years in Eastern Europe, confirm for me that there is an entrenched set of Roma cultural values, beliefs, and practices much as described by paulsc.


I have met some Poles who weren't aren't apologists for Polish anti-Semitism and don't try to minimise Polish enthusiasm for Pogroms and the Holocaust, but they're the exception.

See how that works?
posted by rodgerd at 12:15 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


God, I could really go for a siesta and a Bloody Caesar right now (incidentally thereby showing both of my true Irish colors: laziness and drunkenness).
posted by oinopaponton at 12:15 PM on September 3, 2009


Irish people in Ireland call them Paddy Wagons pretty much exclusively so I wouldn't worry about it being offensive.

Irish people in America, however, have asked that the rest of us refrain, so please do.


I'm of Irish heritage. My surname is German, however, most of the family names of my ancestors are Irish: Kelley, Healy, etc. I think my Irish heritage is pretty cool, and even though I'm an atheist from the suburbs, I like to speculate on what Irish-Catholic cultural quirks get passed down.

But I'm not Irish. I'm American. Except for those on holiday or got off the boat themselves, there aren't Irish in America, there are Americans in America.

So the "Irish" here, who think they're being true to their roots or whatever by overruling actual Irish and getting huffy over paddy wagon, of all things, can chill out. My ancestors climbed into the American middle class by driving and riding in them and that's what they called them, and if that's what the Irish call them, then get over it.
posted by spaltavian at 12:17 PM on September 3, 2009 [12 favorites]


My mother worked as a teacher in a "mobile school" (essentially a converted bus) that travelled rural Oxfordshire finding Gypsy and Traveller sites and offering some educational facilities to the children who lived there (and educational support to their parents). It was funded by the local authority, which had a legal duty to provide education to every child in the county. There a lot of actual Roma in England, so most of their work was with Irish Travellers.

A lot of their work was basically diplomatic, as the distrust of outsiders among Travellers was intense - especially representatives of the council, as they were. These communities generally saw the non-Traveller world as being unrelentingly hostile, and with pretty good reason considering the outright fear and loathing they experienced. I genuinely don't think any other ethnic group is so maginalised and openly hated as Gypsies and Travellers. Given that, some suspension of cooperation with "society" as a whole is almost inevitable - these families kept their children out of school because they felt that they would pick up bad habits, for instance.

They're just people; it's amazing that there's any suggestion that they should have to be defended as a group against the strength of a few anecdotes. Most want to live unharassed, within the law - that's why they often buy land, rather than squat, or use official sites, and do things like apply for planning permission. Neverthless, they still face raging mobs. Literally! Gypsies and Travellers have been marginalised for generations, and that fact is the cause of far more problems than any encampment. As zoomorphic said, medieval Jews became usurers because other professions were closed to them and usury was taboo to Christians. Marginalisation leads to that kind of vicious circle.

Seriously, when you stop and think sympathetically about Gypsies and Travellers for a while, the majority, sedentary "ordinary society" begins to look like a terrifying, coercive system.

I'm surprised that Paulsc's comment has not been deleted. What struck me as being particularly chilling about it was that rather than being a pointed, targeted bit of bigotry, it was so casual, as if "Gypsy" was a perfectly acceptable synonym for "habitual criminal".
posted by WPW at 12:17 PM on September 3, 2009 [12 favorites]


dios,

Whatever. You understood me perfectly well.
posted by kalessin at 12:24 PM on September 3, 2009


But I'm not Irish. I'm American. Except for those on holiday or got off the boat themselves, there aren't Irish in America, there are Americans in America.

Strange, then, that Ireland considers Irish-Americans to be part of an Irish diaspora, and, if you have an Irish grandparent, you can get Irish citizenship. Actually, if you have an Irish great-granparent, you can get Irish citizenship, if you have a parent who registered.

These is such a thing as Irish-American. The Irish have had a pretty unique experience in the United States, and have taken paints to retain their cultural identity. This is not easily dismissed.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:26 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Did I miss a point here or something? Paulsc talked about how Larry and his family have bad "gypsies" morals for what they did and how Paulsc's parents made him do the right thing when he damaged the trailer and it made him a better person because of it. Can you really argue the fact that Larry and his family are good people? Only real thing I can see is the whole gypsies are bad comment and so is stereotyping. Honestly in my whole life I have never heard anything good about Gypsies. Everyone I know that has traveled to Europe has heard from the locates that gypsies are thieves. They will steal from you and not care what happens to you. I've known people that have been pick pocketed over seas before. The police told them that it was more than likely gypsies stealing from them because they were tourists. Even my aunt, who was born in Italy and still has the accent, when asked about "gypsies" blesses herself, swears in Italian, and calls them human garbage. My sister was adopted from the Ukraine and she would tell us stories about how the staff of the orphanage would tell them if they act like gypsies they would be kicked out. (Ukraine is strange BTW... trust me I'm 50% Ukrainian and I know all of our traditions) Even in my family history, we were a bunch of gypsies, there is a story of how they kidnapped a little northern Italian girl because they thought she was beautiful. Now obviously if the locals, the police, my friends and family who travel overseas, my family tree, and a sweet old Italian woman have nothing good to say about them then perhaps the stereotype holds water. Now I know I have limited experience in dealing with gypsies but if enough people say the stove in hot don't touch it... then I'm going to take their word for it. I could be wrong but if all these stories are being told about their thieving culture then I'm not going to chance it.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 12:28 PM on September 3, 2009


A siesta certainly isn't part of American 9-5 culture, but then again, I've never heard of a person of Mexican descent in the States demanding a siesta.

When the roof on our condo was re-done, it was a blazing hot week in June. The roofers would start before we woke up. They'd take a siesta on our front lawn around noon, and they'd still be working after my husband came home from his 9-5. So, even with a nap they still put in a 10-11 hour day doing hard physical labor.
posted by desjardins at 12:31 PM on September 3, 2009


Are we being trolled by paulsc and Mastercheddaar?
posted by kalessin at 12:32 PM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Can someone explain where this stereotype even comes from? I literally have no conception of it.

It's a vile xenophobic American stereotype which depicts Mexicans as lazy, womanizing drunkards. You can see it in a variety of media depictions from the last century, including Speedy Gonzales cartoons. That's why Cartoon Network initially chose not to air them after acquiring the rights to the cartoon a few years ago.

It was once quite common to portray minorities (especially African Americans, Irish and Latinos,) as shiftless, lazy thieves in American political and non-political advertising. Such fearmongering tactics are still being used today, even if they aren't as popular.
posted by zarq at 12:32 PM on September 3, 2009


I could be wrong but if all these stories are being told about their thieving culture then I'm not going to chance it.

It was also popularly believed that Jews had horns.

They don't.

But you have managed to fit just about every popular justification for blinkered, beknighted, destructive prejudice into one single paragraph, so you have that going for you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:32 PM on September 3, 2009 [12 favorites]


I'm not particularly surprised by that comment coming from paulsc. His shtick is long nostaligic comments, almost exclusively anecdotal, that support conservative cultural positions and show him as an all-around down-home old-school-skills man's-man. He's a good story teller and he gets a lot of favorites for them, but many of his comments tell the same story, and it's a very very conservative story. I've always been curious about the reading comprehension of those liberal MeFites who seem to like the shtick so well.
posted by OmieWise at 12:34 PM on September 3, 2009 [18 favorites]


My Irish grandmother thought that tinkers (the pejorative and nasty term for Irish travellers) were the scum of the earth. Sometimes sweet little old Irish - or Italian - ladies can be wrong.

Paddy wagon is fine by me. It's a nice old piece of slang and besides, I take paints to preserve my cultural heritage and if that includes being lazy and drinking too much, well, it's a cross I will bear. Even if it makes the paintbrush a wee bit unsteady at times.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:35 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mastercheddar: I could be wrong but if all these stories are being told about their thieving culture then I'm not going to chance it.

Sigh. Wait till that sweet old Italian woman hears what some people say about those Italians!

C'mon, people. Racism is racism, no matter what thin third- and fourth-hand anecdotal justification you think you can scrape together. The more some of you try to justify your attitudes, the worse it makes you look.
posted by aught at 12:35 PM on September 3, 2009


Everyone I know that has traveled to Europe has heard from the locates that gypsies are thieves. They will steal from you and not care what happens to you. I've known people that have been pick pocketed over seas before. The police told them that it was more than likely gypsies stealing from them because they were tourists. Even my aunt, who was born in Italy and still has the accent, when asked about "gypsies" blesses herself, swears in Italian, and calls them human garbage. My sister was adopted from the Ukraine and she would tell us stories about how the staff of the orphanage would tell them if they act like gypsies they would be kicked out.

Well, someone told me that all fags are promiscuous and all those niggers just screw women and leave 'em soon as the kid is born. Don't even get me started on what people told me about Jews.

For fuck's sake.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:37 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Clamato -- *just vomited a little bit in my mouth*

Try washing it down with a can of Clamto + beer Bud Light
posted by mikepop at 12:38 PM on September 3, 2009


I could be wrong but if all these stories are being told about their thieving culture then I'm not going to chance it.

Nearly every day I read news stories about white Americans who systematically steal money from their friends, their families, their employers, their employees, their clients, their constituents, etc. etc. etc. If all these stories are being told about our thieving culture then we shouldn't chance it.

...and yet, we chance it.
posted by muddgirl at 12:38 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I do want to chime in that the 'lazy Mexican' thing is about as wrongheaded as anything in my experience. Those guys work incredibly hard.

This, too, is a prejudiced statement.


No, it's not. It's saying that in the poster's experience, the stereotype has no basis in fact. I'm sure there do exist lazy Mexicans. I have not met any, but I have not met that many Mexicans in general. Even if ALL of the ones that I have not met are lazy, it is still demonstrably wrong to say that Mexicans, as a group, are lazy.
posted by desjardins at 12:40 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damn white people, bunch of gross perverts, they are.
posted by electroboy at 12:41 PM on September 3, 2009


Um.

Let's work this out:

I could be wrong but if all these stories are being told about their thieving culture then I'm not going to chance it.

and, before that:

Even in my family history, we were a bunch of gypsies



?
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:44 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now I know I have limited experience in dealing with gypsies but if enough people say the stove in hot don't touch it... then I'm going to take their word for it. I could be wrong but if all these stories are being told about their thieving culture then I'm not going to chance it.

I was warned repeatedly to watch out so I don't get Jewed by the Jews. As a Jew, I was relieved that the general Jew-aware public brought this to my attention. I took their word for it, and have since made a habit of Jewing myself every day.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 12:46 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mastercheddaar, wtf is wrong with you?
posted by desjardins at 12:46 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Woah, Woah, people leave Mastercheddaar alone, he heard that stuff somewhere. I mean, someone SAID it, you know, with WORDS. So. Obvs. Truth.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:47 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The problem with stereotypes it that they cover EVERYONE in that group. Maybe there are thieves of Roma heritage who fit into the category that everyone has heard of, but that does not mean all gypsies are thieves and cheats. Have you met all Gypsies? No? Then stop making stereotypical comments about the whole of them being thieves and cheats.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:49 PM on September 3, 2009


Astro Zombie: spaltavian: But I'm not Irish. I'm American. Except for those on holiday or got off the boat themselves, there aren't Irish in America, there are Americans in America.

Strange, then, that Ireland considers Irish-Americans to be part of an Irish diaspora, and, if you have an Irish grandparent, you can get Irish citizenship. Actually, if you have an Irish great-granparent, you can get Irish citizenship, if you have a parent who registered.

These is such a thing as Irish-American. The Irish have had a pretty unique experience in the United States, and have taken paints to retain their cultural identity. This is not easily dismissed.


Yeah, thanks, but next time I need to hear about the struggles of "my people", I'll talk to my grandmother. Maybe it will be next time I'm sitting in a Latin Mass because another of my Mom's uncles died. But, nonetheless, I'm not Irish.

Or would you like me to tell you about the Jewish experience in the States?
posted by spaltavian at 12:49 PM on September 3, 2009


Mastercheddaar, my maternal grandmother was from Lithuania. A frequent threat during my childhood was, "If you don't behave, the gypsies will come and take you away!"

She hated them. She also hated black people, Jewish people, her son in law (my father, of Spanish descent), Russians, rich people, poor people, and everyone else in the whole universe that wasn't just like her.

Just because she believed those things is not a valid reason for me to believe them.
posted by crankylex at 12:50 PM on September 3, 2009


I kind of want to know who favorited that shit.

I favorited for the content of the story. What exactly do you intend to do about it?
posted by Scoo at 12:50 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are we being trolled by paulsc and Mastercheddaar?

It's not trolling, you just don't agree with their bigotry!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:51 PM on September 3, 2009


~places Mastercheddaar's file in the "no longer credible" drawer~

Getting crowded in there!
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:53 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or would you like me to tell you about the Jewish experience in the States?

I'm also Irish American.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:53 PM on September 3, 2009


if enough people say the stove in hot don't touch it... then I'm going to take their word for it.

So, you didn't trust the first 10 people who said it?

When I was young, I trusted this as fact because my brother burnt his finger. As an adult, I understand that there are scientific facts that can prove that stoves will be hot.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:53 PM on September 3, 2009


What? the? fuck?

There are people who favorited paulsc's comment who I know and like. I wish they'd come and explain what they were thinking!

Outrageous anecdotes shined bright by decades of retelling all have that cinematic element to them. It's like real life filtered through that Hollywood script-doctor software. "Add an explosion here. The protagonist needs a love interest. The flashback needs to be in sepia."

When I was a kid, I didn't realize this and so I thought other people just had crazier lives than I did. Then I listened to a few stories grow out of proportion to the events that I had observed, and I figured it out. The worst thing is that they'd SWEAR up and down that the story was true as told, not one detail refurbished or altered in any way. I love a good raconteur as well as the next narrative-junkie, but there's a difference between reading the Weekly World News for fun and starting to worry about the alliance between Bigfoot and the chupacabras.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:54 PM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I heard on the news television that old white men will run Ponzi schemes that steal billions of dollars from hardworking folks who just want a safe place for their money! Seriously if you even TALK about going to Texas, people will pipe up about Enron and how those old white guys will take your money and rob you blind. These are the smartest guys in the room! If you go back in my family history we were old white guys. I even heard a story about an old white guy who liked a young blonde girl and so he stole her just because he thought she was beautiful. Even my little old white aunt, when she hears about old whities, she crosses herself, and mumbles about Robber Barons. (Trust me I'm 50% white and you don't know our traditions). Now obviously if the locals, CNN, my friends and family who travel overseas, my family tree, and a sweet old white woman have nothing good to say about them then perhaps the stereotype holds water. Now I know I have limited experience in dealing with old white guys (Wal-Mart greeters, bingo halls, early bird specials) but if enough people say the stove in hot don't touch it... then I'm going to take their word for it. I could be wrong but if all these stories are being told about their thieving culture then I'm not going to chance it.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:55 PM on September 3, 2009 [10 favorites]


What exactly do you intend to do about it?

Can we get an anti-contact list? A list of people we probably won't ever agree with? That way if they make any comments or favorite anything, we can be notified to head on over there and disagree with it? Or remember to stay away from it, as the case may be?

That would be useful, actually...
posted by muddgirl at 12:55 PM on September 3, 2009


Did I miss a point here or something? Paulsc talked about how Larry and his family have bad "gypsies" morals for what they did and how Paulsc's parents made him do the right thing when he damaged the trailer and it made him a better person because of it. Can you really argue the fact that Larry and his family are good people? Only real thing I can see is the whole gypsies are bad comment and so is stereotyping. Honestly in my whole life I have never heard anything good about Gypsies. Everyone I know that has traveled to Europe has heard from the locates that gypsies are thieves. They will steal from you and not care what happens to you. I've known people that have been pick pocketed over seas before. The police told them that it was more than likely gypsies stealing from them because they were tourists. Even my aunt, who was born in Italy and still has the accent, when asked about "gypsies" blesses herself, swears in Italian, and calls them human garbage. My sister was adopted from the Ukraine and she would tell us stories about how the staff of the orphanage would tell them if they act like gypsies they would be kicked out. (Ukraine is strange BTW... trust me I'm 50% Ukrainian and I know all of our traditions) Even in my family history, we were a bunch of gypsies, there is a story of how they kidnapped a little northern Italian girl because they thought she was beautiful. Now obviously if the locals, the police, my friends and family who travel overseas, my family tree, and a sweet old Italian woman have nothing good to say about them then perhaps the stereotype holds water. Now I know I have limited experience in dealing with gypsies but if enough people say the stove in hot don't touch it... then I'm going to take their word for it. I could be wrong but if all these stories are being told about their thieving culture then I'm not going to chance it.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 12:28 PM on September 3


what
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:55 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm also Irish American.

Are there Mick-Jew jokes?
posted by spaltavian at 12:57 PM on September 3, 2009


spaltavian: there aren't Irish in America, there are Americans in America.

That'll teach me to parallel someone else's language for rhetorical effect!
posted by shakespeherian at 12:58 PM on September 3, 2009


There are people who favorited paulsc's comment who I know and like. I wish they'd come and explain what they were thinking!

As said upthread, people favorite comments for a variety of reasons. Please don't automatically assume they do so because they agree or support the sentiment being expressed. They may be flagging a comment to respond to later, or simply wish to mark it to re-read later.
posted by zarq at 12:59 PM on September 3, 2009


Are there Mick-Jew jokes?

I lived with a group of skinheads once who called me Mick McKike. I didn't like those guys very much.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:59 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe pb can change the favourites feature to "request group permission for a favourite on this item" and then we can have a referendum on each one.
posted by GuyZero at 1:01 PM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Can we get an anti-contact list? A list of people we probably won't ever agree with? That way if they make any comments or favorite anything, we can be notified to head on over there and disagree with it? Or remember to stay away from it, as the case may be?

A Derail List?
posted by zarq at 1:02 PM on September 3, 2009


there's a difference between reading the Weekly World News for fun and starting to worry about the alliance between Bigfoot and the chupacabras

Well Bigfoots are all thieves and chupacabras are all shiftless layabouts so I mean duh.
posted by Shepherd at 1:02 PM on September 3, 2009


I wish they'd come and explain what they were thinking!

I like the work of Charles Bukowski but that doesn't mean I take it as a roadmap of how to live my life.
posted by GuyZero at 1:02 PM on September 3, 2009


My Irish grandmother thought that tinkers (the pejorative and nasty term for Irish travellers) were the scum of the earth. ''

I enjoy Not Giving a Tinkers Damn from time to time, and being of Irish ethnicity, will continue to do so.
posted by Scoo at 1:05 PM on September 3, 2009


Well Bigfoots are all thieves and chupacabras are all shiftless layabouts so I mean duh.


Vampires are moochers.
posted by The Whelk at 1:06 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


spaltavian's comment re: Irish and Americans reminds me of something a kid said to me when I was a kid. He told this Polack joke and I looked at him and said, "But you're Polish." His reply? "But... but Polish people are from Poland! Polacks are from... Polack-land!"
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:06 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


My Japanese friend was telling me how historically they have little contact with Jewish people so when they made friends with the Germans they had a really crazy introduction to them. You see at the time in Europe there was a gentleman antisemitism where you know, you did business with them but you looked down upon them and wouldn't marry them or anything ... and of course Hitler came along and really went wild with racial theories. Well no one really believed that Jews ran the world, maybe a few hardcore believers, but no one believed they were the root of all evil and good with money, etc. This is kind of the Limbaugh schtick, just throw things against the wall that feels right without actually having to prove it. Most people were just xenophobic more than anything or trying to prove their loyalty kind of thing. They didn't actually believe the bullshit even if they acted on it.

Well back to my point the Japanese took the Protocols of Zion very, very seriously. They actually thought the Jews had this sort of superhuman way with money and were everything Hitler said they were, to the point where they tried to recruit them and use them, sort of like trying to bottle the sun ... they may be dangerous but if they're as useful as these Germans say we'll keep them in ghettos and have them make money for us! To the consternation of the Nazis of course, who were nudging the Japanese to exterminate them, but the Japanese couldn't understand why and thought they could contain any kind of evil the Nazis were talking about. And I found this all very amusing, that the Nazis didn't even believe their own stories the way the Japanese did. In fact he says there's still a lot of this strange antisemitism there amongst the older folk or those who don't care about history and politics and such.

I have no idea how this relates to anything.
posted by geoff. at 1:08 PM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


I suspect that anything I say at this point should begin with an unequivocal condemnation of racism, and an apology for failing to more clearly flesh out my meaning in the comment called out in this thread, so that it could not be misconstrued as racist. Fair enough. Intellectually, I don't believe in the use of race as a foundation for anything, and, in hind sight, I understand that by choosing to use the analogy that is here called out, I risked the interpretation that has rankled many of you. I apologize for using terms at all loosely, that history has shown need a careful hand, to have meaning, beyond insult.

As for my use of the word "gypsy" to refer to Roma, let me say that I don't think I am off track, as badly as some of you may think. In his 2001 University of California Press book Gypsy law: Romani legal traditions and culture, Walter Otto Weyrauch observes in a note on page 1:
"Reference to "Gypsies" in the title and the text is not free of problems. The term continues to be widely used in the English language, as illustrated by the Journal of Gypsy Lore Society. The corresponding designation taken from the Gypsy language, "Roma," has gained wide acceptance, but is disfavored by some Gypsy groups. The Sinti in Germany, for example, prefer separate reference to "Sinti and Roma." All terms originating from non-Gypsy sources are somewhat in doubt, although not as much as the German word, "Zigeuner," which should not be used at all because of disparaging connotations from the times of Nazi persecution. ..."
As for my mis-spelling of the plural of "gypsy" as "gypsys," I acknowledge my error. It should have been "gypsies" wherever plural.

As to the second and third paragraphs of that comment, which are my direct comparison of the behavior by "Doris" and the "uncle" to that of "gypsy tactics" in confrontations with the larger American society, my writing was poorly done, in that it drew a blanket condemnation of all Roma, based on behaviors frequently attributed by police to some Roma who engage in deceptive business practices. I should not have done that, and my writing was careless, when, to use that analogy, I should knowingly have assumed the burden of a tighter use of terms. Let me see if I can narrow my meaning, and remove any racist inflection by these edits:

"There's still plenty of blame left for Doris, and for Larry's "uncle." They're raising that kid with gypsy values sometimes attributed by police to some bands of Roma who repeatedly engage in fraudulent business practices [emphasis mine, for words added]. They're teaching by overt example, that it is alright to scam the justice system, and that hurting other people carries no real consequences. They're reinforcing the idea that the color of your skin should have some bearing on the outcome of your case, and that just being black means you should expect special consideration from the justice system, if your accuser is white. They're making the case that the opportunity for the paid work of writing about a painful personal experience should be compensation enough for enduring that pain, and they have the gall to suggest that Larry should get some compensation from Conroy's work, for being the instigator of that incident.

These are all classic Romani strategies in dealing with confrontations involving the larger society. As many members of Roma culture know from personal confrontation with police and larger "host" societies, the maintenance of values contrary to those of a larger society often provokes explicit distrust on both sides of the cultural divide. Doris and his "uncle" would have better served Larry's development as a citizen, and the cause of justice in the sense John Conroy understood it, by wholehearted support of the trial court's judicial process [emphasis mine, for words added]. And that's not how you raise a good citizen of a larger society."

I want to go back and focus particular attention on one sentence of mine, that I am, after consideration, leaving stand, unaltered:
"They're reinforcing the idea that the color of your skin should have some bearing on the outcome of your case, and that just being black means you should expect special consideration from the justice system, if your accuser is white."
I had in mind Conroy's recounting of the promises Doris made to Conroy at the mediation meeting, regarding her willingness to be interviewed for his article, and to help him obtain documents relating to his case from the juvenile courts. I'm letting it stand because, from Conroy's reporting, she reneged on those promises, and allowed her son to do so on similar promises he made to Conroy, too. Moreover, she did so after making arrangements for her son to move to a suburban location, away from any juvenile probation offices, and after accepting the diversion to the probation department mediation program as a resolution for the case. That's a pattern of behavior that I think, if true as Conroy reports it, supports my allegation.

I sincerely hope that this has been directly responsive to the concerns raised here, as I did try to read the whole of the thread before responding (but it is a long thread, by now). This is, after all, a comment in a discussion of an article about a crime in which the writer investigates the contribution of race to outcomes in the justice system. If we are to have a frank and productive discussion about such topics, I think we have to proceed honestly from our points of personal conflict with the issues Conroy raises. As he puts it near the end of his piece:
"... Hate crime or boredom attack, my injuries are the same. One thing about being hated, though—you have an identity. You’re a member of a distinct class who is important to the attacker. If you are attacked without reason, you’re nobody— you’re of no importance whatever. Mulling this over makes me question the whole notion of prosecuting hate crimes. Why is a racist thug more dangerous than the man who just feels like beating someone—anyone—up? The racist might send a message to a large population, but the nonracist sends a message to an even larger group, a message that says, “You count for nothing” and “No one is safe.”

I’ve wondered what argument I’d be making if the situation were reversed, if a group of white kids had done the same to a black man without uttering a word. I doubt I’d be stepping into the public melee to say, “Wait a minute—maybe these kids were race neutral and they just happened to choose a black guy today.” And that’s clearly racism on my part, an unwillingness to see everyone as equal.

And what if I’d been attacked by whites? I think I’d have been more outraged, more quick to judge, less likely to look for some meaning in the act. I’d have desired stiffer punishment than Larry got, assuming, perhaps wrongly, that my assailants had had more advantages to start with and so had traveled a greater distance across the moral scale. Is that fair? No. ..."
Discussions of racial issues can be heated, and honest, and necessarily humanly imperfect, without descending to personal invective, or being unilaterally assumed to be based in hate.
posted by paulsc at 1:11 PM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


spaltavian: "Are there Mick-Jew jokes?"

Sure.

A rabbi was playing poker with 2 priests in Dublin when the cops showed up. One of the cops says, "Father Kelly, have you just been engaged in illegal gambling?"

Father Kelly winces, and mutters under his breadth, "Please God, forgive me for what I am about to do." He looks at the cop and says, "Absolutely not, officer."

The cop turns to the second priest and says, "Father O Brien, were you gambling just now?"

Father O Brien looks towards heaven, pauses for a second, bites his lip, and says painfully, "No... Not at all, officer."

The cop turns to the Rabbi and says, "And what about you, Rabbi Goldberg. Have you been gambling?"

The Rabbi, looking perplexed, says "Gambling, officer? With who?"

posted by Joe Beese at 1:12 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always thought "going Welsh on a bet" -> "Welshing on a bet" was about English people failing to pay on a bet and fleeing their ruined reputation to hide out in Wales (as a placeholder for any foreign country most likely), and didn't actually imply anything about the Welsh national character.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:12 PM on September 3, 2009


Discussions of racial issues can be heated, and honest, and necessarily humanly imperfect, without descending to personal invective, or being unilaterally assumed to be based in hate.

If your comment had just one more paragraph, I might have favorited it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:13 PM on September 3, 2009


Bigotry is not dependent on demographics.

This is either the plainest of platitudes or else dios is implying THAT HATING GLENN BECK IS BIGOTRY, TOO!!!

Are we being trolled by paulsc and Mastercheddaar?

The latter, pretty much always, I'd say; the former is just a douchebag.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:14 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


didn't actually imply anything about the Welsh national character

This is true, insofar as the Welsh national character is actually the letter "Y".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on September 3, 2009 [13 favorites]


There are people who favorited paulsc's comment who I know and like. I wish they'd come and explain what they were thinking!

I know and like anotherpanacea but I'm concerned about his lack of worry regarding the alliance between Bigfoot and the chupacabras.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:16 PM on September 3, 2009


Dude, the problem is not the way that you referenced the Roma and Romani culture. It's that you thought that, when discussing deceptive practices, the Roma are a relevant paradigm to demonstrate your point.
posted by The World Famous at 1:16 PM on September 3, 2009 [11 favorites]


there aren't Irish in America, there are Americans in America.

Wow. This will come as some shock to friends and coworkers of mine who have recently emigrated from Ireland (not to mention dozens of other countries). I guess they don't have to go through the process of getting resident permits, much less their citizenship, since evidently they magically became Americans instantly upon touching our golden shores!

I mean, seriously, do you not see the sheer, unadulterated, mortifying stupidity of such a statement?
posted by scody at 1:17 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


What exactly do you intend to do about it?

Can we get an anti-contact list? A list of people we probably won't ever agree with? That way if they make any comments or favorite anything, we can be notified to head on over there and disagree with it? Or remember to stay away from it, as the case may be?

That would be useful, actually...


The statement "I kind of want to know who favorited that shit" carries a whiff of the Internet Tough Guy, so, come and get me. Tough Guy.

I would enjoy seeing such a system implemented, I'm sure it would be completely free of griefing and gaming.
posted by Scoo at 1:18 PM on September 3, 2009



I know and like anotherpanacea but I'm concerned about his lack of worry regarding the alliance between Bigfoot and the chupacabras.


Bigfeet running around, hurling chupacabras at you from a great height, eating all our salmon and scaring the women, strange times we live in.
posted by The Whelk at 1:19 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


If Bigfoot has truly allied with the chupacabras, then we're all doomed. DOOMED, I tell you! DOOMED!
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:21 PM on September 3, 2009


Err... Scoo? We already can see who favorited it.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:21 PM on September 3, 2009


it drew a blanket condemnation of all Roma, based on behaviors frequently attributed by police to some Roma who engage in deceptive business practices

Why draw a blanket of condemnation on any specific group of people, other than "those who engage in deceptive business practices"?
posted by dirtdirt at 1:22 PM on September 3, 2009


Did i miss a point here or something...mastercheddaar talked about how gypsies had black morals for what it did and how paulsc's parents made him do the gypsy thing when he trailed damage and it made the blacks better gypsies because of it. Can you really argue the fact that Larry is a gypsy? Only real thing I can see is the whole paulsc is a racist comment and so is mastercheddaar. Honestly in my whole life I have never seen a good Mastercheddaar post. Everyone I know who has traveled to the blue has heard from the OGs that his posts are bad. He will posts long blocks of texts and not care that it is totally insane. I've known people that have been paulsc before. The mods told them it was more than likely made up stories about gypsies. Even mastercheddaar's aunt who was born in Italy and still has the accent, when asked about "paulsc" blesses herself, swears in Italian, and calls him human garbage. I'm 50% Ukrainian and I know all of our traditions. Even in my family history, we were a bunch of gypsies, there is a story of how they kidnapped a little northern Italian girl because they thought she was beautiful. I know all of our traditions I'm 50% Ukrainian. Now obviously if the mods, the rockers, a little northern Italian girl, and a sweet old Italian woman have nothing good to say about Mastercheddaar then perhaps the stereotype holds water. Now I know I have limited experience in dealing with him but if enough people say the stove in hot don't touch it... then I'm going to take their word for it. I could be wrong but if all these stories are being told about him then I'm not going to chance it. I'm 50% Ukrainian and I know all of our traditions. I'm 50% Ukrainian and I know all of our traditions.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:23 PM on September 3, 2009 [16 favorites]


posted by CKmtl Embarrassingly, I'd always thought that expression was rooted in some instance of Racquel Welch being a sore loser.

As a wee child, I thought "Welch on a bet" meant paying the other person in grape juice because you didn't have money. I also thought it was called a "Patty Wagon" and it had something to do with one or both of the Pattys in Peanuts.
posted by mattdidthat at 1:23 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


scody: there aren't Irish in America, there are Americans in America.

Wow. This will come as some shock to friends and coworkers of mine who have recently emigrated from Ireland (not to mention dozens of other countries). I guess they don't have to go through the process of getting resident permits, much less their citizenship, since evidently they magically became Americans instantly upon touching our golden shores!

I mean, seriously, do you not see the sheer, unadulterated, mortifying stupidity of such a statement?


The full sentence:

Except for those on holiday or got off the boat themselves, there aren't Irish in America, there are Americans in America.

Even if I didn't add that totally obvious qualifier, your post would still be idotic since it's obvious in context that we're talking about Americans who think they have some special connection to Irish culture even though they are generations and generations removed from an actual Irish person.

Talk about sheer, unadulterated, mortifying stupidity.
posted by spaltavian at 1:24 PM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Actually, the thing about the World New Daily is that it doesn't take itself seriously. It's like a pre-Onion, pre-Daily Show news spoof. I love that about it.

You know, I think I'll put together an FPP...
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:24 PM on September 3, 2009


scody: Wow. This will come as some shock to friends and coworkers of mine who have recently emigrated from Ireland (not to mention dozens of other countries). I guess they don't have to go through the process of getting resident permits, much less their citizenship, since evidently they magically became Americans instantly upon touching our golden shores!

Andy: Okay, smart guy. Jackie says she wants to celebrate our differences.
Byron: That sounds good.
Andy: But you said that we're not supposed to see our differences.
Byron: We really shouldn't.
Andy: How are we supposed to celebrate them if we can't see them?
Byron: Well, I guess you're just going to have to ignore as well as celebrate what makes Jackie exactly the same and completely different from everyone else.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:26 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Americans who think they have some special connection to Irish culture even though they are generations and generations removed from an actual Irish person.

And how about those African-Americans! I mean, honestly, how far back do you have to go to find an actual African?

Seiously, you don't want to identify as Irish American, feel free, but I'm not certain the point in trying to strip the identity away from those for whom the self-identification means something.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:27 PM on September 3, 2009


I haven't read this thread (yet), but I just want to say how pleased I am that the comment in question is still up and available to see. Bad ideas or words don't go away if we just erase them, and the best course of action is to address whatever is contentious, promote discussion and exchange, and shine some light in those dark places.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:29 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Uhm... accidentally flagged it as fantastic instead of offensive...

I am ashamed.
posted by Askiba at 1:30 PM on September 3, 2009


Astro Zombie, that's a perfectly solid, interesting argument. Just as long as we can agree that's what we're talking about, and not an imagined argument where I somehow said a person who moved here is magically given a Coca-Cola and is instantly no longer from their homeland.
posted by spaltavian at 1:33 PM on September 3, 2009


Another way of looking at paulsc's observation is that he believes that the conditioning of the Roma culture is making them hard to integrate into mainstream society. I have NO idea whether or not that's actually true, but it strikes me that approaching it from that angle would be a lot more productive. Is there any truth to what he says? Are the Roma conditioning themselves to be this way? And if they aren't, why are we conditioning ourselves to believe they do?

The Roma likely originate from the Indian sub-continent. They are very dark-skinned, and their culture, going back thousands of years, is that of merchants. They bought goods at one place, and then traveled abroad to sell them at another for a good profit. They were a nomadic people of no fixed place, who looked very different from the locals, and who cut the local middle-men out of their cut.

In the past few hundred years, as the government of the nation-state has grown stronger, the Roma have been forced to settle down - borders are closed to them, their goods confiscated, their wagons destroyed and their horses commandeered. So, they were forced to settle down... in places where they looked different from the locals, had different social customs from the locals, and where the politically powerful local middlemen had long memories and were still pissed off at being "cheated" out of their cut.

The result is that the Roma have been shut out of society - not allowed to take jobs that could go to whites, not allowed the basic protections and support of a government, and told it's all their own fault for being inherently evil.

So, nice Italian grandmothers never bothered to contemplate issues of race, class and culture... they just heard from their nice Italian grandmother that these gypsies are human trash, and a friend of Uncle Guiseppe, who knows someone from Florence, who heard from someone who knew someone who was there, that those dark-skinned men kidnapped a white girl because she was pretty!

Uh-huh. Heard that one, too, right here in the US. Just ask Emmit Till.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:34 PM on September 3, 2009 [11 favorites]


Dude, the problem is not the way that you referenced the Roma and Romani culture. It's that you thought that, when discussing deceptive practices, the Roma are a relevant paradigm to demonstrate your point.

Yes, exactly.

Maybe I missed something in that original thread about gypsies, but what do the people in question (Larry et al.) have to do with gypsies? Could you really not find a way to describe your disapproval of their lives without dragging a totally unrelated and irrelevant group into it?

Your "edits" above, specifically this: sometimes attributed by police to some bands of Roma who repeatedly engage in fraudulent business practices is just a mess. Which police do this? The cops in the article?

The Roma are the only people who engage in fraudulent business practices? They're the only people who cheat or steal or scam? Where have you been for the last year? Did you miss the whole thing about the entire country getting ripped off by bankers?

You claim that you disdain race as a basis for anything, but the example you reached for was a racial/ethnic one. Why?
posted by rtha at 1:34 PM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


spaltavian: Even if I didn't add that totally obvious qualifier, your post would still be idotic since it's obvious in context that we're talking about Americans who think they have some special connection to Irish culture even though they are generations and generations removed from an actual Irish person.

Honestly, spaltavian, regardless of your ethnic or cultural heritage, I really don't think you are in any position to dictate whether other people should feel offended by a particular racially-loaded term.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:34 PM on September 3, 2009


I don't think I have ever said otherwise.

Just to be clear, though, my identity is Irish-American. I don't claim to be Irish, but I do think the Irish in America have had a pretty distinctive experience, have retained a lot of their indiginous culture, have invented a fair amount of new and explicitly Irish-American culture, and that's a lot more specific and interesting to me than just being an American.

That being said, I am adopted, and my own heritage is pretty vague to me. I'm in the process of tracking it down right now. There is a possibility I'm not actually Irish-American at all and have been misinformed my entire life, which would be pretty hard for me to know what to do with, as I have identified as Irish American for 41 years now and am pretty heavily invested in it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:36 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I got off the boat this morning from my homeland, I was startled to find a can of Coca-Cola magically in my hand and no memory of where, exactly, my long sea voyage began. And that is why I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know my first can of Coke is free.
posted by The World Famous at 1:39 PM on September 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


Except for those on holiday or got off the boat themselves, there aren't Irish in America, there are Americans in America.

So in the grand and stereotypical tradition of Caucasian Americans of Irish descent who long for a cultural connection that goes further back in time than McDonald's and Star Wars, I visited Ireland to "discover my cultural heritage" or whatever. I wasn't just some random American tourist who "thought he might have some Irish in him" or anything, either. I'd done the research, narrowed things down to a barrister's daughter who'd run off to New England with a Swedish sea captain, who'd later abandoned her there, pregnant; her daughters were raised by the family next door, and never found out that their "neighbor" was actually their mother until she wrote them a letter about it from her deathbed. I had the family name ("McClory," which sounds pretty Irish but isn't a particularly common name), the town they were from (Newry, right on the border of the Republic and the six counties), and even the address of the barrister's office. Anyway, I show up in Newry, find myself a bed-and-breakfast, and the first morning I'm there, as I'm eating my Ulster fry and getting ready to go explore the town, the guy who owned the place I was staying asks me what I'm doing in Newry, anyway. I tell him most of the story (omitting the bit about the sea captain), and he asks me the name of the family.

"McClory," I tell him.

"Oh, there are some McClories just up the road," his wife tells me as I'm mopping up the last of my black and white puddings.

"Yeah," agreed her husband, "and they're a bunch of fuckin' weirdos."
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:41 PM on September 3, 2009 [29 favorites]


posted by The World Famous When I got off the boat this morning from my homeland, I was startled to find a can of Coca-Cola magically in my hand and no memory of where, exactly, my long sea voyage began. And that is why I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know my first can of Coke is free.

You're welcome. We will now teach you how to sing in perfect harmony.
posted by mattdidthat at 1:42 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd done the research, narrowed things down to a barrister's daughter who'd run off to New England with a Swedish sea captain, who'd later abandoned her there, pregnant; her daughters were raised by the family next door, and never found out that their "neighbor" was actually their mother until she wrote them a letter about it from her deathbed.

This is a folk song waiting to happen.
posted by The Whelk at 1:44 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


You might enjoy the movie The Matchmaker, about an Americvan politician named McGlory who sends his aid to Ireland to track down his Irish roots. Turns out, at the end, that his father was actually Hungarian, or something, and just pretended to be Irish in order to get ahead in politics.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:44 PM on September 3, 2009


Irish in America have...have invented a fair amount of new and explicitly Irish-American culture.

Like corned beef and cabbage! They don't have that in Ireland! It's sure good, though.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:44 PM on September 3, 2009




and never found out that their "neighbor" was actually their mother until she wrote them a letter about it from her deathbed.

Bar exam question?
posted by The World Famous at 1:46 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, it's a fact that there's a subculture of Roma that run cons and scams. Just like the mafia is a real thing. But I don't think you'd have thought to say: "Italian values" when you meant to say "Mafia values."

Is there a particular word for the less law abiding segment of Roma society?
posted by empath at 1:46 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


And no, paulsc, your qualifications and clarifications have made things dramatically worse, because you're trying to weasel out the responsibility for your workds, while still clinging to your contemptible prejudice. You need better source material than that to copy over verbatim to be let off this hook... but if you had better source material you wouldn't be so bigoted, and hence not on the hook to begin with.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:46 PM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


There is a possibility I'm not actually Irish-American at all and have been misinformed my entire life, which would be pretty hard for me to know what to do with, as I have identified as Irish American for 41 years now and am pretty heavily invested in it.

Lack of Irish ancestry has by no means been a hindrance to a great number of people to celebrate Irish culture, or even celebrate being Irish. Myself, my Irish ancestors arrived prior to the Revolutionary War, and any Irish "legacy" remaining in me is jumbled up in Appalachian heritage (weak as it may, having been raised outside of Appalachia - a first in generations of the family line). On St. Patrick's Day, the only thing I get out of it is the fact that I could wear a "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" t-shirt and can back it up genealogically.
posted by Atreides at 1:46 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Irish in America have...have invented a fair amount of new and explicitly Irish-American culture.


I don't care that they're an invention of the 19th century and Scottish Nationalism, my legs look *fucking great* in this kilt.

note I am not actually wearing a kilt.
posted by The Whelk at 1:47 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can we get an anti-contact list? A list of people we probably won't ever agree with?

Yeah, because then we could put all the Roma, Jews, Irish, Germans, Polish, Mexicans, etc. on it!

I cannot believe this thread led to that idea. *Head asplodes*
posted by misha at 1:47 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is true, insofar as the Welsh national character is actually the letter "Y".

But it's actually written as "LLWYQLLWEWNNQ".
posted by OmieWise at 1:51 PM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Help me," cried the fly, "I'm stuck in a viscous circle!"
posted by Sys Rq at 1:52 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


But it's actually written as "LLWYQLLWEWNNQ".

About which almost nothing can be implied.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:53 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Except perhaps a bad cold. Or slight brain damage.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:56 PM on September 3, 2009


Welshman are quite fond of taffy.
posted by electroboy at 1:59 PM on September 3, 2009


For those interested in the current position of the Roma in Europe, the BBC recently produced two short features on them:

Growing marginalisation of Hungary's Roma
How Gypsy gangs use child thieves

The first focuses on the treatment of Roma and the cycle of exclusion & distancing from mainstream society. The second focuses on examples of crimes committed by Roma in different countries.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:01 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, because then we could put all the Roma, Jews, Irish, Germans, Polish, Mexicans, etc. on it!

I cannot believe this thread led to that idea. *Head asplodes*


Why would you conclude it would be used against people who belong to a specific race or religion?
posted by zarq at 2:01 PM on September 3, 2009


"... You claim that you disdain race as a basis for anything, but the example you reached for was a racial/ethnic one. Why?"
posted by rtha at 4:34 PM on September 3

Because it seemed a parallel in a discussion of possible racial motivations for crime, that didn't inflate or deflate Conroy's focus on black/white issues. Drawing a parallel to another cultural minority, some of whom actively maintain a cultural separation that has promoted centuries of mutual mistrust between them and the larger cultures within which they exist, seemed a way of re-framing the argument Conroy was making. Hard to do by talking about sea lions and pine trees, or bankers and insurance executives.

You're entitled to your opinion that it wasn't effective. But in the face of a good faith explanation and an apology for insensitivity in doing so, as well as an attempt to make amends for doing so by editing objectionable passages to narrow their meaning, I think you're beating a dead horse to continue to suggest it was done for any other motivation than what I've stated.

No practical discussion is possible, for people who will not take one another's statements at face value. If you're unwilling to accept mine as such, good day to you.
posted by paulsc at 2:05 PM on September 3, 2009


When we visited my mom's side of the family in Italy, we went back to the original village that both her grandparents had come from.

When we stayed in the house of the X side of the family, they warned us that the Y's would slit our throats and steal our money. When we stayed at the Y's, they could not stop going on and on about how lucky we were to have made it out of the X's with more than the clothes on our back.

Both X and Y's were Italians, from the same friggin town of maybe 2000+ people. It doesn't take much of a difference to trigger distrust.
posted by nomisxid at 2:09 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Welshman are quite fond of taffy.

Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief;
Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of beef;
I went to Taffy's house, Taffy wasn't in;
I jumped upon his Sunday hat and poked it with a pin.

Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a shame;
Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of lamb;
I went to Taffy's house, Taffy was away,
I stuffed his socks with sawdust and filled his shoes with clay.

Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a cheat,
Taffy came to my house, and stole a piece of meat;
I went to Taffy's house, Taffy not there,
I hung his coat and trousers to roast before a fire.
posted by winna at 2:16 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


That comment is appalling.

US Holocaust Memorial Museum website on the genocide of Roma people in the holocaust.

Yeah, this is one of those cases where "you know who else thought Romani were inferior?" actually fits.

paulsc owes Metafilter, and Romani people, a serious, heartfelt apology for his ignorant bigotry.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:17 PM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I sense an upcoming MeTa requesting a new feature called the "anti-sidebar".

It already exists, but most browsers don't support HTML/CSS singularities:
<div/>
   <p/>This anti-sidebar keeps track of nothing. There is nothing to see here. Move along.<"antisidebartext"=class p>
<" -10px;margin-top:"=style "antisidebar"=class "menufooter"=id div>

}
   transparent none no-repeat 0 0;background: 
   -1px solid gypsy;border-bottom: 
   -1px solid gypsy;border-left: 
{ .antisidebar

}
   -11px;font-size: 
   -2px;margin-top: 
   -5px;padding-left: 
   -5px;padding-right: 
{ p.antisidebartext
that was a lot of typing for a crap joke
posted by davejay at 2:19 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, great. Now he's dissing dead horses.
posted by Floydd at 2:19 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


[NOT EQUINE-IST]
posted by mattdidthat at 2:21 PM on September 3, 2009


Yeah, because then we could put all the Roma, Jews, Irish, Germans, Polish, Mexicans, etc. on it!

I cannot believe this thread led to that idea. *Head asplodes*


It was a facetious suggestion at the time (if I wanted to track all the people I disagreed with, I could just use my contact list), but now let me point out that quite a few people on Metafilter don't realize that certain minority groups even read Metafilter in the first place. Which is why they make dumb *wink wink nudge nudge* comments like paulsc's. They think we're all a bunch of white Americans and/or colluders.
posted by muddgirl at 2:26 PM on September 3, 2009


If you're unwilling to accept mine as such, good day to you.

You are trying to rationalize the irrational, which is a non-starter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:29 PM on September 3, 2009


Try washing it down with a can of Clamto + beer Bud Light

OMG!
posted by ericb at 2:29 PM on September 3, 2009


Well, paulsc, because of the way that you frame what you're apologizing for (either "failing to more clearly flesh out my meaning in the comment called out in this thread" or "using terms at all loosely, that history has shown need a careful hand, to have meaning, beyond insult"), it seems less as if you're apologizing at all and more as if you're trying to rationalize your racism. If you're really, genuinely sorry, you're sorry, and all you have to do is say--wait for it--"I'm sorry", no qualifications.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:31 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Are there Mick-Jew jokes?

Gesundheit!
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:31 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


...there aren't Irish in America, there are Americans in America...

Yeah. None here in Boston.
posted by ericb at 2:31 PM on September 3, 2009


No practical discussion is possible, for people who will not take one another's statements at face value. If you're unwilling to accept mine as such, good day to you.
posted by paulsc at 2:05 PM on September 3


What you're saying is "even though there is a bunch of evidence that I'm a racist, you have to believe that I'm not a racist before I can even begin to explain how I'm not a racist."

Classic.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:32 PM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Irish Need Not Apply!
posted by ericb at 2:33 PM on September 3, 2009


A viscous circle is a goopy loop.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:37 PM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that rhyme winna put in was in a Richard Scary's nursery rhyme book I used to have...
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:38 PM on September 3, 2009


When the roof on our condo was re-done, it was a blazing hot week in June. The roofers would start before we woke up. They'd take a siesta on our front lawn around noon, and they'd still be working after my husband came home from his 9-5. So, even with a nap they still put in a 10-11 hour day doing hard physical labor.
posted by desjardins


I find it humorous that using minimal exposure to races and coming to conclusions is frowned upon, and rightfully so, but the reverse, even taken to the extreme (I had a mexican work for me once!) pretty much goes unchallenged.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 2:40 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Outrageous anecdotes shined bright by decades of retelling all have that cinematic element to them. It's like real life filtered through that Hollywood script-doctor software.

Yeah, after getting into the story, I was all set for paulsc to tell us that Mr. Miyagi lived next door and taught them how to wax the Airstream after they had strenuously hand washed it. ("Wax on right hand, wax off left hand.").
posted by ericb at 2:49 PM on September 3, 2009


I think it's because only an asshole would criticize someone for offering a compliment, regardless of how broadly it was applied. Not every human conversation requires a double-blind experiment to validate its assertions. And no one ever started a genocide against a group of people they thought were honest and hardworking, though perhaps I've understood Rwandan politics wrong all these years.
posted by GuyZero at 2:49 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find it humorous that using minimal exposure to races and coming to conclusions is frowned upon, and rightfully so, but the reverse, even taken to the extreme (I had a mexican work for me once!) pretty much goes unchallenged.

I don't want to speak for anyone else, but I think it's the difference between saying "all X people are like this" and saying "I knew some X people who aren't like this, so not all X people are like this."

To make the second claim, you don't need to meet all X people.
posted by prefpara at 2:51 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


posted by ericb after getting into the story, I was all set for paulsc to tell us that Mr. Miyagi lived next door and taught them how to wax the Airstream after they had strenuously hand washed it.

I was reading it and hoping the Airstream would turn out to be the home of Bigfoot and his chupacabra partner. And then I imagined paulsc as a small child, being terrorized The Legend of Boggy Creek stylee.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:54 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


...good day to you.

Omg, paulsc is Paul Harvey!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:55 PM on September 3, 2009


If you're unwilling to accept mine as such, good day to you.

I SAID GOOD DAY, SLUR
posted by scody at 2:57 PM on September 3, 2009 [17 favorites]


There's always an uncomfortable silence when an American tourist declares that they are Irish. Seriously, it is embarrassing. If you are American and plan to visit Ireland to discover your roots, don't describe yourself to people as being Irish. You are not, you are American, and no words or surgery or vague family tree is going to change that. That's a good thing too, because us Paddies are a bunch of fucking drunken bigots.
posted by Elmore at 3:00 PM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


If you are American and plan to visit Ireland to discover your roots, don't describe yourself to people as being Irish.

I mostly told people that my family was originally from Ireland and I wanted to see where from, exactly; they seemed mostly OK with that, though I did get a lot of "What the fuck you want to go up there for? Go to Galway, Galway's nice."

After I finished checking out the Newry canals and the cemetery and stuff, I finally took their advice and headed off to Galway, and they were right. Galway is nice.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:05 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


What does it mean that I'm Irish and German and could care less about going to either country?
posted by desjardins at 3:12 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a subtle difference between someone visiting with an interest in the place and where their family came from and someone who boldly declares that they are actually Irish in a loud American accent. Yeah, Galway is nice, but they're all drunken bigots over in the West.
posted by Elmore at 3:12 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


no words or surgery or vague family tree is going to change that

All this may be true. But I've got Irish citizenship anyway. neener neener neener!
posted by Zed at 3:13 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


What does it mean that I'm Irish and German and could care less about going to either country?

That you are grounded?
posted by Elmore at 3:13 PM on September 3, 2009


I'm a mutt. I don't care where you're from, I don't trust any of you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:13 PM on September 3, 2009


But I've got Irish citizenship anyway. neener neener neener!

Good God, keep that to yourself. They'll be introducing a passport levy soon, no doubt.
posted by Elmore at 3:15 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a subtle difference between someone visiting with an interest in the place and where their family came from and someone who boldly declares that they are actually Irish in a loud American accent.

Heh, not really that subtle.

Galway is nice, but they're all drunken bigots over in the West.

I was there during the big arts festival thing, and I'm pretty sure that 90 percent of the people there were teenage hippies from Dublin.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:15 PM on September 3, 2009


posted by desjardins What does it mean that I'm Irish and German and could care less about going to either country?

It means we need to know exactly how much less you could care.
posted by mattdidthat at 3:16 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find it humorous that using minimal exposure to races and coming to conclusions is frowned upon, and rightfully so, but the reverse, even taken to the extreme (I had a mexican work for me once!) pretty much goes unchallenged.

prefpara did just fine at rebutting you, but to make sure you get the point, let's take it out of the realm of race for a minute.

Bill: Toyotas are SHIT cars! Mine broke down on the highway and my sister's refused to start last winter. I heard they make them out of TOILET PAPER!
Joe: I don't understand why you think that. I've had a Toyota for 200,000 miles and it's never needed any major repairs.
posted by desjardins at 3:17 PM on September 3, 2009


I was there during the big arts festival thing, and I'm pretty sure that 90 percent of the people there were teenage hippies from Dublin.

When you have fire poi, your hometown becomes irrelevant.
posted by carbide at 3:23 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was there during the big arts festival thing, and I'm pretty sure that 90 percent of the people there were teenage hippies from Dublin.

The Fleadh. Yup, damn tippies.

The Electric Picnic (small three day music festival) is on this weekend in Laois. Best thing about it is there is no entry for 13-17 year olds. How fucking awesome is that? I'm not going though, for different reasons.
posted by Elmore at 3:24 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you are American and plan to visit Ireland to discover your roots, don't describe yourself to people as being Irish. You are not, you are American, and no words or surgery or vague family tree is going to change that.

I've recounted this before, but I was discussing ethnic heritage with an American I know and on pronouncing my own family background she replied: "But you aren't really, are you? I mean, you're Canadian is all."

So I ask her: well, sure, and you're American, but don't you know some of your ethnic language? (no) Attend religious services connected to your people? (no) Eat ethnic dishes on your people's holidays? (no, and no)

Oh... well yeah. I guess you're "just" an American. *shrug*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:42 PM on September 3, 2009


May I just state for the record that for the longest time I thought "gypsies" referred not to an ethnic group (and offensively so), but to a historical profession/lifestyle/whatever. Not unlike Vikings (or ninjas).

Also, that "Roma" referred to the people traditionally associated with that historical profession/lifestyle/whatever. Not unlike the Norse (or the Japanese).

So, if I ever used "gypsy" in a derogatory way before (and I don't think I have), please don't be offended, Roma folks! I merely thought of you like I thought of Vikings (or ninjas): legendary mysterious badasses.

(Also, I thought "paddy wagon" = old-timey word for police car, until this thread. The More You Know ≈≈≈★)
posted by Rhaomi at 4:14 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


This isn't some guy saying "I was gypped!" and unaware of the etymology.
FYI: gypped probably doesn't derive from gypsy.
posted by seanyboy at 4:18 PM on September 3, 2009


Woah - Did my callout of boo_radley's appalling comment get deleted?
And boo_radley's comment is allowed to stand?

That's not cool.
posted by seanyboy at 4:22 PM on September 3, 2009


My Mom also liked to tell us that we were left on the doorstep by gypsies and in my more crabby teenaged years I did spend some time looking out the window waiting for them to come back for me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:22 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


seanyboy, you'll need to make your point without calling people twats or cunts, yeah.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:23 PM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


For those wanting to learn more about the Roma, this book looks interesting: Bury Me Standing.

That book was recommended twice in this Ask thread: How to establish good community relations with Roma?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 4:24 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Drawing a parallel to another cultural minority, some of whom actively maintain a cultural separation that has promoted centuries of mutual mistrust between them and the larger cultures within which they exist, seemed a way of re-framing the argument Conroy was making.

Maybe you should rethink BOTH your prejudice against Romani AND your prejudice against black people!
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:25 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought it was an excellent read, Fuzzy Monster
posted by applemeat at 4:25 PM on September 3, 2009


So yeah, if we didn't have air-conditioned offices to return to, I can completely imagine laying down in the shade and napping from 4-7 or so.

I've never understood the mockery of the siesta. Seems like the height of common sense and civilisation in a warm clime - a nice big lunch, a post-prandial nap, and then working a bit later in the cool evening.
posted by rodgerd at 4:27 PM on September 3, 2009


May I just state for the record that for the longest time I thought "gypsies" referred not to an ethnic group (and offensively so), but to a historical profession/lifestyle/whatever.

Ditto. Not least because if, in New Zealand, you referred to someone as a gypsy, you are extremely unlikely to be referring to someone of actual Roma heritage.
posted by rodgerd at 4:28 PM on September 3, 2009


No practical discussion is possible, for people who will not take one another's statements at face value. If you're unwilling to accept mine as such, good day to you.

It helps if you read paulsc in the voice of Gene Wilder as Charlie:

"It's all there, black and white, clear as crystal! You stole fizzy lifting drinks! You bumped into the ceiling which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!"
posted by Justinian at 4:30 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


To be fair, and extremely generous to paulsc, I can sort of see what he was trying to do. Reasoning or arguing by analogy is something we do all the time, and I can see the logic (sort of) in using a well-known racial/ethnic group that is stereotyped as having outcast/criminal values as an analogy for our racial issues here. So I guess if by the reference to "gypsy values" he meant a sort of category type or shorthand for "the stereotype that some Europeans hold about gypsies and their values, i.e. an insular minority that is hostile towards the justice system and outsiders in general," then it made a kind of twisted sense.

The problem is (as noted upthread) that it was extremely hamfisted and he didn't really take any care in noting that such stereotypes are of course, unfair and vile. On top of that, he could have just spelled out what he meant, hopefully in a more concise way than I did above, what he was really trying to say.

MORAL: you can't just drop in something that is so easily interpreted, and rightfully, as a simply awful racist reference without the kind of context that paul belatedly tried to provide upthread - so don't do that!
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 4:30 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: make your point without calling people twats or cunts
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 4:31 PM on September 3, 2009


Kattullus writes: I always thought it was "paddy wagon" because in the US Irish Americans are traditionally cops.

Live and learn.


I always thought so too... hmm.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:43 PM on September 3, 2009


I was there during the big arts festival thing 70s and 80s and I'm pretty sure that 90 percent of the people there were teenage hippies from Dublin.

FTFY
posted by Nick Verstayne at 4:54 PM on September 3, 2009


When I taught at Unnamed State University, we did get memos. I remember one that included, along with stuff like "'Oriental' is an inappropriate term for people of Asian descent; please use "Asian" or "Asian American" or specific national terms like "Chinese" or "Korean" where appropriate,"

I'd just like to throw in that this kind of paternalistic stuff (not ragging on Sidhedevil here at all) sometimes ends up doing the same sort of thing it's intended to prevent. Most of the Korean folks I know who are reasonably capable in English, refer to themselves, if they're talking regionally, as Oriental. It is totally commonplace here, and not a loaded word, to them, at all. I can imagine a situation where a Korean exchange student showed up at Unnamed State University, referred to themselves as Oriental in a class discussion, and was chastened for it. That would be funny, in a single-tear-running-down-the-fake-Indian-guy's-cheek kinda way.

Yeah, I said 'Indian'.

There are people who favorited paulsc's comment who I know and like. I wish they'd come and explain what they were thinking!

Oh, for goodness sakes. Like Astro Zombie said, favorites, as has been discussed many many times, are badly named, because the name implies favor, implies that someone is clicking the idiot button because they like something. But in reality, many people use them as a tool to bookmark things, whether they 'favor' them or not. So people who are getting all pants-poopingly witch-hunty about who favorited paulsc's comment should maybe chill.

Admittedly, the trend is tending towards them being used and understood as a crowd-sourced measure of worth. I hate that trend a lot.

Also, Clamato is fucking awesome, or used to be. I've heard reports that the Americans have screwed it up something awful these days with their salt and their chemical flavour enhancers and their mechanically separated goat testicles and their big hair and shiny teeth.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:00 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: People who are getting all pants-poopingly witch-hunty.
posted by The World Famous at 5:03 PM on September 3, 2009


So I have Irish blood (have we established that Americans can say that in this thread? Swedish blood too, lots of red hair, pretty tall and broad, moody, short tempered, shit talking, stereotypical) and I'd just like to ask all my Irish cousins to stop coming to America and sleeping on my fucking couch and getting laid off their "jest a wee dram darlin' and where's the harm in that?" business with their tacky ass shell-suits and gel in the hair and taking all the bartending jobs, for fecks sake yiz bunch of FOB donks.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:06 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wikipedia suggests that Kattulus and I might not be incorrect in our assumptions about the origins of paddy wagon. But, yeah, I know, it's just Wikipedia.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:33 PM on September 3, 2009


Silly me, I always thought that the Romani people were a race, and gypsies were people (anyone) who were transient beggars/swindlers/merchants of junk and intrigue. Every society has some form of gypsy.
posted by gjc at 5:38 PM on September 3, 2009


Sheesh. I couldn't see the comment as anything but racist. A simple, "I'm sorry, Metafilter," would have been nice.
posted by agregoli at 5:38 PM on September 3, 2009


A simple, "I'm sorry, Metafilter," would have been nice.

Some can rise to that particular occasion, and some can't.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:40 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


We Norwegians can, but Swedes typycally cannot.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:42 PM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Actually, upon mature reflection, I think I can close one of the viscous circles in this flow- resistant thread. Let me at least attempt, yeah?

They weren't actually teenage hippies from Dublin invading Galway, they were far worse, yeah?. They were 20-something New Age Travelllers from, like Godalming or Dorking in Surrey, yeah? They had like dreadlocks, and smoked rollies, right? And all of them - every last one of them, yeah? - had a three legged dog on a leash made of twine. Most of them busked on Shop Street using the pipe from a vacuum cleaner as a didgeridoo whilst necking a can of Carlsberg Special Brew or geting their be-mulleted 6 year old offspring to pass around the hat in order to pay for same. We called them Crusties.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 5:42 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


But Swedes can spell
posted by Dumsnill at 5:42 PM on September 3, 2009


What's the only thing Swedes have that Norwegians don't?

Nice Neighbors
posted by applemeat at 5:45 PM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


May I just state for the record that for the longest time I thought "gypsies" referred not to an ethnic group (and offensively so), but to a historical profession/lifestyle/whatever.

When I was little, I thought "gypsy" was a synonym for "fortune teller" (i.e. the storybook version of a female fortune teller -- flowing scarves, crystal ball, heavy makeup, glittery jewelry, etc.) and when my grandmother told me that the gypsies would steal me if I strayed from the yard, I secretly wished it would happen.
posted by amyms at 5:47 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, if we're going down the whole Norway route in a thread about Roma, am I allowed to mention that I think John Arne Riise has had a torrid time since his move to Roma? It'll be interesting to see how he fares under Ranieri.

Now THAT's how to derail a good stereotyping thread with class, you bunch of feckin' baby whale-murderers.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 5:54 PM on September 3, 2009


I apologize in advance for the following anti-Roma sentiment:

Forza Lazio!
posted by The World Famous at 5:57 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I seriously always thought it was "paddy wagon" because it was somehow padded to prevent the arrestees riding in it from injuring themselves.
posted by blenderfish at 6:07 PM on September 3, 2009


Alvy Ampersand: To be fair, their tomatoes have a weird texture and disconcertingly remind me of testicles, so that is one strike against them.

I always amused the tomato was named for the city, not the ethnic group. Wiki doesn't say which it is, anybody know?
posted by paisley henosis at 6:20 PM on September 3, 2009


Most of us Indians refer to ourselves as Indians. Native American is a term that was recently foisted upon us and nobody really asked us if that was cool. Also anyone born in the Americas is a Native American blah blah blah blah...
posted by elsietheeel at 6:21 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Speaking of phrases with an epithet at their core: when a man and a woman go on a date and each person pays his or her own tab at the restaurant, is it socially acceptable to say that they went Dutch?
posted by paisley henosis at 6:27 PM on September 3, 2009


paulsc says, "blah blah"...

... and now, you know the rest of the story.
posted by cj_ at 6:31 PM on September 3, 2009


Also anyone born in the Americas is a Native American.

Word. I'm tired of explaining to people that South America has Indians too, and I just happen to be one, even though my New York Jewishness tends to predominate the conversation. "Native South American" and "the indigenous peoples of South America" don't really roll off the tongue, do they.


ALSO: It was also popularly believed that Jews had horns. They don't.

Oh, you poor gullible fool. Did you really think we have mohels just for circumcision? Obvsly you never considered how difficult it would be to control all the world's money & media while having HORNS.

posted by elizardbits at 6:39 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree in principle, AZ, but I think the punks, chavs, Juggalos, trailer trash, skids and junkies would like to have a word with you about how equitably that's applied across different sociocultural strata.

Grace: "Oh, he's very popular, Ed. The punks, the chavs, Juggalos, trailer trash, skids, junkies --they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."
posted by axiom at 6:47 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


> Now THAT's how to derail a good stereotyping thread with class, you bunch of feckin' baby whale-murderers.

It would be a nice derail if I had any idea who John Arne Riise or what he could possibly be doing under Ranieri, as it is there's no way it can possibly derail me.

I have a similar experience to Astro Zombie's in that I know pretty much nothing on my paternal father's side and my family wasn't into family ancestry (not making a joke), so things like what nationality or ethnicity I am have never played a huge role in my life, but I was adopted by a man with Norwegian roots, and now I have pretty fully incorporated this into my identity. I'm pretty sure at this point that if I found out I was German or Dutch I would still consider myself Norwegian.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:47 PM on September 3, 2009


For the nth time, favorite-ing a comment doesn't mean it's your favorite. It could mean you want to read it later, or you find it exceedingly ricockulous.

And it's funny how people were in a rush to fellate paulsc recently for talking about his parents. Because only a few days before that he was posting truly bizarre comments as to how we shouldn't fix the American health-care system because everybody dies eventually.

Seriously, he posted this and a few days later people were swooning just because he had some folksy things to say about the death of his parents.

Mefites are fickle, to say the least.
posted by bardic at 6:58 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Most of us Indians refer to ourselves as Indians. Native American is a term that was recently foisted upon us and nobody really asked us if that was cool.

I always liked the position of the Cheyenne in Little Big Man. They just called themselves Human Beings.
posted by philip-random at 7:05 PM on September 3, 2009


Most of us Indians refer to ourselves as Indians. Native American is a term that was recently foisted upon us and nobody really asked us if that was cool.

Yeah, I was being jocular there, above, but I grew up in a northern Canadian town of about 3000 people, with more than a third of the population made up of status and non-status Indians (and almost another third Indians and Pakistanis, which was odd, for the place and time). Most folks, either native or not, used the word without any implicit pejorative (despite the historical silliness of it, and the historical not-so-silly stuff, too).

But times have changed, even in the frozen north, and I was bemused to hear on my latest visit back that the 'acceptable' words, at least there, have progressed through several evolutionary iterations over the years.

'Indians' gave way to 'natives' which gave way to 'aboriginal people' which has now given way to 'First Nations people'. All of the previously acceptable-to-most words are now considered to be insulting, at least by the increasingly politicized younger folks, I was told.

*shrug* If that's what the actual people in question want me to say when I refer to their background, I'm happy to do so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:17 PM on September 3, 2009


Mefites are fickle, to say the least.

Well, mefites are heterogeneous, at least. I'm not sure how many individual people dropped unqualified praise for paulsc the other day and also dropped unqualified criticism on him in here today; those specific folks would presumably have something interesting to say about changing expectations on the short term, but the folks who only did one or the other can hardly be held accountable for having differing opinions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:27 PM on September 3, 2009


Stavros: I caught the jocularity. :) But man, Canada is TOTALLY different. That First Nations thing bugs the heck out of me, but it seems to be cool in Canada and I respect that. Your Indians can call themselves whatever they want. A Canadian friend took me to task one day for using the word Indian, and then I took offence to her use of aboriginal. We worked it out in the end.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:34 PM on September 3, 2009


Anecdote time...no, you there in the back, stay awake.
I left school age 16 and couldn't find a decent job right away, so me and a friend went off to hitch-hike round Europe. All we had was our dole money which just about covered the cost of the cross-channel ferry, so we were sleeping rough for most of our time in France and Holland (which was a far as we got on our grand adventure).
So anyway, most nights we'd have a scout about for somewhere dry and safe looking to sleep and could usually come up with somewhere, but in Lille we wandered about for ages without finding anywhere that didn't look dodgy as fuck. Until we saw a bonfire in the distance, which turned out to be a big old pile of junk being burned by some gypsy kids. They spotted us and invited us to come join them round the fire, which we did being knackered from much trudging about. Some grown-ups came over, probably wondering what these two mucky strangers were doing sat with their kids. We communicated best as we could in broken French and a bit of English from both sides and they ascertained we were looking for somewhere dry to kip. They showed us a ruined but dry and cleanish hut beside their camp which they said we were welcome to use for our night's sleep. We then spent an evening sat round the fire in some depressing post-industrial wasteland but cheered by singing songs and sharing their drink and a few bits to eat plus what bad jokes we could manage to crack given the language barrier, had a decent night's sleep and bade our hosts farewell in the morning.
And that, dear reader, is my personal experience of the horrors of Roma cultural values.
posted by Abiezer at 7:34 PM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm tired of reading long comments, Abiezer. Can you just let me know if that was about the "good ol' days" or perhaps contained some casual racism? Then I know if I should favorite it or not.
posted by graventy at 7:43 PM on September 3, 2009


Nothing casual about it graventy - do you realise the energy and organisation required for a sustained campaign of persecutory fire-bombings, vandalism and offensive graffiti?
posted by Abiezer at 7:47 PM on September 3, 2009


Seriously, he posted this and a few days later people were swooning just because he had some folksy things to say about the death of his parents.

You know, I'd favourite that comment, but... you said that one thing once. I think we all know what you're about.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:49 PM on September 3, 2009


I once loved...and was loved by a Gypsy. He was tall, and dark, and beautiful and brilliant. And we backpacked across Europe for a period. I've stayed in camps, I've lived in their homes, I've danced at the fire. They were good people, proud people, fun people, and honorable people. Never has a group so readily accepted me into a circle. I loved them almost as much as I loved him.

Just as a point of fact vs all the speculations and second hand "stuff I done heard from strangers".
posted by dejah420 at 7:49 PM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Most of us Indians refer to ourselves as Indians. Native American is a term that was recently foisted upon us and nobody really asked us if that was cool.

In Alaska the term "Native" is most common; when I hear "Indian" used it sounds weird and makes me think of Lower 48 Indians. The word "Indian" is just as foisted, for that matter. (Yes, I know you understand that.)

There also seems to be more use of actual language/cultural names here, probably because Alaska was colonized by non-Natives much later than the rest of the U.S. with less cultural disruption.

Also anyone born in the Americas is a Native American . . .

No, no. Anyone born in the Americas is a native American (lowercase n).
posted by D.C. at 7:56 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I suppose the real question we should be asking of paulsc is whether a gypsy could take flight from a treadmill.

Eh? Why does that link to my comment?

Is paulsc the one who insisted his wackadoodle theory of airplanes on treadmills was right, even after the science was carefully explained in small words? God love him, that was a stupendously thick bit of his life.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:00 PM on September 3, 2009


whether a gypsy could take flight from a treadmill

I know of at least one band of gypsys that got pretty high. I don't think a treadmill was involved, though.
posted by The World Famous at 8:13 PM on September 3, 2009


So is this story on Irish Travelers in america just overblown newreporting or would they be an acceptable example of a culture that teachs dishonesty with outsiders as a virtue?
posted by 445supermag at 8:15 PM on September 3, 2009


I am not fickle you motherfucker! Who called me fickle?

Any way...

DIvine_Wino, there are an awful lot of hair-gelled Irish lads working behind the bar in Philly. I think it's because American knuckleheads think an Irish or English accent automatically imbues the speaker with depth and character. I hate those bastards.

Which bastards? You decode.
posted by Mister_A at 8:20 PM on September 3, 2009


I once loved...and was loved by a Gypsy. He was tall, and dark, and beautiful and brilliant. And we backpacked across Europe for a period. I've stayed in camps, I've lived in their homes, I've danced at the fire. They were good people, proud people, fun people, and honorable people. Never has a group so readily accepted me into a circle. I loved them almost as much as I loved him.

Are you that Italian girl who got kidnapped? This was probably just Stockholm Syndrome.
posted by graventy at 8:25 PM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


And it's funny how people were in a rush to fellate paulsc recently for talking about his parents. Because only a few days before that he was posting truly bizarre comments as to how we shouldn't fix the American health-care system because everybody dies eventually.

Seriously, he posted this and a few days later people were swooning just because he had some folksy things to say about the death of his parents.

Mefites are fickle, to say the least.


We are large, we contain multitudes. Cf. contradictory thoughts, insane. Also: American Literature 101. Also: MeFi IS LARGE. MeFi CONTAINS MULTITUDES. LITERALLY.

Get off your little pony, bardic. Good people sometimes do and say bad things. Bad people sometimes do and say good things. Is this a surprise?
posted by dogrose at 8:47 PM on September 3, 2009


So is this story on Irish Travelers in america just overblown newreporting or would they be an acceptable example of a culture that teachs dishonesty with outsiders as a virtue?

Both Dateline NBC and Rick Ross are pretty sensationalist. I have no idea as to the actual veracity of that article, but given the sources, I'd take it with a grain of salt.
posted by desjardins at 8:51 PM on September 3, 2009


Reading about common Eastern European attitudes about the Roma and Sinti makes me think there should be another Castlevania in which Simon Belmont and a team of Roma and Sinti guys with various skills (magic, peddling, probably not sneak-thievery, though) fight off racially motivated murderers, then leave Transylvania to Dracula.
posted by ignignokt at 8:51 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Malor: Another way of looking at paulsc's observation is that he believes that the conditioning of the Roma culture is making them hard to integrate into mainstream society.

I can't see where you're getting that from paulsc's comments, Malor, but I want to address what you said.

Refusal to integrate into mainstream society is a survival mechanism for a minority culture. In my demographics class years ago, we talked about subcultures that survived being a minority in a majority land and those who did not. The two factors that fostered survival of a culture surrounded by a dominant culture were separatism and restriction of outmarriage. There are studies that show that religion of the mother and language of the mother determine the religion and language of the children, and this can easily be extrapolated to other parts of culture. An example of a religion that may be losing numbers because of the phenomenon of outmarriage is Judaism.


In addition, in my reading about the Roma as well as some personal experience, Roma may be integrating enough into mainstream culture enough that they are almost indistinguishable from the mainstream. I have a father who is good at spotting assimilated Roma and who doesn't hold the traditional prejudices. My first run-in was with a farmer in northern Illinois who was selling bittersweet wreaths at his home. My mother and I stayed in the car while my father negotiated with a man with long hair, dark eyes, somewhat dark skin. (He looked like Tony Gatlif circa Latcho Drom, actually. When he came back to the car, he casually remarked that the man was a Gypsy.

"On a farm? I thought they traveled." I said.
"Some of them buy land or run their own businesses," Dad remarked.

Years later, I was a gem show and met a woman who apologized for the maladroitness of her young granddaughter who was helping her run the booth. "She's young," she noted. She also remarked positively about my paisley scarf. I realized later, from my childhood, that this woman was also Roma.

There ARE Roma cultural values, but they don't directly translate to crime any more than Italian family values translate to Mafia.
posted by lleachie at 8:53 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


MeFi IS LARGE. MeFi CONTAINS MULTITUDES. LITERALLY.

Our name is MeLegion.
posted by amyms at 8:54 PM on September 3, 2009


Also, now that I've RTFA: The travelers we've spoken to insist - and police will agree - that not all Irish Travelers are law breakers. And no one has suggested that child abuse is prevalent among them.

You can hardly make a generalization about a group from the few cases of abuse and fraud in the article. I have no personal experience with members of this group.
posted by desjardins at 8:57 PM on September 3, 2009


DIvine_Wino, there are an awful lot of hair-gelled Irish lads working behind the bar in Philly. I think it's because American knuckleheads think an Irish or English accent automatically imbues the speaker with depth and character. I hate those bastards.

Which bastards? You decode.


I'll not decode anything ya whore's melt, however I'll happily meet you outside of the Holland tunnel on either side of the Hudson and we can settle this with fists or over-gelled brushed forward caesar haircutting skills.

Am I doing this right?
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:57 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


...is it socially acceptable to say that they went Dutch?
Ohhh, don't get me started on the goddam Dutch. Killing all our elm trees because they're no good for making their stupid shoes, cutting all our doors in half. Don't get me started on the goddam Dutch.
Dutch treat? That's NO TREAT AT ALL!!!
posted by Floydd at 9:00 PM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Don't you be talkin' bout my Dutch Uncle.
posted by The Whelk at 9:03 PM on September 3, 2009


Would you like to see my Dutch oven?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:07 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Would you like to see my Dutch oven?

Nudge nudge, wink wink.
posted by The World Famous at 9:10 PM on September 3, 2009


A proper Dutch oven is smelled, not seen.

Unless you're cooking supper, which is a whole different thing.
posted by dogrose at 9:14 PM on September 3, 2009


Reasoning or arguing by analogy is something we do all the time

Yes, and usually pretty goddamn poorly and/or obscurantist (Obscurantic? Obscurantically?)

Everything I know about Gypsies is via King of the Gypsies, by Peter Maas, and the enormously underrated Tintin romp The Castafiore Emerald.

Ultimately, I've come to the conclusion that Clamato has always been a wonderful beverage, and piano accompanists are a shifty, albeit harmless, lot.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:25 PM on September 3, 2009


Would you like to see my Dutch oven?

Sanchez may not be lazy, but he's certainly dirty.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:29 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sanchez may not be lazy, but he's certainly dirty.

Well of course Sanchez is dirty, he's one of those.














Coprophiliacs. I bet you were thinking Mexican, you fucking racist.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:44 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


"What does it mean that I'm Irish and German and could care less about going to either country?"

You're too drunk to follow orders!
posted by klangklangston at 10:02 PM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Also, I think I would shop at a dollar store called Gypsy Values.
posted by klangklangston at 10:02 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I always thought it was "paddy wagon" because in the US Irish Americans are traditionally cops.

No. "Paddy wagon" predates the time when Irish Americans were hired as cops. I'm pretty sure Noel Ignatiev talks about it in his book.

And, yes, "welsh on a bet" comes from the ethnic stereotype that the Welsh are cheating, parsimonous scoundrels. See also the children's song "Taffy Was a Welshman, Taffy Was a Thief."

You guys are trying to make modern sense out of antiquated ethnic slurs. Which reminds me of the first time I read Kipling's poem "The White Man's Burden"--I was all, "yeah, the white man certainly can be a burden to all the nations and the races of the world" and then years later I was all OH WAIT THAT WASN'T WHAT HE MEANT.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:24 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope I'm not going to get a 500 comment callout if I refer to the dysfunctional culture and broken values of Clamato aficionados.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:27 PM on September 3, 2009


Ah, I see that the Webster's folk etymology is in the Wikipedia. Again, it's actually been sourced earlier than the hiring of many Irish cops. I will have to go dig up my sources on this for more info.

Reading New York newspapers from the early 1800s is an amazing treasure-trove of ethnic prejudices against different flavors of white people. Or, if you can stand insanely long 18th-century novels, let me encourage you to read Modern Chivalry by Hugh Henry Brackenridge. The depictions of the Irish, Welsh, and Germans will astonish you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:30 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Divine_Wino, I think you just asked him out to have drinks. Which is probably the proper course of action before you move on to the more embarrassing stuff like fighting and haircuts.
posted by lilywing13 at 10:34 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


My family has a bit of Irish Traveler in it from a few generations ago. After a relative died, we found old letters between ancestors discussing a relative in jail, a source for cheap fake gold watches that people would be fooled by, and some other planned misdeeds at a town someone just scoped out under the guise of a rug salesman. What's creepy is that even my immediate family keeps up the itinerant behavior, everyone seems to move every few years.

I don't really want to address the offense of associating Larry and his family with some criminal class. But I'm with empath: How on earth can we specifically talk about this kind of culture without being called X-ist? There are clearly criminal subcultures within some of these groups. There's a pretty unique itinerant-conmen-and-petty-criminal culture among a number of individuals, that is clearly taught within the family, and which is more common within a few ethnic groups. Is there some language to delineate between the unique criminal element and the group as a whole? Would help avoid this mess altogether in the future.
posted by FuManchu at 10:44 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


you people really ought to find some other way to spend your time instead of demonizing those (internet folks) whose explanations of the world are different from yours. Just sayin'.

[Not Just Sayin-IST]
posted by at the crossroads at 11:52 PM on September 3, 2009


Actually if we're talking about bizarre comments by a certain user, the tirade about how kids who were picked on by bullies--sorry, were allegedly picked on by bullies--and complained about it were the shitheads (and not the bullies themselves) was perhaps the most jaw-dropping comment I've read on metafilter. The shear vitriol was astonishing. Spittle practically sprayed from my monitor as I was reading it.

After reading it I thought "this is someone who has a 'My child can beat up your honor student' bumper sticker and doesn't realize the sticker is a joke."
posted by maxwelton at 2:52 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


me: What does it mean that I'm Irish and German and could care less about going to either country?

klangklangston: You're too drunk to follow orders!

When I told my husband I was of Irish and German ancestry, he said "Oh great, a stubborn drunk."

it's kind of true.

but he's Finnish and Albanian - what to make of that?
posted by desjardins at 5:35 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm just astounded that the comment is still there. In an era were Romas are being persecuted and killed by right-wing extremists, it strikes me as passing strange that this comment is being left up, when as a rule racist, bigoted and hateful comments are deleted.
posted by dejah420 at 5:40 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


And two people gave him kudos for the comment... I'm trying to rationalize that... maybe they skipped over the first couple lines?

Yeah, one of them was me. Your guess is fairly accurate...I read it through, noted the gypsy comment, but forgot about it by the end of the story. It was a pretty long story, and pretty good (except for that comment), and anti-gypsy racism isn't really an issue in my world, so it didn't raise a big enough red flag.

So I am agreeing that his comment was over the line, and I'm a little sheepish about not paying more attention to it. I guess I'll have to un-favorite his comment, too, which is disappointing to me because it was otherwise a terrific story. In summary: I'm a little sad and embarrassed. I'll have to read through this (extremely long) thread to see if he has responded, hopefully with an apology.
posted by Edgewise at 6:44 AM on September 4, 2009


Wow, dejah -- you didn't make it past the first dozen or so comments at the top of this thread, did you? Because if you had, you might've caught this pretty rational explanation.

Or perhaps you think the mods just let a 406-comment thread run wild without any input from those running the show? I'm not sure.
posted by shiu mai baby at 6:54 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


And it's funny how people were in a rush to fellate paulsc recently for talking about his parents. Because only a few days before that he was posting truly bizarre comments as to how we shouldn't fix the American health-care system because everybody dies eventually.

Speaking for myself, when I favorite someone's comment, I don't first search through a backlog of all their prior comments to make sure that we are in perfect agreement on all major issues.
posted by Edgewise at 6:57 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Edgewise: I'll have to read through this (extremely long) thread to see if he has responded, hopefully with an apology.

I won't ruin the surprise for you, but if you were surprised before you found his post in this thread…
posted by paisley henosis at 7:00 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Romanes Romani Eunt Ite Domus Domum.

via
posted by Mister_A at 7:08 AM on September 4, 2009


I tried Chelada last night and it was not so bad, although I don't think I'd make a regular habit of it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:43 AM on September 4, 2009


"but he's Finnish and Albanian - what to make of that?"

In high school, Albania was the go-to abstract ethnicity to attribute all sorts of farcical things, primarily because no one knew any Albanians (which was weird, because there are a whole bunch of them in the Detroit area). Our only real knowledge was that they once had a king named Zog, so "Praise Zog!" was assumed to be their default expression. After that, a confused mythology of them as primarily sweater-makers, though I have no idea where that came from.

Oh, and speaking of gypsies, that reminded me of the high school petition about repealing the Michigan law (still on the books then, though I have no idea if it still is) that made it illegal to "consort with unlicensed Egyptians." We put in a couple of calls to the Secretary of State's office, but none of them could tell us where to get our Egyptians licensed. I think John Dingle eventually told us he'd look into it, but I doubt anything came of it—it was a bunch of high school kids calling based on what they read in one of those "Incredible Silly Laws" books, which I've discovered by now are not impeccably sourced.
posted by klangklangston at 7:55 AM on September 4, 2009


That would be funny, in a single-tear-running-down-the-fake-Indian-guy's-cheek kinda way.

Yeah, he was such an iconic part my childhood. I found it really weird when I discovered he was actually of Sicilian descent.
posted by quin at 8:15 AM on September 4, 2009


The savage was a dago?
posted by Mister_A at 8:27 AM on September 4, 2009


When I get in trouble, I cope by using classic oblique strategies.
posted by exogenous at 8:40 AM on September 4, 2009


I prefer classic Romanian strategies. Like Valerian Onitiu.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:02 AM on September 4, 2009


The savage was a dago?

Adam Savage likes art deco?
posted by The World Famous at 9:19 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, honestly I do not like offending people and I am the first to explain myself. So here it goes: when I say something about a group of people I do not mean the whole entire group is this. That is wrong. When I read or hear anything that is stereotyping I automatically assume that it is an individual and not the whole culture. This cherry picking can lead to some instances of foot in mouth syndrome. Above I was only talking about the percentage that fall into the term used. I failed to mention this and now I can see why I am not getting any love.

I know that there are plenty of good, honest Romani/traveling people that are part of their culture. I am not referring to them. When I talk about a gypsy I am referring to the thieving, prey on other people, individuals of their society. I am not saying that every single Romani/traveler is a gypsy. Just the ones that are criminals and fit the description.

When I said I am not going to chance it I meant that again I know that I would more than likely run into more good than bad Romani/travelers but there is a chance that I could find one or two of the unsavory individuals of their culture. This could lead to losing money and/or getting hurt. So why put myself in a position where something bad could happen to me to prove a point that I already know?

I see now how my original post could accurately be seen as a "stereotyping jerk" comment. I apologize if I offended anyone.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 9:22 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


when I say something about a group of people I do not mean the whole entire group is this.

You will offend fewer people if, when referring to an individual, you do not say that you are referring to a group. Likewise, when referring to a small group, you should not say that you are referring to a larger one. This will avoid some misunderstandings.

When I read or hear anything that is stereotyping I automatically assume that it is an individual and not the whole culture.

You might want to look at the definition of "stereotype" and stick to the common usage in order to avoid misunderstandings.

A lot of communication misunderstandings can be avoided by simply sticking to commonly-used linguistic conventions, rather than inventing new ones just for yourself and then only telling people about your unique word definitions after they have already become offended.
posted by The World Famous at 9:26 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Honestly, just the other day I had to correct some ignorant Youtubers who thought a character in a clip was a pirate violinist. A PIRATE VIOLINIST.

Does anyone not know the "gypsy violinist" stereotype anymore? What is this world coming to?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:28 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, I think there are an awful lot of North American kids today to whom "dark-haired man in headscarf with earring" = "pirate", not "'Gypsy'". That's less surprising to me than thinking they're elves.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:35 AM on September 4, 2009


Are you sayin' pirates can't be a a-playin' a sea shanty on a fiddle? If'n ye are, I'll be obliged to scoop out yer very eyes wit a rusty scupper!
posted by Mister_A at 9:37 AM on September 4, 2009


So is this story on Irish Travelers in america just overblown newreporting or would they be an acceptable example of a culture that teachs dishonesty with outsiders as a virtue?

A culture that teaches a group of people that they are all disreputable thieves and scoundrels who do nothing but prey on "respectable people" who are not like them should not be surprised when some members of that group internalize that message.

And it's a self-reinforcing system. Nobody reported on the Enron mess as "ONCE AGAIN THOSE HORRIBLE UPPER-MIDDLE-CLASS WHITE ENGLISH/GERMAN/IRISH/SCOTTISH-AMERICAN MEN HAVE STOLEN MONEY THEY WAY THEY ALWAYS DO," but every time there is a criminal conspiracy of people who are Irish Travelers or Roma, the stories imply that this is how those groups, rather than that particular group of individuals, roll.

If people were constantly treating me like a thief just on the basis of my language/surname/appearance, I might have less inducement not to steal. What would I have to lose by stealing? I'm already marginalized as an inveterate thief, whether I've ever stolen anything or not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:40 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well that, and you've got "devil" in your name.

*backs slowly away*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:46 AM on September 4, 2009


When I said I am not going to chance it I meant that again I know that I would more than likely run into more good than bad Romani/travelers but there is a chance that I could find one or two of the unsavory individuals of their culture. This could lead to losing money and/or getting hurt. So why put myself in a position where something bad could happen to me to prove a point that I already know?

This just makes no fucking sense at all. I know I would more than likely run into more good than bad black people, but there is a chance I could run into a bad one, so I'm going to stay home! Seriously, how can you interact with anyone at all, knowing that some members of [subculture/race/ethnicity] are going to be assholes?

Some people with MISSPELLED TYPES OF CHEESE in their usernames are going to be assholes, so I'm going to avoid them all. Especially one.
posted by desjardins at 10:37 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sidhedevil, I do agree with your points about internalizing cultural stereotypes.

And it's a self-reinforcing system. Nobody reported on the Enron mess as "ONCE AGAIN THOSE HORRIBLE UPPER-MIDDLE-CLASS WHITE ENGLISH/GERMAN/IRISH/SCOTTISH-AMERICAN MEN HAVE STOLEN MONEY THEY WAY THEY ALWAYS DO,"

Yes, but the cultural stereotype they did portray as fact wasn't restricted to class, race, ancestry or geography. At the time, editorials and popular opinion certainly embraced the so-called "Greedy Businessmen Meme," stereotyping all corporations and the people who work for them as greedy, evil bastards out to cheat the general public. Last year, the same meme was raised during the financial meltdown, and as supporting evidence, comparisons were once again made to Enron, Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

There's some truth to the idea that greed begets greed and power corrupts. But reprehensible actions by individuals and individual entities were conflated into a condemnation of an entire group.
posted by zarq at 10:43 AM on September 4, 2009


The discussion here is pretty similar to the "mantrust" MeTa from a view days ago. Most people being reasonable, with a few jerks trying to justify their prejudices.
posted by electroboy at 10:47 AM on September 4, 2009


Perhaps this has been discussed to death above - I haven't had time to read everything, but I wanted (need) to comment on the evil and despicable "Lazy Mexican" label. I've encountered this (and lost my shit) a lot over the years as I've worked with several design/build operations and subcontractors who employ day-laborers (who were, actually, mostly from Central American countries, but I think the malignantly stupid lump all Spanish-speaking immigrants together as "Mexicans".)

These men (ranging from under 17 to painfully retirement-ready) are doing the hardest, dullest, sweatiest, dirtiest, most hazardous, non-skillbuilding, no-future work for the longest hours for the lowest pay, for no security, and no benefits, and no authority to appeal to if they are abused.

They get labeled as "lazy" by the contractors/ homeowners because, lo and behold, when no one is around, they take BREAKS !?!?! For some reason, they are supposed to be 100% enthusiastically grateful for the shitwork they do all day, every day, with no rest besides the six pack after work to drink away the pain- pain from on-the-job injuries past and present, receiving no comp or medical attention, and, especially for some of the older folks, pain from injuries or illness they suffered before they fled whatever politically or economically stricken situation that was once their home. No, they get to be called lazy for not acting like "renewable resource" and trying to rest a body that has nothing to look forward to but (barring exceptional circumstances) more of the same slaving for nothing.

Angry... Angry now... sorry for the rant...
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 10:49 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, but the cultural stereotype they did portray as fact wasn't restricted to class, race, ancestry or geography. At the time, editorials and popular opinion certainly embraced the so-called "Greedy Businessmen Meme," stereotyping all corporations and the people who work for them as greedy, evil bastards out to cheat the general public. Last year, the same meme was raised during the financial meltdown, and as supporting evidence, comparisons were once again made to Enron, Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

You are unwittingly backing the other side of this argument, you know.

White people don't see "White" as a collective group with collective traits, so when white people get up to no good, the rest of us look for some other group identifier, like "CEO" or "Republican."

On the other hand, when, say, a non-Jew is ripped off by a Jewish person, they see the most visible group identifier - their cultural association/ethnicity. Instead of saying, "Man, bankers are so corrupt!", they say, "Man, those Jewish guys are so corrupt!"

Do you see the difference now? Sure, both statements are prejudicial and bigoted, but one is based on much more precise information than the other one. Additionally, one is much less harmful than the other.
posted by muddgirl at 10:55 AM on September 4, 2009 [8 favorites]


When I said I am not going to chance it I meant that again I know that I would more than likely run into more good than bad Romani/travelers but there is a chance that I could find one or two of the unsavory individuals of their culture. This could lead to losing money and/or getting hurt. So why put myself in a position where something bad could happen to me to prove a point that I already know?

By this logic, as a Jew I should therefore avoid all Ukrainians because one might be an antisemite. Wouldn't it be completely unfair of me to assume any other Ukranian harbors a similar, irrational hatred of Jews based solely on his example?
posted by zarq at 10:59 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


So Albanian pirates on the lam steal a paddy wagon containing a sweet old Italian Lady who has fallen in love with a dashing young gypsy, unfairly accused of stealing a baby from a Kohl's parking lot. They are pursued across the country by a mud-splattered Airstream trailer by two elaborately coiffed Irish bartenders with an a unquenchable thirst for Clamato juice. Hijinks ensue. And the whole thing is resolved outside of the Holland Tunnel when the whole thing is revealed to be a elaborate plot engineered by the adopted Norwegian child of a native American tribe who is bitter because his Welsh Girlfriend dumped him after he insisted they go Dutch treat to a bar in Philidelphia and has since vowed to end civilization by inciting civil war through arguments about casual racism in his hokey anecdotes.
posted by thivaia at 11:03 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


By this logic, as a Jew I should therefore avoid all Ukrainians because one might be an antisemite. Wouldn't it be completely unfair of me to assume any other Ukranian harbors a similar, irrational hatred of Jews based solely on his example?

In one case - the public smearing all bankers as thiefs or Jewish people assuming all Ukranians are anti-semitic - we are talking about the fears that the powerless have about the powerful.

In the other cases - our fears of Jewish bankers, our fears of Romani thiefs - we are talking about the fears that the powerful have about the powerless.

The public's prejudices about corrupt bankers will never change the face of banking, because we are powerless compared to them. In fact, our fears about them stem from that powerlessness.

On the other hand, our fears of shifty Romani can cause huge amounts of suffering and injustice because our culture is powerful. These fears are irrational because in the long run, we can do much more harm to them then they can to us, and we HAVE done more harm to them then they have to us.
posted by muddgirl at 11:10 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I agree with your point, muddgirl, but there's a bit of "What you mean 'we' kemosabe" there because some of "us" are Jewish, bankers, Roma, or some combination of the above.

Not me, though. I'm lace-curtain Irish/Mayflower WASP, so all I do is drink and hold grudges against myself. Join me! I have oatmeal cookies and Bushmill's!
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:19 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the other cases - our fears of Jewish bankers, our fears of Romani thiefs - we are talking about the fears that the powerful have about the powerless.

This also distinguishes this thread from the mantrust thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:19 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bushmills? That's a Protestant whiskey.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:19 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yes, but the cultural stereotype they did portray as fact wasn't restricted to class, race, ancestry or geography. At the time, editorials and popular opinion certainly embraced the so-called "Greedy Businessmen Meme," stereotyping all corporations and the people who work for them as greedy, evil bastards out to cheat the general public. Last year, the same meme was raised during the financial meltdown, and as supporting evidence, comparisons were once again made to Enron, Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

There's some truth to the idea that greed begets greed and power corrupts. But reprehensible actions by individuals and individual entities were conflated into a condemnation of an entire group.


That's fascinating, as now I'm wondering if the conventional and popular "Big Business is Evil" meme actually reinforces poor behaviour by people in big business that were raised in the post-Wall Street world, because on some level that's the way they think they're supposed to behave.

I work in marketing -- which, along with law and politics, is pretty much tops among the "they're all lying fuckers" professions. How we're perceived is a not infrequent topic of conversation, and I'm sure that constant cycle of negative feedback about my profession does give some of my peers some sort of self-licensed permission to behave badly. There's less of an obligation to uphold the social contract if you're already treated like you've broken it. Some folks work harder to be ethical because we feel that there's a bit of a hole that we've got to dig out of in the public eye; others think "hey, if we try to get out of this hole we'll just get shoved back in so we might as well wallow in it."

Hmm.
posted by Shepherd at 11:24 AM on September 4, 2009


Also, coincidentally enough, I just went to the gas station and there were two men there, one in the next vehicle over, who appeared to be contractors/painters/builders, having a conversation in Romani.

Which was kind of awesome to overhear, for me as a non-Romani speaker, because it was all "Romani romani romani hardware store romani romani romani aluminum ladder romani romani romani sucks romani romani romani you know what I mean?" (where "romani" designates "actual Romani words I do not know and would hesitate to try to transcribe phonetically")
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:25 AM on September 4, 2009


Bushmills? That's a Protestant whiskey.

My mother, she was Orange, and my father, he was Green.

Which makes me a rather unappetizing shade of dark beige.

Bring some Tullamore Dew and we'll taste-test.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:26 AM on September 4, 2009


Cheap Offaley whiskey? I'm a Red Breast man.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:32 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Drink John Power ye rookies.
posted by Mister_A at 11:33 AM on September 4, 2009


Sorry, I'm being silly. I'll never turned down a drop of the cratur, no matter the brand.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:36 AM on September 4, 2009


A shite and a shower and a half pint of Powers.


And now the circle is complete.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:38 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


By this logic, as a Jew I should therefore avoid all Ukrainians because one might be an antisemite. Wouldn't it be completely unfair of me to assume any other Ukranian harbors a similar, irrational hatred of Jews based solely on his example?

I would say yes, you should - at least if you are talking about Ukrainian Ukrainians, I do not have much personal experiences with Ukrainian-Americans. The "default mode" for Ukrainians is casual and ignorant anti-semitism, and I would assume that it was the case with any particular Ukrainian I met until something about them suggested otherwise.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:40 AM on September 4, 2009


How do they feel about the Irish?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:42 AM on September 4, 2009


How do they feel about the Irish?
posted by Astro Zombie


They hate their hairgelled hair and bartending skill getting them laid so much. I've learned about other cultures in this thread!
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:47 AM on September 4, 2009


Meatbomb distrusts all Ukrainians who don't come bearing dreidles.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:48 AM on September 4, 2009


I work in marketing -- which, along with law and politics, is pretty much tops among the "they're all lying fuckers" professions. How we're perceived is a not infrequent topic of conversation, and I'm sure that constant cycle of negative feedback about my profession does give some of my peers some sort of self-licensed permission to behave badly. There's less of an obligation to uphold the social contract if you're already treated like you've broken it. Some folks work harder to be ethical because we feel that there's a bit of a hole that we've got to dig out of in the public eye; others think "hey, if we try to get out of this hole we'll just get shoved back in so we might as well wallow in it."

Apologies for the big block quote but that was all gold.

Wallow is a good word for it. There was a definite subset of students in my year in law school who wallowed in the reputation of their chosen field -- which, I might note, set quite a contrast to the (vastly larger) group of idealistic law students Out to Change The World or at least their corner of it. I have no idea what became of the former group. Some probably grew up. Others went to Bay Street. (I did, too, but that's another story)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:01 PM on September 4, 2009


Also: Ukraine is weak. I think it's time to put the hurt on the Ukraine.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:02 PM on September 4, 2009


I would say yes, you should - at least if you are talking about Ukrainian Ukrainians, I do not have much personal experiences with Ukrainian-Americans. The "default mode" for Ukrainians is casual and ignorant anti-semitism, and I would assume that it was the case with any particular Ukrainian I met until something about them suggested otherwise.

Are we trolling? Or are you sarcastically trying to create a credible example of a stereotype?

My "default mode" is not to condemn an entire group based on the behavior of some of its individual members. But thanks, anyway.
posted by zarq at 12:04 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


> FYI: gypped probably doesn't derive from gypsy.

FYI, yes it does, according to the very source you linked to: "It’s often said that to gyp derives from gypsy, and it seems highly probable. However, direct evidence is lacking..." [Emphasis added.]
posted by languagehat at 12:07 PM on September 4, 2009


So here it goes: when I say something about a group of people I do not mean the whole entire group is this.

Stop commenting
posted by trunk muffins at 12:08 PM on September 4, 2009


Stupid people are so hot.
posted by Mister_A at 12:11 PM on September 4, 2009


I work in marketing -- which, along with law and politics, is pretty much tops among the "they're all lying fuckers" professions.

Publicist here. Yeah, we're not exactly popular.

How we're perceived is a not infrequent topic of conversation, and I'm sure that constant cycle of negative feedback about my profession does give some of my peers some sort of self-licensed permission to behave badly.

I tend to think it's just stupidity. But YMMV.

There's less of an obligation to uphold the social contract if you're already treated like you've broken it. Some folks work harder to be ethical because we feel that there's a bit of a hole that we've got to dig out of in the public eye; others think "hey, if we try to get out of this hole we'll just get shoved back in so we might as well wallow in it."

Generally, the publicists and marketers I know and have worked with have been ethical to a fault. Perhaps some of that is Caesar's Wife syndrome. But I suspect it's also in part a sense of honor.
posted by zarq at 12:14 PM on September 4, 2009


Some people with MISSPELLED TYPES OF CHEESE in their usernames are going to be assholes, so I'm going to avoid them all. Especially one.
posted by desjardins at 10:37 AM on September 4 [1 favorite +] [!]


Seriously? Now who's being racist? I'm sure that GeneralSwisss and Guda the Kid are fine up standing people. Don't be hating on the misspelled cheese login named people! (I'm kidding)

Honestly I admitted I did wrong and failed to grasp why everyone was mad at PaulSC original comment. I get it now. He said all Romani people are bad. That is wrong. I am going to quit this now and pull the foot out of my mouth. Obviously anything I say here isn't going to help my cause and will only serve to firmly plant my foot further and further down my throat.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 12:16 PM on September 4, 2009


I'm still not clear on how bankers are powerful only if they're not Jewish. Is Judaism like banker kryptonite?
posted by electroboy at 12:29 PM on September 4, 2009


shiu mai baby said: Wow, dejah -- you didn't make it past the first dozen or so comments at the top of this thread, did you? Because if you had, you might've caught this pretty rational explanation.

Wow shui, I did miss that post, but your comment was SO helpful! Gosh, I sure do love sarcasm!
posted by dejah420 at 12:35 PM on September 4, 2009


You are unwittingly backing the other side of this argument, you know.

*snort* Hey, it wouldn't be the first time. :D

White people don't see "White" as a collective group with collective traits, so when white people get up to no good, the rest of us look for some other group identifier, like "CEO" or "Republican."

I understand what you're saying, but I believe you're oversimplifying the situation. Plenty of American minority groups have vilified Whites as a group over the years. Plenty of Whites have defended Whites as if we were a homogenous group, as well. Note the recent right-wing declarations that President "Obama hates White People." Such absolutist thinking is a hallmark of fearmongering.

Because of this, I'm unsure that your distinction is entirely accurate. I'm not saying you're wrong, per se. Just that it all seems more complicated to me than the way you've framed it.

On the other hand, when, say, a non-Jew is ripped off by a Jewish person, they see the most visible group identifier - their cultural association/ethnicity. Instead of saying, "Man, bankers are so corrupt!", they say, "Man, those Jewish guys are so corrupt!"

Do you see the difference now? Sure, both statements are prejudicial and bigoted, but one is based on much more precise information than the other one. Additionally, one is much less harmful than the other.


So your argument here is that one stereotype is more harmful than another? OK. I totally agree. I never meant to imply otherwise.

But that doesn't refute my point. sidhedevil implied that no cultural stereotype was raised, and I commented that one was and gave an example. The degree to which it might be harmful to those being stereotyped doesn't negate its existence.
posted by zarq at 12:36 PM on September 4, 2009


And Ukraines as a whole are more powerful than Jews as a whole?
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 12:38 PM on September 4, 2009


Thew Jewish banker thing is sort of fascinating, sort of like the "Jews run the media" stereotype. A lot of people don't think it's the same sort of bad predjudice as the "lazy mexicans" stereotype because, hey, you're saying they're bankers, that's not so bad [see "Asian people are good at math" and "Black people are good at running"]. It actually gives people a good opportunity to talk about what is really wrong with stereotyping because something like this is actually still not a great thing to do even if what you think you're saying is positive.

So, to dig into the Jewish banker thing, you have to look into the laws surrounding usury from way back in the day. My apologies for linking to Wikipedia, but it's a quick and easy summary with a lot of footnotes if this sort of thing is your bag. So one useful quote "As the Jews were ostracized from most professions by local rulers, the church and the guilds, they were pushed into marginal occupations considered socially inferior, such as tax and rent collecting and moneylending. Natural tensions between creditors and debtors were added to social, political, religious, and economic strains." which is actually not totally different from the Roma being the go-to people to get money from under Ceasecu.

Similarly the Black people as crazy atheletes has, at at least part of its core, the fact that many people mistakenly believed that Black people had different musculature which made them good at sports and good at sort of doing a lot of work [fieldwork etc] and this is a part of the stereotype that pervades in some places to this day. The more you can sort of "other"ize people that you want to oppress, the better it is if you believe they are differnt from you. Nowadays there are some benefits both to being a banker and to being a star athelete, so these sorts of casual "lots of people of this group are good at this" doesn't sound like as much of the sort of slur that it really used to represent.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:42 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree with your point, muddgirl, but there's a bit of "What you mean 'we' kemosabe" there because some of "us" are Jewish, bankers, Roma, or some combination of the above.

Of course :) I am making assumptions about zarq that are not based on statistics, so I apologize for that.

I also meant "we" to be more inclusive than just White people. Within ethnic groups there are different kinds of prejudice that exhibit the same sorts of fear based on perceived powerfulness. For example, homosexuality within some ethnic groups is feared in similar ways, or certain kinds of disabilities. So it's not exclusively a White thing.
posted by muddgirl at 12:46 PM on September 4, 2009


So your argument here is that one stereotype is more harmful than another?

That's only part of it. Stereotypes of powerful groups are usually beneficial to the powerful group. With our CEO example, if they have a stereotype of being corrupt, then we may be more likely to excuse corrupt behavior in the future. We see this in cultures where corruption is rampant and seen as "just part of the cost of business". In this case, the stereotype that powerful people are corrupt makes it easier for them to foster corruption.

And Ukraines as a whole are more powerful than Jews as a whole?

It's just an example, but we might say that Ukraininan Jews are less powerful as a group within Ukraine than Ukrainian gentiles.
posted by muddgirl at 12:50 PM on September 4, 2009


Black people had different musculature which made them good at sports

I think the real reason blacks are overrepresented (as a percentage of the overall population) in some sports like basketball is that they have a low financial barrier to entry, unlike, say, snowboarding. I mean, why don't you see a lot of black kayakers or hockey players?
posted by desjardins at 12:52 PM on September 4, 2009


Speculation about these sorts of things without evidence generally gets one into trouble.
posted by electroboy at 12:56 PM on September 4, 2009


Similarly the Black people as crazy atheletes has, at at least part of its core, the fact that many people mistakenly believed that Black people had different musculature which made them good at sports

The thing is, that may not be entirely untrue. There's been some research that indicates people of African descent may be predisposed to having more fast twitch muscle fibers, which helps one excel at most (popular) sports. Obviously the (sometimes) unstated implication that black people are only good athletes is the problematic part that sometimes follows from the first statement.
posted by electroboy at 1:04 PM on September 4, 2009




desjardins, I meant that it's problematic to speculate about "why blacks don't play hockey" without having some evidence to support your hypothesis. Is it because of the low barriers to entry? Maybe, but African-Americans are well represented in football, which also requires quite a bit of infrastructure. Or it could be that there aren't large African-American communities in areas where cold weather sports are popular. Or the social barriers to entry into a sport dominated by members of a different ethnicity than yours are high. There are lots of possible reasons why African-American participation is low, but without a serious study, it's just speculation.

electroboy, this might be relevant

Yes, absolutely my point, although I probably didn't make it as well as the author. It's certainly correct to say "X population may have a genetic predisposition to Y trait that gives an advantage in this sport", however it's certainly incorrect to say that an athlete belonging to a certain group is only successful because of that predisposition. It neglects all the hard work, determination and discipline involved in becoming a successful athlete, not to mention the social institutions that steer people towards some sports and away from others.
posted by electroboy at 1:55 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow shui, I did miss that post, but your comment was SO helpful! Gosh, I sure do love sarcasm!

Look, hoss, you're the one who came in here in a snit, bitching at the moderators for not removing the offensive post when it was already explained, in careful detail, why they let it stand. And it wasn't like it was buried a couple hundred comments into the thread-- Jess's post was one of the first 25.

In the spirit of being SO helpful, here's a protip for you: before you whine at the mods for not adhering to your tiniest whim within a thread, take ten seconds out of your deliriously busy day to press CTRL-F (or CMD-F, if you're a Mac user), and search for "jessamyn" "cortex" "mathowie" "pb" or "vacapinta." You might just be pleasantly surprised to discover -- wonder of wonders! -- your question has already been addressed.

Knowledge is power!
posted by shiu mai baby at 2:03 PM on September 4, 2009


Oh, and one more thing: that first post wasn't sarcasm. It was a statement of fact, as evidenced by the fact that, you know, you clearly didn't bother reading even the first few comments of the thread.
posted by shiu mai baby at 2:05 PM on September 4, 2009


I think electroboy is suggesting that the Romani genome includes several variants of a group of alleles that are commonly known as "baby-stealin' genes," and that's why they are so good at stealing babies.

Keyboard cat, do your thing!
posted by Mister_A at 2:11 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I said: By this logic, as a Jew I should therefore avoid all Ukrainians because one might be an antisemite. Wouldn't it be completely unfair of me to assume any other Ukranian harbors a similar, irrational hatred of Jews based solely on his example?

Muddgirl said: In one case - the public smearing all bankers as thiefs or Jewish people assuming all Ukranians are anti-semitic - we are talking about the fears that the powerless have about the powerful.

In the other cases - our fears of Jewish bankers, our fears of Romani thiefs - we are talking about the fears that the powerful have about the powerless.


OK. I agree.

I know you're continuing your previous comment's conversation thread. But your answer doesn't answer the question I raised to Mastercheddaar. If you didn't intend to do so, that's fine. :)

The public's prejudices about corrupt bankers will never change the face of banking, because we are powerless compared to them. In fact, our fears about them stem from that powerlessness.

Are we powerless, though? Enact legislation. Impose regulation. Enforce laws that protect consumers. We have options, and corporations which don't follow such laws are supposed to be fined or in extreme cases disbanded. Which leads us to your next point....

On the other hand, our fears of shifty Romani can cause huge amounts of suffering and injustice because our culture is powerful. These fears are irrational because in the long run, we can do much more harm to them then they can to us, and we HAVE done more harm to them then they have to us.

I agree.

Although let's not say "we" or "our", please. I've never expressed an anti-Romani sentiment in my entire life.
posted by zarq at 2:15 PM on September 4, 2009


I think electroboy is suggesting that the Romani genome includes several variants of a group of alleles that are commonly known as "baby-stealin' genes," and that's why they are so good at stealing babies.

So ignorant.

Romani eat several herbs and vegetables as part of traditional dishes which stimulate the growth of the region of the brain that controls baby-stealin' desire. This is clearly an environmental issue.
posted by GuyZero at 2:20 PM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Romani eat several herbs and vegetables as part of traditional dishes which stimulate the growth of the region of the brain that controls baby-stealin' desire.

I'll note that both GuyZero and Mister_A possess the low, sloping brow and cranial bumpage that indicates a propensity towards cretinism.
posted by electroboy at 2:25 PM on September 4, 2009


I blame my parents who behaved like cretins, causing me to take on cretinous physical characteristics during my gestation.
posted by GuyZero at 2:29 PM on September 4, 2009


Also: I thought I took my photo off my profile page!
posted by GuyZero at 2:31 PM on September 4, 2009


The large looping Ls and the forward slant of your handwriting is what initially tipped me off. Then the dowsing rods pointed me towards your flickr page.
posted by electroboy at 2:39 PM on September 4, 2009


I'll have you know that my skull is easily a standard deviation larger than average. I can also crush nuts with my mind though it tends to leave a bruise.
posted by GuyZero at 2:44 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I blame my parents who behaved like cretins, causing me to take on cretinous physical characteristics during my gestation.

I would've assumed you'd grow up to be a longshoreman or a sailor, given the way your mother carries on.
posted by electroboy at 2:52 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Heh, actually - and this is totally honest here - my mom did a lot of PL/1 work and keyed a lot of punchcards during my gestation. And I grew up to be a complete and total nerd.

LAMARCKIAN WIN!
posted by GuyZero at 2:58 PM on September 4, 2009


I was shocked by paulsc's original comment, but I'm also shocked by the way people have reacted to his apology. Up-thread, he said the following:

- I apologize for using terms at all loosely, that history has shown need a careful hand, to have meaning, beyond insult.
- As for my mis-spelling of the plural of "gypsy" as "gypsys," I acknowledge my error. It should have been "gypsies" wherever plural.
- As to the second and third paragraphs of that comment ... my writing was poorly done, in that it drew a blanket condemnation of all Roma....I should not have done that, and my writing was careless...

As far as I can tell, there are only three things paul could have done to make up for his remarks:

1. Only apologize without any further explanations of what he meant to say.
2. Admit to being deeply racist.
3. Do nothing, because once you make a racist remark, you are damned forever in most peoples eyes. Give up.

paulsc said, "I don't believe in the use of race as a foundation for anything." Of course, he might be back-peddling now, but we don't know that. Why not give him the benefit of the doubt, especially as he did have the balls to come in here and apologize? How many "racists" do that?

It is possible to make a racist remark without being racist, unless you define "not being racist" as being constantly monitoring your words so that you never slip up and say something racist by accident. paulsc's gaff was a very common one. "American are obsessed with Seinfeld!" The person who said that MIGHT mean "all Americans," but he also might be using shorthand.

I am NOT arguing in favor of such shorthand. It's stupid and apt to offend people. But paulsc admitted to having (wrongfully) used such shorthand. He knows it was wrong. He said so. He apologized for it.

If you feel he didn't make a complete apology -- or a good-enough apology -- there's something that you can do that's in-between throwing your arms around him and telling him to fuck off. You can say, "Thank you for apologizing. I wish you had also said X, Y and Z, but I acknowledge what do did say. Thank you for that."

Whenever we want someone to apologize, we want them to do it cleanly without any "but"s. Yes, he did sort of say, "I'm sorry, but..." Yet the stuff he apologized for he really DID apologize for. Sometimes we can't bring ourselves to apologize for everything. If I steal your wallet and you accuse me of stealing your wallet and killing your sister, I will apologize for stealing your wallet, but I'll be damned if I'll say I'm sorry for killing your sister.

People who want to stamp out racism need to work harder not to put "racists" (I'm not saying paulsc actual is one) in a bind in which they're damned no matter what they do. If they apologize -- even if it's an incomplete apology in your view -- don't ignore it or discount it. When you are doing that, you are shutting the door to all dialogue. (Notice that paulsc has left the thread!) By doing that, you are part of the problem even if your intentions are good. We desperately need more dialogue, not more silencing. And the dialogue we need is not "perfect people who never slip up" talking amongst themselves.
posted by grumblebee at 2:59 PM on September 4, 2009 [10 favorites]


Are you new to MetaTalk? It's all torches and pitchforks here. Subtlety? Nuance? Subjective misinterpretation? Forgiveness? That's crazy talk.
posted by GuyZero at 3:02 PM on September 4, 2009


After 480 comments I think paulsc is just about forgotten.
posted by desjardins at 3:29 PM on September 4, 2009


9/3 NEVAR FORGET
posted by mattdidthat at 3:31 PM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


People who want to stamp out racism need to work harder not to put "racists" (I'm not saying paulsc actual is one) in a bind in which they're damned no matter what they do. If they apologize -- even if it's an incomplete apology in your view -- don't ignore it or discount it. When you are doing that, you are shutting the door to all dialogue. (Notice that paulsc has left the thread!) By doing that, you are part of the problem even if your intentions are good. We desperately need more dialogue, not more silencing. And the dialogue we need is not "perfect people who never slip up" talking amongst themselves.

I'm sure people will get over it eventually, just like they do when they're pissed or hurt about anything else. It's not necessarily part of some grand scheme or strategy on the part of people who want to stamp out racism.
posted by kathrineg at 3:32 PM on September 4, 2009


I think paulsc's non apology is best understood by realising that from his point of view, since he is not racist, he could not have possibly meant anything racist by anything he may have written. However, on rereading he now sees that by using the term 'gypsy values' to describe 'thinking it is ok to pull scams and hurt people', then saying that the guy who mugged the journalist had 'the morals of gypsies', his words may have been easily misintepreted as racism. As it was, by practically everyone.

My father, who is around the same age, also strenuously denies being in any way racist, despite a string of evidence I have to the contrary going back over thirty years. Perhaps paulsc, like my dad, is not familiar with the idea that it is possible to be both racist and anti-racist at the same time, and that being an active anti-racist starts in your own head, by acknowledging that there may be racist stuff there which you are not consciously aware of. When that stuff comes out, as over time it inevitably will, it's best to acknowledge it and apologise for it, rather than deny it.
posted by motty at 5:06 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


They developed the cloaking device, but the Klingons used it in later stories.
posted by Mister_A at 5:54 PM on September 4, 2009


sidhedevil implied that no cultural stereotype was raised

What? No. I implied that no ethnic or racial stereotype was raised.

You can choose not to be a banker, just as you can choose not to be a driveway resurfacer. However, when a Scots/German banker rips people off, it's not considered "typical Scots/German values," and when a Roma driveway resurfacer rips people off, it's not considered "typical driveway resurfacer values."

Obviously, most bankers are responsible professionals, and most driveway resurfacers are responsible professionals. Just as most Scots/German people are, and most Roma people are.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:06 PM on September 4, 2009


Why not give him the benefit of the doubt, especially as he did have the balls to come in here and apologize? How many "racists" do that?

I don't know who, if anyone, said paulsc was "a racist." Many people pointed out that his comments about Rom and Sinti people were racist comments.

Yeah, "racists" don't apologize, if by "racist" you mean "member of the KKK." But well-meaning people who have made racist comments often apologize.

Racism is not some kind of metaphysical cooties that you either "have" or "don't have." People who earnestly believe in racial and ethnic equality for all still have been exposed to lots of racist stereotypes, which they can perpetuate in word and action. Those words and actions are racist and cause harm, even where no harm was intended.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:10 PM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


It was also popularly believed that Jews had horns.

Oo! Oo! I have a story about this!

My husband's uncle was a CPO in the radio shack on the USS Iowa during World War II. One day, a sailor came up to him and said, "Davis has a question to ask you, Chief."

Uncle S. says, "So why doesn't Davis ask me himself?"

Sailor says, "Davis is embarrassed to ask, but he really wants to know."

Uncle S. says, "Davis is a grown man, he should just ask me whatever question himself."

After dinner, Davis comes up to Uncle S. and says, sheepishly, "Some of the guys say you're a Jew, Chief."

Uncle S. says, "Yes, Davis, I'm Jewish." Long silence. Uncle S. assumes that because Davis comes from rural Kentucky, he hasn't met anyone Jewish before, and wants to know about the whole Hanukkah thing or whether rabbis can get married or whatever.

Long silence.

Then finally, Davis says, in a little tiny voice, "Chief, do you have horns?" And he was dead serious.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:25 PM on September 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, "racists" don't apologize, if by "racist" you mean "member of the KKK." But well-meaning people who have made racist comments often apologize.

You know better people than I do. The folks I know rarely apologize.

In any case, when someone makes a racist statement and then apologizes, how do you think we should respond to the apology. I am less interested in how we should respond in terms of fairness to the individual than in terms of what's best for society.

that being an active anti-racist starts in your own head, by acknowledging that there may be racist stuff there which you are not consciously aware of. When that stuff comes out, as over time it inevitably will, it's best to acknowledge it and apologies for it, rather than deny it.

Let's say I'm not a consciously racist person, and yet I say "Some guy just gypped me out of a dollar." (Let's assume that "gypped" definite comes from "gypsy.") There are two possible reasons I might have made my racist comment:

1) Because I have some unconscious negative feelings towards gypsies.
2) Because I don't know the derivation of the word "gypped."

Someone explains to me how my words came across. Let's say I'm pretty sure that #2 applies to me. Okay, I should definitely apologize, but for what? Should I say, "I'm sorry I made a racist comment. I didn't know the origin of that word. Please believe that I have no animosity towards gypsies"? Or should I say, "I'm sorry that I have racist drives I'm not aware of"?

Paulsc might have unconscious negative feelings about gypsies. No one can know for sure (if they are unconscious, even paulsc can't know.) But if he honestly is just guilty of sloppy writing, for which he's apologized, and he has no animosity in his heart, what do people expect him to say?

I don't think I've ever been accused of racism, but I've often thought about paulsc's bind. It occurs to me that if someone ever catches me inadvertently making a racist comment -- and I'm really, really sure that it doesn't come from any unconscious racism on my part -- I should just lie and say, "I'm so sorry I said something racist. I clearly have some issues with X people. I'll work on changing that!" I'm pretty sure I will tell that lie if it ever happens. Better that then tell the truth and then have people accuse me of trying to cover up my dirty secret.
posted by grumblebee at 8:18 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


But if he honestly is just guilty of sloppy writing, for which he's apologized, and he has no animosity in his heart, what do people expect him to say?

There's not one thing that "people" expect him to say. Emotions are pretty high because of the recent prevalence of racial violence against Roma so it's not surprising that people are pissy and argumentative with him. I, personally, just want him to go away for a while and only skimmed his explanation because I was upset by the whole situation. But I'm not representative, nor should you view my behavior as representative of any movement or group.

Better that then tell the truth and then have people accuse me of trying to cover up my dirty secret.

Well, if this is the kind of scenario that keeps you up at night, fine, but it seems a bit petty to worry about this imaginary scenario in the context of a discussion that is largely geared towards raising consciousness and discouraging thoughtless bigotry.
posted by kathrineg at 8:38 PM on September 4, 2009


Also, calling it just "sloppy writing" is really minimizing what happened. Sloppy writing is forgetting their/there/they're, not repeatedly reinforcing a dangerous stereotype.

People lose their lives over this kind of shit. "Sloppy" doesn't cut it.
posted by kathrineg at 8:44 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


It keeps me up at night because I've seen it happen over and over.
posted by grumblebee at 8:45 PM on September 4, 2009


But people do terrible things all the time out of sloppiness and thoughtlessness.
posted by grumblebee at 8:45 PM on September 4, 2009


Yes, and I can understand why it would be upsetting to be accused of being racist which you're not, simply because you share a passing resemblance to others who are racist. Still, I see this kind of friendly advice to the anti-racist movement (or whatever) as off-topic when we're not really discussing any sort of organized group policy. I mean, we're not the leaders of anything, we're just talking about someone who did something that really pissed us off...not writing a manifesto or coming up with a racism eradication by 2010 game plan.
posted by kathrineg at 9:15 PM on September 4, 2009


I hear you kathrineg. What frustrates me is that I only see one way for the situation to improve, and it's a very difficult road to follow:

- people who, for whatever reason, commit racist actions need to be sent a message that they won't be crucified or ignored if they admit to what they did and apologize for it. If they don't get this message, they will go into the closet, and nothing good ever comes from that.

- people who are victims of racism (or who are just deeply hurt or offended by it) need a forum in which they can blow off steam. They need place to simply be pissed off. Otherwise THEY will go into the closet.

We desperately need to get everyone out of the closet and talking about this stuff. I strongly believe that racism is the 2nd biggest problem we face as a planet, second only to Global Warming. It's a VERY thorny problem, because though it's vital that both the "racists" and the "victims" to emote, the (public) emoting makes the general problem of racism worse.

We're stuck in a place were "racists" know that if they come forward, they will get blasted, and they are generally (and understandably) not willing to get blasted. "victims" are (understandably) very angry. They have no interest in cutting "racists" any slack, even after an apology. Racists need; victims need to not give them slack. Stalemate.

Emoting does make people feel better. Alas, we seem to be stuck in a place where no one knows how to solve racism (or is willing to do the work to solve it), so we fall back on the next best thing: venting about it.

The intent of this topic is ambiguous: "'Gypsy values'? 'Morals of gypsys'? 'Classic Romani strategies'? What the fuck paulsc?" Is that final question rhetorical? (we don't want paulsc to respond -- we just want to vent about him.) Or is it a request for him to explain what he said? If it's the latter, then we have certain responsibilities towards him when he does explain (if we care about making this a better world). We can't wait for some kind of anti-racism group to step in, because paulsc is going to talk to US. Our response is the one he's going to hear. If any response is going to make a problem better, it is going to be ours, not some group's.

One problem here is that MeFi is not a place for any one agenda. If paulsc is going to apologize, this is the thread where it makes sense for him to do it. If people are going to vent about paulsc's behavior, this is also the place where it makes sense for them to do it. If the thread becomes skewed one way or the other, we have a problem. Which is why I'm writing this. In my view, this thread has become skewed in a very common (and understandable, forgivable) way.

I don't really get your "organized group policy" comment, but that's probably because I'm not a fan of groups and am not a member of any that I can think of. I believe in individual responsibility.
posted by grumblebee at 7:31 AM on September 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


That comment makes sense.

I got the (seemingly mistaken) impression that you were attempting to address people as a group with certain strategic purpose, instead of as individuals.
posted by kathrineg at 7:46 AM on September 5, 2009


No worries. I should have been clearer.
posted by grumblebee at 7:52 AM on September 5, 2009


Still, I see this kind of friendly advice to the anti-racist movement (or whatever) as off-topic when we're not really discussing any sort of organized group policy. I mean, we're not the leaders of anything, we're just talking about someone who did something that really pissed us off...

My initial concern with this thread (in the early going when I was really tracking it), was the degree to which it had become a pile-on. Yes, paulsc had slipped up (or perhaps worse). Yes, the angry response was knee-jerk and demonizing to the point of absurdity. That is, paulsc's slip up was insensitive, yes. Evil? Nah.

Otherwise, grumblebee, your last comment's a beaut. Wish I could favorite it more than once. Particularly this part:

We're stuck in a place were "racists" know that if they come forward, they will get blasted, and they are generally (and understandably) not willing to get blasted. "victims" are (understandably) very angry. They have no interest in cutting "racists" any slack, even after an apology. Racists need; victims need to not give them slack. Stalemate.

I read this stalemate as the end result of our culture's overwhelming NEED to pursue argument as if it's a SPORT (ie: something that must be won, or lost) as opposed to an open-learning opportunity (ie: enter with your own strong point-of-view, keep your senses and your MIND open, exit with a broadened worldview, the good ole win-win).
posted by philip-random at 10:38 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


philip-random, you might enjoy "The Argument Culture." It's about our tendency to see everything as a dialectic where there's a winner and a loser. (One of it's main examples is the US Court system, which is about winners and losers much more than it is about finding solutions to problems.)
posted by grumblebee at 11:16 AM on September 5, 2009


Grumblebee, in case you haven't noticed, the Argument-Argument seems to be alive in this current thread.
posted by philip-random at 12:23 PM on September 5, 2009


Join me! I have oatmeal cookies and Bushmill's!

The breakfast of champions!
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:01 PM on September 5, 2009


Because I don't know the derivation of the word "gypped."

That wasn't the issue here, grumblebee. By "gypsy values", paulsc clearly meant (as the rest of his post's syntax indicated) what he called "classic Romani strategies." He was referring to the specific ethnic/linguistic/cultural group.

If you use an ethnic slur by mistake, you apologize. Just as you apologize when you step on someone's toe by mistake.

When you make an argument that presupposes that your listeners believe a certain thing is typical of a certain group of people, that's not an accident. It may be a rash statement you regret, but it's a racist statement.

Saying "gypped" when you don't know its derivation is an accident. Describing a repeat criminal's mindset as "gypsy values" and "classic Romani strategies" is racist; upon examination, one may realize, as paulsc stated, that one doesn't actually think that all Roma people have the mindset of repeat criminals, but that doesn't make the rash statement less racist its ownself; it just shows that it's not necessarily an index of one's overall thought.

The smartest people in the world make stupid statements from time to time. Their intelligence doesn't make those statements any less stupid.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:00 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree with everything you just said, Sidhedevil, but my next question is "... And?"

What, ideally, do you think paulsc should do now?

What, ideally, do you think we should do now?

What response from both us and paulsc will make the world a better place?
posted by grumblebee at 9:15 PM on September 5, 2009


I would like to point out that, no matter what kind of connotation "grumblebee"
might have once had, it now deserves to be a word with quite another meaning, and perhaps even be "verbed." I know this because my best friend of 14 years tends to grumblebee.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:00 AM on September 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


So people who are getting all pants-poopingly witch-hunty about who favorited paulsc's comment should maybe chill.

I was hoping we could sit them down in the middle of a circle, shine a very bright light on them all and force them to engage in a rigorous session of Maoist auto-critique.

Those who were found to be ideologically unsound could be prevented from posting for the next five years, and they'd have to regain our good graces by working as part of a back-tagging collective, somewhere out in distant reaches of AskMe.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:17 AM on September 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I probably should have chimed in here earlier but I just wanted to say that yeah, you sort of have to take paulsc's apology at face value and decide how you feel about it. I'm sure people can say it wasn't an apology enough and other people can see that he was making an effort and regrets his casual language use. At some level the fact that we don't all groupthink here means that this sort of thing happens. paulsc probably has different values than many of us, and certainly has different values than some of us. And yet a lot of his stories are useful to people, he's helpful in AskMe, often to an absurd degree and at some level, to me, being a community means doing the best you can with what you've got. I think I lean more towards grumblebee's approach in a general sense. I'm not asking paulsc to work for me, be my babysitter or even share a meal with me. He's a colleague on MetaFilter like any other one that maybe won't parlay into someone I'll hang out with in real life. So, this seems to be okay, then, to me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:05 AM on September 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a cheat,
Taffy came to my house, and stole a piece of meat;


I can't be the only person who read this to the tune of The Ramone's The Return of Jackie and Judy.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:40 AM on September 6, 2009


Well, if nothing else, I learned Michelangelo thought Moses had horns from this thread. My search history must look super crazy too. And for the record, I love gypsies, tramps, AND thieves. And pirates. And Irishmen.
posted by sweetmarie at 11:23 PM on September 6, 2009


I'm sure people can say it wasn't an apology enough

It wasn't an apology at all. If he had used the phrase "nigger values" or "black values" and then changed it to "values that the police observe among some black people," those here who are so quick to forgive might not be that way. All he did what add some qualifiers, folks: are we really seeing an apology in that?

What response from both us and paulsc will make the world a better place?
posted by grumblebee at 9:15 PM on September 5


If he apologized and meant it, that would be a start. But he is unrepentant and unremorseful and genuinely thinks we're idiots for not agreeing with him about Gypsies values and black values, and he'll never apologize, so I guess there's nothing we can do.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:46 AM on September 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Make that "Gypsy values."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:46 AM on September 7, 2009


I don't want to interrupt the peace-making process here with essentially OT stuff, but I thought this current article from the Guardian might shed some light on Sinti/Roma culture, from the perspective of an author who grew up in it. I found it fascinating, esp. this:

"I was, though, completely unaware of the outrageous way the media portrays the Gypsy population. As children, we had very little contact with people living in houses and because we didn't go to school or watch television, I was oblivious. My mother didn't take us shopping, as there were so many of us. I remember once when we were camped on a lane close to a council housing estate, children would walk across the field towards where we were playing in the trees to hurl abuse and throw stones at us. But when I asked my brother why they were angry, he didn't seem particularly bothered, saying perhaps it was "because they didn't understand and thought we were dangerous"."


It is depressing how hard it is to come up with reliable information about "gypsy" culture, I remember doing a google search re: their situation in Germany some time ago and came up almost empty. This is especially stunning because Sinti/Roma were one of the groups that were specifically targeted by Nazi extermination strategies, and so many of them died in concentration camps. But that, it seems, is where documented history ends for them...
posted by The Toad at 8:03 AM on September 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


sweetmarie: Well, if nothing else, I learned Michelangelo thought Moses had horns from this thread. My search history must look super crazy too. And for the record, I love gypsies, tramps, AND thieves. And pirates. And Irishmen.

Just for the record, that had nothing to do with him being Jewish; the other Patriarchs of the Old Testament were all depicted un-horned. It was a mistranslation issue, not a "Jews are scary & have horns" issue.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:18 AM on September 7, 2009


Optimus Chyme, I have that Twilight-Zone-ish feeling that you and I read different posts. Of course, we read the same posts, but we interpreted them differently. I tend to take things literally ("at face value," as paulsc says). With that in mind, here's what I read and how I interpreted it:


- I don't believe in the use of race as a foundation for anything


- I understand that by choosing to use the analogy that is here called out, I risked the interpretation that has rankled many of you.

- I apologize for using terms at all loosely, that history has shown need a careful hand, to have meaning, beyond insult.


To me, these seem like straight-forward apologies. Of course, one can interpret any apology as insincere. But if you're going to do that, there's not point in anyone bothering to apologize.

- As for my use of the word "gypsy" to refer to Roma, let me say that I don't think I am off track [sites source]

This might be a point of contention. Right or wrong, I can't see it as obliterating the above apology. He's saying "I'm sorry for making a blanket statement about an entire group of people, but I'm not sorry about using the word "gypsy." Those are two separate issues. Even if you dislike paulsc's word choice, that doesn't change the fact that he apologized for his categorization of a whole group as partaking in certain actions.

If I say, "All niggers steal," I might later apologize by saying "Sorry about my blanket statement. There are plenty of niggers who are good citizens and are no more likely to steal than white people."

You can damn me for still using the word "nigger," but you can't deny that I really did apologize for a specific thing I said (that every member of a particular race is a thief.)

- As for my mis-spelling of the plural of "gypsy" as "gypsys," I acknowledge my error.

- As to the second and third paragraphs of that comment ... my writing was poorly done, in that it drew a blanket condemnation of all Roma ... I should not have done that, and my writing was careless

- There's still plenty of blame left for Doris, and for Larry's "uncle." They're raising that kid with values sometimes attributed by police to some bands of Roma who repeatedly engage in fraudulent business practices [gives examples]


I have no idea whether or not paulsc's "fact" (that police do this) is true. But paulsc seems to believe it's true. If he's wrong, he's simply mistaken. I don't see how he's making a racist comment here. He's talking about something that some police may do and think." Maybe police actually do this.

- They're reinforcing the idea that the color of your skin should have some bearing on the outcome of your case, and that just being black means you should expect special consideration from the justice system, if your accuser is white. [gives evidence and interpretation]

There are people who believe that, for historical reasons, certain races should be given special benefits or dispensations. I believe this (e.g. I believe that our government owes Native Americans some things that it doesn't owe me). However, someone who thinks otherwise is not necessarily racist. A racist is someone who makes negative (and in some cases positive) claims about a person based on that person's race.

In any case, even if paulsc IS racist in some way, that doesn't change the fact that he apologized for a very specific set of things (see above).

If I say, "Jews are obsessed with money and blacks are less intelligent than whites," and I later apologize for what I said about Jews, I may still be a reprehensible person and a racist, but I DID apologize about my antisemitic comment.

- quotes article that makes these points:
--- being hated give you an identity, but if you're attacked without reason, you're a nobody
--- why is a racist thug worse than an "equal-opportunity" thug? "The racist might send a message to a large population, but the nonracist sends a message to an even larger group, a message that says, "You count for nothing” and “No one is safe."
--- If I assume white-on-black crime is race-related, I'm being racist, because I'm seeing the victim as "black" instead of as a person.


To my mind, these quotes bring up some interesting, challenging and nuanced facets of the discussion we need to be having about race. In any case, it doesn't fly in the face of paulsc's apologies.

- Discussions of racial issues can be heated, and honest, and necessarily humanly imperfect, without descending to personal invective, or being unilaterally assumed to be based in hate.

I agree with this 1000000000000%.

====

"... You claim that you disdain race as a basis for anything, but the example you reached for was a racial/ethnic one. Why?"

- Drawing a parallel to another cultural minority ... seemed a way of re-framing the argument Conroy was making. ... You're entitled to your opinion that it wasn't effective.


Here, paulsc explained what he was trying to do. Uptread, he admitted he did it in a sloppy way. He apologized for it.

- No practical discussion is possible, for people who will not take one another's statements at face value.

If we take people at face value, we risk looking like chumps when we later discover they were conning us; if we don't take people at face value, we close off all avenues of communication. I'd rather risk being a chump.

Let me state that I'm no fan of paulsc. In almost a decade on metafilter, he's the only person I've ever had a serious fight with -- a fight that he and I recently continued via email (on my instigation). Ironically, we fought because, from my point of view, he refused to take something I said at face value. He tried to con me by putting on some kind of weird persona, and to this day he has refused to explain why he did so. So it's been very hard for me to defend him here. But even if he's a hypocrite and a sadist, he has apologized. Maybe he didn't do it in the way you would like. But he did it.

Or am I wrong? Can you explain how he didn't apologize. I'm not looking for an explanation for how he did something else wrong -- just an explanation of how he didn't apologize.
posted by grumblebee at 10:18 AM on September 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


paulsc fucked up. he apologized. a few hundred comments and a few days later people are still bitching.

get over it.
posted by caddis at 11:32 PM on September 7, 2009


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