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Is antigingerism a hate crime?
January 15, 2013 11:58 AM   Subscribe

In the New Statesman, Nelson Jones argues that prejudice against red-haired people in Britain should be addressed by hate crime legislation.

Anti-gingerism, as he calls it, seems to be a mostly English phenomenon, possibly rooted in anti-Celtic prejudice from imperial times, along with old folk prejudices about the supposed characters of red-haired people. Many red-haired schoolchildren report being bullied because of their hair colour, and it's still commonly considered acceptable to make derogatory jokes and remarks about red-haired people, even by people who would never make racist remarks. More seriously, anti-ginger prejudice sometimes escalates to violent attacks and serious harrassment. English hate crime legislation, however, currently does not recognise that such prejudice exists and has no provision for victimisation based on prejudice against hair colour.

Writing in The Guardian's Comment Is Free, Ally Fogg argues that to call it a hate crime trivialises other forms of bigotry and discrimination.

Meanwhile, red-haired London-based comedian Tim Minchin has a musical comment about the issue.
posted by acb (114 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
It wasn't even a thing in the US until that fucking South Park episode.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:59 AM on January 15, 2013 [56 favorites]


Yeah, I had never even heard "ginger" as a noun until after I turned thirty, three years ago.
posted by koeselitz at 12:01 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just don't get this. It's the dumbest running joke of all time.
posted by GuyZero at 12:02 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I never "got" this because "ginger" was always a white-brown root-y thing for me. I thought I was a ginger when I first heard it.
posted by boo_radley at 12:03 PM on January 15, 2013


It's a very old English prejudice. It's not at all funny and labeling it a hate crime is a good thing.
posted by bhnyc at 12:07 PM on January 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


It wasn't even a thing in the US until that fucking South Park episode.

It really wasn't! But whenever I say this, people refuse to believe me.

I'm constantly asking people not to make these stupid jokes, because a good friend of mine appears to have weirdly internalized it and it makes me sad.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:08 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Relevant.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:09 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


so the common British playground pronunciation for this is "GIN-ger" with hard "g"s (as in "give") for both the first and second g. But is this pronunciation "owned"/embraced by ginger-haired people or do they resent the label? Or is it one of those terms which the marginalized group is happy to use internally but outsiders can't use it?

(I haven't come across ginger-ism since I was 12 years old at school in London. The ginger kid in question took it light-heartedly (he had very good sense of humour) as far as I could tell and the teasing was not serious and a running joke but not frequent, as far as I could tell )
posted by Bwithh at 12:10 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


acb: "Ally Fogg argues that to call it a hate crime trivialises other forms of bigotry and discrimination.
"

And who is Mr Fogg or anyone to decide if one form of bigotry is trivial and another not?
After all, if we use long term bigotry and discrimination, redheads have had a hard time in the UK for many years. Who is Mr Fogg to say that one person isn't allowed to feel discriminated against because they are not a member of one of the selected protected groups?

Here in the US where instead of being viewed in derogatory terms, redheads - well as least more female redheads get a reputation as being very sexual which can cause just as many problems as derogatory bigoted ideas. One of the many obscene racist insults are that African-Americans are extremely sexual. Are the redheads to be told that they aren't allowed the same protection just because of the skin color? Isn't that itself racist?

This is one of the biggest problems with hate crimes and with accusations of bigotry. Certain groups are given protection where others are not. That is hypocritical and arbitrary. Who is to say that being labeled 'ugly', 'short', 'fat', or any of a million derogatory terms is worse than being called a racial, gender, or other insults?

Comment on a group of women having nappy hair and you're nearly fired. Comment that the group of women are chubby and unattractive may very well get you in trouble but no where near the level as the former. If having your hair insulted makes one understandable upset, why would having another aspect insulted make some equally upset? Better yet, why should one group be told their feeling are meaningless in comparison to another group?
posted by 2manyusernames at 12:11 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was young and stupid, I thought the ginger thing was a big joke, a sort of collective parody of prejudice that was always intentionally satirical, perhaps originating in that AE Housman poem about homosexuality laws. I am ashamed to say that I sometimes joined in and made jokes, because I like satire and particularly like AE Housman references. It took a long time before I realised that many people really mean it, and that red-headed peoples lives have been really made a misery. I don't join in the joking now, even when I'm reasonably sure itis meant satirically. But I wish I never had.
posted by Acheman at 12:11 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Anti-Celtic"? Despite the Irish redhead stereo type, I thought red hair is mostly a Germanic thing (i.e., Norman). Celts were mostly darked-haired.
posted by spaltavian at 12:12 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anti-gingerism is quite deep-rooted here; sort of like antiziganism in eastern Europe, it is considered socially acceptable by otherwise open-minded, educated and liberal people. An ex of mine (who was from York, and had studied Middle Eastern languages at Oxford) had a friend with vivid red hair. But it's OK, she would say, her friend was “auburn” or “strawberry blonde”, not “ginger”. There was, it seemed, a dividing line between auburn/strawberry blonde (and thus acceptable) and ginger (and viscerally beyond the pale), with one being essentially worthy and the other not. Nobody could point out exactly where the line was, but they knew it when they saw it.

My current SO, for what it's worth, has red hair. She grew up in Ireland and Belgium, though, and didn't encounter anti-ginger prejudice until moving to London in her 20s.
posted by acb at 12:15 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Comment on a group of women having nappy hair and you're nearly fired. Comment that the group of women are chubby and unattractive may very well get you in trouble but no where near the level as the former. If having your hair insulted makes one understandable upset, why would having another aspect insulted make some equally upset?

...he didn't just say they had nappy hair.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:16 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Anti-Celtic"? Despite the Irish redhead stereo type, I thought red hair is mostly a Germanic thing (i.e., Norman). Celts were mostly darked-haired.

More Vikings, historically. Redheads in the family probably meant mum was sleeping with them, which was problematic when the Vikings might well have killed many people's fathers.
posted by jaduncan at 12:16 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Anti-Celtic"? Despite the Irish redhead stereo type, I thought red hair is mostly a Germanic thing (i.e., Norman).

I've heard it described as something that came from the Vikings (who settled in Ireland and the north of Britain). Of course, the Normans were essentially Vikings who spoke (provincial) French.
posted by acb at 12:17 PM on January 15, 2013


More Vikings, historically. Redheads in the family probably meant mum was sleeping with them

Or that Mom was accused of cheating on dad with her brother and lost her head over it...
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:20 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


And who is Mr Fogg or anyone to decide if one form of bigotry is trivial and another not?

Possibly a case of the Guardian experimenting with the Daily Mail's business model of trolling for ad impressions with controversial comments? (See also: Julie Burchill)
posted by acb at 12:20 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


FAMOUS MONSTER: "Comment on a group of women having nappy hair and you're nearly fired. Comment that the group of women are chubby and unattractive may very well get you in trouble but no where near the level as the former. If having your hair insulted makes one understandable upset, why would having another aspect insulted make some equally upset?

...he didn't just say they had nappy hair.
"


Fine, that is the only part I recall. It doesn't change my point. You are ostracized for making insults against group 'a', but insults against group 'b' is perfectly acceptable to those not part of group 'b'

edit: I just looked up what was said. Wow. That is much more than "nappy hair" I apologize.
My question now is why the f didn't his producer get FAR more attacks. The producer started the obscene comments and said more vile things.
posted by 2manyusernames at 12:22 PM on January 15, 2013


Yeah, I had never even heard "ginger" as a noun until after I turned thirty, three years ago.

You spent your first 30 years somewhere without Chinese restaurants?
posted by acb at 12:22 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Vestiges of this in North America in the phrase "as welcome as a red-headed step-child". But I'm not even sure what region that phrase is localized to (not California where I grew up).
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 12:22 PM on January 15, 2013


I've heard that one as “beaten like a red-headed stepchild”, though got the impression that it was only mildly less offensive than “n____r in the woodpile”.
posted by acb at 12:24 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


i am american but i watch a lot of british tv (specifically, a lot of the panel shows and chat programs). i'm always so confused by the ginger thing. since i was a child i wanted red hair and i always loved the red headed boys.
posted by nadawi at 12:27 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


My father had red hair before he lost it by the age of 30, but he proudly kept the nickname "Red" for the rest of his life. (He actually resembled the "Red Foreman" character on "That 70's Show" which freaked me out but he never noticed. But I digress.) So I never had anything against redheads, an attitude reinforced by my favorite Tom Robbins novel "Still Life With Woodpecker", from which comes the quote "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." If you can read that book and still hate 'gingers', you're a devoted bigot.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:29 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


My understanding of the 'red-headed stepchild' thing, for a long time, was that the implication was that the kid's hair was proof that he wasn't your kid, since I guess the unseen protagonist of the idiom doesn't have red hair.

I understood it this way for an embarrassingly long time before I noticed that the 'stepchild' part makes that interpretation completely obtuse.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:30 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


My opinion is that any form of hate-crime legislation is inherently unfair. As a white male who grew up poor (I went to junior high school in Harlem) I was the target of a lot of bullying because of my skin color, and I certainly didn't get any governmental support for it. It wasn't until I learned how to kick five types of shit out of the other kids that the bullying stopped. So it bothers me to see other people being given special consideration - if I had to take my licks due to other people's bigotry, why are other people too good to take their own? Do they have more "personhood" than me? It also disturbs me that if somebody assaults me, they could be given a lighter sentence than if they assault a minority. That's just fundamentally unfair and runs counter to the principles of equality in our society.

However... hate-crime legislation isn't about fairness, it's about results. If one group or class is being persecuted to a degree that is not conducive to upholding rule of law in a civilized society, then it's just common sense that we need to increase the penalty for crimes targeting them, simply in order to minimize chaos. So from a pragmatic perspective, I support hate-crime legislation, even though from a moral perspective it sticks in my craw.

When considered in that light, it seems reasonable to me that whether or not gingers need to be protected should be based purely on statistical analysis that would determine how many crimes are committed due to "ginger hate." So far, these articles do not provide anything beyond anecdata, so trying to reach a conclusion about the rightness or wrongness of the proposed legislation based solely on the data provided here seems like a rather ignorant thing to do.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:30 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I was teased/bullied quite a bit for my red hair and freckles growing up, but I was an adult before I heard reference to the "ginger gene." And I never heard anyone described as a ginger until after the South Park episode.
posted by brundlefly at 12:31 PM on January 15, 2013


Amazon Askville: Where did the saying come from "... like a red-headed stepchild?" See the first answer by Spaceman_Spiff.
posted by zarq at 12:33 PM on January 15, 2013


> Yeah, I had never even heard "ginger" as a noun until after I turned thirty, three years ago.

Well yes, of course.

That's because you were too young

posted by mmrtnt at 12:34 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've always had the impression that antigingerism in contemporary England is in part rooted to anti-Irish sentiment, especially when The Troubles were at their height and the IRA was bombing in England — I've read stuff from redheaded people from the US being taken quite aback by the unwelcome attention they got from security guards and police while out and about in London, and who compared it to the microaggressions experienced by black people in the US.

But, well, I've never been off this continent (North America). Does modern English antigingerism have its roots in anti-Irish prejudice / racial profiling, or am I just making that up?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:36 PM on January 15, 2013


me: “Yeah, I had never even heard "ginger" as a noun until after I turned thirty, three years ago.”

acb: “You spent your first 30 years somewhere without Chinese restaurants?”

Ha, that doesn't seem right, does it? No, I meant: I had never heard the word "ginger" as a noun referring to people before then.
posted by koeselitz at 12:36 PM on January 15, 2013


wolfdreams, white people are protected under hate crime legislation. The case that went to the supreme court that decided the constitutionality of hate crime legislation was about a group of black guys who saw the movie Mississippi Rising, got angry and beat up the first white person they could find.
posted by stavrogin at 12:39 PM on January 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Us half-gingers have it even worse. Though the kids in my street refer to me as "Fat Jesus" more than they do to my beard coloring.
posted by Wordshore at 12:41 PM on January 15, 2013


I think it's a bad joke that has gotten out of hand. Really nobody should be taunted or assaulted over this, and even playground insults are pretty tired by now. Maybe it gets picked upon because it is a remarkable feature, and folk pick up on anything when they want to insult.
Does modern English antigingerism have its roots in anti-Irish prejudice / racial profiling, or am I just making that up?
I've never heard that before. There's a family of Irish descent in my town where all the children have bright copper red hair. I can assure you that far more people notice the latter fact than know the former.
so the common British playground pronunciation for this is "GIN-ger" with hard "g"s (as in "give") for both the first and second g. But is this pronunciation "owned"/embraced by ginger-haired people or do they resent the label? Or is it one of those terms which the marginalized group is happy to use internally but outsiders can't use it?
Round my end it's "ginner", said with a j-sound. Indeed, a friend and family member has been so thoroughly called "Ginner" his whole life that even friends of many years' standing don't know his real name.
posted by Jehan at 12:42 PM on January 15, 2013


I understood it this way for an embarrassingly long time before I noticed that the 'stepchild' part makes that interpretation completely obtuse.

I thought it was because the stepchild resembled their biological parent who I always presumed was also red-headed, and that this was a continual reminder to the non-biological step-parent that they were "raising someone else's kid."
posted by chimaera at 12:46 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


wolfdreams, white people are protected under hate crime legislation.

In theory that's true; in practice that is almost never the case.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:47 PM on January 15, 2013


It also disturbs me that if somebody assaults me, they could be given a lighter sentence than if they assault a minority.

That is like thirteen miles from what hate crime legislation does.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:48 PM on January 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


My red-haired aunt was born and raised in Scotland in the 1950s and was given the nickname 'Ginger.' I always thought the nickname was given endearingly, not teasingly. Although I could be wrong about that. She moved with the rest of my family to the US as a teenager and the nickname's stuck.

The only thing that I thought was a little strange was that her real name is Ruby. Rubys are red! It suits her! Why did they even bother with calling her 'Ginger?'
posted by mcmile at 12:49 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]




My opinion is that any form of hate-crime legislation is inherently unfair. As a white male who grew up poor (I went to junior high school in Harlem) I was the target of a lot of bullying because of my skin color

Good news! Hate crime legislation covers that, too. (Assuming the bullying was sufficiently violent or whatever.)
posted by Sys Rq at 12:50 PM on January 15, 2013


Tim Minchin wrote this song about prejudice, the language of prejudice...and the power of the language of prejudice. It's called "Prejudice".
posted by inturnaround at 12:51 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


wolfdreams, white people are protected under hate crime legislation. The case that went to the supreme court that decided the constitutionality of hate crime legislation was about a group of black guys who saw the movie Mississippi Rising, got angry and beat up the first white person they could find.

In the US, not in the UK.
posted by atrazine at 12:51 PM on January 15, 2013


My red-haired aunt was born and raised in Scotland in the 1950s and was given the nickname 'Ginger.' I always thought the nickname was given endearingly, not teasingly.

In Scotland, it probably was. There are more redheads in Scotland, and less anti-red-hair prejudice.
posted by acb at 12:53 PM on January 15, 2013


wolfdreams01, I think you have some fundamental misunderstandings of what hate crimes legislation is and does.

I was the target of a lot of bullying because of my skin color, and I certainly didn't get any governmental support for it.

Hate crime legislation certainly would have protected you if you were targeted because of your skin color. There isn't a "anybody but white people" clause in these laws. For example, the relevant portion of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 permits federal prosecution of anyone who "willingly injures, intimidates or interferes with another person, or attempts to do so, by force because of the other person's race, color, religion or national origin".

Do they have more "personhood" than me? It also disturbs me that if somebody assaults me, they could be given a lighter sentence than if they assault a minority. That's just fundamentally unfair and runs counter to the principles of equality in our society.

This is just nonsense but sadly commonly-held nonsense. Simply put, if you accept the concept of intent in law, you accept hate crime legislation.

For example, take murder laws. All jurisdictions in the US recognize varying degrees of murder based on intent. If you carefully plan to kill someone, kill them in a burst of anger, or accidentally kill them, you will be treated very differently by the justice system. Yet the person in all of those scenarios is just as dead as in any other. Is the person killed on purpose more of a person than someone killed by accident? No, of course not.

The legal system has long made distinctions based on the intent of the perpetrator. We consider someone who intentionally kills another to be worse or more dangerous than someone who accidentally kills or kills in a fit of passion. Hate crime extends this further: we consider someone who kills because of some group category to be worse or more dangerous than someone who doesn't, because such a person isn't just a threat to the one they actually killed but is a threat to all people in that category. They are a greater threat to society and so are treated as such.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:56 PM on January 15, 2013 [52 favorites]


Tim Minchin wrote this song about prejudice, the language of prejudice...and the power of the language of prejudice. It's called "Prejudice".

Thanks for that, inturnaround. Tim Minchin is always a delight.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:56 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


In theory that's true; in practice that is almost never the case.

Well, yeah, because the one is just a lot more common than the other. So?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:57 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


It really wasn't! But whenever I say this, people refuse to believe me.

I believe you. I never saw the south park episode and the whole notion of "ginger" just seemed to come out of nowhere. It wasn't a thing, and then people apparently took a dumb joke seriously and now it's a thing, and it's just so dumb it makes my head hurt.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:02 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tim Minchin wrote this song about prejudice, the language of prejudice...and the power of the language of prejudice. It's called "Prejudice".

There was an article in the New Statesman about this very issue; I found it here.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:05 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


There was an article in the New Statesman about this very issue; I found it here.

You don't say!
posted by Sys Rq at 1:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Scotland and Ireland have the highest proportions of red haired people in the world, regardless of where the colour comes from.

The discrimination is terrible - especially this story of a little girl being bullied. Though I can't help wondering if that is just jealousy, because her hair colour is one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen.

And that's the crazy bit about this "ginger-prejudice" - red hair is so beautiful. I know so many people who have dyed their hair red, no redheads who would ever dye their hair another colour. I guess Anne of Green Gables never caught on in the UK - from the book, you can see that red hair wasn't considered beautiful at the time, but now it is (maybe partly because of the book).
posted by jb at 1:07 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here in the Netherlands being redhaired is roughly like having glasses; only relevant if you're on the playground and you're all twelve. I always thought that the whole English ginger thing was on about the same level as calling Welsh people sheep shaggers, vestigal remains of what was once active bigotry, made into punchlines for bad comedians.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:10 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


You don't say!

*whooosh*
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:11 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


*whooosh*

In my defence, I did eventually see what you did there and duly smacked my forehead.

Anyway, also relevant: MIA - Born Free
posted by Sys Rq at 1:12 PM on January 15, 2013


> There are more redheads in Scotland, and less anti-red-hair prejudice.

Not sure that's true. When I was in primary school, redheads got regularly accused of being catholics, and consequently beaten up. Sadly, when I was working in an engineering shop in the summers as a student many years later, the same thing went on.
posted by scruss at 1:12 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Throughout my tenure as a little girl growing up in the wilds of suburban New York City, I was teased relentlessly because of my red, red hair. Lots of names were hurled my way, but "ginger" wasn't one of them. (As with any bullying, it was hurtful and annoying, but as I got older, I made peace with it my hair.)

I equate the onset of the American use of "ginger" with other Britishisms we seem to have adopted during the internet/social media age, like "no worries." When a Welsh friend on Flickr started calling me a "ginger" around 2007, I thought nothing of it, as it was meant (and taken) to be endearing, not discriminatory. Then I started to see it used more often in the U.S. as a synonym for "redhead." But that's been my personal experience. I think ANY word that's slung at someone with the vehemence and hurtful intent of hatred can be considered a hate crime -- like when I was teased as a kid. The words themselves are irrelevant; it's the intent of the speaker that matters.

Oh and I was a stepchild, too. Recently, in a conversation with a newish friend of mine, she referred to someone else as the "red-headed stepchild," and I realized that I was horrified, moreso than I ever had been as a kid. (I called her out on it, too, and she in turn was mortified at herself.)
posted by flyingsquirrel at 1:16 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I equate the onset of the American use of "ginger" with other Britishisms we seem to have adopted during the internet/social media age, like "no worries."

That's an Australianism that came to America by way of surf culture. /derail
posted by Sys Rq at 1:20 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


That one South Park episode just got a whole lot less funny.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:21 PM on January 15, 2013


Wait... this is a real thing?! People really get beat up over their hair color?!
posted by desjardins at 1:22 PM on January 15, 2013


It's just a trendy affectation in the US. I still wince when I hear people referring to themselves or others as gingers and I always will even if its not meant to offend.

Not something you should say anywhere in the UK or Ireland though, even if you think you're being cute or complimentary. It's likely to offend, or make you look stupid at least.
posted by fshgrl at 1:23 PM on January 15, 2013


Wait... this is a real thing?! People really get beat up over their hair color?!
Yes, but...it's just a proxy for wanting to find trouble with somebody else. I'ld be pushed to believe that there is really strong prejudice in England against redheads, in the sense that anybody believes there is something particular about them just because of their hair. But there are lots of petty people who insult and abuse others for any reason they can find. "Ginger" hair is a popular one, but I have no misgivings that the same folk would find something else were it not, like beating somebody up over wearing glasses, being tall, speaking with a lisp, and so on.
posted by Jehan at 1:29 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's a very old English prejudice.

Is it just the internet age that I hear about it more or is it that it has gotten worse over the past 10 years or so?
posted by deanc at 1:30 PM on January 15, 2013


/Starts persecuting the frecks.
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


People really get beat up over their hair color?!

I'm not sure why this would be surprising in the slightest. We've killed each other over other such trivial things for all of history.

My red hair will beat the snot out of you if you call me a ginger! You should see it in action during featherweight bouts.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:35 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"GIN-ger" with hard "g"s (as in "give") for both the first and second g.

OK, the Doctor Who episode about "Gangers" (and the ensuing question of whether or not they have souls) makes a bit more sense now (e.g. maybe more to the choice of name than just being short for doppelganger).
posted by CyberSlug Labs at 1:38 PM on January 15, 2013


There's a whole class thing about this in Australia. Because a lot more Irish were transported involuntarily than English, I suspect. (I am not really all that gingery despite my username. Some people insist I'm a redhead and others that I'm a basic brunette. It's orange in the sun but otherwise light brown. Nobody cares this much but I am forestalling the eponysterical thing.)
posted by gingerest at 1:42 PM on January 15, 2013


>It's a very old English prejudice.
Is it just the internet age that I hear about it more or is it that it has gotten worse over the past 10 years or so?


Well, at one point red hair was used as evidence in witch trials (both in the UK and US). Depending on how long you're tracking the trend, you could argue that things are a hell of a lot better for redheads.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:53 PM on January 15, 2013


I'm not sure why this would be surprising in the slightest. We've killed each other over other such trivial things for all of history.

True, but such violence has usually been accompanied by physical and/or cultural segregation. In this case none exists; a brunette can give birth to a redhead, for example. It's all wrong, but this is particularly nonsensical.
posted by desjardins at 1:57 PM on January 15, 2013


a brunette can give birth to a redhead, for example

Not without carrying the gene for red hair herself.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:05 PM on January 15, 2013


Pope Guilty: "It wasn't even a thing in the US until that fucking South Park episode."

Parker and Stone like to pretend they're satirizing in their work, but it's always done on such a level that nitwits can just take it at face value. "Derka Derka" would never have entered the culture if it wasn't for Team America.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:19 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I want redheaded kids. It runs in my family and my husband's family (being redheaded is more common among those of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry), and since apparently the world's redheaded population is dwindling, I'd love to help keep the genes alive...
posted by limeonaire at 2:39 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


since apparently the world's redheaded population is dwindling

Hoax.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:40 PM on January 15, 2013


Ah hell. Well, I still want redheads!
posted by limeonaire at 2:43 PM on January 15, 2013


I want redheaded kids.
One of my brother's friends had ginger hair. Once, on the school bus in the morning, he was pestering a girl he liked:

"Do you want to go out with me?"

"Look, just go away."

"Come on, I really like you. Why won't you go out with me?"

"BECAUSE NOBODY WANTS GINGER CHILDREN!"
posted by Jehan at 3:07 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


In theory that's true; in practice that is almost never the case.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 3:47 PM on January 15 [+] [!]


What is this supposed to mean, that no one is prosecuted for anti-white hate crimes? 17.7% of hate crimes reported by law enforcement agencies in 2010 were against white people. Are you making up facts to support your beliefs or do you have evidence that significantly more hate crimes against white people go unpunished?

In the US, not in the UK.
posted by atrazine at 3:51 PM on January 15 [+] [!]


wolfdreams said he went to school in Harlem and was talking about hate/bias crimes in general.
posted by stavrogin at 3:21 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyone who doesn't want their gingers can send them my way. Especially the ones with beards and furry chests. *growf*
posted by hippybear at 3:28 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]




The miasmatic spread of the "soulless ginger" meme is difficult to understand, as the joke appears designed to become quickly tiresome to adults while remaining hurtful to young children.
posted by Svejk at 3:42 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


17.7% of hate crimes reported by law enforcement agencies in 2010 were against white people

Not to detract from your point, which is still entirely valid, but I feel it should be pointed out for the sake of accuracy that that is not what that number means.
An analysis of data for victims of single-bias hate crime incidents showed that:

48.2 percent were victims of an offender’s bias against a race.

Among the single-bias hate crime incidents in 2010, there were 3,949 victims of racially motivated hate crime. A closer examination of these victim data showed that:

17.7 percent were victims of an anti-white bias.
That's 17.7% of 48.2%; just 8.5% of single-bias hate crimes.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:47 PM on January 15, 2013


a voice of reason at Fox News
posted by Bwithh at 3:49 PM on January 15, 2013


We need a "Save the Gingers!" campaign.

Incidentally, I have a friend who had a redheaded grandmother, though nobody else was redheaded. Her kids came out redheaded despite nobody in the last few generations on either side of the family being redheaded. So go figure there.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:54 PM on January 15, 2013


I've got red hair (as have two of my three siblings - third generation Irish) and oddly never got any stick for it as a kid in rural northwest England in the 70s/80s, and nor did my sister or brother AFAIK, though I was aware of the phenomenon if I remember right. We have dark eyebrows too though rather than the very pale with much brighter red hair, wonder if that was a factor, or if it peaked a bit later after I'd left school?
posted by Abiezer at 4:02 PM on January 15, 2013


What is this supposed to mean, that no one is prosecuted for anti-white hate crimes? 17.7% of hate crimes reported by law enforcement agencies in 2010 were against white people. Are you making up facts to support your beliefs or do you have evidence that significantly more hate crimes against white people go unpunished?

Can we maybe not do this here? It's obvious that you didn't put any thought into this, since if you did you'd already have realized that the only objective mathematical way to prove any sort of point in this area (for either of us) would require a lengthy data analysis to create a ratio of white-on-black violence vs the number of white people charged with hate crimes (58%), then create a ratio of black-on-white violence vs the number of black people charged with hate crimes (17.7%, as you cited) and then compare the ratios to calculate whether or not the crime-per-race and hate-crimes-prosecuted-per-race numbers are disproportionate. (Actually you would need to do that calculation for every race, but I am using blacks and whites as the most relevant example.) That would also requires a detailed side trek into the vagarities of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (an epic quest in and of itself), and considering that this would massively derail the conversation onto a hot-button topic, I really don't feel like doing all that work just to respond to obvious troll-bait. This conversation is about redheads, and I'm fine keeping it that way. I'm sorry you seemingly took offense at something I said, but I don't think that justifies a massive derail off topic.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 4:10 PM on January 15, 2013


The shrinking island of socially acceptable hatreds almost makes me think hatred is a bad thing.
posted by srboisvert at 4:15 PM on January 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Can we maybe not do this here? It's obvious that you didn't put any thought into this, since if you did you'd already have realized that the only objective mathematical way to prove any sort of point in this area (for either of us) would require a lengthy data analysis to create a ratio of white-on-black violence vs the number of white people charged with hate crimes (58%), then create a ratio of black-on-white violence vs the number of black people charged with hate crimes (17.7%, as you cited) and then compare the ratios to calculate whether or not the crime-per-race and hate-crimes-prosecuted-per-race numbers are disproportionate. (Actually you would need to do that calculation for every race, but I am using blacks and whites as the most relevant example.) That would also requires a detailed side trek into the vagarities of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (an epic quest in and of itself), and considering that this would massively derail the conversation onto a hot-button topic, I really don't feel like doing all that work just to respond to obvious troll-bait. This conversation is about redheads, and I'm fine keeping it that way. I'm sorry you seemingly took offense at something I said, but I don't think that justifies a massive derail off topic.

Dude, you brought it up, and you were demonstrably wrong. Deal with it. Preferably somewhere else.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:22 PM on January 15, 2013


you were demonstrably wrong

Unless you've actually done the aforementioned calculations, the only thing you've demonstrated is an ignorance of data-driven methodology. There's a big difference between saying "I was wrong" and saying "maybe this isn't the appropriate venue for such a discussion." An intelligent person would understand that difference.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 4:32 PM on January 15, 2013


There's a whole company dedicated to testing for MC1R variants largely because people are interested in whether they'll have red-headed kids or not.

("I'm sorry you seemingly took offense at something I said" is one of the most impressively content-free statements I've ever read.)
posted by gingerest at 4:35 PM on January 15, 2013


The shrinking island of socially acceptable hatreds almost makes me think hatred is a bad thing.
posted by srboisvert at 4:15 PM on January 15 [3 favorites +] [!]


Shortism may be the big kahuna of that shrinking island
From The Economist's 1995 Christmas issue: Short guys finish last. Heightism
posted by Bwithh at 4:39 PM on January 15, 2013


the only thing you've demonstrated is an ignorance of data-driven methodology

your initial statement was anecdotal, not data-driven
posted by pyramid termite at 4:50 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


People no longer have any understanding as to what the word "hate" actually means, and entails.

"Bully" is now going down the same road.

Watch in amazement as language is demolished.
posted by gsh at 4:59 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


as welcome as a red-headed step-child

Note that red hair, being a recessive gene, has a tendency to skip a generation or more before reappearing. This phenomenon probably led to some degree of suspicion in societies that had a pre-scientific understanding of genetics.
posted by dhartung at 5:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Shortism may be the big kahuna of that shrinking island

Also known as apart-height.
posted by acb at 5:10 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


An intelligent person would understand that difference.

Man take your lumps without being a weirdo about it. There's no reason to start insulting people just because you said a wrong thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:10 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"People no longer have any understanding as to what the word "hate" actually means, and entails."
Death threats, assault, and even murder based on distribution of pigment sounds like hate to me.
posted by gingerest at 5:12 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Watch in amazement as language is demolished.

Watch in amazement as hate is demolished hopefully.

Sorry we can't hate enough for you.
posted by GuyZero at 5:12 PM on January 15, 2013


An intelligent person would understand that difference.

Don't continue in this vein, please.
posted by jessamyn at 5:36 PM on January 15, 2013


Unless you've actually done the aforementioned calculations, the only thing you've demonstrated is an ignorance of data-driven methodology.

Your claim was that anti-white hate crime protections weren't a thing that one time you might've wanted them, therefore they still aren't, therefore non-white people are given special rights that white people don't get. It was then demostrated in this thread, several times over, from several different angles, with ample citation, that you were completely wrong on every level.

Your claim was also ("if I had to take my licks due to other people's bigotry, why are other people too good to take their own?") grossly offensive and blinkered beyond belief, but, hey.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:57 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


My initial thought was something like, "at least there's one type of bigotry and bullying that we don't have in the U.S." Then, I realized I don't actually know anyone redheaded and really wouldn't know if redheaded kids are tormented.
posted by Area Man at 6:12 PM on January 15, 2013


[For the sake of good discussion, everyone please make points in non-belligerent ways.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:28 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Redhead here. (Well, mixed in with grey these days.) I remember being in sixth grade (pretty much the worst year for bullying) and a boy asking me if the carpet matched the drapes. Fun fact: he was also a ginger!
posted by medeine at 7:35 PM on January 15, 2013


It was then demostrated in this thread, several times over, from several different angles, with ample citation, that you were completely wrong on every level.

Really? Because I utterly failed to see any hard numerical data to support those "demonstrations." The only thing people talked about was how the law is implemented in theory. They're missing my point. A law that is fair in theory can be utterly unfair in practice.

If hate-crime laws are so equal and unbiased, tell me this: why is it that white people are charged with hate crimes 330% more frequently than black people? That implies that either:

A) White people are 330% more racist,
B) White people commit 330% more violent crime against other ethnic groups,
or
C) Your idealistic theory about the alleged "equality" of this law does not seem to reflect the actual reality of how it is being applied.

All the arguments thus far have only addressed how this law is supposed to be applied in theory. That's utterly meaningless - the only thing that matters is the practical effect. If hate-crimes laws are so fair and unbiased, I'm interested in hearing how you explain that huge discrepancy in whom they get applied against. 330% is more than a minor statistical deviation.

To clarify, I'm not arguing that hate-crime laws should be revoked. As I mentioned up top, they serve a useful purpose. But arguing that they protect everyone equally shows a laughable disregard for the statistical data.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:55 PM on January 15, 2013


implies that either:

A) White people are 330% more racist,
B) White people commit 330% more violent crime against other ethnic groups,
or
C) Your idealistic theory about the alleged "equality" of this law does not seem to reflect the actual reality of how it is being applied.


D) More of the white on black violence is racially motivated.
posted by pompomtom at 8:14 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can completely believe that white people are 330% more racist (or a bit more than three times as likely to think that they probably won't be punished since they're in the majority and so are most of the police). But anyway getting back to the topic of the post:

Anti-gingerism is real. For the girl I know, being picked on for her hair color was linked to being picked on for her Scottish accent. I've heard "red hair is just a striking feature kids happen to pick up on and use an excuse" but I don't believe it. Real historic prejudice wasn't that long ago, you can still see it in stuff like ACD's "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League" and Harry Potter.
posted by subdee at 8:14 PM on January 15, 2013


[I realize this derail has been going for a while, but let's leave the question of how hate crimes laws are applied in the US, and return to the original subject of the thread, anti-ginger discrimination in the UK.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:15 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I genuinely don't know how it is in the UK, but seriously, anti-gingerism is a real thing here in Australia in a way it really wasn't in the US or the part of Canada I grew up in. ("Carrots!" does not count as anti-gingerism despite Anne Shirley's subsequent physical retaliation against Gilbert Blythe.)
posted by gingerest at 8:45 PM on January 15, 2013


Red head representing.

I was totally baffled when I heard about the ginger thing in Britain - I never ran into it or noticed it when I visited, granted if you add up all my time there, the total is a little more than a month. I was teased quite a bit as a U.S. kid but it was more nuisance level stuff than hurtful. A lot of the boys in my class would say "I'd rather be dead than red on the head" which was so stupid to me even at the age of 6 that it did not brook offense. I think the dead-red thing had more to do with the cold war and the anti-communist sentiment of the time. Having red hair as a kid made you public property though - strangers would always yell out "hey red" or "carrot top" and the hairdresser would say "your hair is exactly the color of a new copper penny" every.single.time until I got old enough to pick my own hairdresser.

We had seven kids in the family, and four of us were redheads, as was my dad. (My dad was always known as "Red" too, onefellswoop.) Beach going was always an affair of long-sleeved shirts and umbrellas, still often followed by ice packs or tea bags in cold bath water to ease the sunburn pain.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:01 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, ranga.
posted by robcorr at 9:03 PM on January 15, 2013


Root Ginger - portraits from a book by Jenny Wicks.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:20 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was totally baffled when I heard about the ginger thing in Britain

It's mainly a kid's thing, and even when it's manifested in a more severe, adult form, the "gingerism" is typically a convenient excuse rather than the underlying motivating reason.
posted by Bwithh at 9:41 PM on January 15, 2013


Here in the Netherlands being redhaired is roughly like having glasses; only relevant if you're on the playground and you're all twelve.

It's even celebrated!
posted by neushoorn at 1:41 AM on January 16, 2013


Do they have more "personhood" than me? It also disturbs me that if somebody assaults me, they could be given a lighter sentence than if they assault a minority. That's just fundamentally unfair and runs counter to the principles of equality in our society.

Motivation is important. If someone (to pick another thread) shoots and kills their neo-nazi father who is strongly suspected of abusing them then the group of people they have shown themselves to be an iminent danger to is their possibly abusive neo-nazi father. If they kill a random black person (or ginger person or white person) on the streets they have shown themselves to be a danger to any random black person on the street. This is why to protect the rest of society they need locking up in a way the neo-nazi's kid doesn't so much.
posted by Francis at 7:35 AM on January 16, 2013


This one just blows my mind. My father came from a family of 4, all red. Of course he was known as 'Red' (and I have no memory of him with red hair. It had turned that pale color early).

What gets me is the story of Nicole Nagington. So her Headteacher said there was no bullying. So, the girl had to quit school. Excuse me, is that "Headteacher" still the head, if so, why exactly? Kids will be kids. Headteachers, on the other hand, have responsibility, supposedly.
posted by Goofyy at 9:06 AM on January 16, 2013


Reginald D. Hunter on anti-gingerism.
posted by klausness at 9:24 AM on January 16, 2013


There's a whole class thing about this in Australia.
Wot?!?
As a son of a ranga and friends of many a blue, I have never heard or seen anything that supports this. Any evidence, or can you explain why you have that opinion?
posted by bystander at 12:26 PM on January 16, 2013


Because my previous boss, who had what I thought of as beautiful wavy red-blond hair, said she'd experienced it her whole life. She specified that curl was a class problem, too. For women, if you accept that beauty standards reflect class aspirations, looking at the hair-care products, it pops out that in the beauty section of the grocery store, there's not much red-highlight-enhancement or curl-enhancement product, and there's more straightening stuff than I've seen in white neighborhoods in the US.

Just the fact that the nickname for redheads in Australia is based on the word "orangutan" suggests it's a bit more than taking the piss.

But it's a lot easier to notice relatively subtle class stuff in a system foreign to you. The way tradies wear fluoro even if they're not in a job that needs it for safety, because it's a uniform social signifier, for example, really stands out to me but is not something my Australian friends have remarked on. (Even though it's explicit enough that some pubs/clubs include no fluoro in the dress code.) I am sure there's a zillion US class signifiers I don't notice consciously.
posted by gingerest at 3:31 PM on January 16, 2013


So you have no evidence at all of any class component?
FWIW, there are many, many red dyes and tints in the hair care section of my chemist and supermarket.
I don't know what curlers/straighteners have to do with it. Are straight haired red heads of higher social class than curlies, or vice versa? In my experience, regardless of hair colour, people long to have the opposite of what they are born with, at least some of the time.
I don't think that the link between orangatans and ranga (they share a hair colour) is a class thing. Why would you?
Is calling a red head "blue" a class signifier because blue is a royal colour, so therefore alluding to their upper crust hair colour?
I don't think your opinion has much basis.
posted by bystander at 8:57 PM on January 19, 2013


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