Was I accidentally racist? (poll)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Shacklebolt, Oct 2, 2007.

?

Is the word "Paddy" racist?

  1. Not to my knowledge.

    58 vote(s)
    59.2%
  2. It's not P.C., but fine for colloquial and contextual usage.

    17 vote(s)
    17.3%
  3. Not really, but you shouldn't really say it casually.

    11 vote(s)
    11.2%
  4. Yes, it is.

    12 vote(s)
    12.2%
  1. Shacklebolt macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    #1
    In an article I just published, I used the word "Paddy" as, what I thought, was a totally inoffensive way to describe an Irishman. I was using it casually, and meant nothing offensive by it. In the context of the article (which is about an Irish punk band), you could tell that I meant no offense towards anyone. (Kind of like using the word Canuck to describe someone Canadian).

    However, I recently ran it through UrbanDictionary, and found out that it has a bit of a storied history, and can be construed rather badly.

    So the question - do you know the word "Paddy" to be racist?

    (Honest advice is appreciated).
     
  2. Veritas&Equitas macrumors 68000

    Veritas&Equitas

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2005
    Location:
    Twin Cities, MN
    #2
    I can honestly say I've never even heard of the word.
     
  3. juanster macrumors 68020

    juanster

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Location:
    toronto
  4. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2006
    Location:
    Somewhere
  5. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2005
    Location:
    VA
    #5
    Never heard of the word either.

    Is it possible to be accidently racist? Maybe if it was some sort of Freudian slip. But that's not the case here because you didn't know the term could possibly be a pejorative.

    Or did you? Hmmm... :rolleyes: :p
     
  6. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    Joined:
    May 7, 2004
    Location:
    Sod off
    #6
    In the course of some historical research I've been doing for my thesis I've come across the diary of a businessman in the US who was active during the 1840s-1860s. He often hired Irish laborers for mining exploration work, and always called them "Paddies".

    At the time, it was considered very offensive and would probably get you knifed or beaten up in the wrong circumstances. Today it seems to have fallen out of use, but I've never encountered it in person so I don't know.

    The term (at least in the US) dates from a period of heavy Irish immigration, with Irish immigrants near the bottom of the social hierarchy, just above or level with African Americans and Chinese immigrants. It may have an English origin, since by that time the English had a popular dislike for the Irish that was centuries old.
     
  7. xsedrinam macrumors 601

    xsedrinam

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    #7
    Maybe a Britisher could better help you with the derogatory use of the term. You'll need to wait 'til they've awakened. :)
     
  8. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #8
    I'd say some Irish might get offended by it, but it's not normally used these days as an insult or offensive word. It's certainly in use.

    For example in Sydney there is Paddy's Market which appears to be an accepted and acceptable name which, according to the page I linked, comes from an Irish area of Liverpool.
     
  9. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    #9
    It can be offensive, but if used correctly it can just be taken as a joke. I wouldn't worry too much about it.
     
  10. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    Gone but not forgotten.
    #10
    Having worked with a bunch of Irish-Americans around Philadelphia, PA, I would definitely say that it's a derogatory term. Thankfully, times are changing but I wouldn't use it, even if Irish or Irish-Americans said it was okay.
     
  11. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #11
    The only thing I can think of is Paddy Wagon. Never heard it used as a racist word.
     
  12. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    #12
    Americans always seem more sensitive to these things though. As I said I wouldn't worry too much about it. Wait till the hate mail comes, then start :).
     
  13. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    #13
    Yeah, boy am I looking forward to that. It's for a music magazine that doesn't have a huge readership, but the website does average ~5000 hits/week.
     
  14. commonpeople macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    #14
    I was born in Ireland, but have been living in the States for the last few years.

    'Paddy' is not particularly offensive when uttered by an American in a non threatening context. I wouldn't worry about it.

    That doesn't mean that the word is never racist. It can be used in a derogatory manner.

    OK, I'm going to go back to eating my Lucky Charms.

    (Edit: You Yanks do get mighty sensitive about these things, don't you? I'm surprised you've got time in between stuffing your craw with burgers and invading other countries. Dumb American hicks!)
     
  15. Veritas&Equitas macrumors 68000

    Veritas&Equitas

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2005
    Location:
    Twin Cities, MN
    #15
    Wow, nothing like a massive generalization.

    Maybe a new concept to foreigners, but not everyone in the US is a hick, nor dumb. In addition, nearly 50 million people (over 11 times your entire population) didn't support the man who is invading other countries, and currently over 70% of our population doesn't support him.

    I could go into the logic and reason happening in Northern Ireland, but I won't go there.
     
  16. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #16
    I think this was meant tongue in cheek as a (perhaps poorly chosen example) of a phrase or generalisation that might be offensive to some, but is not really all that bad. A bit like Paddy. Or the eating of Luck Charms.
     
  17. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    #17
    Hey now, let's keep it civil. This whole thing was just an honest question.
     
  18. commonpeople macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    #18
    Yeah, it's another stereotype, but British/Irish readers would have recognized those comments as intentional irony. Sorry if you didn't get that.

    Edit: In my defense- I did try to use the most outlandish American stereotype I could think of to make the joke more obvious!
     
  19. yetanotherdave macrumors 68000

    yetanotherdave

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2007
    Location:
    Bristol, England
    #19
    I don't, but then I think that "banned racist words" is daft over PC BS.
    Racism is about intent, not about a word.
    (that is, if the useage of the word is meant in hatred in a racist manner, that is racist, the word on its own isn't)
     
  20. commonpeople macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    #20
    Let me guess... you're white with an about normal accent and looks and have never experienced racism as a day to day fact of life.

    Racist words can do real damage even if the intent is not there. They create an atmosphere in which the minority group feels subtly slighted and excluded.

    I don't think the O.P. is any trouble- because his/her words were clearly not used with specific intent to demean people- but having said that- I wouldn't enjoy Americans calling me a Paddy each and every day.

    BTW- I suspect that Americans in Britain and Ireland experience a slight racist attitude, though maybe 'racism' isn't the right word.

    Also- some Irish people have behaved in an appallingly racist manner toward black immigrants in recent years. The Irish have got a lot to learn about tolerance of other cultures and races.
     
  21. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    Gone but not forgotten.
    #21
    Well, I wasn't born here but I was treated to daily racism growing up, including a good beating. I've dialed back on the feelings, as most people have but there are some people who will use such terms, just to prod you out of your complacency.

    Consider that most of the people who know about it are probably older. I was the only one who voted it racist. Most of the magazine's readership will probably not even realise what you're saying.
     
  22. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2002
    Location:
    Republic of Ukistan
    #22
    It's more than a little condescending. Not every Irishman is called Patrick.
     
  23. yetanotherdave macrumors 68000

    yetanotherdave

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2007
    Location:
    Bristol, England
    #23
    Close, yes. White, what I'm told is a posh accent. I did have a bit of a goth phase so I have experienced abuse and hatred based on my looks.
    I still believe racism is defined by attitude and not words. Yes words can hurt, but they only only hurt when meant in a hateful manner.
    i'm aware racism is a very real issue and i'm not trying to downplay it, but I also think that being overly sensitive about racial slurs when there was no malicious intent does more harm than good.
    But what does a middle class white boy know about it eh?
     
  24. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2002
    Location:
    Republic of Ukistan
    #24
    Obviously very little... :)
     
  25. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #25
    True. Some are called Mr Fitzpatrick :D
     

Share This Page