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Political and Social Attitudes to Gypsies in Your Country

Discussion in 'Alley of Lingering Sighs' started by Taluntain, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Many (most?) of the countries with a Gypsy population have a prevailing negative societal view of the people and their culture. How much of the dominant society's attitude towards Gypsies do you feel is based on personal experience or factual knowledge and how much on prejudice or hearsay? What are the political attitudes towards Gypsies in your country? Do you have any personal experiences with them?

    Discuss!
     
  2. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    For us ignorant Americans here, could you possibly describe exactly what is meant by a gypsy? The only experience I have of them is how they are portrayed in films, which is to say, I'm not convinced that it is entirely accurate...
     
  3. 8people

    8people 8 is just another way of looking at infinite ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran

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    [​IMG] The town I grew up was on the circuit that a few groups from around the New Forest area would travel. They settled the longest over Christmas and they would sell wreathes and decorations that they made themselves. They were always polite, they left their rubbish tied up in a bag and the binmen were always able to collect it without a hassle. The horses were well kept and tethered properly to give reasonable distance from the pavements. They also helped me and my mother move house twice and were on the local council list of services that they could call or provide to the public with trust.

    There are also the Irish and Scots Travellers. I have met very few Scots myself, the ones I met were Settled, they had a different outlook on life than their neighbours and it was the neighbours that caused most the problems. If there was ANYTHING that went wrong along the neighbourhood they got blamed immediately, it was disgraceful. Irish Pavees I've had mixed experience with, on one hand they're probably the roughest traveller folk I've met but on the other it's a Pavee who's helped teach me angloromani so far.

    Generally the political attitudes round here are negative towards travellers of all kinds, they don't care where they are from, their laws, their beliefs, they're viewed as a nuisance. There used to be travellers regularly turned away from schools and as many didn't pay council tax were refused services from councils on the simplest things such as filling out forms. The attitudes in schools changed racdically shortly before I left school so I can't tell what it's like now but the government still view them as a pest.

    Councils won't provide support for settling if you've got an alternative living space - which as travellers most do - they then don't get correct information on where and where not they can pitch up, most have learnt the amount of time it takes for the paperwork to clear before a council can forcefully remove their homes so live on a cycle like that when the circuits pass through less accepting areas. Most of the time the complaints of mess being left behind after travellers have been in an area is when they have been forced out and haven't had time to tidy after themselves.

    My opinion is largely formed from experience. I have done paperwork for the council, I have been shown great respect by Rroma and have found the 'filthy gypsy' stereotype to be unfair in every instance I've seen it pulled up. I am also biased, we know in my family that there was Rrom links and that they settled and bought farmland and it was in the family for generations (until my grandma in fact) my grandma and mother were raised with certain cleanliness ideals with match up with the rrom laws of Marimé. The land was taken from the family after my great uncle died and the land was defaulted as he had no paperwork to identify himself properly.
     
  4. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gypsy

    ^ a bit much to detail here. Apparently there are Gypsies in the US as well, though... but obviously nowhere near as many as in Europe and various other parts of the world. Of course, in the US, they've likely more or less assimilated by now.

    One of the main characteristics of Gypsies here is that generally, they refuse to assimilate (or even integrate) and live in separate settlements from the rest of the population. Obviously this is a problem on a number of levels, be it educational, economic, cultural, etc. The prevailing stereotype is that of a non-working, government handout-supported and criminal Gypsy. There are a number of problem zones in the country where several well-known Gypsy families and individuals account for a large number of recurring criminal activity and at least one media spotlight every week. People living next to them usually don't have anything good to say about them either - complaints of thefts and various violence are very common.

    In short, the Gypsies are seen as a nuisance and threat wherever in the country they appear - to the point of civil disobedience by the majority population on the streets to deny them access to wherever the government wants to relocate them (or they feel like setting up camp or starting to build ghettos).

    Anyway, this is a very complex problem that's more or less identical in many European countries so I'm sure others more interested in it than myself can contribute more.
     
  5. Morgoth

    Morgoth La lune ne garde aucune rancune Veteran

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    They are terrible accordion players. I thought they took money to stop playing, but it only made them play harder :(
     
    Death Rabbit likes this.
  6. Baronius

    Baronius Mental harmony dispels the darkness ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    First of all, in my country (Hungary), the generally negative societal view exists on Gypsy people, but not on Gypsy culture. We have the world-famous and unique Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra which consists mostly of Gypsy musicians!

    Unfortunately, the negative attitude and thinking about Gypsies is very often justified. In my hometown, there is a relatively known Thermal Bath (mostly Czech and Polish tourists come to visit it, also for healing rheumatic illnesses), so many people make money by renting rooms to tourists who don't want to stay in hotels. Well, I haven't met any person who didn't experience burglary or theft from the local Gypsies. But this was just the personal experience part, and only one example from the many I could list. I heard complaints from many very good people. People I would never accuse of racism. Everyone knows it, really. And, needless to say, they broken into my grandmother's house as well (the police caught them, they were Gypsies). Noone says they're born criminals, but the lifestyle most of them teaches to their children is a criminal or at least not honest ( = stealing, waiting money from state, getting a false report from a psychologist that the children are mentally ill etc.).

    Long story short, it's not their culture what people find rejecting. Theft, crime, lack of hygiene -- these are not part of culture. These usually come from the fact someone is poor, but several Gypsies actually don't care about it. In the most unfortunate cases, it happens that they would have money for better hygiene and circumstances, but it's just not important. For example, it happened that there was a crack in the wall of the house, the house was in a very poor condition, and the Plasma television (!) was fixing some wall part (i.e. without the TV, that part would have just collapsed). Of course, this is not typical, generally, gypsies are indeed poor. The real problem is always one of the two:
    1) Many of them does not want to work at all
    2) Those who want to work have weaker chances

    And let's try to look at it from the viewpoint of a Hungarian employer. The employer has some small business, and he is searching people for his small business. He also has high costs, and natural risks with his small business. Also, it has a good chance that he was robbed or cheated by Gypsies before. He is not racist, but how the hell can he be unbiased when he needs to feed his own children as well? He also works hard, and he doesn't want that his tools/equipment/money just gets stolen by an employee in the next day!

    It becomes a vicious circle, because it is very difficult to find a job for Gypsies who truly want to work. The problem is, however, that most of them learnt the criminal or at least dishonest lifestyle. They do not want to respect the basic rules of society. Chinese, Vietnamese, Afroamerican, African etc. people in Budapest all can act lawfully (more precisely, they don't commit less or more crimes than native Hungarian people). How is it possible that the Hungarian (and other Central European) nations are so great "racists" regarding Gypsies, but not to Asian or African immigrants?!

    What's the solution? Well, integration programs, support programs. To increase their chances e.g. in employment, but also to teach them in some way that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, they also need to work honestly as everyone else in society who is able to work.

    As far as integration programs are concerned, the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, already got support in the European Parliament for his Roma (= Gypsy) integration program (Orbán is currently the President of the Council of the European Union, and a vice-president of the European People's Party).
     
  7. Morgoroth

    Morgoroth Just because I happen to have tentacles, it doesn'

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    I was under the impression that calling Roma gypsies is generally considered derogatory or at the very least politically incorrect. I know our university English teacher claimed that the word should not be used in written English.

    Anyhow, there are plenty of problem with the Romani people in Finland. Since the 60'ies things have gradually improved for them when the forceful integration and oppression of their culture ended. Plenty of problems have persisted even though the institutional oppression has stopped. Employers are generally suspicious towards Romani and they have a lot more difficulties getting work than the majority population. They also suffer from higher rates of substance abuse and crime in general. There are also plenty of difficulties in keeping Romani children at school. When a famous Romani artist dared to criticize this phenomenon within the Romani culture he got dozens of death threats. So there are plenty of problems in integrating them to society but I'm hopeful that the situation is atleast improving, but it's somewhat difficult when some of the Romani cultural organisations claim turn a blind eye and refuse to admit any problems.
     
  8. Baronius

    Baronius Mental harmony dispels the darkness ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    In Hungarian, Gypsy is "cigány" (we don't use uppercase for the starting letter of nations & nationalities; and "ny" is one letter in Hungarian, and you pronounce it as gn in "lasagne" or gn in "bolognese"). Cigány and its other Central European versions (e.g. in Slovak language) are considered derogatory by a part of the Gypsies, so in some countries (such as Slovakia), it is not used even in TV news etc. The funny is, however, that other groups of Gypsies define themselves i.e. call themselves Gypsies, and they do not use "Roma".

    The best proof to my above statement (that Gypsy simply cannot be generally derogatory) is the world-famous orchestra I mentioned in my previous post -- its name is Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra.
     
  9. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Veteran

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    This: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/857371-...in-the-world-rifca-stanescu-just-23-years-old does not really help improve their image.

    They are generally looked down upon wherever they are and treated with scorn and discrimination. The prejudice against them is a solid black wall and it is horrible. That said, they tend to be a very tight knit group with their own laws and rules and they often see the rest of the world as enemies. Large part of the group is still in an old tribal state of mind. When I first started get into contact with romani I was saddened and appalled by how many of them lived up to the most negative stereotypes I could imagine. Basically they are a people no one wants and they know it so we get a negative self enforcing spiral that needs to be broken one way or another.

    I have been interested in this topic the last few years partly due to having many pupils that are romani it has become a kind of fascination. Both how they have managed to stay so separate and how an ethnicity can be viewed with such loathing in this day and age. No one likes them and they sure don't make it easy to like them. I am rambling and being a bit incoherent here but this issue is huge and I get a bit overwhelmed for the romani nothing changed with the holocaust. The jews to some extent lost their status as pariahs but the romani kept their.

    Fun fact, they are basically the remnant of an Indian army that lost and got captured by Islamic invaders in northern India roughly a thousand years ago. Look it up, quite an interesting story even if the facts are a bit sketchy.
     
  10. Baronius

    Baronius Mental harmony dispels the darkness ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Romanian is not equal to Romani/Roma/Gypsy (Romania even tried to change Roma to Gypsy officially), but your statement is fine, if you know what I know: it has a 90+ percent chance that the Romanian grandmother is Gypsy as well (a Romanian Gypsy), as Gypsies are known to deliver children at a very young age (and in one family, there are usually very many children).

    EDIT: a link with a photo, you are right, she is Gypsy.
     
  11. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Veteran

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    I noticed when I actually read the article I linked that it wasn't mentioned in it that she was a romani (I am aware that Romanian isn't the same as Romani) but it was the first hit on google so I went with it.
     
  12. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    I don't know much about gypsies but I do know that when a member of a minority acts a particular way, it makes an impression on people that extends to how ALL members of the minority are viewed by the majority.

    So it behooves minority people to really watch their behaviour, because while it might not be fair, it is true that people are going to be making blanket judgements and generalisations about the minority group.

    8people's comments, conflated with those of other board members, illustrate this concept quite nicely.
     
  13. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    There are several problems with that idea. First of all is that not all Gypsies are Roma. Second of all is that throughout history they've always been known as Gypsies and until fairly recently when some of them decided that they would rather start anew and "re-brand" themselves with a new name, they've been quite happy to call themselves Gypsy - and many still do. A court here recently decided that the lowercase word "gypsy" (cigan) for instance would be derogatory, but uppercase Gypsy (Cigan, as a name for the people) would not. This was after a minor scandal when one of our nationalist politicians kept referring to them as "gypsies" in a TV show whereas the PC term for all of them here now is Roma (irregardless of what I've written above). But as this politician claimed from the start that he was referring to them as a people (Cigani), the court found his arguments perfectly valid, so the Gypsies who've sued him lost the case.

    But yea, political correctness is rampant in English university environments (we've had it shoved down our throats on several occasions), so anything that anybody could find remotely offensive has a PC alternative in English today - whether it makes much sense or not.
     
  14. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I only know about gypsies from the Cher song....
     
  15. Baronius

    Baronius Mental harmony dispels the darkness ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    It is a valid point, but in case of Gypsies, unfortunately it's a tough case. Simply because it applies to many more Gypsies than to how many it doesn't. In fact, there are very few positive exceptions that you can hear about or experience on your own skin. So when 9 from 10 cases you or your relatives encounter are related to theft, violence or other crime, the human nature starts to generalize. It's not racism. But can result in discrimination, yes. Discrimination that doesn't root in racism, instead it roots in experience. And we all rely on life experience, don't we?
     
  16. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Life experience, as in that 90% of all gypsies you and your acquaintances encounter are criminals? Figures. So there are some 'good Gypsies' among the Gypsies at large after all? What a relief. And what a relief to hear that you're nice and generous enough guy to make such a far reaching concession. Only 90% percent are criminals! That's practically an endorsement of all things Gypsy (or a pre-emptive token gesture, just in case, but honi sont qui mal y pense)!

    Now, I can't say I know what you experience and what you don't experience, but the percentage does strike me as a little high, so high in fact that it ticks off my bullsh*t detector. But that is probably just my sceptic nature. And of course, I don't know Hungary.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  17. Gaear

    Gaear ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful

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    Reminds me of The (American) Office, when Michael informed Oscar (a Mexican - i.e. from Mexico) that the word "Mexican" was offensive.
     
  18. Baronius

    Baronius Mental harmony dispels the darkness ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    "9 from 10 cases" does not mean "9 from 10 different Gypsy people", obviously. It means that 9 from 10 cases when people have experience with Gypsies in any way is exclusively negative, usually crime-related (most often theft related). And that reflects that something is "wrong" i.e. needs to be handled on the Gypsy side as well, and not necessarily the Central European citizens are the horrible racists.

    Nonetheless, the general problem exists, and if the root of the problem can be sorted out to some extent, there should be improvements in crime "statistics" and other related fields as well.

    The importance of the general problem is reflected by the fact that, as I mentioned, the EU plans to deal with it as well. Quoting Viktor Orbán's speech in the European Parliament:
    Moreover, George Soros (the Hungarian-American billionaire known as "the Man Who Broke the Bank of England"), also plans to extend his support of Gypsy integration via the Harlem program.
     
  19. gheorghe Gems: 1/31
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    Ţigan (in Ro) main good People, they're just very poor, can't get jobs

    why I have impressio hungarians [snip] ?

    [Offensive generalization removed. -Tal]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2011
  20. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    I might get my hand slapped for this, but what the hell.

    In many ways, it would appear that the people I will refer to as "Gypsies" have a lot of things in common with the Natives in Canada. I understand that there are some really serious differences, but I'm only goiing to talk about the similarities.

    Most of my firsthand experiences with Natives has been with beggars and drunks in the downtown Edmonton core. These people were quite clearly addicts and homeless people with serious mental, hygiene and social issues. It doesn't take a genius to see that these people are hardly contributing members of society.

    I've also read lots of literature from a variety of viewpoints. Everyone agrees that the Native community is suffering from a variety of ills. High levels of illness, addictions, criminalities, and social problems are acknowledged facts regarding the Native communities in Canada. I vividly remember the Native woman who was a guest speaker during a Native Awareness Week practically screaming at the audience that incest was a major problem on the reserves and that we had to stop it. I can't say I disagreed with her desire to stop it, of course, but I felt a little sad because I know that every time an initiative is brought forward there's Natives who label the initiative "racist".

    It is a known fact that Natives make up a hugely disproportionate portion of the prison population in Canada.

    Based on all that, it is difficult for me to form a really positive perception of Natives in general. Do I know there are good ones, successful ones in Canada? Of course -- one of my favorite authors (Thomas King) is a Native. I know a fellow board member here is Native, and he is highly successful. I've met a few others. But the balance of experience and statistics leads me -- and many Canadians -- to foster a rather untrusting attitude toward this group. As Joaqin put it:
    and that's really sad when you think about it. It's tough to overcome barriers when no one can agree exactly HOW those barriers can be overcome, and when both sides really don't trust each other -- and have some valid past experiences to back up their lack of trust.
     
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