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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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    When the overwhelming majority of them don't work (which is the case here), how else do you expect that they get money? It doesn't grow on trees. Unlike in some other countries, Gypsies here don't actually produce any quaint souvenirs or whatnot. The very few that do work in some capacity are known almost exclusively for dealing with scrap metal... "liberated" scrap metal (like, say, copper rain gutters and downspouts last seen on a building the previous night) about as often as not. Or railroad rails... there's so much theft of this here that it's become a national joke at their expense but entirely justifiably, based on a ridiculous amount of such crimes over the years. Investigated thefts, mind - not just suppositions as to who actually stole what. There's a lot of other crime (like the majority of them driving around without drivers' licences with stolen licence plates or stolen cars, "marrying" little girls, etc.) that we get to read about on a regular basis, but the police simply have no effective way of preventing.

    When you're dealing with crap like that from a certain group on a regular basis, it takes practically superhuman efforts not to show prejudice, which is what's required of the police.

    And when I hear from the n-th person who has to live next to them that he's been robbed a dozen times already or that they've simply put up camp or started building on their land (accompanied by death threats to the land owner should (s)he dare to interfere) and that the police won't do anything about it (trespassing requires lengthy and expensive legal battles to prove here), you'd need to be a real hypocrite living comfortably and securely away from the Gypsies to preach about racism to those who have no choice but to try and coexist next to them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
    LKD likes this.
  2. Baronius

    Baronius Mental harmony dispels the darkness ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I could practically copy Taluntain's above text and tell it in my name, because everything is so familiar to me. The railroad metal, and the other things too. And a couple of months ago it happened in Budapest that there was an outage of internet for T-Com subscribers (for American readers: you have there T-Mobile, T-Com is in the same group, owned by Deutsche Telecom). Why? Because the copper wires of network infrastructure were stolen (by guess who?) to be sold as metal! And then sometimes lethal accidents happen: the thieves (usually, but not always, Gypsies) get hit by high voltage while stealing wires, and they die.

    Needless to say, I always judge (and then if needed, condemn) individuals only. Never nations or nationalities. So I don't condemn Gypsies in this thread (neither anyone else does, obviously). On the other hand, it can't be denied that something must be done that integrates them more, because simply the everyday experience shows that they even don't obey and don't want to obey the most fundamental laws and rules of society.

    A personal experience (information from a doctor). Is it surprising that parents of children are angry to Gypsy parents because due to the poor hygiene, Gypsy children are often infected with illnesses (e.g. Hepatitis-B) and they bring these illnesses to school... and then we are accused of school segregation?

    Unfortunately, exactly such people (who live securely far away) tend to accuse Central European societies of racism. Discrimination exists unfortunately, and it has a sad reason. And that reason is not racism. The general discrimination is a natural defensive reaction of the people against illnesses and crimes. It's sad to write sentences such as the previous one, but it's true: what the hell can you do when you know (from experience) that (1) Gypsy kids tend to beat or harass other children, (2) Gypsy kids tend to steal, (3) Gypsy kids tend to be infected with various illnesses, but due to their stronger immune system, they often even don't get ill at all. And if I were accused of racism now, getting that I "mention Gypsies in the sentence while non-Gypsies also harass others and spread illnesses", then my answer is: yes, and? If you know that it has a high chance this may happen in case of Gypsies, what can you do instead of trying to stay away from them? :(

    And there are so few positive examples, unfortunately. I heard of a smart Gypsy girl, who was going to college as well. Her mom supported her, and wanted that they break out from the isolation and lifestyle of Gypsies. It's a good example that Gypsies must also realize that if they want to live in a country, they must respect the law and the common rules of that country!
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
  3. 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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    A Roma policewoman here got a lot of media attention. She was the first Roma (male or female IIRC) that ever made it into our police force. Now something like that is really commendable - I can't even imagine what she had to go through to get to where she is today. And how much suspicion she must still be encountering on a daily basis... but she's living proof that it can be done.
     
  4. Baronius

    Baronius Mental harmony dispels the darkness ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Yeah, there are similar examples in Hungary as well.

    Some random photos (not with the intention of encouraging any racism; they're just photos).

    Do they look poor and starving? (Of course, I'm sure there are really poor Gypsies as well; this is just a photo to those readers who want to have some picture how typical Gypsy men look like in Hungary/Slovakia)

    [​IMG]


    And this cutey one... his first name is Nintendo :D (I posted this for fun, solely because he has a funny name)

    [​IMG]

    Note that the photos (links) are from an extreme-right & antisemitic Hungarian website (kuruc.info, and I obviously reject most of what & how they write there; but photos are fine). The Hungarian government (regardless of Media Law) cannot get kuruc.info closed, because it's hosted in a United States server (freeeeedom). This website often publishes private personal data of politicians they don't like (e.g. mobile phone numbers).
     
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    My only knowledge of Gypsies is from the movie Snatch. I don't think we have the concept here or if we do they have never come anywhere near where I or anyone I know lives (I sent out an e-mail trying to see if I could find someone who knew of some).
     
  6. Baronius

    Baronius Mental harmony dispels the darkness ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    There was some Stephen King-based movie where a lawyer causes a deadly accident by car (hits a Gypsy) because his wife was... making him happy in the car. Then the plot begins... I saw it long ago, and I don't want to mention content anyway, just that some people here might have seen it too.
     
  7. dmc

    dmc Speak softly and carry a big briefcase Staff Member Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    I think you need to pretty much ignore anything in Hollywood or fiction novels if you want to achieve an accurate picture of anything in real life. I wouldn't trust Hollywood to accurately portray someone going to the bathroom -- they'd decide it somehow needed to be jazzed up or made more glamorous.
     
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    I don't know about you, but I poo like a rock star. :cool:
     
  9. Baronius

    Baronius Mental harmony dispels the darkness ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Yeah, I didn't say it showed a realistic picture about Gypsies. And it didn't. It showed a specially stereotyped image, with tents and curses etc. (so also with fantastic elements).
     
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    While it is hard to judge just what percentage Gypsies make of Bulgarian population (generally assumed to be between 5 and 15% - not all register themselves as Roma in the census and there is a confusion if groups not speaking the Romani language should be counted), they are a sizeable and easily noticeable part of society.

    Anyway, the views on them tend to be strongly negative, especially since the 1989 changes. During the Communist years they had to settle down, which imo had the double negative effect of a) putting them permanently together with Bulgarians (so they weren't here only for a few days and then gone) and b) disrupting their previous lifestyle with little to substitute it. It worked somewhat during those years, since they were kept employed - and I suppose there was little noise if there was any repression. Since then, a large group has gone unemployed, and (petty) crime rate and poverty are very high. I can't say just how many of them are engaged in crime - I'd say the vast majority isn't, but it only takes 5-10% to give everyone a bad name. Generally, they are scorned mostly due to their high rate of petty crimes - while scrap metal "trade" is a large problem (less so nowadays, it seems), as is illegal logging, prostitution etc, the one think Bulgarians usually think of when they think of a "gypsy crime" is petty theft, either larceny or pickpocketing. It is generally held that many Gypsies "work" abroad, and the fact that they have Bulgarian passports and ID doesn't help the country's reputation. Hygiene is often considered to be an issue with some communities (especially urban "ghettoes" like Stolipinovo or Filipovci), especially with neighbors and in schools. The thing is, as was already stated, their own reputation here is a serious problem for those who do want to lead a different life.

    Some do, of course, but well-off Gypsies are rare - most that are known in a more positive light are artists and sportsmen. Highly educated ones are even rarer: my mother worked for some 10 years in the employment bureau/social security service, and she remembers seeing only one or two with university degree. I remember taking a bartending course before going to college (one of those "who knows, it might come in handy" ones that probably never will be of any use) and two of the girls there were Gypsies (although for one I didn't know for sure until she said it). I think one had finished high school (which is rare already - although there are schools where you pretty much need to not completely stop going to), the other was iirc thinking about maybe starting university - but as they themselves stated, they were outliers.

    What else... Well, the stereotype is that most live from welfare and have a lot of kids, using the welfare money (not that much btw, even by the flexible Bulgarian standards), and are perfectly happy using what little money they have to get drunk, buy satellite dishes and good TVs, and live in complete misery otherwise, mooching off from others and never paying electricity, heating etc. For how much of them this holds true I can't say - probably a fair amount as far as stereotypes go. They are affiliated with the "low" chalga culture, and while some have become talented acknowledged classical musicians, these are usually not considered "typical." In terms of religion, it can be a mess - generally I think the majority are Christians, some are Muslims (usually those living close to Turkish regions), but both have some elements from the other faith. Some have recently converted to various Protestant or Muslim sects, but whether their number is significant it's hard to tell. Politically, they are considered to be opportunist, voting en masse for parties offering them benefits - and more often than not, either a little cash or food just before the election. I think pretty much all the major parties have made use of such "mercenary voters".

    There is a separate "elite" composed of some of the richer and more influential ones, one of whom - "Tzar Kiro" got infamous during the 90s, when his labs produced cheap bootleg alcohol. At that time, there were death cases due to alcohol methanol poisoning, so as you may imagine that didn't win him a great amount of love from the general populace either. I am not quite sure how they are perceived by the "regular" Gypsy population. There is also something like an elders' court - the Meshere - but again, I am not sure it is universally recognized. I believe it isn't, actually. There are also advocacy groups and the occasional member of Parliament - the vast majority are perfectly happy to scrounge money from government or international projects and line their own pockets.

    Then again, I'm not sure if we can speak of A Gypsy population. From what I have read, there are several groups that are more or less separate - they tend to have different crafts they usually practice and generally do not intermarry. Traditions differ to some degree, although many of the core elements are shared among those who consider themselves Gypsies. Some studies imply they have a very negative opinion of other ethnic groups - whether innate or as the result of perceived oppression - and traditions strongly urging against integration and subordination to others. While some Bulgarians think Gypsies are close to Turks, as far as I know this is quite wrong - Turks, if anything, have an even more negative perception of Gypsies than Bulgarians do.

    Fun fact of the day: the informal word for a boyfriend/girlfriend in the Bulgarian language is "gadje". Guess where that comes from.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
  11. 8people

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

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    [​IMG] But it means 'non-person' :lol:

    One of the problems of 'integrating' into a society are the laws to maintain romnipen - cleanliness laws and a family oriented structure which were formulated around the very strict laws of caste and purity from india. Settled or not there are rules for how you appear in public, rules about how you intereact with people outside your caste and rules for when you meet another traveller. For example they will often appear sexist as a woman is not allowed to pass between two men talking, and if talking to a woman a man might take a step back to avoid being touched by her skirts, as certain parts of the body on both sexes are considered unclean but clothing wise trousers are less of a risk. A woman can make a man unclean by symbolically flailing her skirts at him :p They won't eat food if a shadow passes over it, as it's a bad omen, if you had a meal round their house you would be given different cutlery and crockery which would be cleaned separately from their own - it would probably be lower quality as well.

    The rules and morals are something that's very precious, it defines them from a very early age much like the morals taught by any parent. Theft is frowned upon - but not providing for your family when there is an option is even moreso. Crimes dealt with by the Kris - the elders who form a court, decide on the guilt of the party against the agrieved and the punishments range from paying a fine (which again means getting more money from somewhere) to exile from the vitsa for a range of time (which can be a punishment if you can't pay up the fine) - it's also one of the things that makes forced settling feel so negative to the travellers, sure you can elect to settle at any time, that's your own decision, but being MADE to is usually a result of punishment in their culture (and often has a timespan)

    The circuits travellers used to use were related to farming and other resources which had time frames to be gathered, some places they would stop were to have access to farms to work there, others would be places they could settle where they could subside when the surrounding area had enough food and firewood to provide them. Unfortunately as a country evolves to build on more green belts, more machinery, they're lifestyle is being made largely redundant unless they can find other means to suppliment it - or stay in an area long enough to earn money to try and settle which encounters social issues and laws on where you can and can't park, oh and bank accounts, I can think of one bank in the UK where they offer a special type of bank account for people without a home address and it isn't widely acknowledged. (I only know it from experience!)

    a traveller population in any country is usually divided into different groups or tribes (and no, not 'criminal' and 'musician' as was cited elsewhere :rolleyes:) between tribes can be variances in interpretation of romnipen, difference in language and different rate of settling depending on what decisions have been made by elders and individuals who have to decide if it's worth changing the circuits to find new work or settling before it becomes financially inviable. (The scots travellers I mentioned who were settled before - their vitsa worked a year at a time to put money towards one of their own to settle, it meant every year that a member of the group [and partner/children if any] were left behind somewhere and also meant with house price fluctuations they ended up more spread out and difficult to see each other as much, something they were very sad over)
     
  12. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I'm not aware of there being any gypsies in New Zealand. The only picture I have in my head of a gypsy is someone who tells your fortune in a creepy tent.
     
  13. Rotku

    Rotku I believe I can fly 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!)

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    I was just reading this thread with the exact same comment in mind, on both accounts.

    A quick google tells me the only thing resembling gypsies here are Housetruckers, which are more gypsies in the life-style choice rather than the ethnic group of people.
     
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    I live in a neighbourhood with four different roma families and when they first moved to our city there was a huge uproar that they'd increase crime rates, make the streets unsafe and threaten our women.

    None of this has happened, mind you, but it doesn't stop the racist party the Swedish Democrats from trying to eject them. They're really nice people too, very friendly as long as you don't enter their homes. Bit weird to me but who am I to judge; I don't want people entering my bedroom because it is my and my wife's personal space so I do the same on a smaller scale.

    Besides, when there's a party around you want them there; some of the best drinking buddies I've ever had.
     
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