Da Legal Stuff...

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Dumb; Stupid; Uneducated; Dirty; Violent; Drunken...

Foolish; and

If I used any of these words to describe a segment of the world’s population, say Hispanics, Jews or members of the African community, I would be immediately branded a racist and ostracized by my community. I should be.

Why then is it O.K. for people in all parts of the country to use these terms when talking, or making jokes about Newfoundlanders?

In many parts of the country we are viewed in this way. Often you will hear comments like, “Goofy Newfies” or someone will say that the “Good old Newfs should get off welfare and unemployment and get back to work”.

These too are racial slurs of the worst kind, but slurs that seem to be acceptable in our country.

Stereotyping an entire culture is wrong in so many ways. It does a true injustice to the people insulted and it makes life a much more difficult proposition when people start believing the rhetoric.

Some say that it is only a joke, but so are black jokes and Jewish jokes. They may be jokes but they are nothing to be laughed at.

Some say that they are not commenting on a race or culture but simply a province, the way you would make comments about your neighbouring town. This argument does not hold water. Newfoundland IS a unique culture. We have been an independent nation in the past and we are only a couple of generations into our place in Canada. Nowhere else in the country, with the possible exception of Quebec, will you find a more unique culture.

We have our own approach to life. We have developed our own dialects and to some degree our own language. There are words that have come into existence in our language that exist nowhere else in the world. Our customs are unique and so are our people.

There are some people who insist on making jokes that use a Newfoundlander as the central character, and not all of them are bad, but the context and source needs to be considered. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with a Newfoundlander sharing a funny joke at our own expense and for our own enjoyment, but when someone uses those same jokes to truly portray us as less than we are, I have a major problem.

Let me put it this way. When an African Canadian calls someone a (excuse the language), Nigger, it is his prerogative. When a white person says the same thing it is reprehensible. Why then is it acceptable for a person from anywhere but Newfoundland to call someone a “Newfie” or to use any other derogatory language to describe us?

Can anyone out there answer that for me?


Off Da Rock said...

Good article.

Allow me to share two things with you:
1. On our site (www.offdarock.com), we have a Newfie Jokes section. I
filter through hundreds of Newfie Jokes to ensure that Newfies are not
negatively portraied. You would be amazed at the context that Newfies
portraied in the jokes that I reject.

I approach the subject of Newfie Jokes as one where we can poke fun at
without looking like idiots to the rest of the world. I know that
will likely be reading our jokes and I do not want to give them fuel
for their
fire, so to speak.

2. I am proud to be a Newfie. I have been working in shipyards in the
States for
over 10 years now. I often hear my American bosses and co-workers say
that they
wish they had more Newfies working down here.

In the shipbuilding and offshore industries in the States,
Newfoundlanders are
highly respected workers. We have the very good reputation of being
workers, highly skilled, and knowledged. It does not bother me in the
that Americans call me a "Newfie". Coming from them, it is high praise.

Patriot said...

Good points "Off Da Rock". It is the context and intent as I mentioned.

It also goes further than just the word "Newfie", we have all somewhat learned to live with that one. My issue is also with other things like "Goofy Newfie" or "Stupid Newfie" or statements like "Those Lazy drunks, always on welfare or unemployment insurance".

These are the types of statement we sometimes hear in other parts of this country as you are aware. It makes me wonder, if this is what we have heard as Newfoundlanders, what must be said when we can't hear?

I realize it is not everyone from the "Mainland", but there is an element that is convinced that this is what we are like.

Special Ops said...

The way I look at it, if people think we're dumb and lazy then let them. That way they won't see us coming when we use our talents and intelligence to gain control of business, government and our future.

Stealth is a good thing.

MrChills said...

It's just part of a continous chain...

The Americans make fun of the Canadians

The Canadians make fun of the Newfies

and in Newfoundland the townies make fun of the Baymen

You can't change it and it will never change.

Patriot said...

MrChills, thanks for the comment. My take on it is that just because it exists and may never change, that does'nt make it right.

it is by standing up and not accepting any situation that change happens.

MrChills said...

Bottom line, it will not change in our lifetime. Igronance is breed into people and very hard to escape.

I am not saying that it is right and believe me anytime an American opens their mouth about Canada (I work in the US) I quickly put them in their place and then of course remind them that I am from Newfoundland first and Canada second and don't even start to try to outwit a fellow from the Island ;)

Anonymous said...

The reason why people say bad things about Newfoundland people is because they don't defend themselves against bad racial comments.

If any other race or culture had the slightest thing said bad about them, it would be a huge huge deal, probley on the news etc.

Anonymous said...

Racism please. You don't even understand the word and yet proceed to use it in an article that has nothing to do with racism. Newfoundlanders are NOT a race. They are a collection of (mostly ex Irish) Europeans with a short memory and a long boasting record of claiming things for their own that are not (see music, culture for a start).

I've been here for the best part of a decade and your reputation is deserved.

All the intelligent people left here ages ago (for work) which is why the pass rate at schools and even at MUN is 50%. The lowest in the country.

It's only getting worse here and will continue to do so. Your too arrogant a group of people who have nothing to be arrogant about. It makes you an easy target for jokes.

Get it?