Social Question

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Have you ever used the term Paddy Wagon to refer to a police van?

Asked by Imadethisupwithnoforethought (14399 points ) January 12th, 2013

Do you owe me, and others of Irish descent an apology? Or is it okay because my people do not complain enough?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

39 Answers

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yes. I should probably be pissed at myself for that. Is it possible to be offended by oneself?

But then, I should also be pissed that my “white” ancestors raped and murdered my Indian ancestors, and that my German ancestors tortured and murdered innocent Jews….. I have a lot to be confusingly offended over.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@ETpro It is a good thing I am drunk right now, or ye be in for a thrashin!

ETpro's avatar

Drunk are ye? Ya better steer clear of me sober or soused, cause this Irishman’s fists are fast, fat and furious. But hey, since it’s happy hour, I’m gonna give you a Great Question and buy the next round. You, I like. It’s all them other paddies I worry about. It’s almost annoying enough to make this extremely tolerant Scotch/Irish peace lover give up Anti-Racist Activism.

glacial's avatar

No, and I will happily claim a share of the apologies, @Imadethisupwithnoforethought. ;)

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@glacial what do you call police vans? Seriously.

glacial's avatar

I guess I call them police vans. We don’t have an abundance of them here.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@glacial Wow. I hereby let you off the hook. And apologize that you live in a boring place :)

glacial's avatar

Haha! I wouldn’t call it boring, but no need of apologies for that either way. :)

Bellatrix's avatar

I am sorry @Imadethisupwithnoforethought, I have referred to police vans as paddy wagons and if you go a long way back in my ancestry, there is a little Irish in me. More English and Scottish though.

mazingerz88's avatar

You mean Paddy Waggy-? Hee hee. I love Seth McFarlane! And Bram Stoker’s da bomb…

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Bellatrix I am just curious why casual Irish bigotry is accepted, while people jump to the defense of other social groups. It is a fascinating thing for me to witness. It is almost as if Irish bigotry is so omnipresent, it becomes invisible.

ETpro's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought To be serious for a moment, I’d guess it is because the Irish are such an integral part of America today nobody thinks calling a police van a Paddy Wagon might offend anyone. Most probably don’t even know how it came to be called that.

We’re more aware of words being racial slurs today when they are directed at less well integrated ethnic groups, like all the Chinese who live in Chinatown and often speak little of no English.

glacial's avatar

@ETpro I would agree that most Americans don’t link the term “Paddy wagon” with the Irish anymore. It’s hard enough to find anyone in North America who knows it’s supposed to be “St. Paddy’s Day” and not “St. Patty’s Day”.

I do find the use of the term “mick” offensive, though.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@ETpro I agree in theory @ETpro. I just wonder if the Irish as a people are less likely in contemporary society to bitch about their treatment. Are they less likely to bitch, or are they less likely to bitch because they feel included?

Bellatrix's avatar

It isn’t acceptable. As you know I live in Australia. People use the term pom to describe English people all the time and Kiwi to describe New Zealanders. They also make jokes about both groups constantly. If you challenge the jokes, you are considered to have no sense of humour. There were some ads run by a very large supplier of eggs. They were called Whinging Pom eggs and had grumpy faces painted on them. People lodged complaints with the advertising standards authority but the response was ‘it’s just a joke’. I personally couldn’t care less but I know people who do. I think @ETpro is right and most people probably haven’t recognised what is being inferred by the term paddy wagon. Similarly, with Poms and Kiwis, most people making the jokes aren’t trying to be cruel or bigots, they see poms and kiwis as being almost ‘cousins’ and this is just being a larrikin and is meant to be funny.

I remember when I first came here, firstly, on the plane over the guy next to me, an Aussie, told me pommie jokes for the whole trip. It was a baptism by fire for sure. After I arrived a neighbour said she was going to a garage sale and asked me to come along. I went and when we came out she said, somewhat derisively “oh they were ‘new Australians’. I had only been in the country six months and had no idea what the heck she meant and I was offended and said “well I’m a new Australian too” and she said “no! You’re a pom!” The people were Vietnamese or something and the lady didn’t get how racist she was being. She just didn’t recognise how offensive the term ‘new Australian’ was to those people or how offensive the term ‘pom’ might be to me.

ETpro's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought I’d guess that you’re right. I know I don’t feel set upon by today’s society. It’s hard to even imagine a world like Gangs of New York. I know that while it’s a dramatized version of reality, it is drawn from ugly truths about the growing pains this country went through as each new wave of immigration from some specific place hit our shores.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@ETpro I just know that I was told on an earlier q tonight not to make fun of indigenous American people. I don’t notice anybody jumping in to defend Irish American people, except Irish American people. I just wonder if we should be playing the victim more.

augustlan's avatar

I have a good bit of Irish heritage, and I had no clue “paddy wagon” was an Irish slur until just this minute. I didn’t learn until far into my adulthood that the term “gypped” is a gypsy slur, either. Once I knew about “gypped”, I made a point of not using it. “Paddy wagon” will be treated the same way now! Ya’ learn something new every day. ;)

Symbeline's avatar

Nah. I mostly use the term OH SHIT I GOTTA RUN!!

ETpro's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought Native Americans got a seriously raw deal, losing their entire land for a few glass beads and pretty trinkets, and the knowledge of how and why to make hooch, a dubious gift indeed. They’ve got reason enough to feel set upon.

For the most part, Irish slurs like calling a police van a paddy wagon are innocent uses of language. Like @augustlan, the speaker isn’t even aware the term is a slur, or how it came to be a term for a police van. But back when the term first came into use, it was a known slur and no doubt about it. And like @augustlan, knowing it’s a slur, I choose to use police van instead of paddy wagon. I trusted you would know me well enough to be certain that my race-baiting tirade was dark humor. I would never play in the same way with an ethnic group that still faces serious threats of discrimination and disenfranchisement today.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@ETpro I am still human enough to be pissed on occasion when I am holding a higher standard.

augustlan's avatar

@ETpro Just for the record, your comment wasn’t flagged. I removed it because even though we know you’re joking, newer members might not. :)

ETpro's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought Understood. If the attempt at humor backfired, I sincerely apologize. I’m about three sheets to the wind this good Saturday night (Actually 2:35 AM Sunday). No excuse, but that probably has my sensitive self tied up in some holding tank till I sober up. Thanks for using your good judgement to cover my lack of same, @augustlan.

augustlan's avatar

You guys are so drunk you’re confusing each other, haha.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’d like the record to show that I have not a single drop of alcohol in me blood at the moment.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I would like the record to show a definitive lack of anyone who actually uses this term from recognizing the completely horrific connotations of what they are saying.

ucme's avatar

Yes I have, also black maria & pig bus.

cookieman's avatar

with an ethnic group that still faces serious threats of discrimination and disenfranchisement today.

@ETpro: Exactly.

dabbler's avatar

But why are they called Paddy Wagons?
Is it because the Paddy were rounded up into them?
Or is it because at the time the Irish dominated the police force and they were doing the rounding up ?

In any case I like @ucme‘s “pig bus”.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I would never use that term, as soon as I read it I laughed, it brings up images of old black and white cartoons and corny mafia acting in old films for some reason.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@dabbler They were once filled with guys named Patrick.

dabbler's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought Ah, of course! thanks. I did not know some consider the use insulting, ... in my mind it would have been more likely to conjure the keystone cops.

I thought “Paddy” referred to padding, as for a crazy person, as in ..
“They’re coming to take you away, ho ho, ha ha, hee, hee…”
—in the paddy wagon….

By the donzerly light
they came to get the patient.
They had to restrain him
They wrestled him into the back of the paddy wagon
that took him away.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@dabbler It just struck me funny that you can’t say anything disrespectful about anyone nowadays without getting a burst of outrage. Meanwhile, every cop show in the world says “Get the large van we named for transporting Irish people in bulk down here” twice an episode, and you have never heard an Irishman even bring it up till now.

dabbler's avatar

There are plenty of alternatives to describe police transport, that’s for sure.
Around here a roundup big enough might go on a passing city bus commandeered by the police to transport OWS detainees.

Harold's avatar

That’s what they’re called in Australia. I never thought of the Irish connotation.

dabbler's avatar

What are the customer transport vehicles called by the police where there are lots of Paddy’s?

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Paddy Wagons. Again, Irish people, mysteriously myself included, just accept this.

Uberwench's avatar

I’ve never used the term, but “Paddy” is one of the first ethnic slurs that was ever reclaimed by those who it was traditionally used against. That might be why most people don’t even realize that it is/was a slur or that it has anything to do with the Irish. It has been reclaimed so thoroughly that it has become nearly invisible.

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