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  #1  
Old 12-29-2009, 10:15 AM
YogSosoth YogSosoth is offline
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Were redheaded infants ever systematically murdered?

I remember a throwaway line on a sitcom years ago, I can't remember which one, where a couple of characters were arguing. Person A says something snarky to Person B, who replies with something like "And if you were born in a different time, they'd have killed you for being a redhead"

Apparently, the belief was that redheaded people are associated with the devil, and thus needed to be killed. I've always just took that at face value but now I'm kind of wondering if that was true at all.

Considering the nature of the infraction, lets keep this to Western and Christian nations (since there probably aren't a lot of redheaded asians or black people). Were redheaded babies ever killed due to a misguided belief of demonic association?
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  #2  
Old 12-29-2009, 10:29 AM
pan1 pan1 is offline
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There are numerous times throughout history that Redheads were killed for being redheads. I can't find any references for "at birth" but several time periods where redheads were purged.

Eqypt had a few periods where they ritually sacrificed redheads.

Europe, during the witch hunt years, burned them at the stake, etc...

And in 2003 a guy in Britain was stabbed for no other reason than the red color of his hair.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/e...re/3233392.stm
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  #3  
Old 12-29-2009, 10:46 AM
Bijou Drains Bijou Drains is offline
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A teacher of mine was in Africa with the Peace Corps. His wife had red hair and some people there thought she was a witch.
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  #4  
Old 12-29-2009, 11:26 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Originally Posted by Bijou Drains View Post
A teacher of mine was in Africa with the Peace Corps. His wife had red hair and some people there thought she was a witch.
Red hair is statistically unusual. People with prominent unusual features are often subject to witchcraft accusations in cultures where there is belief in witches. But it's a far cry from "redheads can be witches" to "kill the redheads, all of whom are witches." I'd like a cite for the assertion that redheads were any more likely to be killed in the European witch executions than other hair colors. I'd have thought grey / white (i.e. older) was the most likely color.

ETA: I hit reply to Bijou Drains's post because I wanted to mention that in many sub-Saharan African societies, just about anybody is vulnerable to witchcraft accusations, and though the punishment can be a severe beating or exile or death, it is just as often a ritual de-witching.

Last edited by Dr. Drake; 12-29-2009 at 11:28 AM..
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  #5  
Old 12-29-2009, 11:48 AM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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Just as a practical point, an awful lot of redheads are bald at birth. You wouldn't know they were redheads for a few months (or, as in the case of our friend B, a year or so).
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  #6  
Old 12-29-2009, 12:22 PM
ascensions ascensions is offline
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The poor Ginger people: http://greensboring.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=11768

Last edited by ascensions; 12-29-2009 at 12:23 PM..
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  #7  
Old 12-29-2009, 12:38 PM
fuzzypickles fuzzypickles is offline
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This is actually quite topical -- last month, some local middle school students got in trouble for promoting "Kick A Ginger Day".
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  #8  
Old 12-29-2009, 12:52 PM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Originally Posted by YogSosoth View Post
I remember a throwaway line on a sitcom years ago, I can't remember which one, where a couple of characters were arguing. Person A says something snarky to Person B, who replies with something like "And if you were born in a different time, they'd have killed you for being a redhead"

Apparently, the belief was that redheaded people are associated with the devil, and thus needed to be killed. I've always just took that at face value but now I'm kind of wondering if that was true at all.

Considering the nature of the infraction, lets keep this to Western and Christian nations (since there probably aren't a lot of redheaded asians or black people). Were redheaded babies ever killed due to a misguided belief of demonic association?
Albinos, including rufous albinos such as the Nguenguerous in Cameroon, are frequently targets of persecution in African society--perhaps more so than in "Western and Christian nations" in modern times...
http://ospiti.peacelink.it/anb-bia/nr368/e04.html e.g.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 12-29-2009 at 12:53 PM..
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  #9  
Old 12-29-2009, 01:18 PM
pan1 pan1 is offline
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Originally Posted by Chief Pedant View Post
Albinos, including rufous albinos such as the Nguenguerous in Cameroon, are frequently targets of persecution in African society--perhaps more so than in "Western and Christian nations" in modern times...
http://ospiti.peacelink.it/anb-bia/nr368/e04.html e.g.
Albinos' parts, blood, etc are considered an aphrodisiac or other medicine in some parts of the world.

In the 16th century a necessary ingredient in poison was the fat of a redheaded man.

Was it earlier this year that they were abducting people(I don't recall any specific traits targetted) in peru (or somewhere in that area) to kill them and boil their fat to sell as age-defying lotion?

Gotta love people who can look at other people and wonder how much they'd be worth parted out.
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  #10  
Old 12-29-2009, 03:02 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Originally Posted by pan1 View Post
In the 16th century a necessary ingredient in poison was the fat of a redheaded man.
It might have been a LISTED ingredient in ONE poison, but "a necessary ingredient in poison" takes it too far. (And it could only be necessary magically, not chemically). Is there any evidence that such a poison was actually made?
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  #11  
Old 12-29-2009, 04:26 PM
pan1 pan1 is offline
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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
It might have been a LISTED ingredient in ONE poison, but "a necessary ingredient in poison" takes it too far. (And it could only be necessary magically, not chemically). Is there any evidence that such a poison was actually made?
cite:
http://madratspinster.blogspot.com/2...cts-myths.html
Quote:
In the late 16th century, the fat of a redheaded man was an essential ingredient for poison.
I'd have been remiss to correct the information provided in the cite - it would make the citation invalid.
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  #12  
Old 12-29-2009, 04:32 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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Things have certainly changed. Some of the sexiest women I've known were natural redheads with creamy white skin. Apparently most men agree because there's a lot of successful redhead models and actresses. Before all the plastic surgery, Nicole Kidman used to be stunningly beautiful.

Hard to imagine they were shunned in earlier times.

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-29-2009 at 04:34 PM..
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  #13  
Old 12-29-2009, 04:35 PM
njtt njtt is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pan1 View Post
cite:
http://madratspinster.blogspot.com/2...cts-myths.html

I'd have been remiss to correct the information provided in the cite - it would make the citation invalid.
That citation does not need any help with being invalid.
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  #14  
Old 12-29-2009, 04:35 PM
dogeman dogeman is offline
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pan1, you've made some pretty incredible claims in this thread:

Quote:
There are numerous times throughout history that Redheads were killed for being redheads. I can't find any references for "at birth" but several time periods where redheads were purged.

Eqypt had a few periods where they ritually sacrificed redheads.

Quote:
In the 16th century a necessary ingredient in poison was the fat of a redheaded man.
Please provide some credible source for these or stop posting them.

Quote:
I'd have been remiss to correct the information provided in the cite - it would make the citation invalid.

So you think the information is suspect, but you don't want to correct it because it will turn out to be false? And you post it anyway? It's no better than a weird facts list that gets posted on the internet. Even the commentators on the blog post are calling it garbage.

Last edited by dogeman; 12-29-2009 at 04:38 PM..
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  #15  
Old 12-29-2009, 04:46 PM
Maserschmidt Maserschmidt is offline
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You'd find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair. People who haven't red hair don't know what trouble is.
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  #16  
Old 12-29-2009, 04:50 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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Aren't the majority of redheads of Irish ancestry? I recall reading somewhere the genes that cause red hair came from that region.
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  #17  
Old 12-29-2009, 05:55 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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I suspect pan1's information ultimately comes from a line in a Jacobean drama, Bussy D'Ambois by George Chapman. Wikipedia dates it to 1603–4, other sources to 1607. In any case, only a few years after the website's "late 16th century." The line in question is III.ii.18 (15–18 given below), referring to flattery:

O tis a subtle knaue; how like the plague
Vnfelt, he strikes into the braine of truth [Version B: man],
And rageth in his entrailes when he can,
Worse than the poison of a red hair'd man.


This is literary rather than culinary or chemical, and it suggests the "poison" is a metaphor for something, perhaps a fiery temper. Certainly not a literal poison.

The only medieval or early modern sources I can find about red hair suggest that it was viewed as unlucky, and (one source) that it was a medieval belief that a child conceived during menstruation might be deformed, one possibility being red hair and freckles.

Last edited by Dr. Drake; 12-29-2009 at 05:56 PM..
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  #18  
Old 12-29-2009, 06:35 PM
Dallas Jones Dallas Jones is offline
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Red hair is a regressive gene that has been present since Neanderthal and early Homo Sapiens. It is associated with pale skin and freckles. Although it is now common in Northwestern Europeans it is not thought to be original to there. Here is one quote that may be suspect, because it starts out by saying that red hair is very rare in Scandinavia. Which must be BS.

http://listsearches.rootsweb.com/th/...-07/1089647276

I married a Norwegian-American woman who has hair the color of fresh peeled carrots. Bright red/orange. She gets asked sometimes about what brand of dye she uses and just says 'thats how it grows'. Her brother married another red head and they are creating more of them. All I know is that they are not people to be messed with.

And the required Wiki;

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

Last edited by Dallas Jones; 12-29-2009 at 06:38 PM..
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  #19  
Old 12-29-2009, 06:56 PM
Dallas Jones Dallas Jones is offline
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Ok, I linked to a Wiki thread about red hair that had a section on 'Gingerism' as if this were a sort of racism against red haired people. Sorry, I think that is a South Park creation. But I don't know.

I think I will ask Cecil to get to the 'roots' of this hair matter.
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  #20  
Old 12-29-2009, 09:10 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Was this even true in England? I can't imagine people would have wanted to kill Queen Elizabeth I...or her father King Henry VIII who obviously had red or at least reddish-blond hair, judging from his portraits.
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  #21  
Old 12-29-2009, 09:15 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57
Things have certainly changed. Some of the sexiest women I've known were natural redheads with creamy white skin. Apparently most men agree because there's a lot of successful redhead models and actresses. Before all the plastic surgery, Nicole Kidman used to be stunningly beautiful.

Hard to imagine they were shunned in earlier times.
Why? Finding certain people seductively attractive in no way precludes regarding them as potentially evil and dangerous. Plenty of pretty young women (and some handsome young men too) were accused of witchcraft and other evil practices back in witch-hunting days.
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  #22  
Old 12-29-2009, 11:43 PM
LavenderBlue LavenderBlue is offline
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According to the very amusing book Sex With Kings by Eleanor Herman redheads were thought to be the product of sex when a woman was menstruating.

I have no idea if that's true or not.
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  #23  
Old 12-29-2009, 11:59 PM
HazelNutCoffee HazelNutCoffee is online now
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Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
Was this even true in England? I can't imagine people would have wanted to kill Queen Elizabeth I...or her father King Henry VIII who obviously had red or at least reddish-blond hair, judging from his portraits.
Hm. All my friends from the UK poke fun at gingers. I find it bizarre that red-heads get so much shit over there. "Oh, he's all right, but I could never date someone ginger."
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  #24  
Old 12-30-2009, 01:22 AM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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I also find that inexplicable. When I lived in Denmark in the late 80's, it was still considered very unattractive.
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  #25  
Old 12-30-2009, 03:04 AM
Mosier Mosier is offline
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Originally Posted by ghardester View Post
Ok, I linked to a Wiki thread about red hair that had a section on 'Gingerism' as if this were a sort of racism against red haired people. Sorry, I think that is a South Park creation. But I don't know.

I think I will ask Cecil to get to the 'roots' of this hair matter.
Southpark certainly didn't invent the word "ginger" as a derogatory term for people with red hair.
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  #26  
Old 12-30-2009, 08:14 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Originally Posted by Mosier View Post
Southpark certainly didn't invent the word "ginger" as a derogatory term for people with red hair.
It has been around for a long time in the U.K. and Canada, but I had never heard it in American English before South Park popularized it. OED has cites going back to 1825 as a human hair color.

LavenderBlue, I found the same information in Stephen Wilson's The Magical Universe: Everyday Ritual and Magic in Pre-Modern Europe.
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  #27  
Old 12-30-2009, 09:55 AM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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Some Speculation...
People worked outside more before the industrial revolution. They were outside either working the land or doing other labor.

Redheads are extremely fair skinned. They don't tan and develop protection from sun. Redheads burn, peel, and then burn again. It would be very difficult for them to be outside working 10 to 12 hours a day. Their damaged skin would quickly develop ulcers and probably skin cancer.

I can easily imagine village people labeling redheads lazy and up to no good. "Look at their untended fields! What a disgrace it is. It's 1 in the afternoon and they are still in the house."

Or, even worse. After a few years roasting in the fields, a redheaded person might look more like Frankenstein then human. I can't imagine a redhead in the sun day after day. The skin damage would be horrific.

That leads to a social stigma. It makes them a target for all kinds of rumors.

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-30-2009 at 09:57 AM..
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  #28  
Old 12-30-2009, 09:59 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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What was the Sherlock Holmes story about the organization of redheads?
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  #29  
Old 12-30-2009, 10:02 AM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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My family carries a redhead gene (my mother and her father were redheads, as are my nephews). My wife was petrified that our kids would turn out redhead, although I never really understood what was wrong with it. As it is she comes from pretty dark-toned Eastern European stock, so our kids never had much chance for anything but dark hair and brown eyes.
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  #30  
Old 12-30-2009, 12:35 PM
Fionn Fionn is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
What was the Sherlock Holmes story about the organization of redheads?
"The Red-Headed League." I'd never really comprehended the variation in shades of red hair until it listed all of them.
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  #31  
Old 12-30-2009, 01:32 PM
Malleus, Incus, Stapes! Malleus, Incus, Stapes! is offline
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I wonder how far spread and back the anti-red sentiment goes. Which societies were afraid of red hair, which ones venerated red hair, and which ones didn't really care?

The ancient Jews didn't seem to have a problem with it. Both good and evil Biblical characters (specifically, Esau and King David) were traditionally depicted as redheads.

Sort of personal account: my high school principal was a closet redhead. She told us at a senior event that she wasn't actually blond. She just couldn't find a red wig when she married (many religious Jewish women wear wigs when they marry), because back then red was considered ugly or unlucky or something. I remember being as to what was wrong with red hair.
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  #32  
Old 12-30-2009, 02:31 PM
dzeiger dzeiger is offline
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I had recalled reading something about Judas being a redhead, in Googling, I came up with http://jhom.com/topics/color/judas.htm article, which touches on not only that subject, but several other theories of why red hair is seen as bad.
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  #33  
Old 12-30-2009, 02:45 PM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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You know who else had ginger hair, don't you?
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  #34  
Old 12-30-2009, 02:52 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Does this apply to anyone with red hair or just "gingers" who also have really light skin and freckles? From their portraits, Henry VIII, Edward VI, and James I all seem to have had reddish-gold hair, but they also had average-looking complexions that were not particularly pale or freckled.
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  #35  
Old 12-30-2009, 03:30 PM
Malleus, Incus, Stapes! Malleus, Incus, Stapes! is offline
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Originally Posted by dzeiger View Post
I had recalled reading something about Judas being a redhead, in Googling, I came up with this article, which touches on not only that subject, but several other theories of why red hair is seen as bad.
Fixed your link for you.
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  #36  
Old 12-30-2009, 04:45 PM
jbaker jbaker is offline
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The OED includes the following quote:

1610 J. HEALEY in tr. St. Augustine Citie of God XVIII. xii. 677 An order was set downe, that they should sacrifice nothing but redde oxen and red-headed men,..so that Egipt hauing few of those red heads, and other countries many, thence came there a report that Busyris massacred strangers.

I of course have not seen this 1610 translation of The City of God, but I take it that the quoted text is some sort of footnote or commentary on Augustine's text, which refers to Busyris sacrificing strangers.
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  #37  
Old 12-30-2009, 05:08 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Originally Posted by jbaker View Post
The OED includes the following quote:

1610 J. HEALEY in tr. St. Augustine Citie of God XVIII. xii. 677 An order was set downe, that they should sacrifice nothing but redde oxen and red-headed men,..so that Egipt hauing few of those red heads, and other countries many, thence came there a report that Busyris massacred strangers.

I of course have not seen this 1610 translation of The City of God, but I take it that the quoted text is some sort of footnote or commentary on Augustine's text, which refers to Busyris sacrificing strangers.
Thanks for that, jbaker! That clarifies things enormously. This commentary on Augustine's reference to Busyris is actually reporting a story from Diodorus Siculus, I.vi.16:

"But, however, it is lawful to sacrifice red oxen, because Typhon seemed to be of that colour, who treacherously murdered Osiris, and was himself put to death by Isis, for the murder of her husband. They report likewise, that antiently men that had red hair, like Typhon, were sacrificed by the kings at the sepulchre of Osiris. And indeed, there are very few Egyptians that are red, but many that are strangers: and hence arose the fable of Busiris's cruelty towards strangers amongst the Greeks, not that there ever was any king called Busiris; but Osiris's sepulchre was so called in the Egyptian language."

I can't find the Greek text online.

ETA: "Typhon" refers to the Egyptian god Seth, whose red hair was referenced in the article cited by dzeiger. Seth normally has an animal head in Egyptian iconography, but he is traditionally red (all over).

Last edited by Dr. Drake; 12-30-2009 at 05:13 PM..
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  #38  
Old 12-30-2009, 05:30 PM
pool pool is offline
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Anyone ever see a redheaded teenage girl that goes to the tanning bed? Not a pretty sight.
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  #39  
Old 12-30-2009, 07:11 PM
Condescending Robot Condescending Robot is offline
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Given that racism of various kinds and anti-gay bigotry are so prominent in the US, not just among private company but as tools of political discourse, we often forget how far ahead of the backwards European societies we really are. The idea of the British Barack Obama (someone of Indian ancestry, perhaps) rising to PM at this point is ludicrous. Similarly, yes, it really is the case that you will be shut out of prestigious jobs, marginalized in politics, and perhaps even physically assaulted for having red hair in England. We want to believe that this is all "ironic" or joking because we can't fathom it being true, but just like the Africans who, to this day, murder people for being "witches," the British really are that uncivilized. It's something those of us with the tendency to idealize the "progressive" Europeans need to come to terms with.
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  #40  
Old 12-31-2009, 05:31 AM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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the British really are that uncivilized.
What? Based on our treatment of bonfire heads, copper tops, carrot noggins, ginger nuts, or whatever you want to call these hell spawn?
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  #41  
Old 12-31-2009, 08:31 AM
MJinks MJinks is offline
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Redheads were commonly targeted for bullying when I was at school in the 80's/90's. Kids can be very cruel but I'm sure they were just copying adults. Hopefully most of them outgrew it when they realised how stupid the whole thing was but I'm sure some of them are still around, probably calling people 'fags' on forums.

Since leaving school though I've never witnessed any anti-redhead sentiment.

I'll choose to interpret the anti-British comments as tongue-in-cheek though if that's okay.
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  #42  
Old 12-31-2009, 11:49 AM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Condescending Robot View Post
Given that racism of various kinds and anti-gay bigotry are so prominent in the US, not just among private company but as tools of political discourse, we often forget how far ahead of the backwards European societies we really are. The idea of the British Barack Obama (someone of Indian ancestry, perhaps) rising to PM at this point is ludicrous. Similarly, yes, it really is the case that you will be shut out of prestigious jobs, marginalized in politics, and perhaps even physically assaulted for having red hair in England. We want to believe that this is all "ironic" or joking because we can't fathom it being true, but just like the Africans who, to this day, murder people for being "witches," the British really are that uncivilized. It's something those of us with the tendency to idealize the "progressive" Europeans need to come to terms with.
[Moderator Note]

This kind of broad-brush attack on an entire nationality is out of place in GQ. No warning issued, but let's keep responses factual.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator
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  #43  
Old 01-04-2010, 10:02 AM
brix11 brix11 is offline
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According to family lore, my paternal grandfather had such an aversion to my father's red hair that he always kept it cropped really, really short. Because of this, he was known as "Butch."
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