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Response to no_hypocrisy (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 09:02 AM

12. My take

"Fredo" is an insult and it may be particularly insulting to Italians on certain contexts. As a black American, I am very reluctant to tell other people that something isn't offensive, but I strongly disagree that it's on the par of the n word.

This is the difference. The n word is attached to and seasoned by centuries of cruelty, ugliness, criminality, genocide, lynchings, etc. It is used almost exclusively to describe blacks and is applied to any and all black people and is unrelated to any characteristic other than blackness.

On the other hand, "Fredo" arose from a character - an Italian character created by an Italian, brought to life by an Italian and played by an Italian. The character was not a stereotype and wasn't a derogatory depiction of Italians. Fredo is memorable because he was pathetic and doomed, but the pathos and fate was universally human, not ethnic.

When someone calls a person a "nigger," we learn nothing about that person - whether they're rich, poor, stupid, brilliant, etc - except that they're black. It's not a description. It's a threat, intended to wound, to strike fear and the hundreds of years of information surrounding it does just that - it's like dipping a spear in poison.

But "Fredo" isn't a threat and doesn't carry poison. It's a description. Anyone who behaves a certain way can be a "Fredo." When someone is called a "Fredo" we don't know their race, ethnicity, national origin or economic status. But we do know they're being accused of being hapless and it too bright and are likely the weak link in their family.

"Fredo" is the equivalent of calling someone a "Pollyanna," or a "Little Lord Fauntleroy." There is no equivalent for "nigger."

"Fredo" is an insult but I don't see it as a slur.

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no_hypocrisy Aug 14 OP
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