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Gollywogs - is this guy for real?.

Kavi Ugl

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just to point out that my account was not anecdotal.



also, the Gollywogs are made in England, "imported" to Shetland - yes. but manufactured in England.


The shopkeeper will have been fully aware of the mayhem those blasted things caused when the petition started, yet she still insists on selling them. So yes, she has made that conscious decision and therefore should not be surprised if she gets criticised for it. Hardly a reason to shut the shop though.


A lot here has been mentioned about the "innocent childhood memories of collecting Gollywogs/ badges etc". But for non british people (like me for example) who have not been "brought up" with Gollywogs and all this "innocence" that is apparently so fondly remembered, it is a slightly different story. I do not share that part of british culture, instead I see Gollywogs for what they really are and find it hard to understand that the obvious historical rascist origins are so easily ignored and explained away. Pretending "It's just a doll" is closing our eyes to history.

Just because you don't share that part of British culture, does not mean that those who do should have to alter their memories of a much loved toy that they in no way associated with racism. Why should you tell me what I "apparently" should think about Gollys.


I agree that in some origins they have been used in a negative context and that is never acceptable, but does this mean that everything that could have a negative context for some should be denied to others ? If we go down that road we will be told we can't own a bulldog, because it's a symbol of the BNP and therefore to have fond memories of one, suggests we in some way support their views.

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The fear is, Shetland has a problem with race relations, alas, that is now public and very world wide. I remember comments being made about an Asian family who lived in Shetland many years ago.


Fixing the issue would have been far more productive than defending a persons right to sell imported goods for sale along the high street known to have issues attached to them.


If you want to bang the Shetland drum, why are these imports on sale and not Shetland crafts persons creating their own?

Do you remember any comments about white families Pete? Not the first time you highlight an apparent racist issue in Shetland, it makes me wonder what your agenda is. Yes this is very public, but I think you are out of touch as usual. Read the comments to the issue in the guardian.


Fixing the issue? You say that as if you could swipe your magic wand and wow! It's fixed. Get real. Perhaps some open face to face adult discussion at the beginning would have stopped it getting this far, but I somehow feel this was not in Mr Sissays agenda.


Perhaps a local craft person will identify a gap in the market. Of course they would make them in all colours, shapes and sizes.


Pete when I read your posts on this thread, you seem more interested in having issues with others on here than paying attention to what's actually going on, alas! :-)

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Unfortunately there is no corroboration in writing, as I deleted those pm's long ago. But I have no reason to doubt what I have been told by the petitioner.


I am not trying to "make" people "think" anything. I am only exercising my right to voice my personal opinion, same as anybody else on this forum. :roll: I was trying to put a non british view of Gollywogs across, but no doubt there will be those who will repeat the mantra that non of us can possibly be offended as we are white and therefore have no right to be offended.


I would ask people to forget the whole race/ colour issue, but instead show some sensitivity towards other people, instead of going on about me me me. Just about because you personally are not offended gives no one the right to decide who is "allowed".


But what kind of doll would it take to make you offended? Would you feel offended if they were little Hitler dolls, complete with uniform and salute? More to the point would you "have the right" to be offended? ;-)


As Gollywogs are not illegal merchandise the shopkeeper is of course within her rights to continue selling them. And we spent 9 pages going round in circles. A bit pointless to keep argueing.....

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I don't think I have read anywhere in this tread that people don't have the right to an opinion or to be offended, quite the opposite. Both sides of the argument obviously feel their views are important and quite rightly so.


Your right, Hitler dolls giving the nazi salute, would offend me personally, but I accept that for many, it would not be an issue. The way I look at it is I would make a choice whether to use a shop selling these or not.


I was offended many years ago when a well known and respected local shop started selling products which were obviously used for making joints for smoking, and although not illegal, I questioned this at the time to be told, the door is there if your not happy. This was after many years of shopping there. The result was I have never shopped there since, although not because of the product, but because my custom obviously meant so little to the owner.


We can all voice our opinions and vote with our feet, but I agree there are always more than one side to any issue.


In my opinion, where this all went wrong was the way Mr Sissay went around this. Had he been more up front and less attacking, he may have found people would be more sympathetic to his concerns.

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To jump to the conclusion that nobody is offended by golliwogs on sale in Shetland because you are unaware of any complaints (or fuss as you put it) is wilful ignorance. It's supposition to think that a genuine case of upset at an object historically loaded with racist meaning can only be verified by your knowledge of, or public awareness of complaint(s).


You have the complaint of LS and you also have as's post above as evidence of offence as well as a number of people here taking issue who may not be personally upset. You've tried to dismiss LS's upset by criticising his character and along with that you've also generalised 'coloured' people as a group who if they share what you regard as LS's negative character traits, we [non-coloured Shetlanders, I assume], can do without them.


What's wrong with you?

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AS quote (how come I can't get the quote to work in this new fangled forum tool thingie?)


'But what kind of doll would it take to make you offended?'




None whatsoever, a doll is a doll, end of.


It's how the doll/toy/item is used that creates the problem, as far as I can remember in this thread, the dolls have never been used in a way that would suggest they're anything other than a decorative item or plaything. 


However, had someone bought one and chased LS along commercial street waving it, that would be a different story.


It really is about time someone locked this thread, it's going nowhere.

Edited by Infiltrator
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Gibber, you say "an object historically loaded with racist meaning" - if this thread has demonstrated anything, it is that in the USA (according to Wikipedia) the gollywog "perhaps" (the word used in the article) had racial overtones, and again other articles referring to both good and bad in children's books ... but with the main associations being related to the marmalade jars which did not, to many, have negative racial overtones (even Lemne states himself he collected the ornaments as a child).  Which do we adopt, or are we not allowed our own historical references and preferences?  We have and own our individual her story/history.


Then you, yourself, introduced the negative racial association with the BNP - yes, some may have already been aware of it but I personally wasn't - so you've just introduced a racial element where there was none previously known to some people.


Let's talk hypothetically here.  Say I had a collection of extremely graphic sketches portraying nude women on display.  Some men and women might be offended by them.  Say the vicar and his wife were coming round for tea (not likely but hey, we're talking hypothetically).  So I'd take the sketches down whilst the vicar and his wife attended for tea.


But should I not have bought those graphic sketches simply because the vicar and his wife would be offended by them?  No.


ShetlandPeat commented that anything with the BNP on it should be withdrawn from sale.  I detest the BNP.  Whether we like it or not, they are a political party.  Look at the time when Sinn Fein were censored on the news - did that do anyone any good?


Everyone is entitled to be offended by whatever offends them ... but it's very rocky ground IMHO when it is dictated that everyone must be offended by the same things.

Edited by unlinkedstudent
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I am not intending that folk should take a similar or same viewpoint as myself, there does however have to be a certain respect for others to have differing views, (this is why I think those who use the "block" facility of this forum are worse than they accuse the blockee of being)  and of course this will depend on personal experiences and upbringing.

I have lived in amongst other races, I have witness racism at its worse and my self have been subject to racist comments and actions.

If Shetland is going to invite worldly folk to its shores, then comes with them is a world of thoughts.

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Everyone is entitled to be offended by whatever offends them ... but it's very rocky ground IMHO when it is dictated that everyone must be offended by the same things.


I'm not saying that everyone should be offended by the same things.  The twisted opposite of this that GR is saying; that nobody can be offended by gollywogs on sale until he is aware of a significant fuss being made by someone with the type of character he personally approves is also not what should be taken from this.


If you're going to hide your porn stash when the vicar comes round wouldn't the equivalent be the shopkeeper keeping her gollywogs from public view and selling them on request to...


1 Those either unoffended by the dolls and/or ignorant of the racial symbolism




2 People wishing to signify their racist views with a known racist symbol?


That way, those like yourself who are ignorant to the racist connotations can get your weekly gollywog shopping done, racists can have their iconographic based freedoms of expression protected (phew!), the passing Shetland public of whatever hue won't have to see them in the shop unless they choose to and tourists won't be standing open mouthed at gollywogs on sale thinking that Shetland is populated by yokel carrot crunchers.  And of course Mrs Leask will still be able to sell them. 

Edited by Gibber
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