On my long journey to become less linguistically challenged, I have been quite discouraged to find out that a few words I have been using most of my life do not mean what I thought they did. Oops!
Perhaps the biggest heart breaker for me was “Redneck”.
From History to the now
The first use of “redneck” appears in reference to the Scottish Covenanters of the 17th century. This was an independence movement created by Scotland’s Presbyterian Church in response to King Charles I of England and his attempt to control the church. The Scottish Presbyterians signed the National Covenant in 1638 in their own blood, symbolizing their oath to their religion and not to the King of England. They also wore blood-red bandannas around their necks as a statement. Under the Kings’ persecution, many Covenanters joined the Scottish migration to Ireland that had already begun in the early 1600s.
Then in 1704, the Test Act required that all government officials and civil servants pass a test of allegiance to the Anglican Church. By 1715, thousands of Scots-Irish migrated from Ireland to the American colonies. Landing mostly in New England, they migrated to the southern states in search of freedom and a place to call home. Many Southerners today can trace their ancestry back to these immigrants who brought not only their culture of rugged individualism and religious devotion, but also the term “redneck.”
Depending on what region of the United States you matriculate from, the term “redneck” is either an insult or a badge of honor.
Most of my life I have had this romanticized version in my head: The Redneck, a stunningly gorgeous cowboy in tight jeans driving a big, shiny, jacked-up Chevy truck, with fishing poles in the gun rack, tipping his well-worn cowboy hat with a sweet smile and the bluest eyes that make even the most chaste of ladies swoon from a single glance, while the delicious sounds of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band is playing in the background. Ahhhhh …
Insert research of “Redneck: Where did that come from”…SCREEECH…..CRASH…..SHATTER…..
With that beautiful, blue eyed image shattered like a Louis Comfort Tiffany Glass Museum in the path of stampeding rodeo bulls, I now have the image of a broken down, rusted out Ford driven (or, most likely, being towed or pushed) by a beer-gutted, buck-toothed or toothless Scotsman who is cursing out the broken down Ford, while praising Sweet Jesus for the ice cold beer in his hand, and when he looks at you, you wonder if you are his next victim or when does he see his probation officer next. There is no music playing in the background because the radio has been stolen out of the truck, yet the scratchy sounds of Police scanner can be heard from somewhere in the vicinity.
However, there may be a glimmer of hope to get me back to that Chevy-driving hunk. There are different versions of American rednecks.
To my chagrin, redneck is a slang term, usually describing a rural, poor, white Southerner who is politically conservative, racist and a religious fundamentalist. (For a more in-depth description, please refer to Jeff Foxworthy as he seems to be the world’s renowned expert on this particular redneck.) This term is generally considered offensive (I apologize if I have offended anyone. It is only my intent to gather information on where words come from and what they mean). It also is often referring to people who work in fields, with the blistering sun burning down on them and therefore burning their necks.
Redneck (a.k.a. Hillbilly)
This redneck is involved from birth in things like hunting, fishing and other weird and wonderful things like noodling and muddin'. This brand of redneck is a person who likes Larry the Cable Guy, is a great conversationalist and has grouped together with other likeminded rednecks to create this wonderful event called the Redneck Summer Games. It was created to help children's needs. Around 5,000 people turned out for the first Redneck Summer Games. There were crazy events like the cigarette flip, seed spitting, big-hair contest, toilet seat throwing, mud pit belly flop, bug zapping by spitball and the armpit serenade.
These rednecks are not the stereotype person who does not know anything about the modern world; they are relatively smart and have decent educations. And from what I can tell, they also have friendly dogs, great music and an overstuffed couch on their porch.
Last but not least …
Redneck (a.k.a. The Crimson Vertebrate)
This is where the fantasy man would come back into the picture. The Crimson Vertebrate are the most sophisticated of all Rednecks. They wear Stetson hats, Armani silk shirts, with Levi 501’s, Luchese boots and drive a custom made, jacked-up one-of-a-kind Chevy truck. They have a sense of “Who cares if my shirt cost more than what you made this month, I am still going muddin’ with my buddies and making roads out of deer trails this weekend. And yes, those $15,000 boots are going to get a lot of mud on them.” YEEHAW!