Friday, 7 October 2011

Please Stop Using The Word "Hippie" To Describe a Protester!!!

As those of us who have waited with bated breath for the winds of the Arab Spring to reach our shores, the Occupy Wall Street (and other streets across North America) movement is confirmation that the new populist movement is taking root here as well. But one thing has begun to irritate me. And it's not entirely a new phenomenon either. The tendency of those in the media to refer to protesters as "hippies" or protests as something "out of the 60s."

We live in a strange age: one of collective historical amnesia where we have forgotten the significance of the social movements of past century. All to often, our popular culture (TV ads, sitcoms, Hollywood films) helps us right along in the forgetting. One things it has done consistently over the past few decades is use the "hippie" label to discredit social movements whether they be anti-war or anti-corporate.

Here's a history lesson along with some etymology, courtesy of Wikipedia:


According to lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower, the terms hipster and hippie derive from the word hip and the synonym hep, whose origins are unknown.[1] The words hip and hep first surfaced in slang around the beginning of the 20th century and spread quickly, making their first appearance in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1904. At the time, the words were used to mean "aware" and "in the know." In the late 1960s, African language scholar David Dalby popularized the idea that words used in American slang could be traced back to West Africa. He claimed that hipi (a word in the Wolof language meaning "to open one's eyes") was the source for both hip and hep.[2] Sheidlower, however, disputes Dalby's assertion that the term hip comes from Wolof origins.[1]

During the jive era of the late 1930s and early 1940s, African-Americans began to use the term hip to mean "sophisticated, fashionable and fully up-to-date".[1] and the word hippie is jazz slang from the 1940s.[3] Reminiscing about late 1940s Harlem in his 1964 autobiography, Malcolm X referred to the word hippy as a term that African Americans used to describe a specific type of white man who "acted more Negro than Negroes".[4] In his autobiography, Harry Gibson claims to have coined the related term hipster in the 1940s for use in his stage name.[5] In the 1970s, Gibson remade his act to appeal to contemporary hippies, and is known as the 'original hippie'.[6]

In Greenwich Village in the 1960s, New York City, young counterculture advocates were named hips because they were considered "in the know" or "cool", as opposed to being square. In a 1961 essay, Kenneth Rexroth used both the terms hipster and hippies to refer to young people participating in African American or Beatnik nightlife.[7]

In 1963, the Orlons, an African-American singing group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania released the soul dance song "South Street", which included the lyrics "Where do all the hippies meet? South Street, South Street...The hippest street in town".[8][9] Some transcriptions read "Where do all the hippist (sic) meet?"[10] Nevertheless, since many heard it as "hippies", that use was promoted.

"The Hippies" was also the name of a mixed African American and white soul singing group on the Orlons' record label, Cameo-Parkway.[11] Another use around the same time was on the 1963 Freddy Cannon single on Swan Records, "Do What The Hippies Do".[12]

Modern use

Numerous theories abound as to the origin of this word. One of the most credible involves the beatniks, who abandoned North Beach, San Francisco, to flee commercialism in the early 1960s. Many of them moved to the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco, where they were idolized and emulated by the young university students who lived in the neighborhood. The beats (the hip people) started calling these students "hippies", or younger versions of themselves. Actually, the counterculture seldom called itself hippies; it was the media and straight society who popularized the term. More often, we called ourselves freaks or heads. Not until later did we begin calling ourselves hippies, and by then we were "aging hippies". An alternate spelling seldom used in the United States by people in the know was hippy, but it was spelled that way in England.
—John Bassett McCleary, [13]
In a June 11, 1963 syndicated column by Dorothy Killgallen, she wrote "New York hippies have a new kick - baking marijuana in cookies".[14] The term "hippie" appears in a New York Times book review of April 21, 1964 entitled "Is The Pentagon Threatened by Civilians on Horseback?" where it said "Mr. Raymond felicitously gives us a hippie link between the present and the past."[15] The term appeared numerous times in the Village Voice on September 10, 1964 in an article entitled "Baby Beatniks Spark Bar Boom on East Side."[16] A very early appearance of the term hippies was on November 27, 1964 in a TIME Magazine article about a 20-year old's drug use scandalizing the town of Darien, Connecticut: "The trouble is that in a school of 1,018 pupils so near New York there is bound to be a fast set of hard-shell hippies like Alpert [the 20 year old] who seem utterly glamorous to more sheltered types."[17] Shortly afterwards, on December 6, 1964, in an article entitled "Jean Shepherd Leads His Flock On A Search For Truth", New York Times journalist Bernard Weinraub wrote about the Limelight coffeehouse, quoting Shepherd as using the term hippie while describing the beatnik fashions that had newly arrived in Greenwich Village from Queens, Staten Island, Newark, Jersey City, and Brooklyn.[18] And the Zanesville Times Recorder, on January 1, 1965, ran a story questioning how society could tolerate a new underground New York newspaper started by Ed Sanders called The Marijuana Times — whose first issue (of only two, dated January 30) it directly quoted as saying: "The latest Pot statistics compiled through the services of the Hippie Dope Exchange, will be printed in each issue of the Marijuana Newsletter."

Another early appearance was in the liner notes to the Rolling Stones album, The Rolling Stones, Now!, released in February 1965 and written by the band's then-manager, Andrew Loog Oldham. One sentence of the notes reads, "Their music is Berry-chuck and all the Chicago hippies..." and another sentence from the same source reads, "Well, my groobies, what about Richmond, with its grass green and hippy scene from which the Stones untaned." [19]

Rev. Howard R. Moody, of the Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, was quoted in the June 6, 1965 New York Times as saying "Every hippy is somebody's square. And don't you ever forget it."
The first clearly contemporary use of the word "hippie" appeared in print on September 5, 1965. In an article entitled "A New Haven for Beatniks," San Francisco journalist Michael Fallon wrote about the Blue Unicorn coffeehouse, using the term hippie to refer to the new generation of beatniks who had moved from North Beach into the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Fallon reportedly came up with the name by condensing Norman Mailer's use of the word hipster into hippie.[20]

Use of the term hippie did not become widespread in the mass media until early 1967, after San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen began referring to hippies in his daily columns.[21][22]

New York Times editor and usage writer Theodore M. Bernstein said the paper changed the spelling from hippy to hippie to avoid the ambiguous description of clothing as hippy fashions.

Pejorative use

To the late 1950s/early 1960s Beat Generation, the flood of mid-1960s youths adopting beatnik sensibilities appeared as a cheap, mass-produced imitation. By Beat Generation standards, these newcomers were not cool enough to be considered hip, so they used the term hippie with disdain. American conservatives of the period used the term hippie as an insult toward young adults whom they considered unpatriotic, uninformed, and naive.[citation needed] Ronald Reagan, who was governor of California during the height of the hippie movement, described a hippie as a person who "dresses like Tarzan, has hair like Jane, and smells like Cheeta."[23] Others used the term hippie in a more personal way to disparage long-haired, unwashed, unkempt drug users. In contemporary conservative settings, the term hippie is often used to allude to slacker attitudes, irresponsibility, participation in recreational drug use, activism in causes considered relatively trivial, and leftist political leanings (regardless of whether the individual was actually connected to the hippie subculture).[24] An example is its use by the South Park cartoon character, Eric Cartman.[25]


  1. ^ a b c Sheidlower, Jesse (2004-12-08), Crying Wolof: Does the word hip really hail from a West African language?, Slate Magazine, retrieved 2007-05-07.
  2. ^ Roediger 1995, pp. 663-664.
  3. ^ "The Mavens' Word of the Day: Hippie", Random House, 1998-05-21, archived from the original on 2007-03-11, retrieved 2006-10-09.
  4. ^ Booth 2004, p. 212. "A few of the white men around Harlem, younger ones whom we called 'hippies', acted more Negro than Negroes. This particular one talked more 'hip' talk than we did."
  5. ^ Harry Gibson]] (1986), Everybody's Crazy But Me, The Hipster Story, Progressive Records
  6. ^ Wright, Morgan (03-2009), Blues and Rhythm magazine (UK) (237): 16.
  7. ^ Rexroth, Kenneth. (1961). "What's Wrong with the Clubs." Metronome. Reprinted in Assays
  8. ^ and retrieved 2006-12-13
  9. ^ retrieved 2006-12-13
  10. ^ Fitzpatrick, J. South Street: The Orlons lyrics". Retrieved 2006-12-13
  11. ^ See 2006 April 16 from "W.B." and 2006 April 17 from Boppin Brian. Retrieved 2006-12-13. The reference says that at least some copies of the vinyl record included both the then-current and former names. retrieved 2006-12-13. See Disk 1, song 8, Memory Lane, and Disk 2, song 21, South Street. The reference says that the 2005 re-release of the former is credited to "The Hippies a.k.a. The Tams".
  12. ^ Label shots of Freddy Cannon records. Accessed 11 January 2010
  13. ^ McCleary, John Bassett (2004), The Hippie Dictionary: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the 1960s and 1970s, Ten Speed Press, pp. 246–247, ISBN 1580085474, OCLC 237866881.
  14. ^ The Montreal Gazette, June 11, 1963
  15. ^ New York Times, Apr. 21, 1964
  16. ^ Baby Beatniks Spark Bar Boom on East Side; Village Voice; Sep. 10, 1964
  17. ^ "Darien's Dolce Vita", TIME, November 27, 1964
  18. ^ December 6, 1964 New York Times article - "Jean Shepherd Leads His Flock on a Search for Truth."
  19. ^ the album "The Rolling Stones. Now!" published Feb 13, 1965 in England.
  20. ^ Tompkins, 2001, Vol. 7
  21. ^ Mecchi, 1991, 22 Dec 1966 column, pp 125-26. Chronicle columnist Arthur Hoppe also used the term--see "Take a Hippie to Lunch Today," S.F. Chronicle, 20 Jan 1967, p. 37.
  22. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, 18 Jan 1967 column, p. 27
  23. ^ Stolley 1998, p. 137.
  24. ^ The Lexington Herald-Leader wrote an editorial on 11/12/06 that stated in part: "Radicalized, the flower children morphed into lefty loonies who now masquerade as social progressives. No matter what they rename themselves, however, their agenda hasn't changed...For example, consider their continued belief that America's armed forces are neo-Nazi stormtroopers who delight in burning babies to further the aims of imperialistic corporations. Such nonsense, now treated as legitimate by the left-leaning media, denigrates the patriotic values and sincerity of half the nation. It undermines the war effort, insults the dead and the survivors of battle and their families, and supports the aims of the enemy."
  25. ^ In the "Die Hippie, Die" South Park episode, the entire town joins Cartman in his negative view of hippies after they arrive in town for a "Hippie Music Jam Festival."


Got it, media folks (and others)?!! And here's a history of the hippy movement again courtesy of Wikipedia:

One quote from this article is particularly pertinent:

"Anti-war protests

Although there were many diverse groups and elements protesting the US military involvement in Vietnam as it began to escalate, many of the protesters, rightly or wrongly, came to be associated with aspects of the "hippie" movement in the popular view. A number of them had been highly active in the Civil Rights movement in the first half of the 1960s, traveling across the country to take part in sit-ins and marches against segregation in the South. The first draft card burnings took place May 12, 1964 in New York City. Others followed, including more draft-card burnings in May 1965 at the University of California, Berkeley (which had already seen a precedent to the subsequent social turmoil, in form of the Free Speech Movement), and a coffin was marched to the Berkeley draft board. As similar protests continued through the summer, President Lyndon Johnson responded by signing a new law on August 31, 1965 penalizing the burning of draft cards with up to 5 years in prison and a $1,000 fine, although such burnings went on regardless. In later years, the Viet Cong flag of the "enemy" was even adopted as a symbol by more radical anti-war protesters. However, the core "hippie" philosophy remained staunchly aloof to politics, and politicians, throughout this time."

(sentences bolded by me)

All kinds of people have a problem with corporate economics and culture, not just hippies. Remember this when observing the occupation of Wall Street and the movements that are sure to spring from it in the coming weeks and months.

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