From the first five sources which popped up on a yahoo search for the term "redneck":
"The image foisted on America and the world probably conjures up the image of an ignorant, toothless, inbred, tobacco spitting, truck driving, curse-wielding, racist, white Southerner. Naturally a Confederate flag lurks in the background somewhere."
"My computer dictionary, American Heritage, does not even define redneck other than to say offensive. Our family dictionary by World Book states the following:
Redneck: Slang a poor, white, Southern farmer or sharecropper (often used in an unfriendly way). "
"REDNECK. A poor, white, often rowdy southerner, usually one from a rural area. The word, which is sometimes derogatory, has its origins in the sunburned necks of farmers and outdoor laborers, and originally meant a poor farmer.
"Along with words such as "hick" and "hillbilly' we associate redneck with an individual who is southern, has no manners, no common sense and the most dull-witted person imaginable."
From Maven's word of the day:
The term redneck first meant 'an uneducated white farm laborer in the South'. It comes from the literal notion of one's neck being colored red by sunburn from working in the fields all day.
In its earliest use, recorded especially in Arkansas and Mississippi, redneck was used chiefly by other Southerners as a disparaging term for lower-class people. More recently it has been applied by Northerners to Southerners in general. The most recent extended sense is 'a bigot or reactionary', that is, a person whose views resemble those attributed to the Southern working class.
CarolC - Since I am one of the knee Jerk responders who used the hazing incident in a post I will respond. It was not my intent to compare what happened in Iraq to a college hazing. What I was trying to point out is that the hazing events are often violent, the gang "jumpng in" certainly is as well. And the events at columbine and other schools certainly weren't voluntary or non-violent. I was saying that this type of violent behavior seems to pervade the United States. The military is made up of the same citizens who are experiencing these type of events and therefore it is no surprise that this should take place in Iraq.
As such my statement is a defense of the normal, decent human beings who make up the majority of the military of the United States. Some of us actually believe that we are helping in Iraq, and moreover in the rest of the world as well, and yes, serving with honor. To slander us all because of these incidents is wrong.
What happened is still abuse, and it is not tolerable. The people involved will be held responsible (we will not however hang them without a trial based on these photographs).