‘St. Pat’s Drinking Team’: Taking On Irish Stereotypes

Sign Our Petition Taking On Irish Stereotypes

“Irish I Were Drunk” -- huh?

Sadly, you can readily find these words emblazoned on merchandise at a retailer near you!

It’s nearly March, and, once again, open season on the good name the Irish have burnished through centuries of hard work and enterprise worldwide.

It’s no accident that the tens of millions of Irish around the globe, borne from a small island nation on the fringe of Europe, have been credited by many scholars with saving Western civilization. Irish surnames populate the pantheon of heroes of the scores of democracies they helped build, most notably, perhaps, the United States. Irish philanthropies have traveled far and wide in their effort to create a fair and just global society. Irish artists -- filmmakers, novelists, poets, creatives in nearly every field of endeavor --  are beloved, with their work translated into dozens of languages.

Thus we at The Wild Geese find it particularly ironic, and despicable, that marketers -- driven by purely mercenary motives -- feel free to undermine the hard-earned good name of the Irish with facile slogans adorning caps and tee-shirts, suggesting not only that being Irish offers cover for overindulging, but that it is a precursor for this excess.

Even more pernicious are these retailers’ targeting of young people worldwide with the message that it is enjoyable, as well as acceptable, to don a pseudo-Irish identity and celebrate Irish culture by means of public intoxication.

Among the most egregious demeanors of the bona fides of Ireland and the Irish worldwide is Spencer’s Gifts. The defaming items for sale online and at Spencer’s stores include a hat with the phrase “Irish Girl Wasted,” “St. Pat’s Drinking Team,” “Drinking Other Bitches Under the Table,” and another shamrock-emblazoned shirt proudly announcing “Drunkest Bitch at the Bar.”

We applaud and support the The Ancient Order of Hibernians’ ongoing campaign against Spencer’s and other marketers using slurs to cash in on Ireland’s national holiday, a holiday extraordinarily universal and beloved, with parades taking place in more than 100 cities, villages, and hamlets worldwide, drawing in hundreds of thousands of marchers and many more millions of cheering spectators.

Irish or not, we ask that you sign our petition, to help make it clear to marketers that people of good faith -- drawn from the entire world’s vast ethnic mosaic -- are watching and won’t support businesses who trade on cultural stereotypes, as we celebrate what is both unique and praiseworthy in us all.

 

Petition:

We the undersigned take issue with marketers who diminish the hard-earned good name of the Irish with glib messages adorning caps and tee-shirts, suggesting not only that being Irish offers cover for overindulging, but that it is a precursor for this excess.

We particularly regret -- and condemn -- these retailers’ targeting of young people worldwide with the message that it is enjoyable, as well as acceptable, to don a pseudo-Irish identity and celebrate Irish culture by means of public intoxication.

Offending phrases are numerous and readily found on merchandise available both online and in stores, and include  “Irish Girl Wasted,” “St. Pats Drinking Team,” “Drinking Other Bitches Under the Table,” and “Drunkest Bitch at the Bar” on a shamrock-emblazoned shirt.

We hereby post notice that we will not patronize Spencer’s Gifts, nor any marketer whose products demean Ireland and the Irish worldwide, as we ask them to present a positive image of one of the most accomplished ethnic groups on God’s green world.


Media Mentions:
Irish World-- March 19, 2014

To learn more:

“The Irish Character?” -- a discussion here amongst The Wild Geese

“Me and My Bitches will Outdrink You” tanktop from Spencer’s Gifts

“St. Pat’s Drinking Team” t-shirt from Spencer’s Gifts

The Irish worked too hard to be ridiculed by Spencer Gifts T-shirts, by Joan L. Krajewski

“Offend Me, I’m Irish”, from IrishPhiladelphia.com

Views: 1456

Tags: Community, Intellect, News, Opinion, Petitions, Racism, Stereotypes


Gaeilgeoir
Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on February 22, 2014 at 1:44pm

Signed it!  Please pass this along to all your friends and family.

Comment by Catherine White on February 22, 2014 at 9:01pm

I was happy to sign it because I completely agree with this position. Hope it works.

Comment by Brendan Hamilton on February 23, 2014 at 7:48pm

While I applaud your effort in venturing to protect the good name of the Irish people, and I think you raise a discussion that's worth having, I still respectfully disagree with your effort. To be sure, the Spencer's-type material is tasteless and stupid, but most Irish-Americans I know have a sense of humor about these stereotypes. In my opinion, it's not because Irish-Americans are ignorant, but rather because America has come a long, long way from the days of "no Irish need apply." I should note that I'm speaking solely of the US because I've never spent enough time in Ireland or any other part of the diaspora to generalize about the state affairs elsewhere. People of Irish heritage I've seen in this country aren't terribly troubled by the stereotypes. Many Irish even capitalize off them, from the popularity of the Notre Dame "Fighting Irish" to the success of Irish and Irish-style beer and whiskey and Irish-themed pubs. Good for them. What's more, while most Irish-Americans would acknowledge the stereotypes overblown, we nonetheless realize (dare I say it) there is a reason why these stereotypes have arisen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_alcohol_consumption). You speak of Irish artists, but how many of these have been guilty of regular overindulgence? How many folks on this very website even?

Of course, alcoholism is a serious affliction, but I believe humor is vital in the healing of any people's collective wounds. Spencer's t-shirts may not be all that funny, but I'd hardly petition someone for being a crappy comedian. My vision of the future of my own democratic republic is not that of a land where everyone is so paralyzed by political correctness that we must walk on eggshells in every public discourse. Instead, I believe that the ultimate sign of progress and inclusivity is for people of diverse backgrounds to be able to joke openly with one another without fear of alienation or reprisal. We've certainly got a long way to go, but as an Irish-American, I'm willing to deal with stupid jokes without flipping out. There are other folks here who are being actively persecuted and denied equal rights. I'd rather defend them than protest t-shirt companies in a time when I can honestly say I've never been denied a job or right of any kind because of my Irish ancestry, nor seen such persecution heaped upon my Irish-American friends and family.


Gaeilgeoir
Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on February 24, 2014 at 2:34am

Brendan Hamilton said:

We've certainly got a long way to go, but as an Irish-American, I'm willing to deal with stupid jokes without flipping out.

I agree with much of what you said, Brendan.  I'm definitely not a fan on "flipping out" and political correctness (way too much going overboard on that), and I don't want to be seen as doing that with this.  These t-shirts and the like have been around seemingly forever, and I definitely do not "flip out" about them.  My reaction is typically to just roll my eyes, ignore them, and pity the fool wearing them.

My problem lies with the woeful double standard we see.  Can you imagine if a store or any business started selling shirts that played off some of the stereotypes of African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, or other groups?  My goodness, would there ever be hell to pay!  Every single news crew on the planet would descend on that company, and they'd be out of business the following day with multiple lawsuits to fight off.  They'd be vilified and receive death threats and, in short, wish they'd never been born.  But hey ... they can make off-colour cracks about the Irish 'til the cows come home, and all they receive is laughs and more revenue.  See the problem?

I'd love to have someone -- ANYONE tell me why it's not okay to do this nonsense with virtually any group except the Irish.  It's the laughable inconsistency and blatant double standard that frustrates me to no end.


Admin
Comment by Belinda Evangelista on February 24, 2014 at 4:46am


Admin
Comment by Belinda Evangelista on February 24, 2014 at 5:02am

A tee logo I found from Cafe Press.  Might have been sensitive about this at one time but I wonder if it comes in green now?


Admin
Comment by Belinda Evangelista on February 24, 2014 at 6:30am

Thankfully exorcism and lobotomy are not the norm anymore

Comment by Kelly O'Rourke on February 24, 2014 at 9:33am

Yeah, I get annoyed with the "flipping out" and oversensitivity too, but these really are offensive.  The fact that it's about alcoholism just takes it to the next level.  No one dies because of fried chicken jokes, but accepting alcohol abuse as a quirky cultural norm kills people here on a regular basis.  I'm not a big petition signer, but I signed this one.  It's not trying to put anyone out of business...just asking that they take a look at what they are promoting and consider changing a few of their products.

Comment by Brendan Hamilton on February 24, 2014 at 12:58pm

Ryan and Kelly, you both make excellent points about the double-standard. The main difference I would point out is that there is still a huge gap in terms of wealth, access to education, treatment by law enforcement, etc., that still exists in the US along race lines, as well as an ongoing, bitterly divided debate about immigration that impacts many Hispanics. I would also argue that antisemitism is still alive and well here. I just haven't personally seen hatred or active discrimination against Irish and Irish-Americans. Doesn't mean it doesn't still happen. And yes, sending a message to businesses asking them to be respectful is certainly far from "flipping out!"


Gaeilgeoir
Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on February 24, 2014 at 1:30pm

Brendan ... the propagation of the "Irish drunk" is destroying lives.  It is killing people (especially young people) and ripping families apart.  People joking about that and popularising these old, tired stereotypes is no innocent thing.  What you mentioned above with other ethnic groups does not in any way lessen the problem being addressed by the petition.

As Kelly says, off-colour jokes (which shouldn't be told, mind you) about African-Americans enjoying fried chicken or Jewish folks being frugal aren't dangerous to anyone's health.  And yet, businesses like Spencer's Gifts choose to go full-bore on these ridiculous drunken Irish items in a way they wouldn't dream of making fun of these other cultures.  The double standard is abhorrent.

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