‘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: 3525

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

Comment by Brendan Hamilton on February 24, 2014 at 3:41pm

Ryan, if you're saying that t-shirt designs are actually driving alcoholism and/or binge drinking among people of Irish descent, I would love to see your evidence. There are studies that suggest that familial attitudes toward drinking are a ... in Ireland but nothing exploring the impact of the "Drunk-O-Meter." In fact, in Ireland, rates of alcohol consumption have been trending downward. This does not seem to be the case in the US, but I hardly think Spencer's is to blame. Again, f*ck those guys; I'm not defending them--I just don't think they're destroying lives (except maybe the folks in Indonesia who have to make the damn shirts).

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on February 24, 2014 at 4:46pm

Brendan ... have you heard of the latest craze here in Ireland called "Neknomination"?  If not, look it up ... I can tell you that these continuing stereotypes and the glorification of binge drinking is a direct contributor to this huge problem in Ireland.  Just about anyone here would tell you so.  It's talked about on radio and Television in Ireland constantly.

Comment by Kelly O'Rourke on February 25, 2014 at 2:40am

Yeah, I see what you're saying Brendan.  I remember one of my college profs teaching us that, "It isn't racism unless it's against a disenfranchised group."  I just disagree.  Also, I've not seen Irish Americans treated poorly in my lifetime, but people here talk about it happening to their relatives in Australia and the UK.

Comment by Kelly O'Rourke on February 25, 2014 at 2:46am

And you're right...familial attitudes and history are more direct causes of the alcohol abuse than Tshirts, but the embracing of these stereotypes perpetuates the practice.  At some point a generation will have to stand up and say, "ENOUGH."

Comment by Gael Murphy on February 25, 2014 at 2:41pm

I was about to sign the petition when I saw the religious reference to god.  Must you drag that nonexistent old coot into every single thing?  You just prove one Irish stereotype.  That Ireland is still a priest ridden society.  Take out the religion, and I'll sign the petition!

 

Comment by Brendan Hamilton on February 25, 2014 at 3:02pm

Thanks, Gael. For a moment there I feared I might be the most contrarian sob on this comment thread.

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on February 25, 2014 at 3:46pm

Gael ... are you referring to the part toward the end which says "...God’s green world"?  That's fairly benign, really.  It's not as if it's invoking the name of God to bless the petition or anything of that sort.  Don't see anything in there about the Catholic Church or priests.  But hey ... to each his/her own.  Clearly you do not see it as benign.  Fair enough ... you're free to not sign if it bothers you.

Comment by Kelly O'Rourke on February 26, 2014 at 3:31am

Haha, Brendan!

Comment by Gael Murphy on February 26, 2014 at 9:08am

All of you have made excellent points.  I feel that the Irish have become very successful in America, including Canada, Central, and South America.  Statues of Irish Revolutionary heroes adorn the Plazas from Mexico to Bolivia, where we are much admired.  In the U.S. we have thrived. While, encouraging unhealthy drinking is destructive, and associating the sober-sided Irish with this dangerous behavior is insulting, I think that we no longer feel the string of oppression, scorn,  and discrimination  to which  Black people, and more recently immigrated minorities are still subjected.  Really, what slurs do they call us?  Micks?  Why, the names they call us seem more like terms of endearment!  Harps?  Paddys?  Fallen from the common lexicon.  Being white, and the fact that we speak English has accelerated our acceptance into the majority society.  We know of the travails of our immigrant ancestors and we appreciate the wonderful turn-around the Irish have enjoyed here.  It is hard for us to work up a lot of outrage at Spencer's ham-fisted, clumsy stereotype.  We would begin to sound like the U.S. Christians screaming about being oppressed here when secularists try to stop them from establishing a christian theocracy here, like the one that has so handicapped Ireland.  The Irish are not oppressed by these ads and images.  We are just being "dissed" a little.

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on February 26, 2014 at 9:15am

But what real oppression is there in making cracks about African-Americans eating fried chicken, or Jewish-Americans being extra frugal?  It's certainly in bad taste, but there's no real oppression there.  I would never make those silly cracks myself, but when I hear other people do it they are lambasted to within an inch of their lives!   And if a company like Spencer's Gifts began selling MLK Day t-shirts with fried chicken on them, it would make international news, they'd be sued beyond belief, and they'd be out of business in short order.

So again ... why the glaring double standard?  I still have heard no reasonable explanation of it.

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