By Jason Kessler, CNN
(CNN) – A new line of St. Patrick's Day merchandise from Urban Outfitters is raising Irish ire.
Leading up to the March 17th holiday, the hipster-oriented clothing company is selling 33 products ranging from t-shirts to shot glasses in its St. Patrick's Day Shop.
Of those, 23 reference drinking.
A $24 scoopneck tank reads: "Irish I Were Drunk." "Leprechaun Piss" is emblazoned across an $18 growler. A $20 trucker hat captioned "Irish Yoga" and "Downward Facing Upchuck" depicts a hungover stick figure on all fours, vomiting four-leaf clovers.
Seamus Boyle, president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, a large Irish-American organization, wrote an open letter to Urban Outfitters founder Richard Hayne demanding that he "immediately remove the disgusting products you have for sale in your stores depicting the Irish as drunks and defaming the Irish Nation and the Patron Saint of Ireland, St Patrick."
"I ask, would you have the same type of garbage depicting the African American, Jewish or Muslim Nations emblazoned on your product? I think not." Boyle also announced that he plans to call for a boycott of the retailer.
Urban Outfitters did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The merchandise has also raised eyebrows in Washington.
Ten members of Congress' Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs wrote a letter to Urban Outfitters CEO Tedford Marlow, calling on the store to pull the items.
While acknowledging that Irish and Irish-Americans "often revel in self-deprecating and blunt humor," the legislators said the apparel represents "a step too far, crossing a line into stereotyping and denigration."
The legislators also took issue with the shirts' seeming endorsement of binge drinking. Citing a World Health Organization statistic that 2.5 million people die each year from alcohol-related causes, the Congress members wrote that binge drinking "is no laughing matter."
Shoppers browsing the racks at a midtown Manhattan Urban Outfitters on Tuesday were split on the Irish Yoga hat.
“Some people need to lighten up,” said Bill Halliwell, adding that his wife is Irish. His only problem with the hat, he said, is that “it’s just not that funny.”
To Stacey Jay, 20, the hat was plainly in poor taste. “That’s definitely offensive and very disrespectful.” She was not offended enough to join any boycott of the store, though.
A store manager declined to comment on how the hats are selling.
The Irish aren’t the only ethnic group to bristle at Urban Outfitters merchandise this month. In a suit filed in federal court last week, the Navajo Nation said the chain’s use of the Navajo name and patterns in products “deceives and confuses consumers,” costing actual Navajos millions.
Previously, the retailer gained negative attention for selling a Monopoly-like board game called “Ghettopoly” and, in 2010, after a Henley t-shirt at its online store was offered in the color “white/charcoal” and “Obama/black.”
People of Irish descent in America go through some version of controversy every year around St. Patrick’s Day, which began as a Catholic feast day commemorating the saint who purportedly drove the snakes out of Ireland.
The holiday’s current celebration in the United States has grown into one that aims to recognize Irish culture and contributions more generally.
But marketing campaigns by beer and liquor companies, restaurants and bars often reference St. Patrick’s Day as a chance to “be Irish” by adhering to a stereotype of the Irish as alcoholics and binge drinkers.
The association of St. Patrick’s Day with stereotypical drunken Irishmen is not new. In 1867, “The Day We Celebrate,” a cartoon by the famous American caricaturist Thomas Nast, depicted St. Patrick’s Day as a chance for "ape-like" Irishmen to get drunk and fight.
Stephanie Siek contributed to this report.
🍀 💚 🍀 I'm a person of color and I feel these tees are racist against the Irish. I'm not as concerned for the safety of Irish Whites because they will never be attacked or killed for being Irish but if it upsets them by all means BOYCOTT!
Look at your history. The Irish WERE attacked and killed for being Irish when they first immigrated to the americas during the years of the potato famine. My grandma remembers being called DIRTY IRISH!
Obviously you have not studied American history.
I once bought a pair of black work boots and wondered why I couldnt find any white work boots
You get these tshirts created because, well, it's a known fact that the Irish are big drinkers! Not all of course are drunks, but you rarely see one drinking coke at a bar. Their culture is big on drinking, hence the stereotype.
As for others pointing out that other culture should be made fun of – that's come as no surprise. Every Irish I ever met has been racist or bigoted. I'm sure there are those who are not but just my experiences.
YES..BUT....society at large would deem it "insensitive" etc if Urban outfitters were to sell a shirt referencing black folks & watermelon & chicken...very much goes against your logic that it is okay because there is some truth to it.
Irish, not a drinker, usually drinking a sprite at the bar. Why? Becuase I have to drive my drunken and flirty Hispanic husband home!
Irish and American Indians are the last great punching bags.....Washington Redskins....OBAMA doens't seem to take offense to that slur does he
It's insulting and racist and VERY funny! I'm Irish and even have an Irish citizenship, I'm so Irish.
The problem isn't with these slogans and shirts picking on the Irish – it's that we should have similar shirts busting on Italians, Blacks, Asians, Jews, Hispanics and whoever else I left out.
If it's OK to do this with Irish people, it should be OK to do with with all you other hyper sensitive races.
Couldn't have said it better. I am Irish as well.
But it is done. I've seen T-shirts that say "frijolero" or "immigrant about 500 yrs ago, y tu?" and "We were here when your people wre building the Pinta" and various others about Hispanics.
No one has a sense of humour anymore.
It's racist, plan and simple.
Exactly, what "race" are the Irish?
Someone must have f**ked this guy's wife.
Who is this "St Patty" you speak of? ;-)
It must be St. Paddy's sister.
In the U.S., "Patty" or "Pat" is short for both Patrick and Patricia, which is why we spell it that way. To your average American, it looks misspelled when using d's instead of t's.
I don't find the shirts offensive (come to Ireland for a while; these shirts are pretty honest). If I did find them offensive, I wouldn't complain about it because I see offensive stuff all the time, I'm not a child who thinks the world should be censored for my benefit. I don't think alcoholism is funny at all and I think it should be treated far more seriously than it is – especially in Ireland – but that just means I think the shirts are in bad taste (no pun intended). Lots of things are in bad taste. Don't laugh. Move on.
The really important message here is that it's not St Patty's Day, it's St Paddy's Day. Nobody named Patrick ever goes by the name "Patty". That's short for Patricia. You have no idea how annoying this is. Please stop.
I would call your statement highly ironic. You are not perturbed by stereotypical insults of an entire nationality, but you bristle at the misspelling of an Irish nickname? In America, Patty is the nickname for both Patrick and Patricia. Nobody in America would call anyone Paddy, which would be a diminutive of the older form, Padraig, from the older Gailic form, Phadraig. Odd you would get angry over something you, yourself, misspelled from the Ancient Language.
The shirts are offensive but that was most likely the intent. To draw attention to them and it's appears to be working. I drink bu nott to the point where I forget my name and throw up on myself. Also I am of irish and German decent but consider myself an American. When I travelled to Ireland they considered me an American not one of them. They were very polite and welcoming but the differences between Irish Americans and actual Irish people is very big.
Anyways who cares Saint Patty's day is all about getting drunk and so are most other holidays in this country since we have allowed commercial interest to hijack them all.
Yes very big as a large pond between the countries, and you get laughed at by claiming your 1% of Irish heritage. Also I would think being of Irish German decent American, that would technically make you a White Irish Nazi !
Why don't we ever see Cinco de Mayo Ts depicting The Frito Bandito selling Dope? Or a group of Wetbacks crossing the Rio Grande? if it's OK to stereotype Irish as drunks then it's OK to Stereotype Mexicans as drug dealers.
Man up! It's funny when I have to listen to Polak jokes ad nauseum but we have a little laugh at these guys once a year and they're offended.
Goddammit America, can't you just stop pi$$ing the world off? Or at least try? This is getting ridiculous, I'm becoming ashamed to be American.
I'm Irish and not least bit worried if I'm depicted as a green beer indulger! Even so I don't drink, but would love one of those ME dimolition shirts! LOL all in good fun! Love one another, have a good time, be safe;)
If I may... Walmart, Target, and countless other retailers also buy into the debauchery around this holiday. I've seen leprechauns puking rainbows, clover stunna shades, and beads, and more. Let's not place sole blame on Urban Outfitters. After all... people are buying it.
Would people buy Cinco de Mayo T-shirts depicting Mexicans as wetbacks and drug trafficers? How about Oktoberfest Ts showing Hitler getting sloshed? Why don't we just go back to calling the Irish "White Ni##ers" like New York newpapers did during the potato famine?
No, but they certainly buy ones of Mexicans who look like Pancho Villa, or guys who look like they'd be in an Oompah band. You're using the wrong type of stereotypes, so it's a flawed argument. The stereotype is a fond one, not a malicious one; besides, it doesn't even refer to today's Irish people. It's more like the guy with buckles on his shoes and a bowler on his head.
We refer to St. Patrick’s Day as "Amateur's Day."
When so many Irish immigrated here during the potato famine the New York newspapers called them, "White Ni##ers" maybe we should sell T-Shirts that say that.
I went to the North Texas Irish Festival this past weekend, and noticed a large number of animal rescue groups there. It struck me that Celtic Heritage groups seemed so intent on helping out dogs, cats, and birds when other heritage festivals are entirely about food and music. We spent half our festival budget donating to animal charities.
These T-shirts are distasteful and I don't know how retailers think it is OK to sell them. Can you imagine what would happen if Urban Outfitters or WalMart tried to sell Cinco de Mayo shirts that depicted Mexicans as wetbacks?
It IS offensive. Seriously, any good Ukrainian could drink an Irishman under the table. Please, give credit where credit is due!
I am German Irish so i will take that challenge
We should be able to disparage every race, color, nationality and ethnicity equally. Only when we can do that will we be free of racism, etc., because everyone will get tired of iit, and the hurtful power behind such slurs will be gone. The opposite way, not allowing anyone to be made fun of, simply breeds more jokes, asides and whispers, and perpetuates the problem.
Urban outfitters should also try selling tshirts mocking blacks with images of watermelon and fried chicken or hats poking fun at Holocaust survivors...wonder if the calls to "lighten up" would still be out there.
Can you imagine the reaction if Cinco de Mayo T-Shirts depicted Mexicans as wetbacks and welfare abusers who can't speak English?
As an Irishman that doesn't drink alcohol I am offended by this clothing-line.
As an Irishwoman who doesn't drink, I say, "Who cares?!" It's no skin off my teeth if Urban Outfitters want to sell the stuff. I don't find them particularly funny and they're definitely overpriced, but it's the company's right to make and sell it. The drunk Irishman is a longstanding and harmless stereotype/charicature.
Your article says St. Patty"s- that's wrong! It is either St. Pat's, St. Patrick's, or even St. Paddy's. The double t is for females !
In Ireland, yes. Here in the U.S., Patty applies to both Patrick and Patricia. It's a nuance of our particular dialect and to most people here it would look misspelled if written with two d's.
First, Native Americans. Now–the Irish. INSANE!
Ireland is a beautiful place, the people are warm hearted, generous, and brave. They have over a thousand year history of being mistreated and subjugated without losing their pride,honor, or sense of humor so green beer and offensive tee shirts once a year is hardly likely to annoy them greatly. But as Americans, with our history of fighting for freedom, equality, and social justice I think that we should be completely outraged! The world may have been laughing at the Irish for centuries, but we shouldn't be part of it.
Oh please get over it!
Question: Why did God invent whiskey? Answer: So the Irish couldn't rule the world!
mike you have way too much free time
It's "St Paddy's", not "St Patty's". Patty is short for Patricia. Paddy is short for Patrick (Padraig). You're not going to see any guys named Patty.
My name is Patrick and I am not Irish. However, my wife is Irish, and I can definitely vouch for the fact that they do enjoy their drinking. Her entire family likes to drink....and yes, their funerals do typically end up in brawls...These are definitely not stereotypes, folks....
Just an idea.... Maybe Rush Limbaugh could be their new CEO?
Um wow, get over it. I'm Irish, Scottish and German, I like to drink. Every year in our town St. Patty's day is a way to make some extra money in the bars....by saling t-shirts, then october comes around and we get similar ones for oktoberfest. It's humor, hell one of my fav is from a local bar for last year's st. patty's day...Drunk is the new Sober.
People need to learn not to get so offended.
Good point about Oktoberfest. Should German's get offended at those celebrations and that merchandise?
What about Cinco de Mayo? Oh, ok, the Mexicans have already done the offended thing with that one.
And Mardi Gras? Do the French or the Catholics get all upset about that?
Seriously, people, we're just Americans looking for an excuse to have a party.
I've never seen Oktoberfest depicting T-shirts German's as drunkards. Or Cinco de Mayo Ts depicting Mexicans as welfare abusing wetbacks. Would those be ok?
I have mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand, it sucks that white people are jumping on the victim bandwagon. On the other, other ethnic groups get a taste of how whiny and annoying they've seemed for decades.
But do big retailers sell Cinco de Mayo shirts depicting Mexicans as wetbacks and welfare abusers? Would it be OK to do that? How about blacks eating watermelon on Black History Month T-shirts? All He## would break loose! So... either we can either make fun of everybody, no holds barred, or stop being so imature.
"While acknowledging that Irish and Irish-Americans "often revel in self-deprecating and blunt humor," the legislators said the apparel represents "a step too far, crossing a line into stereotyping and denigration."
While acknowledging that Irish and Irish-Americans like to drink, it is unfair to point out that they like to drink....hmm makes sense? Right?
Next time you hear a black guy use the "N" word to refer to a friend, I dare you to call him the same and see how he reacts.
If you don't want to be stereotyped as something then don't self promote using a stereotype that you also think degrades you.
Why not spread the wealth? Let's say t-shirts about Black History month with buckets of KFC, watermelons, and cans of Colt .45 all over them?
It would be wrong because it seems as if most blacks would take offense to that. Most Irish are not going to be offended by being portrayed as alcohol lovers who love to brawl. In fact we take a certain pride in it. The ones that don't take pride in it obviously need to drink more.
Urban Outfitters sells nothing but garish rags anyway, by white trash for white trash.
Can we get some Ramadan shirts too?
"Crazy Ali al-Akbar's Demolition Service" A stereotypical Middle Eastern guy in a headscarf with explosives on his chest and sticks of dynamite in each hand
"Support Marriage Equality" A Middle Eastern man holding a sheep that is wearing a bridal veil.
hahahaha!!! I'dbuy ne of those as well!
PEOPLE NEED TO CHILL OUT!
Also.. Urban Outfitters makes these types of products knowing full well this will happen. No letter you write is ever going to change this, they are trying to be stay on the side of controversy. If they wanted to avoid this... they would have.
I happen to think they are brilliant.
The weird thing about this is that the most hilariously politically incorrect people I know are all Irish Americans...
"I'm Irish. Racism is part of my culture."
-Sgt. Gerry Broyle in The Guard (2011)
An Irish guy is angry that someone noticed that Irish people drink a lot?
All Irish guys are angry....And the mor they drink, the angrier they get...Never met a happy Irish drunk..
Also the real offensive part of this article is that the headline refers to it as "St. Patty's" day. A "patty" is a hamburger. If you're going to shorten the name of the day, that's fine, but it should be spelled as "St. Paddy's," as "Paddy" is a shortening of "Padraig," which was later Anglicized to "Patrick." (Before anyone else tries to throw the racism card, "Paddy Wagon" is an offensive term, and it is derogatory to call a group of Irishmen "Paddies," but it is still a proper name)
But, in English, it's "Patrick", and in English, it's "St. Patrick's", and Patty is short for Patrick, so no, nothing offensive there.
I'm a 42 year old Irishman and let me assure you NOBODY in Ireland whose name is Patrick has it shortened to Patty. Some women who are called Patricia may shorten it to Patty however. Here ya go http://paddynotpatty.com/
Enlightening post. Thanks for the tidbits and facts. :)
The association between St Pats Day and drinking is hardly new. This is why pubs in NY, Boston, Baltimore, etc do such business in green BEER every year.
Enough already. If you want stereotypes to end, you need to convince people not to feed them.
I don't think my Irish friends in Ireland would be upset. They'd probably laugh at how stupid the shirts are...and then go on with life.
It is in poor taste. But more than likely, CNN's story has done little more than give them free publicity for their product and help them sell more apparel.
Always after me lucky charms ...
Where are the shirts with Mohammed's face on them?
Is there a national holiday associated with him that everyone enjoys partying on? No? Then what would be the point?
The people who are saying that this is offensive to the Irish is the smallest minority. I have never met an Irishman that has ever been offended by an Irish joke or stereotype.
Now you have.
Yep. Good thing anecdotal exceptions don't really matter.
I've never met one that wasn't. They're also generally very polite people, however, so while they weren't telling you "that's offensive" they WERE thinking "damned foreign b*stard."
Shame on Urban Outfitters for sterotyping the Irish as drunks! That's NEVER been done before. Except by everyone. Forever. How stupid.
If you don't like it, don't buy it. Or wait until it all ends up in the sale bin.
You know that Political Correctness has become complete when the Irish finally complain about negative portrayals.
This is not about bashing the Irish – it's about the fact that Americans have turned St. Patrick's Day into a drunk fest like spring break and Superbowl and being in a fraternity. The people who wear these kinds of things are not denigrating the Irish, they are pointing out they are losers whose greatest hobby is getting s–tfaced. If the Hibernians feel they've been disrespected, maybe they should focus some marketing efforts on Irish issues that don't revolve around green beer.
The entire line of Urban Outfitter is cheaply made clothing from foreign companies and this is just another reason the entire company should go out of business. Though...we should then argue about the "Fighting Irish" mascot too if this is going to offend someone.
I fail to see the problem with, "Irish I Were Drunk". It does properly use the subjunctive, which is rare these days.
Perfect! If I were – so often stated as If I was – enjoyed that post!!!
Where is the connection to blacks or mexis????
The connection to "blacks or mexis" would be that after the English conquered their country, enslaved some of their people, and destroyed their language and their culture, the Irish came to America and were faced with more oppression and racism. NINA signs hung everywhere, for "No Irish Need Apply." They were forced to do demeaning physical labor, if anything, in unfair conditions for unfair compensation.
No the Irish aren't british
I'm not even from that continent and I know that.
Northern Irish is technically British, yes, but not the rest of the country.
And I think YOU'RE confusing Irish with Gaelic. The Gaels are a now-defunct culture, who spoke a now-defunct language. That's why the national language of Ireland is IRISH, not Gaelic.
Gaels, Geats,Goths, Picts, Scots, Jutes, Angles, Celts...who the helI are these people anyway?
Better than living in the most hated country in the world
I miss the Huns
So by that measure, all black people are lazy and great at basketball and dancing, Asians are great at math but not so much at sports, all Hispanics are not only all Mexican, but here illegally, Southerners are all racists, inbred high school dropouts who live in trailer parks, everyone in San Francisco is gay...right?
He's saying, "lighten up."
The vast majority of stereotypes are based in truth. Try to just make up a stereotype and see if it sticks. A stereotype cannot stick unless there is some truth to it.
I agree, I'm Irish as well. It's no different than the masses of people who get drunk on Cinco de Mayo, even though they're not Mexican. Americans (and many other people around the world) celebrate other cultures' holidays as an excuse to get drunk. I don't really see anything wrong with that. After all, it's a "free country" right?
Do tell, then why does everyone from the rest of the world keep coming here? And why do all of the other countries keep accepting our beloved money? And why is it that our movies, television, fashion, and music have permeated pretty much every society on the planet? Oh, and when's the last time a European country fought their own war? (And a skirmish against a couple of ill-equipped Argentinians doesn't count).
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