Drink all the beer you want, don’t make fun of the Irish on St. Paddy’s Day

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Column by Ash Kelly.
Column by Ash Kelly.

About the worst way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to drink green beer, Guinness or whiskey while telling incredibly narrow-minded jokes about Irish people.

I think I have a pretty good sense of humour, but as an Irish Canadian I find it hard to swallow jokes like “How many potatoes does it take to kill an Irishman? Zero,” because the potato famine of 1847 killed an estimated 8,000 Irish people. Those who survived were forced out of their country in what amounted to an exodus of an entire people from their homeland.

The most insulting depiction of Irish people I saw this past week was the viral cartoon “Irish Yoga” which depicted a group of drunken people in green garb passed out in painfully awkward positions. In what world is perpetuating stereotypes of an entire nation of people acceptable?

Derogatory jokes shouldn’t be acceptable 

In 2009, an Irish Health Board survey showed that 54 per cent of Irish people engaged in dangerous drinking habits. Statistics suggest over 100,000 Irish children are affected by alcoholism in their households.

It’s no secret that Irish people have been plagued with social issues such as alcoholism, domestic violence and poverty. It’s no longer acceptable to make derogatory jokes about other ethnicities that have faced similar problems in the past, so when is it going to become unacceptable to make these comments on Irish societal issues?

I can stomach the ignorance expressed in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations across North America towards ‘ol Paddy himself, but I can’t stomach the blatant bigotry expressed by people at this time of year.

I can’t laugh at the expense of an entire nation facing an epidemic of substance abuse. Drink all the crappy green beer you want, but think twice before you post some lame one-liner about “Irish Yoga” or drunken potato farmers.

Reported by Ash Kelly

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