St. Patrick would be offended, too

Posted: March 15, 2012

When someone keeps commiting offensive acts, but apologizes afterward each time, is he really sorry?

That question arises in the case of Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters, which again is selling apparel that offends a particular segment of American society. This time, again, it's Irish Americans, who are stereotypically depicted on T-shirts and other items Urban Outfitters hopes to sell to St. Patrick's Day revelers.

It's a shame that an event that for the better part of 1,000 years was observed solely as a religious holiday that began in Ireland has become for too many people little more that an excuse for bawdy behavior. But that development shouldn't be seen as an opportunity to disparage the Irish people.

In a joint statement, Barry Morrison, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, and Timothy Wilson, chairman of the local Irish Anti-Defamation Federation, have asked Urban Outfitters to stop selling products that include a tanktop that reads "I Wish I Were Drunk" and a cap that says "Irish Yoga" with a stick drawing of a man regurgitating.

"At a time when our population is ever more diverse, Urban Outfitters should have the common sense and use better judgment than to continue to tread on the identity of groups that make America the most diverse country in the world," said the statement.

This isn't the first time the ADL has asked Urban Outfitters to cease and desist. In 2003, the stores were selling T-shirts that read "Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl," with dollar signs surounding the text. That same year, Urban Outfitters sold "Ghettopoly" games, which included pimps, "hos," and crack houses.

In 2004, Urban Outfitters sold underwear-clad Dress-Up Jesus dolls that could be magnetically clothed in a hula skirt or devil's suit. In 2005, it sold a "New Mexico Cleaner Than Regular Mexico" T-shirt. In 2006, it sold an "Erin Go F- Yourself" T-shirt for St. Patrick's Day, which was the same year it sold imitation handgun ornaments for Christmas.

In 2007, it sold the Anti-War Scarf, which resembled the keffiyah headdress worn by Arab men. In 2008, it sold T-shirts showing a Palestinian boy with a gun and the word "Victimized" below him.

Almost every time, Urban Outfitters has apologized and stopped selling offensive items, though typically only after the stock on its shelves had been sold. Often hailed as a good corporate citizen, this company should put conscience before profits when it comes to offending people.

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