Staff Ed: St. Patrick’s Day about more than binge drinking

03/15/2018

Happy early St. Patrick’s Day, Duquesne.

Because we are incredibly boring prudes here at The Duke, we wanted to take a moment to remind you all of this one fact before you go out and get wasted this weekend:

St. Patrick’s Day is grossly insensitive and dangerous.

Now breathe. Breathe. Exhale. Please hear us out.

To start, it was not that long ago that the Irish in America were treated like second-class citizens. If you’re fortunate enough to have living grandparents, ask them about the 1960 election. Ask them about the panic over an Irish Catholic running for president. You’ll be shocked. The Irish faced discrimination in employment, housing, you name it, for much of the same reasons that other minorities are discriminated against today.

And don’t get this wrong. We are absolutely not saying that Irish Americans are discriminated against today at the same levels as they were 60 years ago. What we are saying is that treating a day that celebrates an icon of Irish heritage by binge drinking and wearing cheap green trash perpetuates harmful stereotypes from decades ago.

The idea that all Irish are drunks or alcoholics is still unfortunately common. We, as a staff, have personal instances of friends and family joking about being careful what we drink because of our Irish heritage. While it’s easy to brush those encounters off, dealing with a loss of trust because of presumptions of irresponsibility are substantially more biting. So you can see how a day totally dedicated to perpetuating that stereotype is, at the very least, insensitive.

Not only that, but St. Patrick’s Day “celebrations” typically don’t amount to anything more than getting as drunk as possible. Beyond being the patron saint of Ireland, and maybe the whole snake thing, St. Patrick is just an abstraction, to Americans, and he certainly doesn’t garner the type of reverence actual Irish people afford him to the average Joe going to the bar.

Putting all of that sticky cultural stuff aside, just the way Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day can make one’s skin crawl. We honestly can’t believe we have to write this, but drinking to the brink of blacking out is seriously dangerous. It compromises your ability to make decisions, leaves you vulnerable and you can seriously injure or maim yourself.

Instead, here are some quick tips for those who still want to celebrate but want some advice: set limits for yourself, use the buddy system, don’t go to places you aren’t familiar with and have a contingency plan to get home.

So this Saturday, feel free to celebrate and learn about a great cultural figure, one that has a special significance to the Duquesne community. Just maybe cut back on the Guinness and try some soda bread or corned beef instead.

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