Urban Outfitters merchandise, mostly consisting of t-shirts but also including hats and pint glasses, has offended yet another ethnic group.
President Seamus Boyle of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, the country's largest Irish-American association, has written an angry letter and web post demanding that much of the store's stock of Saint Patrick's Day wares be removed and encouraging members to send a letter to Urban Outfitters president Richard Hayne demanding an apology and threatening a boycott.
The offending items include a trucker hat with a stick figure on all fours vomiting shamrocks that reads "Irish Yoga," pint glasses stamped with a Venn diagram depicting leprechauns as the product of "Ireland" and "Alcohol," a growler labeled "Leprechaun Piss," and t-shirts emblazoned with shamrocks accompanied by logos such as, "Irish Drunk," and "I'm a Drinker, Not a Fighter."
"We need to get this defamation stopped immediately. Please call, email or demonstrate in front of their stores," Boyle wrote on the Hibernians' website. "Here is all the information I have. Please distribute it and use it so we can get what I asked for in my letter: Remove all the offending material from all stores and issue a public apology to the Irish people."
He then posted Hayne's business contact information, as well as the address of the company's Navy Yard headquarters and a copy of the letter he sent to Hayne. It reads, in part:
"... it is with great displeasure that I must write to you and ask that you 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.
"...There are those few who use this day as an excuse to over celebrate but that does not give you or anyone else the right to defame and debase a whole race of people by selling the garbage that you display in your stores.
"...If this is the way you must make your money by debasing a whole race of people I can assure you that with over 40 million people in this country claiming Irish ancestry they will not be your customers after this display of arrogance and disrespect to a whole nation.
"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. ..."
Urban Outfitters has a fairly extensive history of similar controversies: the company removed the word "Navajo" from over 20 product descriptions – including a flask and panties – in Oct. 2011 after an outcry from the Navajo Nation that the label was culturally insensitive and illegal, as the government authority has trademarked the term.
Urban discontinued a t-shirt reading "Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl," surrounded by dollar signs in 2003 after pressure from the Anti-Defamation League and stopped manufacturing glittery handgun-shaped Christmas tree ornaments in 2007 following the fatal shooting of Philadelphia police officer Chuck Cassidy.
The company issued an apology in 2007 for marketing keffiyehs as "antiwar" scarves and did the same in 2008 after discontinuing a t-shirt with a Palestinian youth holding a machine gun over the word "Victimized." In 2010, Urban Outfitters pulled a shirt reading "Eat Less" from their website after an outcry from eating disorder advocates.