2003-03-15 / Editorial/Opinion

The Jokes Are No Longer Funny

There is a joke that Irish people often tell about themselves. It goes something like, "Why did God create alcohol?" The punch line is "To keep the Irish from ruling the world." That joke, which is both racist and insulting, is no longer funny, especially here in Rockaway in the wake of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Once again, the parade was a wonderful paean to Irish heritage and Irish pride. The bagpipes skirled and the "wearing of the green" became the order of the day, even for those who are not Irish the other 364 days of the year. Once again, it was the hours after the parade, long after the parade had ended and the honors had been given that marred the day. One of the places noted by police as a problem was the Rockaway Rugby Clubhouse, where 1,000 revelers gathered. Police say that there were as many as 50 underage drinkers in the clubhouse, there was marijuana use and there was a fight on the street right outside that brought four arrests. In defense, officials of the club told The Wave, "There was underage drinking and fights in every bar in Rockaway" on St. Patrick’s Day. It was said as if that were a normal occurrence. Perhaps it is, and therein lies the problem. It is sad but true that there was underage drinking and fights in many of the bars and pubs in Rockaway that Saturday evening. Unfortunately, the underage drinking, the drug use, the fights are accepted on St. Patrick’s Day as part of the festivities both by those who own the bars and by the public at large and not only in the Irish community. It is seen by some as a "rite of passage." We think that is wrong. Perhaps it is time for the community that condones those activities to step foward and take a closer look at the ramifications of allowing such behavior on the part of its children, even if it is only once each year. There was a time that the Manhattan St. Patrick’s Day Parade was known for the same kind of activities. A crackdown by the police and by the community itself has greatly reduced such activity in Manhattan. Perhaps, it is time for Rockaway to follow suit.

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