MEDIA BIAS: Is St. Patrick's Day under attack in Chicago?

St. Patrick's Day is under attack by the media and the City of Chicago. Is anti-Catholic bigotry the cause? Photo: AP

CHICAGO, Illinois March 17, 2013 – It was a media tale of two parades: One drunk and Irish. The other one gay and full of pride.

CBS2 Chicago has been reporting on the lead-up to the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Actually, they haven’t been reporting on the festivities much as they have been attacking them.

The focus of CBS’ reporting?

Chicago’s Southside Irish parade Credit: Tribune

Chicago’s new zero tolerance policy for “drunks” at the Southside Irish Parade. The anti-Irish slurs were a prelude to almost every one of CBS’ media reports.

“The Southside Irish parade steps off after a three year hiatus – the parade returned last year with a zero tolerance policy for drunks. Organizers say to expect the same crackdown this year,” reported CBS reporter Mai Martinez with thinly veiled contempt.  

“This is about the neighborhood. It’s about families coming together celebrating their heritage, their community, their faith,” said an Irish parade organizer, taking a defensive tone.

“But for years the parade was known for its rowdy drunken revelers which led organizers to pull the plug for three years,” said Martinez.

Martinez added that this year even harsher penalties have been implemented.

“Adults drinking in public within 800 feet of the parade will face fines ranging from $500 to $1000 or up to six months in jail. Those caught urinating in public will face similar fines and possible jail time.”

So, if you believe the media, the Irish are just a bunch of dumb drunks who urinate on public sidewalks.

Is this more hate-based ethnic stereotyping? Or perhaps it is a veiled attack on the Catholic Church – St. Patrick’s Day being a part of that proudly ingrained Irish Catholic tradition.

Yet the Southside Irish parade with its dancing leprechauns, tiny Trinity Irish dancers, and kilt-wearing bagpipers is tame fare compared to the drunkenness and lewd acts on display at Chicago’s annual Gay Pride Parade.

Every year, thousands of people line-up along expanding parade routes in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood to cheer on semi-nude parade participants – not parade-goers – gyrating on floats bearing crude political messages like “Big Dicks, Small Government,” (on the Log Cabin Republicans’ float), bikini-clad women flash their breasts at a crowd filled with families, and men in thongs wearing dog collars.

Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade

By parade’s end, piles of empty bottles and beer cans litter the streets and then there’s the drug use and public sex.    

That doesn’t stop politicians of both parties, and families with children from attending or participating. Yes, children walk in the parades too – alongside of the guys in thongs.

But did CBS mention any of these issues in its coverage of Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade in 2012?

No. Instead, CBS reporters fawned over the Chicago Gay Pride Parade’s increasingly wild popularity.

“Big changes are in store for Chicago’s pride parade this Sunday that Derek just told you about. It’s all because the parade has become so popular,” cooed reporter Susan Carlson in her 2012 report.

Richard Pfeifer, a Gay Pride Parade coordinator, served as field reporter for the segment.

“Richard Pfeifer is the parade coordinator and he joins us live from the route at Belmont and Broadway. Richard, this is an amazing parade. What do you attribute the popularity to?”

“I think the fact at LBGT issues have been in the media for the last year. The repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell.” The issue of same sex marriage. I think that it has brought out not just more gay people. But it’s brought out a lot of our friends, our allies, our relatives, our co-workers – they come out and support us on parade day,” said Pfeiffer.

CBS also included a report on top places for last minute pride parade outfits.

That begs the question: why did the City of Chicago single out the Southside Irish parade alone?  The city has yet to target Puerto Rican Fest or post-Bud Billiken parade celebrations for public drinking, public urination, and, in the case of the Gay Pride Parade, add public nudity, sex, and drug use to the list.

Second City Cop, a top Chicago police blog, has questioned whether the tougher fines being imposed on the Irish parade will apply to all city parades. 

The uncensored comments from police are revealing:

 “Of course this SHOULD apply to all parades, but it WON’T apply. At least not to BUD BILLIKEN (aka BUD KILLAGAIN). Because that’s 10x worse than the Southside Irish parade ever was, but no one reports on it because that would be racist,” complained one commenter.

 “Can’t wait to see how all this fits into the Bud Fest and of course the “Pride” Parade……….But the rules & charges will be different,” another commentator chimed in.

 “Worked all of them… None worse than the Pride parade,” said another comment.

In a recent interview with, Ald. Tom Tunney, an openly gay Chicago alderman, said he was not worried about the new fines for the Irish parade being used to impose the same atmosphere at the annual Gay Pride Parade.

Not worried? So are the standards subjective? Is St. Patrick’s Day under attack?

Other ethnic communities have also been targeted by the city.

Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel cancelled Columbus Day and Pulaski Day for Chicago public school children. The Polish and Italian American communities – both strong Catholic communities - protested the cancellation but to no avail. Consequently, media outlets reported that attendance at the Columbus Day Parade was low.

I grew up on Chicago’s Southside. The middle-class Irish enclaves of Beverly and Mount Greenwood are still intact. Catholic churches are still filled to the brim on Sundays with families. Scores of Irish pubs still dot the streets with funny names like Cork & Kerry and Horse Thief Hollow where people gather for laughs and a good pint. Heritage still means something.

This is the refuge of the generations of Chicago police officers and firemen that call this home. It is an honorable life fighting Chicago’s many demons – but it is not an easy one.

Every year, those that are Irish – and Irish in spirit – look forward to celebrating the Southside Irish parade. It is an institution. It is our heritage. It deserves – no demands - respect.

 If we don’t stand up for our heritage, who will?


Thank you to for encouraging me to put this piece in its true context. 

William J. Kelly is an Emmy award-winning TV producer and conservative columnist. He is also a contributor to the American Spectator and He is a native from Chicago’s Southside.

Email questions to him at Find him on Facebook/WilliamjpkellyRead more of Bill Kelly’s Truth Squad in The Communities at the Washington Times

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William Kelly


Conservative commentator, satirist, and radio talk show host William J. Kelly pens the “Kelly Truth Squad” and “The Tea Party Report” for the Washington Times Communities and is a contributor to the American Spectator and Kelly is also a producer of Emmy award-winning TV and received an Emmy nomination himself for outstanding achievement on-camera. He was previously the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois, a taxpayer watchdog group. He is a native of Chicago’s South side. For more information, visit

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