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March 13, 2014

In Our Opinion: Bar's online post crossed the line

The Daily Star

---- — We’re not naive enough to get outraged about the fact that some local college kids did some pretty heavy drinking recently to celebrate “St. Oney’s Day.” 

Nor is there anything wrong with local bars capitalizing on this made-up holiday, which sprang up a few years ago when the State University College at Oneonta had the temerity to schedule a spring break that coincided with St. Patrick’s Day. 

The Red Jug Pub declaring itself the St. Oney’s Day “headquarters,” and offer green beer, corned beef sandwiches and drink specials? That’s just a smart business decision. 

As a bar owner, it’s a fine line between encouraging your patrons to have fun, and veering into the territory of promoting excessive drinking. 

Sharing an image on Instagram that read, “Me blacking out when I’m drunk is God’s way of telling me that what I do when I drink is none of my business,” and calling it “a St. Oney’s Day poster”?

That’s crossing the line. 

In fact, it may be crossing a legal line. Oneonta Police Chief Dennis Nayor told The Daily Star he thought the post was potentially prohibited, and that he was planning to contact the state liquor authority about it. 

Whether it is illegal or not, it’s certainly irresponsible. From a quick survey of the “#stoneysday” hashtag on Instagram and Twitter, our local students don’t need too much encouragement when it comes to excessive drinking. What they could probably use is someone encouraging them to be safe and responsible. 

We’re not naive enough to think that one picture on Instagram is going to make an appreciable difference in how hundreds of college students behave. Certainly none of the 36 people who clicked “like” on the photo were previously unaware of the concept of being blackout drunk. 

But if students aren’t mature enough to know their own limits, someone else has to do it for them. 

Common Council member Dave Rissberger said the longer he looked at the Instagram post, the angrier he became. 

“As a parent,” Rissberger said, “it gives me the impression that my kid or a friend of mine could go into that bar and drink until they can’t breathe, and no one in that bar is going to do a damn thing about it.”

And what seems outrageous to Rissberger probably sounds like an open invitation to a good time to some students. 

While some people (including some who have commented on The Daily Star’s website) have a “kids will be kids” attitude about St. Oney’s Day, we don’t just have to accept irresponsible behavior in our community — or from our local businesses. We can speak out against it, and demand better from everyone involved.