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The Boston Globe took down an opinion piece from its website in which the writer called for waiters to “tamper” with the food of Trump administration officials.
The article, titled “Keep Kirstjen Nielsen unemployed and eating Grubhub over her kitchen sink,” was written by Luke O’Neil — a former waiter and current freelance writer, who has contributed to multiple publications, including The Globe, The Guardian, The New York Times, and others, according to Fox News.
The original version of the story — which was first edited for “tone” and later unpublished — began: “One of the biggest regrets of my life is not pissing in Bill Kristol’s salmon.”
“I was waiting on the disgraced neoconservative pundit and chief Iraq War cheerleader about 10 years ago at a restaurant in Cambridge and to my eternal dismay, some combination of professionalism and pusillanimity prevented me from appropriately seasoning his entrée. A ramekin of blood on the side might have been the better option, come to think of it, he always did seem really thirsty for the stuff.”
Kristol is the founder and former editor-in-chief of the now defunct conservative publication The Weekly Standard.
O’Neil concluded the original version of his story by encouraging wait staff to “tamper” with Trump officials’ food, according to The Daily Wire.
“As for the waiters out there, I’m not saying you should tamper with anyone’s food, as that could get you into trouble. You might lose your serving job. But you’d be serving America. And you won’t have any regrets years later,” the columnist wrote.
After receiving significant blowback, The Globe edited the story, explaining with a note at the top, “A version of this column as originally published did not meet Globe standards and has been changed. The Globe regrets the previous tone of the piece.”
— Steve Robinson (@BigSteve207) April 11, 2019
The lede paragraph no longer mentioned “pissing in” Kristol’s salmon, but instead read that one of the biggest regrets in O’Neil’s life was “serving Bill Kristol salmon and not telling the neoconservative pundit and chief Iraq War cheerleader what I really thought about him.”
Likewise, the final paragraph no longer suggested tampering with Trump officials’ food, but instead exhorted, “And when they show up in our restaurants, you have my permission, as an official member of the mainstream media, to tell them where to go and what they can do with themselves when they arrive there, but, you know, said in a more specific and traditional Boston colloquialism.”
Shirley Leung — interim Globe editorial page editor, who presumably had at least some role in approving O’Neil’s Op-Ed — tweeted a link to the original version on her personal Twitter account.
Leung is also a news contributor for Boston Public Radio station WGBH.
The link for O’Neil’s story no longer works.
One reason may be that the piece potentially crossed the line from protected free speech to advocating harm against government officials.
Michele Blood, writing for The Federalist, noted freedom of speech is not an absolute right.
“The concern with O’Neil’s piece goes beyond his arguable incitement to possible threats against a sitting governmental official,” she explained. “The article as a whole, sandwiched by the personal introductory anecdote and the ending word-of-advice, suggests that it is entirely appropriate — even laudable — to express your political opinions through violence.”
O’Neil responded to the controversy on Twitter with a non-apology apology Wednesday evening before eventually locking his account.
“I would like to apologize for my commentary regarding the warden of the baby jail,” he tweeted in an apparent reference to Nielsen.
Mediaite included a screen shot of another O’Neil tweet, in which he wrote, “In the infamously left wing media you can write a op-eds advocating for turning muslim weddings into bloodbaths forever but it you say human right violators or war criminals deserve a pube on their salad its over the line.”