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This past weekend, Boston's mayor, Thomas Menino, was having a leisurely stroll with his wife along Boston's historic Newbury Street when the window display of the Hub Niketown store caught his eye. Nike t-shirts featuring such slogans as "Get High" and "Dope" (sporting the image of a pill bottle) were prominently displayed, exploiting obvious double-entendre opportunities.
Well, Mayor Menino is having none of it. He fired off a missive to Nike complaining, "Your window display of T-shirts with drugs and profanity wordplay are out of keeping with the character of Boston's Back Bay... not to mention common sense." Citing a fine line between "edgy and stupid," the mayor said the shirts are promoting drug use, and suggested the public boycott Nike, which is like suggesting that people not eat at McDonald's.
The mayor is doing what any conscientious mayor would do, and with recent reports of cocaine being cut with a flesh-rotting veterinarian's drug called levamisole, for example, the message being sent is an important one. But I'll go out on a limb and say that the likely target demo of the t-shirts — skateboarding stoners — will probably not be heeding the mayor's suggested boycott. Nike issued a statement saying that they don't condone the use of illegal substances, and that the t-shirts are part of an "action sports campaign." So far, the Niketown store continues to display the shirts, and the mayor is going to have a tough time making a legal case for subliminal messages, if it comes to that.