Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston, has now acknowledged he screwed up when he threatened Chick-Fil-A when they explored opening a location in Union Street, across the street from City Hall and from Faneuil Hall. Chick-Fil-A supports organizations rallying against same-sex marriage.
Menino, interviewed by the Boston Herald on July 19, had originally blustered:
“Chick-Fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-Fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail. If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies.”
After threatening to withhold a license, Menino sent a letter to Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy, stating:
“I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it. I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston.”
Menino also fired off a letter to the landlord who would have rented to Chick-Fil-A, warning him.
But yesterday, Menino, under fire from civil rights advocates for his avowed suppression of free speech, backtracked, saying, “I can’t do that. That would be interference to his rights to go there.” He whined, “Yes, people have criticized me, I understand that. But I have feelings ... I have my First Amendment rights also. I’m expressing them. I make mistakes all the time. That’s a Menino-ism.”
It’s one thing to express yourself, Mr. Mayor; it’s another to shut down those who disagree with you. To paraphrase Johnny Paycheck, take those feelings and shove them.