Menino To Niketown: Take Down Controversial T-Shirt Display

BOSTON (CBS) – Mayor Tom Menino doesn’t like Niketown’s new window display at its Newbury Street store and he wants it taken down.

Menino said he was walking in the Back Bay with his wife recently and noticed T-shirts in the window with the expressions “Dope,” “Get High,” and “F**k Gravity” on them.

He believes the shirts promote drug use.

“Why would a national organization do that? Except to try stoop to the lowest common denominator to get people to buy their t-shirts,” the mayor told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Tuesday.

WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve reports

“They should be out educating our young people about the damage drugs do to you. But in their windows on Newbury Street, they’re promoting the issue of drugs.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

The mayor wrote a letter to the store’s general manager, asking her to remove the shirts from the window.

“Your window display of T-shirts with drug and profanity wordplay are out of keeping with the character of Boston’s Back Bay,” the letter read. “We urge you to remove them.

“Should your company decide to take more seriously the issue of drug abuse, Boston has several nation-leading programs that may be of interest.”

Read: Menino’s Letter (.pdf)

In a statement to WBZ-TV, Nike said:

“These t-shirts are part of an action sports campaign, featuring marquee athletes using commonly used and accepted expressions for performance at the highest level of their sport, be it surfing, skateboarding or BMX.  Nike does not condone the use of banned or illegal substances.”

Menino said the money spent on the campaign should be put it into drug prevention programs instead.

  • Italo

    Menino, please get real. I am so tired of society playing victim and blaming other people’s actions or communications for those choices that people decide to choose to follow. Nike explained the reasoning and the lingo behind its campaign. This is why so-called big American cities wanting to play up there with the big boys, like Boston, will never make it, and will only play little sibling to huge cosmopolitan centers like New York–the old 19th century mentality of smallmindedness. I’d like to see Menino go after more important problems than ad campaigns that he misreads, or even put more of his $$ where his mouth is and therefore go show that he is effectively going on the offensive by strengthening programs to help those people who are truly addicted and need counseling or outreach.

    • Ellen

      Italo, agree 100 per cent, but I am beginning to think that Menino loves to be on the nightly news and see his name in the Boston newspapers. Let’s face it he’s all over the place like fleas on a dirty dog.

      • John

        I hope all you new-found lefty free speech advocates felt just as outraged when cities were forced to remove billboards correctly pointing out that black babies are aborted at a much higher rate than whites.

        In December 2010, New York’s health department released figures that almost 60% of black pregnancies resulted in abortion. The rate was 41% for all pregnancies. Nationally, according to the Guttmacher Institute, black women get 30% of abortions even though blacks make up only 13% of the population. In Georgia, black women get 58% of abortions. This makes Georgia the leading state for black abortions.

        But I know you weren’t…left-wing hypocrites.

      • Papo Casey

        John, its ignorance like yours as to why this country is in shambles. Everything does not come down to left or right politics. Go find a Chuck E. Cheese and leave the discussion about current events to the adults who can handle having a mature exchange of ideas.

      • headlessjester

        John actually brought up a good point about the “free speech” hypocrisy, your reply was typical ad hominem.

      • Matt

        Well, headlessjester, if you’re going to be pointing out logical fallacy, maybe you should consider that John’s “point” is a strawman argument. The people or person who decided to take down a particular billboard does not speak for all people of a particular political belief.

    • Beez

      Both Menino and Nike can be wrong. The mayor should be above this – but seriously, Nike isn’t as “clever” as they like to think.

      • grooper

        They’re clever enough to get you and a dummy of a mayor to talk about it.

    • Francis

      Mayor,’s time would be better spent trying to get Nike to move one of thier third world factories to Boston to provide some jobs for kids that they are selling those $100+ sneakers to.

      • artemis133

        Very true. Nike, and every other company that’s abandoned the U.S. and its population.

    • k.diggs

      THe problem is that you BELIEVED Nike, when they are obviously LYING. Either you are STUPID or a liberal which I know is an oxymoron. But “Get High” doesn’t have more than one connotation, unless they are playing to the “skydiving” crowd.

      • Sport

        What about Runner’s high? Rock climbing? Hiking mountains? Hitting baseballs? Kicking footballs?

      • Frankie

        When was the last time you ever heard anyone use the phrase “Get High” in reference to an adrenaline rush?

      • Kbell

        Adrenaline maybe? Ever think of that? As in get high off of working out or some type of release of energy. Good god… Talk about narrow minded.

      • sam

        To anyone who has played basketball in the last 10 years the connotations are obvious. “Get High” means to jump high, to get high in the air. If someone is “dope” they’re good, ie a good shooter would be “dope”. It’s all basketball street slang and Nike is trying to connect with people who use it to sell their products; it is just good marketing.

      • Conan The Republican

        KBELL, STFU, you simp

      • Troll Hunter

        k diggs, you are a DOPE. “Get High” and “F**k Gravity” are commonly used by skaters and BMX riders to mean: escape gravity, get more air, get higher off the ground. Having more than one meaning allows for an Edgy Attitude. You know, like “Rocky Mountain High” is the Colorado State song, with their higher elevation and all. Just like “Get Stoned” could mean throw rocks at me.

    • starzzguitar

      Oh, this major is SO UNCOOL, and all you slackers are SO COOL. Wow, “Get High”, what’s wrong with that? Nike got what they wanted, publicity, and like, wow, they are SO COOL.

    • jess

      Mr. Mayor,

      If Nike shirts can convince the people in your city to do something, you have bigger problems than what they print on the Tshirt.

  • Ed Hall

    Someone needs to remind Menino that he was only elected mayor, not dictator. He should keep his big mumbling mouth shut!

    • Splooshswoosh

      Your OPINION has been noted

    • Andrew L

      The man does have a right to his own opinion. Just like you, or should you just keep your big mouth shut?

      • Anon

        Stating he doesn’t like them and telling them to take them down are two different things.

      • Splooshswoosh

        Your opinion has been noted too, pathetic loser.

      • Otto

        Dude – Mumbles is the Mayor, and was speaking as Mayor… and although I did not see the letter was likely on city stationary. Bravo for your keen insight that the man has a right to his opinion… just like anyone else here he has a right to his personal opinion. As Mayor, this fool has been an embarrassment to the City for decades (Varitek splits the uprights…)… so you like the idiot – that is OK…. there are a loit of fools like you that voted for him… but when he uses City Hall clout to force his personal opinion on a company acting in a legal way… that is the definition of corruption. Time for him to stop the stammering… and as someone else said, make Boston a place attractive to business, rather than a threatening, corrupt, expensive place to be.

      • Jaclyn

        The mayor gets high on power so what is the difference between the two?

    • mirted

      I applaud the Mayor’s stance on this. The shirts are probably made in Viet Nam, just like their shoes, with $1/hr. labor (or less) and most of the money going to local
      party members.

      Anyone who thinks drugs are cool need to experience having their children on drugs and enjoy that pleasure. High on drugs, or alcohol, or whatever, there’s a lot more pain to a culture than pleasure to the individual. Go ahead, tune in and turn on. Just don’t make me pay for your healthcare and unemployment.

      • Rocco

        mirted – if the T-shirts were to made in Vietnam, what the hell does it have to do with displaying in the US? You clowns are a bunch of moron. It’s a competitive world if Vietnam’s laborers are cheap, why the hell not use them! The quality is same if not better. Marijuana is being puffed/smoked everyday in SanFrancisco, why can’t one display just wordings on any T-shirts? PS, Nike is referring to jump high anyway-not damned get high in a sense of drug. Northerner politicians are a bunch of….you know what I am about to say!

    • Joseph Lobosco

      Nike may have the legal right to sell the T-shirts but they are pretty dumb if they don’t think that they promote drug use.

      • r4nr

        Dude, it promotes running as an alternate activity to drug use. Don’t be so dense…

      • LTCB

        4rnr, you’re obviously not a high school graduate. Take English again. You might try some social studies too while you’re at it. The Mayor is within his “rights” to express his opinion regarding their store display. He’s also within his “rights” and “duties” to express displeasure at their totally rediculous and feeble attempt to claim this isn’t about drug use and doesn’t promote drug use. You’re from the zombie class of citizens who don’t understand what’s going on or what the Constitution even means.

    • dolores

      …and the envelope has been pushed so far that few people know what moral correctness is, but they sure know about “political correctness.” Our kids are subjected to so much garbage that no shots will have to be fired to undermine this country. We are allowing it to happen from within and your comment verifies this theory.

  • Thomas Hood

    Just because the Mayor is out of touch and ignorant of current vernacular doesn’t mean the store’s right to commerce as it sees fit should be interfered with. I suppose he thinks being “hip” has something to do with joints and therefore is also a drug reference.

    • Andrew L

      The mayor wrote a letter, and he did not create a new law. How is he interfering with commerce? Get over it.

      • Oguillory

        …if the Mayor is not interfering in commerce,..then what was the point of sending the letter, on city letterhead, under the authority and power of the mayor’s office..? You do not seem to understand the relationship between the exercise of legitimate authority, and the intrusion of power-based abuthority in whcih government officals use their office and position to “encourage” a citizen to comply. For example, if the Mayor is not prepared to make an issue out of the t-shorts, why did he write the letter in the first place?

        It is not the Mayors job to critique marketing examples of shoe stores,..nor in reality to prevent grown adults from comsuming anything they would like to put in their bodies,… again is a t-shirt, or t-shirt display,….how agan is that a legitimate issue for the Mayor to inflict himself on the operator?


        RJ O’Guillory

      • Justin


        Oquillory hit the nail on the head. By using his office to “encourage” he is interfering with commerce.

        If was Nike, I would double the display.

    • Roop

      Do Cigarette companies or distributors have a right to commerce? Where’s the cries of foul play and government interference regarding the new legislature that is going to go in effect where pictures of people who died of cancer have to be posted on packs of smokes?

      • Justin

        This is over the top and way beyond what is in the right of our government. Cigarette companies should refuse and then sue the hell out of the responsible government entities.

  • Mark

    What ever happened to freedom of speech/expression. Our right to free speech was not concieved to protect forms of expression that promote things that are generally agreeable. This right was concieved to protect more radical viewpoints, and to protect those people who hold views society might condemn. Nike has every right to display these shirts, and its not the positions of some single man with a little bit of authority to say otherwise.

    I definitely think there was meant to be some connection between sports vernacular and drug vernacular, because those kinds of things certainly sell. But that should make no difference to Nikes ability to display it. Mayor, if you dont like it, dont look at it and dont buy it. If you really believe that a NIke t-shirt is going to be the reason that some kid or adult tries drugs, then you have a very ignorant and shortseighted view of the factors that play into drug use and experimentation. You think Nikes money should be devoted towards stopping drugs? How about you stop wasting your time writing them emails and use your time to do the same.

    • Alpha

      What ever happened to freedom of speech/expression?

      Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should. That’s just a sign of low class.

    • David

      The mayor is not infringing on freedom of expression by asking a vendor to reconsider an add campaign. He is expressing his own freedom. With all of that said, the mayor should find better things to do. Fighting with Nike over tongue-in-cheek tshirts is a waste of time.

      • Mike

        The mayor is entitled to his opinion – nothing more. Who elected him to be advertising police? A perfect example of an idiot political hack deciding to stick his nose into something well outside his role. But aren’t the folks in Mass. used to the government being the begin all end all for their comrades?

      • cjwarnke

        In reply to Mike:

        You are an example of what is wrong in this country. He has EVERY right to express his OPINION in any way he wishes. If he wants to go through the proper processes as a private citizen and demonstrate in front of that store he can.

        This is his right as a citizen.

        He would only be stepping over the line if, in his official capacity, he tried to create rules or mandates against this. THAT would be infringing on the rights of Nike.

        Get a clue and get educated. Freedom of speech works BOTH ways.

    • US in Iraq

      there are limits to freedom of speech in a commercial setting. you should do some research before you start spouting off about constitutional rights. Nike should know this more than any other company, one of the major cases regarding commercial freedom of speech involves Nike. in reality its just trashy advertising in the end – not clever, but lazy.

    • Snipe

      freedom of speech was intended to allow for free discourse concerning the government and how it was operating or failing to operate it was never intended to allow marketers to yammer endlessly without thought of how they were impacting the society around them.

      If you want to criticize the government you should be able to in any form or fashion you wish… but if you want to sell shoes, well then you need to act according to some simple standards of conduct….

      • Not Quixote

        And who becomes the judge of whether or not they have acted appropriately? You? There’s one judgement. Spike Lee?…Hmmm, there’s a different result. No…freedom of speech except in the case of the “‘fire’ in a crowded theater” scenario extends beyond political discourse.
        Further, the mayor’s opinion that Nike, a free enterprise, should be spending money on drug prevention is just another sterling example of the myopia of public officials. Since they are government workers they completely lose sight of the reality that capitalism and FREEDOM make this country work. Were we all government workers (since it seems we’re headed that directions)…what a disaster. Ask Greece.

      • KJ

        Not quite correct. Freedom of speech applies to all speech, regardless of its cleverness or lack of taste, and government’s prophilactic actions on that speech. What is clearly misunderstood about the Constitution is that the guarantees written there are aimed at preventing all governmental interference but NOT non-governmental actions. As a result, you can be fired from your job for saying something that the government cannot hold you liable for criminally or civilly. The mayor’s letter almost certainly would have the appearance of governmental interference in free speech and as such would be prohibited.

  • elizabeth crannage

    love mayor menino–after 911, he kept our city and our harbors safe-and personally stood up to very dangerous elements, while a few others ran away,until they could see where the political shoe woulf fall.

    • lensmanct

      Was he standing by the harbor holding an Uzi? Which “dangerous elements” did he stand up to?

    • cookie

      I agree. He also has standards and I am stunned that others do not.

      • Boston Mike

        That’s right, he kept it safe from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force. He is a big dummy, and has overstayed his welcome.

      • Mike

        So his “standards” need to be everyone’s “standards”? You also think the government hacks know better than you do-right?

    • CelticsPatsRedsoxandBostonsuck

      Umm, what city did many of those flights take off from?

    • RickBooker

      What kind of drugs are YOU on?

  • lensmanct

    It’s a safe bet that if this were a “minority owned” store, Menino would not have said a word. By the way…this is in Massachusetts, a state that Decriminalized marijuana… so what’s the big deal. You can’t have it both ways.

  • Dee

    This isn’t about freedom of speech, it’s about the right thing to do. These t-shirts send a very wrong message to young people and Nike should take responsibility for the messages they’re sending. Being ‘hip’, getting with today’s vernacular or being ‘cool’ is the opposite end of the spectrum from being a grown up.

    The mayor should be commended for caring about the crude language and references to doing drugs on the shirts, and parents should be emailing Nike with their outrage.

    • Marbran

      Making a statement is one thing; writing a letter to the store manager asking that the shirts be taken down is government over-stepping. Why is it that our politicians immediately forget the Constitution once they are elected? Obviously because of their power trip. We do not elect kings; we elect citizen representatives.

      • Don

        Marbran – Writing to a store manager and ASKING anything is not overstepping…

        Nike – Shame on you. Shame on you for putting me in a position to agree with the Mayor. I think this is the first time that’s ever happened.

      • Joe Dokes

        Sending in the police to take down the display would be overstepping. Simply asking that the display be taken down is not.

      • Johnny Paul

        What does writing a letter asking that the display be taken down have to do with forgetting the Constitution?

      • Teddy

        Since when do kings ask?

      • Marbran

        I’d like to see the letter. Do you think he wrote, “pretty please, with sugar on top”? My point is that the Mayor should not be getting involved in areas where he has no jurisdiction. He read the t-shirts and shaped Nike’s campaign in terms of his own bias, and then he used his Office to make a statement against Nike. Rightly so, he quickly lost the battle.

      • Donna

        Writing a letter is not overstepping. BUT, writing a letter and then using your power with the press to put pressure on a company IS overstepping. Maybe he could call Uncle Vinny and his thugs next to ‘exert’ some pressure on the shop owner?

      • Snipe

        Overstepping is the state of Massachusetts embracing gun laws that go against the 2nd amendment… but then when you have public schools brainwashing the kids for so long it isn’t a surprise… just a bit of irony that the first shot to gain freedom in the American Revolution was in a state that now seeks to ban guns from the hands of anyone except the state.

    • Donna

      Anyone can read anything into any message as they so choose. Just because your mind chose to interpret these as pro-drug does not mean I do. The second I saw the “Get High” message with the Nike logo, I thought a runner’s high – quite the opposite of promoting drug use, they are promoting the alternative. I suppose you think a shirt that says “Big Balls” is dirty? Maybe to someone who is pre-inclined to think dirty. But not all of us are like that.

      • beth

        Really?? You honestly see no connection to drugs with one shirt saying “Dope” and having a pill bottle spilled over and another saying “get high”?

        You can defend Nike, but be realistic or, at least, not so naive. Nike obviously intended the drug inference because they want to sell to kids who think it’s cool.

        Shame on Nike for acting irresponsibly.

        And, of course, the mayor doesn’t have the right to make Nike take them down (thank goodness), but he can express his opinion and ask

    • Joke's on US

      You’re right. Parents should also not be spending their $ on Nike as long as they have such an idiotic campaign ad going.

  • DJ

    Good to see that the pit in Downtown Crossing is all filled in with flourishing businesses and the shops that are there aren’t fleeing…oh right.

    T-Shirts yes, that’s the priority. Well played Mumbles.

  • Shredderofmass

    Google the words “Menino Hip Hop Roundtable” . I think its really nice that Bosotn gives this mentally handicapped person a chance to be mayor.

    • Al

      well said Fred! I think it is hightime we voted him out of the office.

  • MelAnosis

    What can you expect from a company that didn’t fire Tiger Woods. Maybe they’ll pick up Anthony Weiner since he has much time to play golf now.

    • Ethan F.

      Maybe O’Bama will invite him next time.

  • Herr Stig

    Iszat what he said??? I couldn’t understand him.

  • Ed Hall

    Massachusetts is still controlled by the Puritans.

  • stinky tom

    so called decent society has become so crude and coarse that this qualifies as no big deal

    • Omega 13

      Judging by many of the comments above I agree with you.

  • chocolatechips

    Thank you, Mayor Menino! You did the right thing.

  • Boston mayor not a fan of Nike marketing campaign | Radio Vice Online

    […] Nike’s new marketing campaign – highlighted in the window of Niketown’s Newbury Street store in Boston – is promoting the active lifestyle. But since Nike has put what I would describe as a clever twist on the stupid drug culture, Menino is urging Niketown remove the display and avoid the suggestive wordplay that is “promoting the issue of drugs.” […]

  • disgruntled

    Mr. Mayor,

    If I want to wear one of these tee shirts, eat some junk food with lots of salt, and wash it down with a super-sweet sugary soda, then that is my right.

    Your job is to manage the city of Boston, not to impose your own sense of morality and tell everyone how to live. Mind your own f’n business already!!!

    • LogicalMind


  • TRE

    Communism is so great!!! Let the State make all the decisions, not the almighty dollar.

  • Sports Fan

    “These T-shirts are part of an action sports campaign, featuring marquee athletes using commonly used and accepted expressions for performance at the highest level of their sport, be it surfing, skateboarding or BMX,” the statement said.”

    Well, that explains it. I can hardly wait for a t shirt from the World Pro Coprophagia Tour. Such phrases as “Eat Poop”, “Don’t Wipe” and who could forget, “Spoons are for Sissies” All I can say is Go Nike!!

  • kw

    Nike resides in the Portland Oregon, home of the Right to Die, Weirdness, Medical Marijuanna, the Naked Bike Ride and the Pride Pararde. The company and it’s marketing agents reflect the unseemly array of social decay that permeates the streets. They have lost their MoJo as a leader, stooping to the lowest in order to make that dollar. Shame on them. Our children will be the be the ones that will have to clean their mess up, hopefully wearing apparel that is made by a company with core values.

    • Llinda

      You are correct.

    • HansJurgen

      This new “culture” definitely defines the lack of respect and professionalism in today’s sports. If this reflects the “role models” that our current children look up to, then we are in deep trouble and are adding fuel to the fire of a culture in decay. And our enemies see it and can certainly use our culture to define “the devil” or “the evil one”.

    • Papo Casey

      Portland is weird because you say it is and because they allow right to die for terminally ill patients? Man you “Bostonians” are dumber than I thought?

    • petem

      only a reich winger would consider issues of personal freedom and choice weird or wrong…So let me get this right, only the Hyper Christian, right wing point of view is acceptable. only morality that was in vogue in 1953 is acceptable for us all.
      Perhaps you missed the point made from the athlete’s perspective. HIGH and DOPE and F*ck Gravity may have more than one meaning. people that get it, get it. The rest of you folks who are living in Pleasantvile, circa 1953, SHOULDN’T BY THESE SHIRTS…

      • beth

        I think everyone “gets” that these logos also have a sports meaning – that’s obviously not the point. The point is that they also obviously have a drug inference and it’s somewhat irresponsible for a major retailer to stoop to the level of immature adolescents who think drugs are “cool” to make money. But, you are right – if people don’t like them, don’t buy them, and, if you really are upset with the company, don’t buy any of their other merchandise and write them a letter. That’s how free enterprise works.

  • booch

    In a related story, Mumbles was recently overheard asking lunchtime Common visitors to “get off my lawn”

  • Fubarus Surabuf

    You all miss the point…. Mumbles was paid to take offense…… this is great publicity for Nike.

  • Me

    Nike is a bunch of ****holes when it comes to conducting business (i used to work for a competitor’s corporate office) so I see no reason why they would show class when it comes to this situation either.

  • roadbowler

    I hit a nerve with WBZ when i posted this on their FB page. So much so, that I have been blocked from posting….read for yourself, if the Gestapo-like censorship doesn’t remove this from here too…

    ‘What is WBZ’s message today??? They first post a story about legalizing ‘medical marijuana’ then they post a story about the Mayor suggesting Nike take down their ‘Get High’ t-shirts….’

  • TR Bender

    Boston has to stop putting these socialist/communist (democrat) wack jobs in office.Niketown is not telling kids to do drugs. They are saying you can get high by just getting out and being active. In other word, refuse to become an other obese desk jockey or computer turd.
    Also, remember Menino, your State, city and aiport gave this counytry 9/11. You let the terrorist murder’s walk through your airport and steal planes through violent means and murder 3k+ innocent AMERICANS and FOREIGN workers.
    Go clean up West Roxbury and shut your stupid socialy promoted Communist mouth .
    McHales Navy can do a better job of prtecting Boston !
    How is Kenmore Square these Days ?

    • petem

      Aside that I agree with the second sentence of your post, none of the rest makes any sense.

  • twistin

    Menino is “shoulderbating” again.

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