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Kirstjen Nielsen speaks during a panel discussion at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., March 1, 2018.

Kirstjen Nielsen speaks during a panel discussion at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., March 1, 2018. (Photo: Glenn Fawcett, U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Author of 'Crude' Op-ed Yanked from Boston Globe Defends Sarcastic Take on Unaccountable Trump Officials

"I don't understand what is so crazy about suggesting that the people responsible for ruining lives and tearing families apart and losing fucking track of children should be held somewhat accountable."

Eoin Higgins

It was one of his favorite lines he ever wrote.

That's what Massachusetts freelance writer Luke O'Neil thought of the opening to an opinion piece he penned for The Boston Globe, published Wednesday night.

The op-ed began with O'Neil, who also writes the newsletter Hell World, expressing his regret over not urinating in Iraq War cheerleader Bill Kristol's salmon dinner when O'Neil waited on him a decade ago. 

"One of the biggest regrets of my life is not pissing in Bill Kristol's salmon," wrote O'Neil.

"The idea that anyone would really go and piss in someone's food because Luke O'Neil the weird freelancer said to is fucking stupid. It's obviously just being crude for humorous effect." — Luke O'Neil

In the article, O'Neil argued that former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen—who resigned earlier this week—should not be allowed to feel comfortable in polite society after her oversight of the Donald Trump administration's child separation policy and general war on immigrants. O'Neil also sarcastically implied that waiters should do to Nielsen's food what he didn't to Kristol's dish.

That triggered outrage from the right as Fox NewsThe Daily Caller, and other conservative media outlets and personalities attacked O'Neil and the Globe for the article.

The Globe took the article down Thursday and issued a strongly worded statement distancing the paper from O'Neil, noting that the writer was "not on staff."

"In the end, this piece did not meet Globe standards and we regret that it got posted," interim editorial director Shirley Leung told Boston public radio station WGBH Friday. 

In an interview, O'Neil expressed frustration with the paper's decision and its treatment of him.

"I'm disappointed that the Globe threw me under the bus and took the almost never done step of deleting an article entirely, all because the 'civility police' complained about it," O'Neil told Common Dreams.

In a tweet Thursday, O'Neil announced he would no longer write for the paper. 

Fellow journalists were outraged at the paper's decision to pull the piece and leave O'Neil twisting in the wind.

"As a former restaurant industry tech employee, I need to tell you: Nielsen deserves only gruel," said writer Dan O'Sullivan.

Judd Legum traced the attacks on O'Neil back to O'Neil's recent writing about the poisoning of the mind done by Fox News.

"It's easy to throw a writer, *especially* a freelance writer, under the bus for an opinion that doesn't land," said film critic Scott Tobias. "But it shows zero accountability."

O'Neil told Common Dreams that the reaction to the piece left him a bit bemused—especially given the behavior of Nielsen during her time in the Trump administration.

"I don't understand what is so crazy about suggesting that the people responsible for ruining lives and tearing families apart and losing fucking track of children should be held somewhat accountable," O'Neil said.

That doesn't necessarily mean taking the step of relieving oneself into a plate of gravlax. In fact, O'Neil rejects the idea that his sarcastic comments in the piece were directed at inciting food service workers to take those steps.

"The idea that anyone would really go and piss in someone's food because Luke O'Neil the weird freelancer said to is fucking stupid," said O'Neil. "It's obviously just being crude for humorous effect."

But, the writer added, he isn't saying that people like Nielsen should be given a free ride.

"I do think, however, that they should be made uncomfortable in public," O'Neil said. 


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