Updated at 3:45 p.m.: The New York City board of health held a public hearing on the Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on the sale of sugary soft drinks over 16 oz. Tuesday, allowed citizens, representatives from the beverage, movie, and restaurant industries, and city officials to express their thoughts, including Holocaust references. As The New York Times' liveblog of the hearing (yes, liveblog) by Michael M. Grynbaum revealed, Queens City Councilman Daniel Halloran was the first speaker, and he set the tone by calling the health board a "kangaroo court," before repurposing the famous quote about the Holocaust to say:
"When they came for the cigarettes, I didn't say anything, because I didn't smoke," Mr. Halloran said. "When they came for the M.S.G., I didn't say anything because I don't eat it very often."
Classy! Halloran spokesman Steven Stites tells us that "Councilman Halloran was quoting a famous speech, done in somewhat tongue-in-cheek fashion. He did not compare City government, or anyone, to Nazis." Halloran is rephrasing the famous quote by Martin Niemöller that begins "First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Communist..." Perhaps Halloran didn't get the memo from the Maine governor, who learned that comparing U.S. government bureaucrats to Nazis is almost never a well-received line of attack. (That comparison, sadly, was neither subtle nor tongue-in-cheek.) But at any rate, representatives from the beverage and movie theater industry are also speaking at the hearing, so in case Halloran didn't make it clear, the health board isn't hearing universal support for the measure today, as they plan for a vote in September.