Media Seattle Center Makes an Example of The Stranger
posted by November 6 at 14:53 PMon
On Tuesday afternoon, a Seattle Center manager sat down about 20 groundskeepers at a meeting to announce that certain materials would be forbidden in their break room. The issue came up because a staff member discovered pornographic playing cards on top of a locker. The sexual harassment policy at the Seattle Center, governed by the city, bans nude and sexual images in public areas. So the manager said the nude playing cards were prohibited, and so were the city’s two weekly papers, due to the erotic escort ads in the back of the papers.
“We were told … that you can’t bring The Stranger and the Weekly in,” says an employee who attended the meeting and asked to remain anonymous. “I was shocked, personally.”
Carolyn Lacey, an employment attorney, was also concerned the city overstepped it bounds. “This is not as though somebody with a Seattle Center uniform is holding up The Stranger and giving the public the impression that somehow the Seattle Center endorses The Stranger or … escort services,” she says. “To infringe on someone’s First Amendment rights, there has to be a real compelling reason.”
But the Seattle Center seems to be backing off. “There will be no restriction on The Stranger or the Weekly and nobody will be penalized for having a copy in the workplace,” says Deborah Daoust, a Seattle Center spokeswoman. “The back sections [of the papers] were used as examples of things that could be seen as inappropriate or be seen as sexual harassment.” She says the Seattle Center never intended to ban the publications outright.
“It could have just been the way they heard it,” Daoust says.
But the way the employees heard it seems clear. By the Seattle Center’s own admission, the employees were told about prohibited materials, and the newspapers were used “as examples” of the types of things that violate the policy.
“My understanding leaving the meeting was that we should not bring [the papers] in and not even have them in the locker,” says the employee. “People could have complained. There are, it seems, a lot of Christians that sort of dominate things there.”