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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Seattle Center Makes an Example of The Stranger

posted by on November 6 at 14:53 PM

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.”

RSS icon Comments


Seriously? Are Christians going to be playing the perpetual victim card from now on? If that's the case, I think we need to give them something to feel victimized about.

Posted by anotherone | November 6, 2008 3:00 PM

wow. that's like ALMOST worth mentioning.

Posted by jim | November 6, 2008 3:06 PM

I began reading The Stranger on an Alaska Air fight from Seatac to San Diego. A flight attendant asked me to put it away. Said something to the effect some of the passengers were/would be offended.

Posted by fARTing | November 6, 2008 3:12 PM

The Stranger is FILTH and we love it that way.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | November 6, 2008 3:19 PM

Man, nail one guy to cross and they're ALL grumpy forever.

Posted by Tiktok | November 6, 2008 3:21 PM

"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."

where did you learn to read? the quote specifically says:

"The back sections [of the papers] were used as examples..."

the "back sections" not "the newspapers". are you dense or what? and who says that seattle center workers understand what they are being told? you obviously don't understand.

Posted by noneother | November 6, 2008 3:28 PM

What's this "The Weekly" you speak of?

Posted by Stranger fan | November 6, 2008 3:30 PM

Book banning Bible thumpers suck!

Posted by Vince | November 6, 2008 3:43 PM

just like all civil-sanctioned marriage, all reading materials should be banned at all workplace breakrooms.

Posted by max solomon | November 6, 2008 3:47 PM

Um, it's the "Christians" that are perusing those pages, IMHO.

Just ask prostitutes which group is their best customers ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 6, 2008 3:58 PM

There's a lot of Christianists on the city payrolls. Until very recently, it was quite common to open meetings at City Light with a prayer. Just the other day one of the elderly bats I work with (she's 80. Why isn't there a mandatory retirement age?) was whining that Obama would take away our Bibles in the workplace.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | November 6, 2008 4:03 PM

If you work in the corporate world you want to be careful about having pictures of naked men and/or women in plain sight at your desk, or on your screen.

Don't assume the complaint will come from Christians; it's just as likely to be a sexual harassment claim. In any case, it's trouble you probably want to avoid.

Posted by rjh | November 6, 2008 4:08 PM
Don't assume the complaint will come from Christians; it's just as likely to be a sexual harassment claim

In my experience, those things are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I know of one workplace where a sensitive Christian waitress claimed sexual harassment because the flamboyantly gay cooks were talking among themselves and being, well, flamboyantly gay. She claimed their saucy conversations and off-color humor created a hostile work environment. (The cooks received warnings and had the incident noted on their records.) It's pretty subjective when the standard for an infraction is the hurt feelings of the claimant. And most companies err to the side of caution at the mere mention of legal action.

Some people are more easily offended than others. And some people have raised taking offense to an art form.

Posted by flamingbanjo | November 6, 2008 4:20 PM

The Stranger is a terrible paper and no one should read it. As for the Weekly, we do not speak of it.

Posted by Greg | November 6, 2008 4:52 PM

Would the anonymous employee care to anonymously comment on exactly where this breakroom is? Maybe it's not accessible to the public, but I'd be happy to leave more pornographic/commie/deranged newspapers lying in prominent view OUTSIDE the area, when I happen to be in Seattle Center...

Posted by lusk | November 6, 2008 4:56 PM

The mere presence of The Stranger, Seattle Weakly, Interview Mag, Rolling Stone, etc...anything short of Hustler (well ok Playboy/girl too) is not a good enough reason to ban it. If you don't like it, move to Wyoming.

Posted by DHDB | November 6, 2008 5:04 PM

@10: So by "pageant contestants" you actually meant "prostitutes".

Posted by Mikki | November 6, 2008 5:39 PM

I've known people who were one and not the other, @17. But one presumes there are those who are or have been both.

On the other hand, you should see what they have to read at barber shops ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 7, 2008 1:19 AM

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