6,000 things you can't say in Seattle (or Portland)

The list grows longer once the public weighs in on local taboos.
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Tim Eyman, the Democrats' bête noire: You can only get away with blaming him for so long.

The list grows longer once the public weighs in on local taboos.

My recent story, "Six things you cannot say Seattle" generated a lot of response, evidence of the story's Twitterability and that it seems to have struck a chord. Seattle's famously mushy discourse has resulted in a build-up of verboten opinion. The culture of consensus is discomfited by disagreement.

My list was short; I gave six examples, which isn't to say these are the only things that are no-nos. Not by a long shot. The best part of the feedback is that almost everyone had something to add to the list. You can see some of the debate in the comments thread following the original piece, but the discussion continued in a number of other forums.

We devoted a lot of time to it on KUOW's "Weekday" journalists' roundtable discussion (June 12). Instead of discussing healthcare reform, we got swept away as listeners called-in and emailed their own additions to "six things." If you want to know what Steve Scher, Art Thiel, Eli Sanders, and David Horsey have to say, listen in. "Weekday" producer Katy Sewall also kindly collected some listener suggestions and passed them along, noting that some seemed rather confessional. So, according to Seattle public radio listeners, you cannot say:

Kurt Cobain had nothing to do with Courtney Love's success

Tim Eyman is awesome! (that would cause a public lynching!!)

If the salmon can't fend for themselves that's their own problem

I like clearcuts

I drink Folgers

I prefer wine from a box

Why do I have to learn Spanish?

Composting is GROSS

I don't like salmon

I missed two episodes of Jon Stewart


"Ballard hipster" is just a variation of "Bellevue yuppie"

I eat at McDonald's

I don'ꀙt like KUOW

Density is good

Soccer is BORING

I don't buy organic

I like Budweiser

I don't own Fleece

I don't like coffee

I'm from Tacoma

Whole Foods is a waste of money

A public hearing will just bog down the project

Anything remotely critical about KEXP

Yeah it's in Seattle, 2 bedroom and nice lot...and I paid less than $250,000

I was born in Bellevue

The Space Needle is tacky!

Lake Union isn't really a lake, it's a lagoon

J.P. Patches is a tired old clown

The Puyallup Fair is better than Bumbershoot

Put your dog on a leash

Baseball is boring

I'ꀙm on dial-up

Over on The Slog, commenters weighed in as well with their own examples of forbidden speech:

Actually, the rain does suck!

Portland is cool. Maybe even cooler than Seattle

Vancouver is way better than Seattle

Excuse me

Maybe you should move your car when the fucking light turns green

I still listen to Nirvana

Should I bring an umbrella?

"Hello" while passing anyone on the street that you don't know

Bellevue is the perfect mix — it's urban, but not as seedy as Seattle

I'm going to ride my fixie to the pit bull owners club meeting tonight

I like the suburbs better than downtown

Seattle women are FUGLY!

I double bag when buying meat so the juice doesn't leak into my SUV's carpet

Hey man, you're really quiet. Why don't you just let loose and scream?

Can I take the monorail to Pike's Place Market?

I like watching TV

Plastic please

Seattle is racially segregated

I'd rather go to Starbuck's

Hi, I'm from [someplace not Seattle], I'm new in town

That it's usually optimal for a child to be raised by a mother and father

I love Californians

Down in Portland, the Seattle list generated a glimmer of recognition for the readers of Jack Bog's Blog who were off and running with the Rose City edition of "you can't say that":

Portland is a smaller version of Seattle

Good God, Portland's music scene sucks. Can we get any more hipsters whining about how their mommies won't let them charge heroin to her American Express?

What's up with the number of teenage bums with dogs and cats with them?

Why do Portland bicyclists have to be such brats all the time?

Sexual trysts with minors is wrong

This music is for wusses

We only import the finest foods

Did the schools ever have enough money?

What the hell is up with Portlanders' thin skins about constructive criticism?

MAX is 'neat' but actually not very useful. I only ride it about once every two years because my kids think it is fun

I like Seattle better

I have a real job

I remember what it was like before all you outsiders got here

Baby Boomers are the greediest generation

Hey, could you turn down the music a little? It's 3 in the morning on a Tuesday, and some of us have to go to work in the morning

No word yet from Vancouver where, I'm sure, someone is dying to tell us they hate skinny towers and socialized medicine and love American SUVs. Go ahead, let it out.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.