The dirty truth about extortion is that it works. And nowhere is

The dirty truth about extortion is that it works. And nowhere is that truth more evident than in the saga of the Space Needle and the gay-pride flag.The controversy began earlier this month, when Space Needle Corporation, the private company that owns Seattle’s most iconic landmark, announced that, unlike last year when the rainbow flag flew for the first time in the city’s history, it wouldn’t be flying during this year’s Pride Week. The Needle explained its decision as a matter of fairness–its spokesperson said the company tried to avoid flying the same flag twice, and had already turned down eight other flags just this year–a line of reasoning that satisfied almost no one.The Needle’s Facebook page soon overflowed with outraged comments, many of them noting that the company didn’t seem to hold to its one-and-done policy when it came to the Seahawks’ 12th Man flag, often raised on the rare occasions when the team makes the playoffs. Other online activists took their anger to Change.org, where a petition to pressure the Needle to fly the flag got 9,000 signatures in only 10 days.Perhaps sensing that the public outcry was growing unmanageable, roughly two weeks after the controversy erupted, the Needle came up with a compromise: Raise $50,000 for four LGBT-friendly local charities, and you’ll have your flag. There was precedent for this kind of extortion. In 2005, the Needle took advantage of the Husky/Cougar rivalry to raise nearly $165,000 for Habitat for Humanity, eventually flying the crimson and gray of victor Washington State.For the first three days of the gay-pride fundraiser, things seemed to be going equally well, as it took in more than $15,000. Then, last Wednesday, in yet another concession, the Needle issued a new press release, this time announcing that no other donations were necessary; the flag would fly this upcoming Sunday, the last day of Pride Week, whether the goal was reached or not.Predictably, after removing the carrot, the Needle’s stick proved much less effective. As of noon Monday, the campaign had only managed $70 since the end of the weekend, $50 of which came from a woman under the misguided belief that the company was still holding the gay-pride flag hostage.Whether you think the Needle should have agreed to raise the flag from the very beginning or was right to deny a second flight for the rainbow probably depends on any number of factors, including, presumably, your orientation, both political and otherwise. But one thing is for certain: Once the company rescinded its ransom note, a lot fewer people were willing to pay.Follow The Daily Weekly on Facebook and Twitter.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Teaser
King County approves emergency grant after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Washington is expecting an influx of people seeking abortions from out of state.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

t
Des Moines Police arrest murder suspect in Kent | Update

Medical examiner identifies body found June 20 in Duwamish River

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

File photo
Fireworks ban takes effect this year in unincorporated King County

The new law does not extend to cities, which each have their own regulations around fireworks.

A semiautomatic handgun with a safety cable lock that prevents loading ammunition. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Large-capacity ammo magazine sales ban starts soon in Washington

Starting July 1, a 10-round capacity becomes the limit for sales. Meanwhile, “there is a rush on magazine purchasing.”

At Dash Point on June 16, 2022. Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
All that the tides reveal: Puget Sound’s hidden intertidal world

Exploring King County beaches during the lowest tide in the last 13 years.

Most Read