Remember that letter a concerned citizen sent to City Council member Tim Burgess? The constituent purported to be thrilled that Burgess's anti-solicitation bill would crack down on Girl Scouts selling cookies in West Seattle. Well it was clearly—"I could actually hear their aggressive, repeated, high-pitched solicitations"— a joke. Well, um, the guy who sent the joke email received this email from the Girl Scouts of Western Washington:

From: Joe W. Barnes
Date: Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 12:55 PM
Subject: Girl Scouts

Hello xxxx,

Your email to Council Member Burgess was forwarded to me.

So that I may follow up, can you tell me the time and exact location in West Seattle please?

Thank you,


Joe Barnes
Chief Marketing and Development Officer
Girl Scouts of Western Washington

Indeed, City Hall staffers exist to resolve disputes and this Burgess staffer was, no doubt, fully aware this was a joke (right?) and just doing his job by forwarding the email. Still, Mr. Girl Scouts got the email and didn't get the joke. The author of the letter—and blogger of The Fat-Tailed Sheep—responded with due seriousness:


Thank you for your reply.

My concern expressed to Councilmember Burgess was not fundamentally about a particular troop of girls in West Seattle. My concern was that any ordinance restricting speech as he has proposed ought to be uniformly enforced. Otherwise, the proposal is not just unreasonably restricting speech, it is unreasonably and inequitably restricting speech.

His office replied to me that the Girl Scouts would be covered equally by the same restrictions as panhandlers.

Since the Councilmember’s office is now on record favoring a blanket restriction of your right to gather and solicit support for your organization within 15 feet of ATMs and parking pay stations, I trust the Girl Scouts will soon be on record opposing this unreasonable restriction of the rights of poor people, girl scouts, poor girl scouts, etc.

First they came for the Tagalongs...