Seattle Apologizes For Labeling Stuck-In-Traffic Drivers As “Scumbags”

SDOT has since apologized for, and removed, this Tweet attempting to mine some humor from a Monday morning traffic jam.

SDOT has since apologized for, and removed, this Tweet attempting to mine some humor from a Monday morning traffic jam.

When government organizations try to be funny on social media, it usually falls flat. And when that attempt at humor is directed at people who are likely in a humorless mood — like, say… people stuck in a traffic jam — it will probably end in an apology.

That’s exactly what happened in Seattle yesterday, where the city’s Dept. of Transportation (SDOT) took to its Twitter account to copy/paste Scumbag Steve’s signature brown hat on to a number of cars stuck in Monday morning traffic.

Not content with merely hoping that people familiar with the Scumbag Steve meme would get the joke, SDOT captioned the image with “You get a scumbag hat, you get a scumbag hat, everyone gets a scumbag hat! haha I’m mean #sorry.”

The purported intention of the image — which had already been posted sans Scumbag hats earlier in the morning by SDOT — was to warn drivers about congestion and to put some blame on drivers that SDOT believed were rubberneckers slowing to look at a nearby crash.

“Our traffic-management center staff typically will use a humorous meme to highlight a problematic roadway situation,” explained SDOT’s communications director — who probably wished he’d been stuck in traffic instead of having to deal with this nonsense — to the Seattle Times. “Our intent is not to insult motorists, rather it’s just to call out where there’s a problem so people can make decisions about their trip.”

The Times also points out that rubbernecking was probably not the source of the slowdown, as traffic continued well past the location of the crash.

“Instead of insulting taxpayers and voters for trying to survive, SDOT and the heads of city government should be answering today why, for decades, West Seattle’s transportation issues were overlooked,” said the co-founder of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition.

Even though SDOT’s Twitter account had previously busted out the Scumbag hat for previous Tweets, a rep for Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says “It’s never acceptable for a city employee to ridicule members of the public. I understand the Tweet in question was meant humorously, but many — myself included — took it quite differently.”

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