Keep the Bastards Out

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Keep the Bastards Out or KBO is a fictional organization invented by Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Emmett Watson.[1] The KBO was a tongue-in-cheek group which never actually existed, but which expressed his frustration (and the frustration of many Seattle residents) with the influx of newcomers to the Puget Sound area from out-of-state.[2] Watson periodically wrote about the group in his column from 1957 through 1997.[3] The name was chosen in ominous emulation of the Soviet Union's KGB.

The KBO's raison d'être was to protest the irritating and prolonged immigration of newcomers into the Puget Sound region, especially to Seattle. They clogged the roads, spent too much money bidding up prices, did not understand the "NorthWest way of life" and just generally made trouble, ... hence the KBO's mission statement. Watson periodically suggested actions that KBO members could take to make "immigrants" (perhaps especially Californians) uncomfortable, and, hopefully, encourage them to leave. Readers and others occasionally observed that it was all a sort of joke, and Watson sometimes responded that people could think what they liked, but that he would continue to promote the KBO as one way to deal with the decrease in the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest and especially in Western Washington.

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  1. ^ Mary T. Schmich (March 29, 1990). "Now That Its Secret Is Out, Seattle Is Paying The Price". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-02-19. Watson helped found Lesser Seattle, a curmudgeonly counterpoint to Greater Seattle Inc. ... Lesser Seattle began as a joke with a serious message. By the late 1980s, however, it had sparked a revolt, particularly against real estate-rich Californians fleeing their ravaged, overpriced state. Lesser Seattle anointed KBO agents, short for ``Keep the Bastards Out,`` and proclaimed its motto: Have a nice day-somewhere else. 
  2. ^ Erik D. Mickelson (October 2002). "Seattle by and by: The life and times of Emmett Watson". Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers. The University of Montana. p. 43. Lesser Seattle was Watson’s curveball way of celebrating the city—he didn’t think it needed much improvement. Using humor to expose the absurdity of unregulated growth and mindless booster campaigns, his movement resonated with locals who were watching rich Californians bid up Seattle housing prices. Referring to Lesser Seattle’s supporters as KBO (Keep the Bastards Out) Agents, he exhorted them to warn tourists and would-be immigrants of Seattle’s earthquakes, torrential rains, mudslides and constant cloud cover. 
  3. ^ Ibid, page 42. "His first Lesser Seattle column appeared in 1957. He wrote hundreds more in the next 40 years."