The Tribune — even the new “if we all think outside the box maybe this sorry ship won’t sink” Tribune — doesn’t like to offend. So when stand-up comic Ken Swanborn died the other day, the paper turned up its nose at the paid death notice his family submitted.

The Tribune refused to publish the notice’s final line, a nod to Swanborn’s sense of humor and political convictions: “In lieu of flowers, please vote Democratic.”

Says a woman on the paper’s paid-death-notice desk, “If it’s considered discriminatory or offensive, they take the line out.”


“What if I’m a Republican and I’m offended?”

But instead you offended the family.

“Well, it was not intentional, but we do have protocols and we do have rules we have to follow.”

But the family was paying to say this!

“We have guidelines.”

The Sun-Times published the death notice as the family wrote it. And Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper quoted the last line in his tribute to Swanborn, a buddy from the days when they were growing up in Dolton.

Says Carol O’Neill, another Dolton buddy, “Only Swanny could have his obit rejected. He’s been a huge political activist for years. His parents started the movement years ago. When black families started moving into Dolton in the early 60s they were involved in meeting with the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King. So at an early age Swanny was involved in standing up for social justice. In his mind you were a Democrat or get out of here.”

Tribune innovation czar Lee Abrams might want to innovate some common sense.

(H/t Eileen Favorite.)