Thursday, April 16, 2009

They Lock You in For "God Bless America" in Yankee Stadium?

A NY Yankees fan has filed suit because he was, he claims, arrested for leaving his seat during the playing of "God Bless America." I will not debate whether that was why he was arrested, although I do not doubt it. However, I will take issue over the fact that this incident has revealed that the Yankees block the aisles while this song is being played. No one is allowed to leave their seat.

Excuse me, but this sounds more like the Taliban than the United States of America. Will the police in Yankee Stadium begin to arrest fans if they don't remove their hat during the national anthem? What about bowing their heads if there is a prayer in the stadium? In some fundamentalist Muslim countries such actions could bring quick execution. But...the United States?

I am simply astounded to find that the police block the exits during the playing of "God Bless America." Even worse, I have seen several forums where the "America, love it or leave it" thing is being thrown about over this, and the lawsuit is called "frivolous." It is amazing how little so many of us value our civil rights and our Constitution. The next thing you know the Governor of Texas will be talking about seceding from the Union, and people will be cheering for him.


That Baptist Ain't Right said...

The Religious Right in America is only Taliban Lite --- for now. Good post!

Diane J Standiford said...

Seriously? Wow. Not a place I would frequent.

D.R. said...

You have to look at the whole story to understand it properly. First, the Yankees restrict movement during both "The Star Spangled Banner" before the game and "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch.

At both times, ushers are instructed to ask patrons to remain in their seats. The idea came from George Steinbrenner (not the Religious Right, contra the first commentor). And Steinbrenner is anything but religious.

The purpose was to attempt to keep those two moments as reverent as possible for the entirety of the fans. "God Bless America" is not sung as a specifically religious song, but as a patriotic song, directed to be played by all Major League teams by the League following the 9-11 attacks. The Yankees continued the tradition, even though last year the MLB stated that it only needed to be done on Sundays and Holidays.

There are several other teams that restrict movement during the singing of "The Star Spangled Banner", though only the Yankees chain off the exits during those few minutes.

An article over at the NY Times published in 2007, explains the practice and it is defended by Michael C. Dorf, a constitutional law professor at Columbia Law School.

Here is the article:

Personally, I think the police here might have acted improperly, but not for religious reasons - more likely for reasons related to how they viewed this man's patriotism and disrespect for their authority (it's not like NY is known for its strong religious views these days).

Anytime a police officer's authority is challenged, it's not going to go well for the challenger. Right or wrong, that's almost always the case.