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NYC Law Aims To Ban Cell Phones In Theatres 1047

LunarFox writes: "This article on Wired says a New York City councilman is trying to ban cellphones in 'places of public performance'. It would be the first legislation of its kind, following the recent state-wide ban on cellphone use while driving. Wired mentions that actor Laurence Fishburne, in the middle of a Broadway performance, yelled to an audience member to "turn your f___ing phone off!" And here I thought I was the only one who didn't like hearing Flight of the Bumblebee as a ringtone."
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NYC Law Aims To Ban Cell Phones In Theatres

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  • It's about time (Score:2, Redundant)

    by fishlet ( 93611 )
    Specificly, those annoying 'tunes' that cell phones play... turn the F#$#$# things off. After all, people pay good money to enjoy such public performances, not listen to your phone. It's a shame that laws have to be passed to enforce what should just be common courtesy
    • Can you think of ten different ways to solve the same problem without invoking the violence of the state? Here's one to prime your pump: charge an extra $5 for a "cellphone ticket." If you want to enter the theatre with a cellphone, you have to pay the cellphone ticket price. Okay, so I can tell that your pump needs extra priming, so here's another one: before beginning the performance, the stage manager goes out on stage and says "Hi. We understand that some people simply CANNOT turn their cellphones off. If your cellphone goes off, you are obviously going to be in such a hurry to get somewhere that you'll need a police escort. So if we hear a cellphone, we're going to call the police for your escort. Enjoy the performance!"
    • by falzer ( 224563 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @01:13AM (#4095749)
      They should just make the ringtone a coughing sound.

      No one will suspect it's a phone ringing.
      • Warning: This feature not recommended when attending auctions of antiques or fine art. Your cell phone provider will not be accept liability for your accidental purchase of a $1.5 million spoon collection.
  • by ender81b ( 520454 ) <<moc.aksarbeni> <ta> <dllib>> on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:16PM (#4095196) Homepage Journal
    This isn't exactly something that should be a law. It's like outlawing putting your elbows on the table,farting at the table, etc. It is simple bad manners that people need to realize. Maybe a sign 'please shut off your cell phones.' Alot of people just forget and alot of people just don't care. Fine. Use the ol' peer pressure to get them to realize that it is a damm good idea to turn off there cellphones. How much you want to bet that the person mr. fishbourne yelled at will never leave his/her cellphone on in a movie theater/play/whatever again? Than again, if I have to hear another goddam cellphone go off in a movie I just might have to kill someone. Nothing ruins a nice porn .. er movie flick than a cellphone going off.
    • "It's like outlawing putting your elbows on the table,farting at the table, etc."

      Not really. If I go to a concert, I'm going -- and more importantly for this discussion, paying -- to hear a concert. Cell phones/pagers going off disrupt the experience. Your examples above would be better ones if you were paying to go somewhere to see people eat. Not just going to the restraunt, because then your main purpose is to eat, and someone else having their elbows on the table doesn't affect your eating.
      • So if i fart in the resteraunt you're eating at, I should be arrested?

        Disgusting, yes. Worthy of a law? Maybe in Stalanist Russia. Move out if you dont' like it, ya stiffass ;-)
        • If I'm somewhere where I'm paying to not smell something bad, yes. (BTW, you shouldn't be "arrested" any more than you're arrested for speeding. You should just get a ticket of sorts that says you need to pay a fine. Though ideally, the fine would be distributed among the rest of the audience and the performers.)
        • by lactose99 ( 71132 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @12:04AM (#4095445)

          So if i fart in the resteraunt you're eating at, I should be arrested?

          Now that depends. If your alleged fumes can reach an equivalent speed, range, and annoyance level of the sound produced by a high-volume cell phone playing Canon in D, then yes, I would sleep much better at night knowing that you are incarcerated.

    • I can't ever remember wanting to hit someone really hard for putting their elbows on the table. I have wanted to do this in a movie theater.
    • Re:Common Courtesy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by FauxPasIII ( 75900 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:45PM (#4095365)
      >> Maybe a sign 'please shut off your cell phones.' Alot of people just forget

      I don't know where you go see movies, but I haven't seen one in about five years that hasn't been preceded by some little picture of a dancing tub of popcorn or some such nonsense, reminding me to buy coke, throw away my trash, buy coke, don't talk, buy coke, turn off my cell phone, and buy coke. Point is, the messages are there, people just do not give a damn. And that, you can't legislate. (Although I expect it to soon be mandatory to buy coke.)
  • by Teknogeek ( 542311 ) <> on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:16PM (#4095197) Journal
    The Time: December 18th, 2002
    The Place: A theater in New York City

    Gandalf the White: "I come back to you now..."
    Some idiot's cell phone: RING RING RING!!!
    Usher (to idiot): "You're under arrest."
    Patrons: "Whoo-hoo!"
    • by rde ( 17364 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:55PM (#4095406)
      As I was watching LotR in the cinema, it occurred to me early on that some fucker'd probably have his phone going off at a critical moment. Sure enough, just as (don't read this if you don't know Boromir died) Boromir was giving his dying speech, the phone went off. The well-poisoning motherfucker didn't turn it off or answer it; he just pretended it wasn't his, and the entire cinema was treated to the entire tune. I wasn't close enough to berate him and/or her, and I didn't hear anyone else do it either. They probably got away with it.

      Then there's last night, when not only did some wench get a call during Eight-Legged Freaks[1], she answered and carried out a loud conversation.

      Why do I mention these? Because they're illustrative of the sort of asshole that's endemic these days; the sort who doesn't give a shit, and who can only be controlled by laws and/or 2x4s. And as they'd go whining to the cops if you larted them, making it illegal to have the ring tone enabled on your phone while in a theatre. I've nothing against vibrators (so to speak), as long as the user leaves the cinema to answer any call deemed important.

      [1].Interestingly, the film's called "Eight Legged Freaks" sans hyphen, and had me rushing to the cinema to see a film about eight freaks with legs. I was bitterly disappointed, and not just because it was a shite film.
      • Take the cellphone off her.


        I, too had the "Moron in LoTR" experience - the guy kept playing with his phone (checking for messages, for chrissake). Since he had one of those ultra-bright blue screen Nokia 8000 series phone, it was not only beeping away, but light enough to be irritating. Worse, after I had to tell him for the second time to quit fucking with his phone he had the cheek to act puzzled and hurt about it.

        Some people shouldn't allowed out in public. At least he stopped after the second time, cause I'm sure he wouldn't have enjoyed watching his tiny little phone sailing over the balcony...
  • I can understand wishing to impose penalties on drivers who threaten the safety of others by devoting their attention to a cell phone. I don't think the law should be used to punish what are effectively breaches of etiquette, though. It seems like using a sledgehammer to kill an annoying fly.
  • Maybe it's time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by whirred ( 182193 )
    When I went to see Storytelling, the new Todd Solondz movie, this one guy in the theater had his phone ring. He answered. Not in a hushed tone, and not to say anything like "I'm in a movie, can't talk" and hanging up.

    He spent several minutes talking at a fairly audible volume saying things like "Nothing much, just watching a movie".

    The audience was hissing at him, shushing him, and finally someone shouted "Would you please get off the fucking phone?"

    The guy kept talking for another minute, then got off the phone, then took off. Needless to say, it fucked up that part of the movie pretty badly.

    Because not enough people have the common courtesy to TURN THEIR PHONE OFF during movies and performances, perhaps a nice stiff fine of around 250 - 500 dollars per incident would keep things under control.

    Banning cell phone use in cars is just stupid. Maybe it's because I'm from the bay area, but using a cell phone while driving is a god given right as far as I'm concerned, as long as you remember to pay full attention to the road. If they're going to ban cell phones while driving, they need to ban radios, conversations and other passengers altogether, especially children.

    All of these can be more distracting than cell phones.
    • Re:Maybe it's time (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DEBEDb ( 456706 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:23PM (#4095247) Homepage Journal
      Well, maybe an usher shoulda thrown him
      out. That's a job for an usher, not for a cop.

      • In high school, when I worked in a movie theatre, the ushers were there to let people in, and to clean up afterwards. Unless someone complains, there usually won't be anyone from the theatre staff in there to notice, especially in a multiplex, where they have 5 people trying to manage 10 different crowds coming in and out.

        The idea of of the law, I think, is to put limits on the usage of cellphones, especially for the clueless who assume that if there isn't a law against it, they can do whatever they wan't. Well, thanks to them, there's now a law...
    • Re:Maybe it's time (Score:3, Insightful)

      by silentbozo ( 542534 )
      I'm surprised that somebody didn't just go up to the guy and beat the shit out of him.
    • Re:Maybe it's time (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EvanED ( 569694 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [denave]> on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:28PM (#4095272)
      >>it's because I'm from the bay area, but using a cell phone while driving is a god given right as far as I'm concerned, as long as you remember to pay full attention to the road.

      Which is nearly impossible for the brain, as numerous scientific studies have shown.

      >>If they're going to ban cell phones while driving, they need to ban radios

      You listen to a radio only. Unless you're using a cell phone to call in. Listening to music (or even a talk/news show) is far different from carrying on a conversation.

      >>conversations and other passengers altogether,

      Conversations with other passengers aren't as dangerous, because if you for instance start to swirve, the other person can go "look out" while the guy at the other end of the phone will keep yakking away because he doesn't know any better, and your brain will try - and fail - to both concentrate on the phone call and correct the situation. Pretty much the only exception to this is small children.
      • by Colz Grigor ( 126123 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @02:00AM (#4095877) Homepage
        You listen to a radio only.

        Hi. I'm the idiot singing along to the radio in the car next to you. Anyone who just listens to their music needs to learn to get more fulfilment from it.

        The fact that I sing to the radio when I drive doesn't nullify your point all by itself... the fact is that I probably pay better attention to driving when I'm on my cellphone (hands free) then when I'm using my steering wheel as a snare and high hat...

        ::Colz Grigor

    • I don't think the state-wide ban in NY is on using a cell while driving, it's on using the handset. If you use a hands-free, you're fine. It's always the idiots trying to hold the phone to their ear while shifting, eating a doughnut, flipping the radio stations or changing cds, and drinking a coffee that forget to steer the fucking car.

    • Re:Maybe it's time (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NeMon'ess ( 160583 )
      Maybe you should have told him to turn off the fucking phone after the first 30 seconds. If you tell him loud enough that he can't hear the conversation, you're doing good. Too many people are sheep and pussies, maybe both.
    • Re:Maybe it's time (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eil ( 82413 )

      Banning cell phone use in cars is just stupid.

      I'm not about to cite it as fact, but one of the recent safety campaigns where I work was urging employees not to talk on the phone while driving unless a speakerphone is used. Supposedly, there was a study about how talking on the phone was as dangerous as driving while intoxicated with a blood/alcohol level 3x the legal limit.

      I take every "statistic" with a large lump of salt and the same would be true of this particular instance if it weren't for the fact that just about every other day I see some idoit talking on his or her cell phone while at the same time running red lights, cutting off semis, or otherwise conducting all manner of moving violations possible.

      It is my opinion that in this country, cell phones have only enabled the stupid to act stupider, but this time with a tinny piezo-produced rendition of The Entertainer as an excuse.
  • by reaper20 ( 23396 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:16PM (#4095205) Homepage
    Some RIAA nut said "DMCA, that law should be enacted everywhere.", now look what happened.

    I prefer Laurence's method. Group humiliation of stupid people is always entertaining.
  • by mitzman ( 523507 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:17PM (#4095211)
    I don't know how much this irritates other people, but cell phones in theaters are the worst. I was out seeing Signs a few weeks ago and during some of the most suspensful scenes someone's cell phone would go off. Damnit I hate that. It just ruins the essence of the film.

    Now this doesn't stop people from talking. Sitting behind me were 4 people, 3 girls and 1 guy. They wouldn't shut the hell up! I mean, an insightful or sarcastic comment every now and then is ok, but carrying on a conversation (and one that didn't have anything to do with the movie) is just down-right rude. I sure don't pay $9 to hear someone else talk about the itch that appeared after sleeping with a guy, or the test they cheated on in school. The solution: They should have a duct tape dispenser at the ticket-taker booth and every single person should have their mouths taped shut. There we go, a solution to all the problems.
  • Some of the technological solutions offered last time this came up on Slashdot talked about cell phone jammers. If it's a civil offense, you can forget to turn your phone off and the worst you can happen is that you get fined. If you are getting jammed, the worst that can happen is that you can't call 911 when you have to, then your family sues the state government for damages after you die.

    If you really need your phone, then your company won't mind sucking up the fines when you're called back to the server farm or hospital or wherever you're needed.

    • >>If you are getting jammed, the worst that can happen is that you can't call 911 when you have to

      We went over this when that conversation was on. Theaters have pay phones; 911 is a free call. If the time it takes someone to get to the pay phone makes a difference in your survival, the chance you would have made it anyway is very, very slim. In fact, until they get that location locator system set up, using a pay phone very well could be quicker than making a cell phone call.
    • The use of jammer is illegal in some place like UK as it'd cause interference outside the building.

      In fact there are other solution [] which uses magnetic wood built around the theatre to block phone signals.

      Of course, legislation is perferrable by theatres owners, and you can see why. :)
  • waste of time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by trybywrench ( 584843 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:18PM (#4095220)
    This law is unenforceable so why waste the time? A better law may be to force manufactures to only offer vibrate on cell phones.
    • Re:waste of time (Score:3, Interesting)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      no, that's not a better law. That's fucking stupid. It's not the manu's responsibilty to stop producing options just b/c people in the world are stupid as piss.

      I personally feel that cell phones should be banned in all public areas including restaurants, theatres, schools, arenas, etc.

      I suppose that airports (and the like) are acceptable.

      I will again state that I hate the use of cell phones and the users of cell phones (I can certainly do w/o the comments that they are helpful for emergencies and are sometimes necessary for work situations, that's obvious).

      I see little or no need for cell phones in society. My parents are always pissed off that they cannot reach me when I am not at home (gf as well). That's pretty much my point. When I am in Wisconsin camping and going to see The OtherOne's play, there is absolutely no reason I should need to be contacted.

      Remember the 1980's when pretty much no one had them? I want to go back to that day. Messages left on answering machines or w/your roommate were sufficient.

      Instant communications are annoying.
      • Re:waste of time (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Eil ( 82413 )

        Hail! Someone who thinks like me!

        Just about once a month someone asks me why I don't have a cellphone. I usually give them a line about how I despise cell phone contracts or lack of reliability from the companies, (both true) however the real reason is that I simply do not want to be that available to anyone who might have the whim the dial up my number.

        And then the financee nags too, because she believes that always carrying a cell phone is vital to my overall safety. She once asked me what I would do if my job ever required me to have a cell phone. I told her I'd simply ask for a pager instead and she nearly hit the roof...

        Why is there so much damn pressure to own a cellphone these days?! Blegh, yet another reason I should have been born a hermit.
    • Re:waste of time (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mystik ( 38627 )

      Another solution that I've thought out --- Instead of a Phone-jamming as what has been done in a few resturants -- which can potentially be unsafe, mandate that phone manufactures construct phones that respond to a certain signal, and automatically go into vibrate, or quiet mode.

      I fear too many phones have already made their way on to the market for this to work. :(

  • Today's dilbert [] sums this whole thing up nicely :)
  • Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrumpyYoYoHead ( 602135 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:18PM (#4095223)
    Ban those whining, crying babies, those are more annoying.
  • Yelling (Score:2, Interesting)

    by EvanED ( 569694 )
    "Wired mentions that actor Laurence Fishburne, in the middle of a Broadway performance, yelled to an audience member to 'turn your f___ing phone off!'"

    I wish I was there for that...
    • Can anyone think of something more publically embarassing than this? Could you imagine the trip home with your friends after getting chewed out by Morpheus himself? "Free your mind, but not your weekend minutes"
    • Yea, did anyone sneak a video camera in and bootleg it?

      ...fuck that's illegal too, huh...
  • Rights (Score:4, Funny)

    by rat7307 ( 218353 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:19PM (#4095228) Homepage
    Sign in theatre:

    Patrons have the right to have their mobile telephones/pagers on in this theater as long as they agree that other patron have the right to pour Coke (or similar) over the phone users head

    Happy all round!!

  • Very simple way to fix this without wasting a legislators (read MY TAX $) time.

    You own a theater. You make a rule (not a law) that says.: NO CELL PHONES, BEEPERS, ET AL ALLOWED.

    I really don't see why the government needs to be involved here. Cell phones in cars, dangerous, cell phones in theaters annoying. Let the theater owners deal with this.

    Or have Vin Diesel act in a B'Way show and have him beat the shit out of the first hickory assed scumbag who gets a phone call. Suddenly cell phone useage in a Theater will seem like a bad idea.
  • Story Time (Score:5, Funny)

    by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@mon k e l e c t r i c . com> on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:25PM (#4095256)
    Few years ago during "the college years", I was taking Math 46, Differentials. For some reason cell phones would ring EVERY day in class, sometimes two or three times. The teacher was *quite* annoyed but he was being far too polite about the whole mess.

    One day, a phone rings and it was the scooby doo theme, my buddy next to me says "FAAAAG!!!" and the whole class bursts out laughing. The next day another phone rings and I yell "FAAAAAAG!!!". This went on for about two weeks until everyone got the picture: Turn your phone off or the entire class is going to laugh at you and call you a fag.

    Social pressure really worked in this case, people started using vibrate mode, and it was a good thing.

    So to Laurence Fishburne: way to go!

    (now I know someone is going to attack with some PC crap about the word fag -- get over yourself, that was what really happened, and it was funny, and I dont wanna hear it :)

  • They should ban fat people first who block out the whole theater's view. Cell phones are just a momentary distraction, whereas that fat lady in front of you blocks out the whole movie the whole time! And don't even get me started on those girls who, like, talk, like the whole time, ya know?, and ... get the picture? what-ever.
  • by willith ( 218835 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:30PM (#4095278) Homepage
    You know what I think we should do about cellular phones in public...


    Oh, excuse me for a second.

    Hey, what's up?

    Naw, I'm just posting on Slashdot.

    Slashdot. You know. It's like, a big web site thingy. People post comments and stuff. It's kind of like the Roman senate if the Roman senate had been populated by thirty thousand incensed midgets.

    Yeah, I know. I TOTALLY get that all the time.

    Cell phones. We're talking about cellular phones in public places.

    I *KNOW*! That TOTALLY drives me insane. Like, when you're talking to someone and their phone rings and they start talking on their phone instead of to you?

    Totally. So, what's up with you? How's it going....
  • Thinking ahead... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by telstar ( 236404 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:32PM (#4095284)
    While they're at it, they should pass a law banning the expansion of cellular service to subway tunnels.

    One of the saving graces of the NYC subway is that, for the most part, people pretty much shut the fuck up. Unfortunately, cellular companies are currently researching the economical benefits of expanding service to the underground. Combine cramped quarters with non-stop blabber and I fear everybody might turn into Colin Furgeson.
    • One of the saving graces of the NYC subway is that, for the most part, people pretty much shut the fuck up.

      Perhaps you enjoy reading and re-reading ads and subway maps, but not everyone considers sitting in silence to be the most constructive use of their time. Assumably you wouldn't begrudge me a conversation with the person sitting next to me, so until you want to engage me in an interesting and stimulating conversation (about polite use of cell phones, perhaps), i'd appreciate being allowed to talk on a cell phone as long as i'm not unnecessarily loud or obnoxious about it. Besides, if you really have something which is a better use of everyone's time than talking to whomever they want, we won't need to ban cell phones: everyone will just do your thing.

      And as long as i'm ranting, i'll the same thing is applicable in general. You don't need to be upset by people walking around talking on cell phones unless 1) you would be upset by them walking around talking to another person (in which you need help) or 2) they are being really loud, obnoxious, or dangerously distracted, or 3) nonstandard reasons like they're causing radio interference (which should be an FCC issue) or they're talking to your wife (again not the phone's fault).

      Personally, i think cell phones are useful for talking to people during time which would otherwise be useless (ie transit). I think they're also useful for getting in touch with people. I do find it amazing that my mom carries a cell phone and won't turn it on, but expects me to able to find her in croweded (1000+ people) places. Maybe i'm just lame (well, not maybe, i am), but the off chance that one of my friends wants to talk to me is worth the risk that i have to spend 30 seconds of my time helping a colleague with something. If you refuse to carry a communication device because you don't want Work communicating with you, maybe you need to have a discussion with Work. /rant
  • by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:41PM (#4095339) Homepage Journal
    It's pretty simple actually. There are perhaps eleven thousand people in the U.S.A. that are important enough to have to take a call whereever and whenever. But the rest of people don't rate and have no business taking a call in a theatre, a resturaunt, or even in the grocery. It's funny but it used to be that the ones who carried pagers in the 80's were either physicians, corporate captains or drug dealers. Then when I was an undergrad everyone had pagers. Now when I walk through campus on the way to the hospital or my lab EVERYONE is talking on cell phones constantly. Who are they talking to? Even in a history class I was sitting in on recently had a student who actually took a call while in class! I was flabbergasted as you would be crucified if that happened in any of my medical school classes or in any of my PhD coursework. But my friend teaching the history class says it happens from time to time.

    We have become amazingly selfish as a nation and it is being reflected in everything from speeding through neighborhoods, to taking phone calls in inappropriate places to feeling justified in taking that extra half hour for lunch on company time. (Don't forget all of those "first post" punks. Nobody cares. You are just noise to be filtered through.) Because of this general societal disregard that some folks have, we have to start enforcing certain issues that should be checked due to a sense of shame that seems to be lacking. Ergo, speedbumps in neighborhoods to slow people down and because our hospital had problems with employees who were billing the hospital for extra time around lunch and in the mornings and evenings, time clocks that check you in and out were implemented. As for cell phones? We also have problems with cell phones in hospitals as they can disrupt certain electronic equipment being used for patient care. But do people care? No. We have signs up all over the place saying please do not use your cell phone, but folks simply ignore it. Therefore, could the solution here simply be cell free zones that are electronically enforced? They have them in resturaunts in Japan after all. This way no new laws need to be created or enforced and it would probably be cheaper to proactively block the signals.

    • by The Optimizer ( 14168 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @12:48AM (#4095658)
      In the last year, I've have a number of surreal incidents brought about by the fact that I didn't have a cell phone with me, kept it turned off if I did, or asked other people the seemingly obvious questions about why they are bothering with a cell phone instead of ignoring their caller.

      I do own a cell phone. I reluctantly bought one for my wife and I only because we had a child. Two people, not counting myself have my phone number: My wife and my father (well 3 if you count my mom). Usually I don't bring the phone with me, unless I am expecting to hear something specific from my wife. And even then, I will *never* bother to take or make a call while driving, and my wife knows that. (What's the point of a having a super-performance car if you're not dedicated to driving it?)

      People are amazed to find out I own a phone but don't have it with me, and that I could care less. I would swear that it is becoming a status thing to not have to immediately answer to anyone who calls you -- rather they have to wait for you to contact them at your convienence. The expressions I see on people's faces after questioning why they let someone else interrupt them are priceless. It's as if they never realized it until just now...

      What's happened here? Are we now all beholdend to answer someone and anyone's call at any hour of the day? Sorry, but that's a quick way to lead a high stress life. What about time and place that is our own? Did people just give that up without realizing the price paid?

      Sure, other people have more ligitemate callers and calls to make --- but really, are they all necessary? or are we just conditioned to talk on the phone because it's there? I'll bet most people can't see or admit to themselves that their calls are alot more noise and less signal then they'd like to think... i.e. many of their calls could be eliminated and they wouldn't be any worse off.

      Must all calls allways be answered? Does that mean everyone calling is more important than you are?

  • While I agree with the law about not talking while driving (it's already been proven a hazard many times over), this other law is just plain stupid.

    If multiplexes are too damn cheap to pay for their own security, then what the hell are they going to do? Call the NYPD every time some jackass who's talking on their phone refuses to leave?

    I think the NYPD is a bit too busy to be bothering with this, but then again, they went and collected a mis-shipped prototype WebTV for MS, so maybe they wouldn't mind...
  • Horrible idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by donutello ( 88309 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:45PM (#4095364) Homepage
    I don't think the city should be making laws about this. Theaters are private property and it should be up to the property owners to make rules about cellphone usage, etc. If the owners of the theater are ok with people using cellphones, it is none of the city's business.

    Personally, I hate idiots using cellphones during performances and would make an effort to support theaters which ban their use over other theaters. However, I just don't see this as being part of the governments jursidiction.
    • Re:Horrible idea (Score:3, Informative)

      by nlh ( 80031 )
      I don't think any owners of theater are OK with people using cellphones. In fact, almost every theater I've been to recently has some type of "please turn your cellphone off!" sign or warning.

      The difference is, theater owners can't fine you if you keep it on. They can't take away your phone either -- all they can do is yell at you. A law would enable direct monetary or physical consequences to being a dipshit, and that will act as a deterrant.

  • by JazFresh ( 146585 ) on Sunday August 18, 2002 @11:48PM (#4095383)
    I was in a movie theatre watching Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and at a pivotal, very emotional point in the movie, everyone is totally quiet and completely immersed in this beautiful scene.

    And then Flight of the Bumblebee started up.

    Everyone cringed, because it was already muffled - it was in somebody's handbag, so the audience knew they'd have to suffer while the guilty party furiously dug around for it, and that it would get worse (i.e. LOUDER) when they took it out to shut it off.

    There was a deep gruff voice from the back:

    "Let it ring. So I can find you."

    It got shut off pretty quick.

    • My solution (Score:3, Funny)

      by mizhi ( 186984 )
      We had a problem in the lab I work in with people keeping their ringers on; so we put out a policy that all phones must be on vibrate. That worked for about 5 days until people started forgetting. What made the situation worse was that people would leave cells on their desks while they went to the bathroom or went to smoke.

      One day, this guy and his gf were out for a smoke and his cell went off four times. The second and third times it went off I picked up for him and hung up. The fourth time I decided to hide it. By now I was pretty pissed, so with the help of a friend, we hid it in one of the flourescent lightbulb cieling lights. This one you had to lift the bulb out of the socket to get the cell under the light. And we left it there. He came back about 10 minutes later and we had one of the guys in the lab who had his number ring his cell. When he realized that his cell was gone and he had no idea where it was, the fun began. It took him about a minute to identify the area the phone was in and then another 2 to figure out that it was above him. Meanwhile, the entire lab is laughing their asses off at them, myself especially.

      The cells were on vibrate pretty regularly for a while, but every once in a while, someone slips up. And then I strike, much to the bemusement of the rest of the lab. It's a fun challenge finding inventive places to stash a cellphone. Next time, I plan on removing the chip from the back. In anycase, the whole lab is now so terrified that when they forget to put their cell phones on vibrate and they get a call, they pick it up in about .25s, look at me, and say "I got it!"

      The lab has quieted down quite a bit. :-)
  • ``Laurence Fishburne, in the middle of a Broadway performance, yelled to an audience member to "turn your f___ing phone off!"''

    Here's hoping that a lighting technician shone a big spotlight on the dufus as well.

  • Admittedly I haven't read up on this in detail, but is there any exceptions set in place for doctors, network admins*, and other jobs where being on call 24 hours a day is extremely important? I mean if these people want to go to a movie or a broadway show they should be able to like everyone else. I know that paging is a far better idea and probably most doctors stick with those, but there's got to be some jobs out there where having a cell phone active all the time is a requirement. *: Assuming network admins get away from the computers and out into that big scary world once in a while :)
  • Kim Kuo, a spokeswoman for the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, said the industry preferred educating people on cell-phone etiquette than slapping them with fines.

    I don't konw, $50 sounds like a pretty cheap education for those clueless enough to carry a live cell phone into a theater.

  • by zorander ( 85178 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @12:07AM (#4095458) Homepage Journal
    There's a lot of piss and moan going on about this right now so let me clear this up (I know it's been mentioned, but people don't often see things deep in the threads and make moronic comments anyways)

    Cell phone use in cars is not illegal in New York state. I should know. I drive cars in New York State.

    It's the *handset*. If you get a handsfree unit ( is law that all phones come with a handsfree unit in this state. typically they give you a coupon to send for one.) It's the hand off the wheel, not the conversation/distraction factor....and of course the looking for the phone when it rings (handfree makes it easy to answer and something you can learn to do without looking--like skipping tracks on the CD player).

    Besides. I like having the phone in a handsfree cradle because that keeps it charged (even in the limited amount of time i spend in the car) and I always know where it is when I am getting out of the car and need to make sure I have it, etc. Makes things easier and less distracting..

    this is a good thing...especially around here, high school students get into accidents involving cell phones because they're more inexperienced at driving and the extra distraction puts them over a threshold in an emergency situation...actually I think looking for the phone/getting it out of my pocket is the hardest part...

    oh yeah. You can talk at stoplights and while pulled over, and for thirty seconds under any circumstances before a ticket can be given. Very few emergencies need more than thirty seconds..

    so that's the scoop on cell phones in cars in new york so COOL IT

  • by phr2 ( 545169 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @12:35AM (#4095595)
    NY only bans handheld cellphones--you're still allowed to use a handsfree one. And that misses the point. Handsfree helps only part of the issue. The other part is driver distraction due to pseudo-big-shot executives holding complex business meetings on the cell phone while driving in traffic. They don't need a handsfree phone. They need a brainfree car, like a real big shot uses.

    That's right, wanna-be's. If you think you're such a big shot as to need to do business in your car, fine, do what a real big shot does. Hire a fscking driver to drive the car while you sit in the back and make all the phone calls you want. The megacorp where I formerly worked actually provided chauffeured company limosines for all managers starting at the executive director level (ED was one level below VP, so ED's were generally in charge of a few hundred people). They were wise to do that.

    At the time I thought it was a ridiculous perk to make the mucky-mucks feel important. Looking back, I understand it a lot better. The ED types really did have to take 7am conference calls while en route to work, entertain visitors on the way to and from the airport, etc. The limos really let the company get more work out of the ED's and probably saved a bunch of road accidents. When the company saw that its execs needed to take meetings in the car, they did it the right way and there was nothing pretentious about it. It's the pseudo-execs who insist on endangering traffic because they're not important enough to rate getting a car with a driver who are pretentious. If your time isn't so valuable that it's worth your company's while to supply you with a driver, then you can afford to pull over or stay in the office when you make your phone calls.

    Note, I don't advocate a total ban on using the phone while driving, since a short call to let someone know where you are doesn't suck your mind away from the road. I'd get rid of the handsfree/non-handsfree distinction and instead make it a violation for a driver to be on the phone more than 2 minutes continuously while the car is moving. An accident where cell tower records show the driver was on the phone more than 2 minutes should be treated similarly to DWI, since accident statistics show cell phone use and drinking are comparably dangerous.

    • I am of the thinking that the root cause of the accident or offense is immaterial.

      DWI laws bug the shit of me. They set arbitrary lines of intoxication when no such line exisits.

      Same with the cell-phone thing. I've been the in car with someone holding a meeting via cellphone, while the driver who was speaking and concentrating on the meeting performed some of the most skilled driving I've ever seen. Its completely dependent on the skill of the invovled person.

      I really think what need is to get rid of most of the laws regarding that stuff - DWI, Cellhpone bans, all that junk.

      Instead punish outcomes. If you are driving down the road and swerving in and out of lane, thats reckless endangerment and reckless driving. It doesnt matter if you were reaching for the radio, reaching for the phone, dropped a cigarette in your lap, or are drunk (if you are drunk when pulled over, you'd of course get arrested on the spot still - I am not suggesting we just write a summons and send them on the way).

      Likewise if you are involved in a fatal crash, that is your fault, and there mitigating factors like speed, fatigue, cellphone use, or whatever it should be vehicular manslaughter - aka - reckless disregard for human life.

      This whole trend of regulating just the causes of this type of stuff bugs me. We should be focused more on the end result: you kill someone and you're at fault, its vehicle manslaughter. You swerve into oncoming traffic inadvertantly its driving to endanger. Ticketing/jailing for the "causes" makes no sense in a setting where the same act for one person would be dangerous and for another would routine. Fighter jet pilots can pull turns at Mach 2.0+. It is perfectly safe for them to do so. If I try that with my Cessna 152, the wings will rip off and I will perish as surely as the sun rises. We wouldn't treat a fighter pilot the same as a private hobbyist. So why do we apply the same silly standard to drivers?
      • We wouldn't treat a fighter pilot the same as a private hobbyist. So why do we apply the same silly standard to drivers?

        Because the likelihood of me being out with my family and getting hit by a pilot is almost nil.

        What you're basically saying is 'wait until somethign bad happens, THEN act', which is fucking stupid if you've ever lost someone to drunk driving, criminal negligence, or the like. What about people who can drive straight while drunk, but have reduced reflexes or attention span? Are you saying let them run a stopsign or red light and kill someone before we do anything?

        We set arbitrary limits because there have to be some limits. Limits that we have e.g. on DWI (blood alcohol, etc) mean that if you're drunk and get caught, you're fucked no matter what - you're not off the hook just because you didn't kill someone, or just because the accident wasn't your fault.

        Moral of the story, we have DWI laws because driving while impaired is NOT fine just because you didn't kill someone, because who knows what'll happen next time?

  • Real Solution? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by boopus ( 100890 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @12:49AM (#4095663) Journal
    With more and more cell phones being bluetooth enabled, how hard would it be to integrate some sort of "ringer off" message that went out to all cell phones in the area? That way, anywhere that thought it required quietness could easily turn off the ringer... This would be somewhat expensive, but bluetooth hardware is supposed to be cheap...

    Your phone could have a setting to automatically accept the ringer off command, or promt you if you chose... There would still be assholes, but you wouldn't have the "oops I forgot to turn the ringer off" syndrome.
    • Quiet-Zones (Score:3, Interesting)

      by detritus. ( 46421 )
      I'm glad someone brought this up... Blue Linx Inc. [] has been working on this for quite some time now. The question is whether it will be adopted by the industry or not (be sure to read the FAQ on Blue Linx's site). There's also another article mentioning Quiet-Zones here [].
  • I vote for... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @12:52AM (#4095674)
    I vote for a box to make cell phones ring as you enter an establishment, so that whoever is at the door can hand out a clue.

    In movie theaters, you could put up a "have you turned off the ringer on your cell phone?" slide, and then make the things ring. Do this 4 or 5 times before the previews, etc., start.

    Another alternative is to actually put a *cell* in the theater, and give it a $50 call termination/origination fee. 8-).

    -- Terry
    • Re:I vote for... (Score:5, Informative)

      by barnaclebarnes ( 85340 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @04:33AM (#4096290) Homepage
      In movie theaters, you could put up a "have you turned off the ringer on your cell phone?" slide, and then make the things ring. Do this 4 or 5 times before the previews, etc., start.

      Actually they have been doing this for at least the last couple of years in the UK. Twice before the mobvie starts they have an ad. The first one has about 10 phones ringing from all over the place (surround sound), the next one is a Wallace And Grommit ad.

      They work to. Most times I rememeber to turn of my phone before I go into the theater but on the few occasions I don't the ads are a simple polite way to remind me to.

  • insanity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @01:55AM (#4095860)
    While I hate cellphones in cinemas, cafés and restaurants as much as the next guy, I think a *law* to prohibit them in those places is absolutely absurd! What's next? A law against putting your elbows on the table? A law against not opening the door to older people? A law that says you can't chew with your mouth open?

    I'm from Finland and this used to be quite a big problem here. Not just at cinemas. It seems people have learned now and for the last couple of years, I don't recall being disturbed by someone's phone at a movie theatre or restaurant. It just takes a while before people pick up on the etiquette. But you sure as hell don't need a law for it.

    "Land of the free" indeed.
  • by DarkHelmet ( 120004 ) <`ten.elcychtneves' `ta' `kram'> on Monday August 19, 2002 @02:27AM (#4095947) Homepage
    Wired mentions that actor Laurence Fishburne, in the middle of a Broadway performance, yelled to an audience member to "turn your f___ing phone off!"

    Cellular phone rings

    Morpheus: God damn motherf*cking people. Bwah, I need my pills, where are my pills?

    Neo: Red or Blue?

  • by ikekrull ( 59661 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @03:07AM (#4096090) Homepage
    Jamming the cellphones while in the theatre is.

    A law should be passed to allow active jamming of cellphone signals by property owners on their property, rather than outlawing the use of cellphones in certain areas.

    Why? because then the law will not be twisted to new interpretations - i.e. carry a cellphone at a public protest, and be arrested for it.

    Try and use a cellphone to call someone to report police brutality and get arrested for it.

    Think facing a search when entering a public place to 'check for cellphones' is too far fetched? After the airport security measures introduced after 9/11, I don't think so.

    Just carrying a cellphone could be grounds for detention or search.

    Another option is for manufacturers to voluntarily support some type of audible-ring supression on receipt of a certain signal - this is, of course, a similar type of strategy to the RIAA/MPAA - control the rings by modifying the hardware, but in this case, I don't think too many people will be actively hacking such a system, especially since it does not preclude non-audible alerts.

    However, I still think the blanket jamming approach is best all round, since the cellphone industry has not responded to the problem by now.

    The only situation I could see where jamming would be undesirable is in some type of emergency situation where a cellphone call getting through might be important e.g. fire/earthquake etc.

    All in all, I think if cellphones have become a significant enough annoyance, then the government should let the people take action if they so desire, instead of the police - This might result in the manufacturers coming up with a real solution to the problem instead of sweeping it under the rug and pretending that building deliberately obtrusive alert mechanisms is a good thing to do.

    Now, this might lead to johnny/julie hacker building a mobile cellphone jammer to keep obnoxious cellphone users out of his/her personal space, so such a law would need to be written carefully - perhaps you would need to obtain a permit to jam cellphones in your area and pass inspections to ensure you weren't jamming too large an area. It could be part of the building codes etc.

    However, I believe that giving people the right to supress transmissions on non-essential spectrum on their own property shouldn't be a big problem.

    Anyone else think along these lines?

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Monday August 19, 2002 @07:47AM (#4096648) Homepage Journal
    (first off /. sux today - it's made me enter this twice)

    Yeah fuck them and the golf carts they rode in on. They can ban cell phones when they outlaw the dozen commercials they run in front of the movie -yeah the ones just like the ones on TV I go to the movies to avoid. For live theatrical performances? OK but for everything else - get a fucking grip on yourself and your artistic freedom and shut the fuck up, Precious.

    They day they BAN cell phones is the day they'll a brand spanking new bank of $5.00/minute pay phones in the lobby.

    And Larry Fishburne? Yeah fuck you too and make some more movies with a Baldwin brother.
  • by WebMasterJoe ( 253077 ) <> on Monday August 19, 2002 @11:06AM (#4097672) Homepage Journal
    For everybody who wants to install some sort of signal jamming system: That would probably be illegal because there are some types (doctors, ambulance, police, fire dept.) who need their pagers to work, even when they're out at the theatre.

    This doesn't need legislation - it can be handled by the people. If you run a theatre, remind your patrons to turn off the ringers on their cell phones, or you'll throw them out. Train the kids in red suits to throw them out, too. If you're at a theatre and somebody's cell phone rings, politely let them know that it's bothering you, and let the management know too. I don't see why we should legislate manners. If society finds it to be rude, let society scold offenders.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.