You know that whole thing about how you can’t run into a theater and shout “fire” if there’s nothing on fire? That same exception to the First Amendment’s right to free speech holds for interrupting a perfectly good bingo game by screaming “BINGO!” if you haven’t, in fact, scored a bingo. An 18-year-old in Kentucky learned that lesson from the law after crying “bingo” last month.
The officer who cited him back in February explained that he was working an off-duty security detail at a local bingo hall in February when the 18-year-old reportedly burst into the hall with some of his pals and yelled the magic word, reports NKy.com.
“This caused the hall to quit operating since they thought someone had won,” the officer wrote on his citation. “This delayed the game by several minutes and caused alarm to patrons.”
The crowd was less than pleased with the young ruffian, he added.
“At first, everybody started moaning and groaning when they thought they’d lost,” the officer explained. “When they realized it wasn’t a real bingo, they started hooting and hollering and yelling and cussing. People take their bingo very seriously.”
Because the kid wouldn’t say he was sorry for ruining everyone’s game, the officer cited him for second-degree disorderly conduct.
“He seemed to think he could say whatever he wanted because it was a public building. I tried to explain that that’s not the case,” the officer said. “Just because it’s a public building doesn’t give you the right to run into a theater and yell ‘fire.’ You can’t go into a ballpark and yell ‘out,’ because people could stop the game.”
Part of the young man’s punishment, instead of the potential jail time and fees he was facing? The judge will dismiss the charge if the guy doesn’t get in trouble in the next six months — and if he refrains from saying the word “bingo” for that amount of time. It’s unclear whether he will have to wear a bingo-monitoring bug device.
Bogus ‘bingo’ earns no jail time [Nky.com]