The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

 

Pissed Off About Forced Patriotism

I've complained before about the forced patriotism which compels the Yankees to play Kate Smith's deathless rendition of "God Bless America" during every seventh-inning stretch since the dark day of September 11, 2001. And I've complained about the increasingly heavy hand exerted by Yankee Stadium security forces in that time frame. Those two forces, combined with ever-increasing attendance rates, have greatly diminished the returns on attending a game in the House That Ruth Built over the past several years.

But this is completely beyond the pale: a man attending a Yankees game was allegedly verbally and physically harassed by thugged-out stadium police for committing the grave sin of attempting to take a bathroom break during "God Bless America":
I attempted to get up to use the restroom, rather urgently, during the 7th inning stretch as God Bless America was beginning. As I attempted to walk down the aisle and exit my section into the tunnel, I was stopped by a police officer. He informed me that I had to wait until the song was over. I responded that I had to use the restroom and that I did not care about God Bless America.

As soon as the latter came out of my mouth, my right arm was twisted violenty behind my back and I was informed that I was being escorted out of the stadium. A second officer then joined in and twisted my left arm, also in an excessively forceful manner, behind my back. I informed them they were violating my First Amendment rights and that I had done nothing wrong, with no response from them.

I was sitting in the Tier Level, and of course this is the highest level of the stadium and I was escorted in this painful manner down the entire length of the stadium. About halfway down, I informed them that they were hurting me, repeated that I had done nothing wrong, and that I was not resisting nor talking back to them. One of them said something to the effect that if I continued to speak, he would find a way to hurt me more.

When we reached the exit of the stadium, they confiscated my ticket and the first officer shoved me through the turnstiles, saying "Get the hell out of my country if you don't like it."
Are you fucking kidding me? I've taken many a restroom break during "God Bless America" during my days and nights at Yankee Stadium, and I've not only never been harassed by anyone for doing so, I was never aware that they actually had a policy -- almost certainly illegal and blatantly unconstitutional -- to try to quell such activity. Nonetheless, given the ever-eroding quality of my own experiences at the stadium in recent years, I fear that the allegations are true.

Yankee Stadium security deserves no benefit of the doubt here, nor in this instance does the Steinbrenner family if they're the ones who have ordered the policy be implemented. Forcing paying customers to stand at rapt attention during a song isn't some cute little attempt at patriotism to bolster the legacy of Mr. Born on the Fourth of July Steinbrenner, it's FASCISM. Roughing them up over their failure to stand still during a canned recording of a song that's been drained of all meaning by its endless repetition is in diametric opposition to what the song and the country it so proudly celebrates stand for; this is about as un-American as you can get.

Furthermore, this incident puts the lie to any claim regarding "the hallowed ground of Yankee Stadium" at a time when the ballpark's history is being celebrated and its demise mourned. The Yankees deserve to reap all of the bad PR they've sown with this, and the Steinbrenner family can cram it up their Yankee Doodle Dandies until they figure out why they're in the wrong.

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