Enter the rudeness police

May 29, 2007, 9:11 PM UTC

USA TODAY reports that, in an effort to stem audience rudeness at its movie theaters, the Regal Entertainment Group (RGC) will be handing out wireless devices to certain patrons whose job it will then be to alert Security about any breaches of etiquette before, during and after the movie is in progress.

One can only wonder what the average security guard in your local movie theater would do with a pack of popcorn-throwing, cursing, muttering, cell-phone wielding rowdies. Or how he or she would deal with a two-year old screaming her head off while mom and dad watch Davy Jones emerging from his locker with tentacles dripping. Presumably, such unarmed, underpaid, and sometimes underweight security detail would be able to brandish empty tubs of popcorn and say, “Hey! Don’t do that!” while the offending parties laugh and offer suggestions about their mothers.

Still, Regal is to be commended for trying to enlist cordial, civilized citizens in the effort to control and contain the growing ranks of drooling, yelling others. I’d like to suggest something even more radical: the issuing of such devices to anybody who wants them. It could be funded by either a Federal Program or by Warren Buffett, who possibly has more money than the United States at this point.

The idea is pretty simple: we each have a device. When we see or hear something rude and disruptive to the rest of us being committed by somebody who doesn’t care about other people one bit, we set off the alarm, the Rudeness Police arrives and detains that person until they issue an apology. As is generally the case in our culture, anybody who apologizes publicly for anything is immediately punished by that public in a manner 100 times worse than if they hadn’t admitted any wrongdoing whatsoever. When the Rudies are sufficiently chastized, they are then free to go.

Certain rules would apply. Anybody who has been cited for Rudeness within the past 12 months may not have a device. Those who are so cited lose their gizmo for the same period of time. Those detained for multiple infractions over time are subject to banishment to someplace where Rudeness does not matter–France, maybe. Potential hardware upgrades are possible for those who attain senior Rudeness Police status, including devices that spray a noxious fluid and those that deliver a 10,000 volt charge, particularly to people who talk on cell phones in restaurants.

Here are some examples of people who would immediately be detained in my book:

  • Moguls who yell at people over their Bluetooth connection while walking on the street to and from lunch;
  • Anybody who refers to excreta or sex with someone else’s parent while audible to others in a public place;
  • Drivers who employ less than two digits to gesture at fellow citizens of the road;
  • People who BlackBerry others while speaking to you, even if you are very boring and know it;
  • Individuals who refuse to give up one-half of an arm-rest in coach;
  • Men with beards who do not inspect them for bacon bits after eating;
  • Anyone who, when aggravated at hotel, restaurant or spa, employs the phrase, “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”
  • Bill O’Reilly.

This is just my list, of course. You may have your own. You may in fact be one of the people listed above, or sympathize with them in some way. That’s fine. Go about your business.

We’ll be watching.