Inconsiderate Cell Phone Guy Meets Dirty Harry


Y'know, I get as annoyed as the next guy when people talk through movies, but it's never occured to me to whip out a can of mace.


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  1. This seems perfectly reasonable to me. Finally, a cop doing his job. Unfortunately I’m sure the only reason the cop was in the theater in the first place was to patrol for his MPAA overlords looking for “pirates” recording the movie. I think people who use cell phones in theaters should get at least a year in prison. Frankly, I don’t even understand why cell phones work in movie theaters in the first place?

  2. Increase the meds NOW, Bruce.

  3. Now, I know what you’re thinking: in all this excitement, I don’t know if you used 5 anytime minutes or 6 anytime minutes. Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not so sure myself. So, go ahead and make a call, but you’d better ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky, today?

    Well, C’mon, do you PUNK??

  4. As viscerally satisfying as the idea of someone getting sprayed for talking on the cell phone in a theater is, what is being descrbed in the story is police brutality.
    I suspect you’ve never been hit with that stuff, Bruce. I have, twice, in training. It hurts, and not in a “hmm, bit of a sting there” way. It’s more akin to a “I’d claw the skin off my face if I thought it would help” pain. In short, it’s not something to be deployed because the officer is irritated or wants to teach people a lesson.
    I take it you’re on of our non-libertarian readers.

  5. honestly, even if he “threatened” the cop, pepper spray?

    civility is dying, imo, on both sides of the line.

  6. I draw a line at threatening, especially if you can’t see his hands. I’ve been in a training class where the guy in the Red Man suit (big padded suit) was arguing me in a ‘bar’. He threatened me and closed distance. He blustered for a minute and I lost sight of his right hand.

    He made six cuts across my chest and arms with a rubber knife before I could respond, I’ve been through quite a bit of training for just that scenario, and I had a gun on my hip. That was some scary stuff. Nearly all police departments have training involving the Red Man.

    I don’t know what the specifics were, but this is not obviously a bad move by the cop. That is not to say that it was obviously a good plan, either. In general, don’t threaten the armed man unless you want to be dead.

  7. Too bad you can’t do a long-distance macing of the people who made the movie if it sucks.

  8. Bruce,

    I go to the theater with my wife and we have a baby sitter at home who may want to contact me in case of some emergency. I put my phone on vibrate, and if it “rings,” I like to see who is calling, and then if it is important, I leave the auditorium and take the call. What exactly is wrong with that? Oh, and by the way, shielding a building sufficiently to block cell-phone frequencies is very expensive.



  9. Judging from the lady’s name i’d say she’s black, I don’t think you’d find a cop pepper spraying some white guy in a theatre for simply answering a phone.

  10. Well, the witnesses (one admittedly might be biased) apparently support their story (or in the case of the “unbiased” witness, the portion of it that she saw).

  11. Steve in CO said:

    we have a baby sitter at home who may want to contact me in case of some emergency.

    If it’s a real emergency she should be calling 911. You’re not going to get there faster or be more helpful than trained professionals.

    If you asked me ahead of time if it was ok to interrupt my movie going experience because your toddler spilled Spahgetti O’s on your white rug, I’m going to tell you “no”.

    People need to make up their mind. Are you going to a movie or are you making yourself available for conversation with your friends and family?

    My parents went to movies and left me with babysitters before cell phones were invented and I survived.

  12. Here’s an alternative version of the story. Seems there are witnesses on both sides.

  13. Jason,

    “I don’t know what the specifics were, but this is not obviously a bad move by the cop.”

    The witness in the article said,

    “The man turned and asked the officer why he was making them leave,” Gray said, “and the cop just maced him in the face. They weren’t yelling or touching him. The man bent over and the girl asked why he maced her boyfriend. Then the cop maced her, and she dropped her soda.”

    I understand the training you’ve gone through, I’ve gone through lots of similar training myself. But I think the policy of “better mace than sorry” is unacceptable for the police department if it allows them to mace people who are merely asking why they are being detained. Granted if cops can’t mace someone who’s just being annoying, that could make their job more difficult, but a cop’s job is, in a free society, supposed to be difficult.

    Next thing you know they’ll be administering it to the eyes of protesting young women who are just sitting in an office. Oh, wait…

  14. Jason-I’ve done the red man scenario, too(once after being sprayed), and I’ve had a serious martial artist demonstrate how quickly a knife could be deployed. You’re right that that is a real concern, but a cop’s job is to use restraint and judgement. In this case, it seems like poor judgement.

  15. This guy is quicker to use the mace than Raineesha on Reno 911.

  16. 1) Go to for the more complete story
    2) I realize that this is a board devoted to bashing Da Man, but it appears that Warronica and TC weren’t maced in the theatre and Warronica said, “I’m going hit this cracker up aside his head…” So, right now, I’m going with the militsia version, not the more fun version. In short they were disruptive and asked to leave, but wouldn’t go quietly…

  17. Neb,

    Cranky, aren’t we? I go to movies rather infrequently these days, but I haven’t encountered to many cell-phone users in the theaters… usually, if I recall, if one does ring, the person usually quickly turns it off, and sheepishly apologizes and quickly exits to the lobby. As a matter of fact (this is anecdotal of course), my wife and I went to see I, Robot in a completely sold out theater, and aside from a few involuntary coughs and sneezes, the crowd was fine.



    PS You didn’t read my post very closely since I mentioned that I put my phone on silent, and you obviously do not have children, or don’t give much of a crap about yours. Though you are right about the sitter calling 911, I like the peace-of-mind knowing she can contact me for any other less-than life threatening event. And who the hell buys white carpet any longer? That’s so 70’s…


  18. It’s all rather confusing at this point. You have one witness saying he threatened the cop and two saying he didn’t. The cop says the male suspect yelled in the theater, but the witness in the theater says he went quietly.

    Admittedly, I have a hard time giving the benefit of the doubt to cops as they very, very rarely admit to making mistakes, even when those mistakes are obvious and glaring. It’s a shame, really.

  19. Sorry, there is NEVER an excuse for talking on a cellphone in a movie theater. If you are expecting a call that is so important then you should not be at a movie. Even having your phone on vibrate (which everyone around you can still hear) and then pulling it out to look at the every-so-bright 100,000,000 lux screen to “see who it is” is incredibly distracting in a dark theater. Stay at home. Pepper spraying these jackasses is not even satisfying enough for me. And don’t give me any crap about doctors who are on call. If a doctor is on call and is at a movie theater with a cellphone, it should be per se malpractice and she should have her medical license revoked.

  20. Someone in another thread mentioned Fark, and I found this interesting related photo of a cop macing a trainee.

    If I were to caption this photo, I think it would say “I can tell it’s working because the right side is tingling”.

  21. Steve in CO said:

    You didn’t read my post very closely since I mentioned that I put my phone on silent,

    What’s wrong with sitting down, shutting up, and watching the movie you paid for? That’s what I do! I turn my phone off and don’t bother anyone.

    you obviously do not have children, or don’t give much of a crap about yours. Though you are right about the sitter calling 911, I like the peace-of-mind knowing she can contact me for any other less-than life threatening event.

    Maybe I can relax knowing that I picked a competent babysitter so I can enjoy the movie as long as some handwringer isn’t fretting and running up and down the aisles answering his phone on vibrate.

    If a person can’t put the rest of their life aside for two hours, then they have some serious issues.

  22. How would this sort of thing play out in the Great Libertarian Utopia to Come? Would moviegoers have to sign documents the first time they go to a theater acknowledging the theater’s rules regarding conduct like cellphone use, and granting the theater the right to use force to eject them if necessary and/or seek monetary damages to compensate the other moviegoers for the effects of their disruption? Would you have to post bond adequate to pay off the other moviegoers if their experience is devalued by an interruption you caused?

    Would other theaters respond to market forces and offer a more hands-off approach to audience behavior, allowing anyone to talk and jump around to their hearts’ content with a simpler contract in which the customer agrees not to stab or maim other audience members without their prior written consent?

  23. I can sympathize. I was extremely agitated, I felt nauseous, my face was red, and tears were gushing out of my eyes when I first saw Godfather III..

  24. Bruce,

    Obviously, your head will soon explode due to your inability to control the universe and those ever so pesky life forms that have attained self awareness within it.
    Of course, I will not “sweat it” regardless of hearing a loud “pop” or not in the near future…

    Mace anyone?

  25. I hate cell phones as much as the next person… I admit to having one, because my parents gave it to me as a gift, but the vast majority of the time, I leave it in my car, turned off. I certainly never bring it into a movie theater.

    However, with the babysitter-emergency-cell phone thing, I would have to disagree with Bruce and Neb Okla.

    If it’s a real emergency she should be calling 911.

    Yes, if it is a life-threatening emergency, the babysitter should call 911 first. But if I were a parent and my kid were being rushed to the hospital, I think I would like to know right away, instead of sitting obliviously in the movie theater while my kid undergoes emergency surgery or something.

    If you are expecting a call that is so important then you should not be at a movie.

    Most parents are not expecting a call about some kind of emergency with their kids, but it could still happen. I don’t think that parents should never be allowed to go out just because of the slight possibility of an accident happening with their kids while they’re gone.

    I used to babysit, back before everyone and their grandmothers had cell phones, and I always made sure I knew where the parents were going, and the phone numbers of those places, in case of an emergency. Fortunately, I never had to make an emergency call, but I can tell you that if a kid I was babysitting had to be taken to the hospital, I would have called up the movie theater, restaurant, or wherever the parents were, in an attempt to contact the parents. It would have been a hell of a lot more disruptive than someone discreetly looking at the cell phone screen to see who was calling, and slipping out of the theater to call back.

    That said? I agree that there is still never an excuse to TALK on the phone in the movie theater. If you must bring your phone into the theater, I don?t want to hear it ring, and I don?t want to hear your conversation. Put it on silent or vibrate, discreetly check to see who called, and if necessary, leave the theater to call back. It?s not necessary to respond to every call, either. Your fishing buddy can wait until you get out of the movie.

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