Man Sues Yankees For Not Letting Him Use Bathroom During Singing of “God Bless America” April 15, 2009

Man Sues Yankees For Not Letting Him Use Bathroom During Singing of “God Bless America”

I don’t know if this guy is an atheist or not, but I imagine many of us would want to hear about how this plays out.

Bradford Campeau-Laurion was kicked out of the old Yankee Stadium last August because “he tried to use the restroom during the playing of ‘God Bless America.'”

“The role of police officers is to enforce the law,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said.

“New York’s finest have no business arresting someone for trying to go to the bathroom at a politically incorrect moment,” Lieberman said. “That is an abuse of authority and a violation of the constitutional principles that our country is founded on.”

Campeau-Laurion explained that he needed to use the restroom and was not concerned about “God Bless America.” Then he attempted to walk past the officer.

Before Campeau-Laurion could take a step, the police officer grabbed his right arm and twisted it behind his back, the lawsuit claimed.

A second officer twisted Campeau-Laurion’s left arm behind his back, and the two officers marched him down several ramps to the stadium’s exit with his arms pinned behind his back.

The encounter ended with one of the officers telling Campeau-Laurion to leave the country if he didn’t like it.

The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Yankees today over this incident.

The officers claim Campeau-Laurion was being disorderly.

You can see video of the plaintiff here.

This seems at first glance like a flimsy case.

What would happen if someone walked out during the National Anthem? Would the person be arrested? What if the person was really old and needed to go? Should it really matter if everyone stands up and sing? How is this different from a student refusing to stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance?

You can’t force people to be patriotic.

(Maybe the guy just needed Stadium Pal.)

According to The New York Times,

The Yankees do, in fact, have a rule restricting fan movements during the playing of “God Bless America,” a rule enforced by ushers, stadium security guards and the police.

What an awful policy. Can anyone explain how that’s allowed?

(Thanks to b for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Sure this is not April fools? This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.

  • Miko

    Can anyone explain how that’s allowed?

    It’s allowed for the same reason that opera houses are allowed to restrict entrance/exit to between acts: it’s their property and when you’re on it, you follow their rules (to a reasonable extent). Of course, just because it’s allowed doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

  • Larry Huffman

    If you got up and left an opera to go to the bathroom…which you can do…you will simply not be allowed back in until an intermission…they do not arrest you.

  • Thilina

    Can anyone explain how that’s allowed?

    …it’s their property and when you’re on it, you follow their rules (to a reasonable extent).

    Even those laws should only be enforced by ushers and occasionally stadium security guards (if things get bad). The police are there to enforce the laws of the state/country, which to my knowledge doesn’t say anything about using the restroom during the playing of ‘God Bless America while’.

    And if the police did have the authority to enforce those laws the guy should have been told to go back and sit down, not arrest him.

  • Ryan

    Another reason to hate the yankees… and cops… and america… and the list goes on…

  • Larry’s point is a good one. I might add that few opera houses seat more than a few thousand people at most … whereas, given the size of Yankee stadium, the odds are good that, at any given moment, SOMEONE is going to need to use the restroom. Even during God Bless America!

  • stephanie

    Sorry, you can’t block someone from biological necessity, no matter how you feel about the musical direction.
    Personally, I hope the guy is diabetic because that would really strengthen the case and could potentially get the ADA involved.

  • Luther Weeks

    it’s their property and when you’re on it, you follow their rules (to a reasonable extent).

    Maybe but what if public funds helped build the stadium?

  • Brian Westley

    A copy of the lawsuit is here:

    Note this part:
    19. Though he respects the religious activities of others, Mr. Mapeau-Laurion does not participate in religious services and objects to being required to do so.

  • silver

    I don’t know about anywhere else in Canada, but I know for a fact that in my part of Canada, there are no rules that say that you have to wait until an anthem is finished before you have to go.

    People here are slightly more reasonable, they’d rather have clients go to the bathroom than have them have an accident and cause a scene.

    There’s patriotic, and then there’s insane.

  • Hal in Howell MI

    I rush to the bathroom every time I hear “God Bless America.”

  • It doesn’t really matter if he needed to take a leak or not. But to arrest someone for trying to go do what nature tells you to do is ludicrous.

    It doesn’t matter if you have rules or not – circumstances dictate. And anyone with an ounce of common sense would let someone be to take a leak when they need to and not stop them.

  • bigjohn756

    This sounds like Saudi Arabia to me. Where else would you be arrested for doing something natural.

  • Jinx

    This makes me sad to be an American

  • Nancy

    “Durink za zinging of God Bless America you VILL remain in your zeats and zing alonk vith the rest of za crowd, bladder be damned!”

  • This policy is pathetic, and it makes me glad that someone is challenging it.

    However, I’m not that optimistic about the outcome of this case.

    Unless this man was really being disorderly (which I doubt), I think he should win. Will he? Probably not.

    What are the odds of one man against “patriotic” cops in NYC? Probably close to nil, it would seem. I hope the legal system works impartially.

  • Bill

    “Durink za zinging of God Bless America you VILL remain in your zeats and zing alonk vith the rest of za crowd, bladder be damned!”


  • Siamang

    I don’t know about anywhere else in Canada, but I know for a fact that in my part of Canada, there are no rules that say that you have to wait until an anthem is finished before you have to go.

    I also want to bring up something that should be so obvious it doesn’t need to be said, but damn well should be said anyway when you have clowns arresting people for a lack of patriotism:

    “God Bless America” is NOT our national anthem. Nor is “Proud to be an American”, nor is “All My Exs Live in Texas.”

    These same Patriots are often bullshitters. I was at a Fourth of July picnic locally a couple of years ago. A “YEE-HAW” American was right next to me, whooping and hollerin to “Proud to be an American” and whatever that song is about sticking a boot up Saddam’s ass.

    This guy was a full-on Fox News Republican. He was all about Supporting Our President, and “damn liberals” this and “damn liberals” that.

    Funny thing is, this asshole is on his cell-phone during the *actual national anthem*. Hat ON, chatting away.

    The whole crowd is standing up, hands on hearts, hats off. This guy’s chatting away.

    Sorry, I have proper respect for our flag, our country and our anthem. I DO NOT stand for “Proud to Be a Republican”.

  • I am old enough to remember when, in England, the National Anthem was played in cinemas after the last performance of the day.

    I am surprised no one was ever trampled to death in the stampede for the exit.

  • James H

    I’m not willing to take this man’s complaint at face value. What was his attitude? How did he respond to the officers’ initial approach? What was his state of inebriation? I say wait for more facts before passing judgment.

  • AJ

    I have to agree with James. I also agree with that poster who said that this is “allowed” because it is private property. That said, the police shouldn’t be able to enforce the rules a private property owner establishes. Police enforce laws, not rules.

  • Jen

    Maybe I am about 6 years old, but if I were a guy, and someone told me I couldn’t go into the bathroom, well…

  • 3D

    Ryan Says:
    April 15th, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Another reason to hate the yankees… and cops… and america… and the list goes on…

    And, to make matters worse, the Yankees are the only one of the 30 major league teams that still plays that horrendous, obnoxious fucking song during the seventh inning of every single home game of the season.

    They all started doing it right after 9/11, in a robotic display of pseudo-patriotism; but after about a year, most teams scaled it back to just Sundays, holidays, Opening Day, “honoring the troops” days or other special occasions. But the Yankees still play it every game, just because they are self-important, pompous, culturally tone-deaf pieces of shit.

    This story comes as no surprise if you follow baseball. The Yankees and their fans = Fox News Republicans.

  • RG

    “You can’t force people to be patriotic.”

    I don’t like this quote, how is listening to this song patriotic. We need to be careful of how we let the word patriotic be defined.

  • Polly

    This is completely moronic. I hope he wins the suit. It’s a fucking song, that’s all. We’ve all heard it and we’ll all hear it again. Quote from Vonnegut’s “Breakfast of Champions”:

    Trout and Hoover were citizens of the United States of America, a country which was called America for short. This was their national anthem, which was pure balderdash, like so much they were expected to take seriously:
    [text of anthem removed]
    There were one quadrillion nations in the Universe, but the nation Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout belonged to was the only one with a national anthem which was gibberish sprinkled with question marks.

    I’m not a patriot, I don’t give a good goddam about any flags and I certainly don’t chant any nationalist incantations.

    I’m not proud to be an American because I tend to be proud of things I actually had something to do with – and I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have picked the US if I had a choice.

    And, if there were a god worth his salt, he’d bless everyone not just US. Hell, I think he’d be pretty pissed off at us, frankly.

  • atheomatic

    I’d just arrived as an exchange student in 2003 at a big midwestern school, and remember going to a football game and getting barked at by someone (who knew I was foreign) for not taking off my hat during the national anthem. I remember being pissed. Seriously, I’m supposed to put my hand on my chest and take off my hat for the US national anthem when I’m not a citizen? Weird as fuck.

    hats :: patriotism
    ferrets :: global warming

    I’m still here, but I only hang out with sane people now.

  • Tom

    I think it’s legal for the opera house because they’re ensuring quality of experience for their guests, regarding a paid performance of opera, not forcing the guests to participate in religious expression. The Yankees, on the other hand, are forcing guests to participate in a religious statement which has nothing to do with the paid performance of baseball. So it’s questionable whether they can force you into that, even though they are privately owned. (I rather doubt they warn you before you purchase your ticket that by purchasing the ticket you agree to be forced to participate in a religious expression.)

    Also, is Yankee Stadium private property, or was it built with public money like so many other sports venues?

    And the police should not be in the business of enforcing private speech, even on private property. They’re an arm of the government. If the Yankees’ requirement is otherwise legal, they should have their security guards enforce it, not the police. When the police get into the business of abusing people who don’t want to participate in the religious expression, that’s unconstitutional.

    Also, if I recall correctly from previous articles I’ve read about the topic, part of the way the Yankees enforce this is by running a chain over the ends of the rows of seats so you actually can’t leave until the religious experience is over; apparently this guy got out before they put up the chain. That part really amazed me: if it’s true, somebody in New York should call the fire department and complain that the chain could result in deaths in the event of an evacuation due to a fire and demand that the Yankees be forbidden to use it.

    As if I needed another reason to say it… Yankees suck. Go Red Sox.

  • I, for one, will now sing “God Bless America” at the top of my lungs every time I use the restroom.

  • SASnSA

    I agree Jen, he should have relaxed the ole bladder, especially if the officers decided to “pat him down”, then finished up by saying “now see what you made me do?”. Couldn’t hurt his case.

    attorney: “you say you caught him on his way to the bathroom during “God bless America?”

    cop: “yes”

    attorney: “then what did he do?”

    cop: “p****d all over himself.”

    attorney: “and you don’t think that meant that he really had to go?”

    Maybe it’s time those officers learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The need to excrete waste far outweighs the need to stand and listen to a song he’d heard a thousand times before.

  • teammarty

    So does that mean that as an Atheist, I can be thrown out af a Sporting (or any other, for that matter) that I paid to go to with my own hard earned money for not professing when ordered to?

    Zieg fucking heil.

    Once in a while, at Michigan Football games (full disclosure mom pays for the tickets because they’re in the rents name and I can’t afford them anyway. A single game costs more than both my dad’s and my season ticket were back in the day) they ask everyone to “honor America” by standing for “god bless america”. I used to just sit through and get screamed at once in a while. I usually just show up late for the Anthem to miss it (I try to get there for it during high school games just to see how it turns out. I can name that tune in, er, 87 notes). Last year, I started singing the “Atheist Anthem” by David Mandell. There is a new version but I sing the old one because I know it

    We are the Atheists, free from mind control
    We have no gods, devils, or a soul
    Our lives are happy, as everyone can see
    Cause we love nature and humanity

    Throughout the ages, ignaorance prevails
    Religious leaders preaching fairy tales
    Stop all your ranting and thumping of your book
    We are the Atheists, we won’t bite your hook

    Reason and Science, good for you and me
    Not a foolish bible (buy-bull), or a diety
    Come out and join us,live life free and bold
    We are the Atheists, free from mind control

    (The 3rd line in the last verse is mine because I can never remember it and it’s close enough to the original for me.)

    Which honors America more, standing for your freedom or cowering in fear.

    This is long enough so see ya all later.

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