Sport, without spin, from around the world. Matthew Hall considers the issues behind the headlines and tells the stories that others don't.
God bless America, or face ejection
When you've gotta go, you've gotta go. Open Season finds out what happens when patriotism goes down the toilet.
If sport and politics apparently don't mix, then what about religion?
Or, even, rabid patriotism?
That's the issue raised by the New York Civil Liberties Union, an organisation that claims to defend the rights and liberties guaranteed by the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
That's the small print. Here comes the meat. The NYCLU has sued the New York Police Department on behalf of a baseball fan "who was ejected from the old Yankee Stadium last August after trying to use the restroom during 'God Bless America'."
You couldn't make it up. Luckily, we don't have to.
Claims the NYCLU: "The lawsuit maintains that Bradford Campeau-Laurion, a 30-year-old lifelong baseball fan and resident of Astoria, was the victim of religious and political discrimination on August 26, 2008, when police officers forcibly restrained and ejected him from Yankee Stadium after he tried to walk past an officer during the playing of 'God Bless America'."
It gets better.
"Campeau-Laurion, the director of Web productions for a media company, attended the August 26 Yankees-Red Sox game with a friend, who had a ticket package for 11 games at Yankee Stadium during the 2008 season. Campeau-Laurion had attended several of these games with his friend.
"Campeau-Laurion quietly watched the game, ate a bag of peanuts and drank two beers. He decided to use the restroom at the start of the seventh-inning stretch – a period when fans often choose to use the restroom. He got up and made his way down the aisle as 'God Bless America' began playing.
"A police officer blocked his path and indicated that he could not leave during the song. 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."
All Hell then broke loose with police ejecting the Red Sox fan. The encounter ended with one of the officers telling Campeau-Laurion "to leave the country if he didn't like it".
"I don't have an issue with 'God Bless America'", said Campeau-Laurion.
"I don't have an issue with the Yankees playing the song. My issue is with the Yankees forcing people to stay in their seats and participate in it. Forcing people to participate in an act of patriotism really devalues the freedom our country fought for in the first place."
The NYPD has a different recollection of events – even though its officers were on "paid detail", where uniformed officers moonlight for private security firms.
"The officers observed a male cursing, using inappropriate language and acting in a disorderly manner while reeking of alcohol and decided to eject him rather than subject others to his offensive behaviour," read a statement from the cops.
God bless America.
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