Tarry for the Nonce

March 15, 2006

Treating the Symptoms

Filed under: Uncategorized — lmwalker @ 2:51 pm

So now movie theaters would like permission to silence cell phones. This doesn’t come as a surprise, but their rationale made me giggle:

Movie theater owners faced with falling attendance are considering asking federal authorities for permission to jam cell phone reception in an attempt to stop annoying conversations during films, the head of the industry’s trade group said on Tuesday.

If people are more interested in conversing on their cell phones than watching the movie, perhaps the industry should do a slightly more focused root cause analysis.



  1. Weren’t cell phones invented so that important calls could go through when necessary? I think this is just a bad idea. I mean, what about doctors and people who are on-call who need access to the phone during those time frames? Don’t let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.

    Comment by Andrew P. — March 16, 2006 @ 10:28 am

  2. Maybe people on constant call should not go to movies?

    We did not have cell phones until recently, and I do not recall things being too bad.

    I would favor jamming the phones, just as many churches are starting to do because of constant interruptions. I have told my parishioners that there is a 50 dollar fine for a phone ringing during Mass. You should have seen all the people reaching to shut them off!

    The last movie I saw was ruined by a guy using text messaging during a film. The light was very distracting as was his constant tapping. I reported one guy who was talking on the phone at a theater a month ago, and had him removed. The guidelines are very clear, turn the ringer off; but people do not listen.

    If the phone has a vibration mode, the person can step out of the theater or church and answer it. But if the theaters and churches must start jamming, the phone addicts only have themselves to blame. I have no sympathy for them.

    I know I sound pretty strict about this and I am. If I had my way, those using handheld phones in moving cars would face serious fines. We had a lady killed in front of my rectory because she was distracted by her cell phone and did not pay attention to the road– and the BIG truck. She was killed instantly.

    Now, if we could only jam mp3 sets, portable radios, and miniature televisions as well. Yes, those are popping up in theaters and churches, too. Despite earphones you can still hear the pounding beat as it eats through their ear drums and reverberates the popcorn cup out of your hand and the soda into your lap– at movie theaters, not churches, where only the gum jiggles and finds a place under pews.

    Pax et Bonum

    Comment by Father Joe — March 16, 2006 @ 10:13 pm

  3. I’m guessing that someone bringing an iPod or a portable TV (!) to church services is not that interested in the sermon. Which would seem to go to Laura’s point about a more focused root cause analysis.

    And don’t get your hopes up — cell phones aren’t going to be jammed in theaters, churches, or anywhere else that doesn’t have Government Property – No Trespassing signs. All sorts of technical and legal barriers stand in the way.

    Comment by Toly — March 16, 2006 @ 11:47 pm

  4. The last movie I saw was ruined by a guy using text messaging during a film. … The guidelines are very clear, turn the ringer off; but people do not listen.

    Well, then the real problem is that people have lost their civility and have begun to resort to barbarized ignorance with regards to technology. I for one almost always vibrate my pager and silence my phone before entering Church or a theater. To make the majority suffer due to the minority is, I suppose, a product of 20th century ideas of liberty. Such a sad, sad world we have created. I blame Motorola for all our problems. Every single one.

    All sorts of technical and legal barriers stand in the way.

    Umm, we banned cell phones from server farms years ago. Most people ignored it, but the company eventually got much stricter when camera phones started to show up in the market place. Trade secrets and all that. Doesn’t a business have an inherent right to ask patrons to abide by its policies? I know that policy isn’t law, but I would think property ownership rights and such would have some impact on this. Perhaps Troy can enlighten us.

    Comment by Andrew P. — March 17, 2006 @ 1:23 am

  5. Actually, I know several churches, including Catholic ones that jam cell phones right now. There is a written notice posted at the door warning parishioners. The only reason I have not installed one is the cost.

    I say Mass twice a week at Coast Guard Headquarters where “camera” phones are banned.

    People and organizations can control or regulate electronic communications on their property, if not by edict then at least with additional technology.

    Comment by Father Joe — March 17, 2006 @ 9:22 am

  6. Perhaps Troy can enlighten us.

    Sadly, I can’t. I assume that a company/person could generally exercise control over its/his/her domain, but the FCC may have something else to say about that.

    Comment by Troy — March 17, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

  7. A jammer has to transmit a signal on the same frequency as the source it’s trying to jam, only at much greater power. I could see several legal problems with this:

    1. I don’t believe the FCC allows the operation of such a transmitter without a license, and it won’t give you a license.

    2. Should this interfere with someone’s pacemaker, etc., the owner/operator would be liable.

    3. In case of a genuine emergency, if you deliberately blocked a phone call to 911, someone’s doctor, etc., you as the owner/operator could be liable. And while I’ve tried my utmost to avoid the annoying “priests-molesting-boys” stories that seem to have the media so enthralled, even the little bit that got past my personal jammers indicates that people just love suing the Catholic Church.

    4. A jammer powerful enough to drown out signals inside a building, will also interfere with signals outside the building, creating dead spots. At the very least, you could expect nasty lawsuits from carrier companies.

    5. Remember the cell-phones-give-you-brain-cancer scares? They haven’t gone anywhere. Your jammer is acting like a much higher-powered cell phone.

    Ah, the joys of living in a country with far too many trial lawyers…

    Comment by Toly — March 17, 2006 @ 6:08 pm

  8. Ah, the joys of living in a country with far too many trial lawyers…

    I agree that the tort system is out of control, but it is the juries who award the damages that fund the lawyers. Joe Sixpack is just as much to blame as the trial lawyers.

    Comment by Troy — March 18, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

  9. man! some of my best phone conversations take place in the theater.

    Comment by Alistair A. — March 20, 2006 @ 9:06 am

  10. Last night at a church where I help out, two phones rang during the Mass. Since it is not my parish, I cannot ask for a $50 fine.

    Instead, at the end of Mass, I am going to have them stand up and tell God and the congregation that they are sorry for the interuption. Maybe a physical cruciform prostration in the center aisle would also be in order, as well?

    By the way, picture catalogues are already advertising jammers for phones and guarantee that they neither affect pace-makers nor hearing aids.

    But my poor church cannot afford the thousands of dollars to install it. I guess the $50 fine will just have to do– yeah!

    Comment by Father Joe — March 20, 2006 @ 10:37 am

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