Much like you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater, it would appear yelling “bingo” in a crowded bingo hall is also off the table. Earlier this week a Kentucky judge sentenced an 18-year-old accused of second-degree disorderly conduct to refrain from using the word “bingo” for the next six months as part of his punishment for causing a stir when he interrupted a game by making a false declaration.
Although the comparison to yelling “fire” might be a false equivalency, according to Park Hills Police Sgt. Richard Webster, the ruckus that resulted from 18-year-old Austin Whaley’s “bingo” call was still very real. In his initial citation, Webster said Whaley’s actions, “delayed the game by several minutes and caused alarm to patrons.”
Apparently the blue hairs at the bingo parlor were less than amused by a random outsider bursting in and deliberately interrupting the flow of their game. As Webster reports, “At first, everybody started moaning and groaning when they thought they’d lost. When they realized it wasn’t a real bingo, they started hooting and hollering and yelling and cussing. People take their bingo very seriously.”
Despite facing a potential $250 fine for the misdemeanor charge, Judge Douglas Grothaus admonished Whaley for his actions and handed down the unusual sentence, “Do not say the word ‘bingo’ for six months.”
Regardless of whether Whaley can actually be legally prevented from using the word “bingo,” it sounds like he got the overall message. Grothaus said, “[Whaley] was remorseful in court. He was obviously a good kid who hadn’t been in trouble before. With all the other things that happen in the court system and the families you’re dealing with, you’ve got to keep a sense of humor.”
As long as Whaley doesn’t disrupt any bingo games during the next six months the charge will be dropped.