When 18-year-old Austin Whaley and a few of his buddies decided to run into the famed Convington, Kentucky bingo hall and yell "bingo," they probably thought it'd be a fun, harmless prank. They couldn't have been more wrong. Police Sgt. Richard Webster, fresh off the career case, described the scene at the hall, which was mostly filled with elderly women, after the false "bingo" shout:
"At first, everybody started moaning and groaning when they thought they'd lost," Webster said. "When they realized it wasn't a real bingo, they started hooting and hollering and yelling and cussing. People take their bingo very seriously."
Apparently, Sgt. Webster also takes his bingo very seriously. He apprehended Whaley and issued the 18 year old a citation for second-degree disorderly conduct. "Just like you can't run into a theater and yell ‘fire' when it's not on fire, you can't run into a crowded bingo hall and yell ‘bingo' when there isn't one," Webster told NKY.
Webster, still angry, went on, noting that all of this could have been avoided if only Whaley had apologized. "He seemed to think he could say whatever he wanted because it was a public building," Webster said to NKY. "I tried to explain that that's not the case. Just because it's a public building doesn't give you the right to run into a theater and yell ‘fire.' You can't go into a ballpark and yell ‘out,' because people could stop the game."
Fair points, except for the one comparing falsely yelling "bingo" in a room full of old people to falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded room. Luckily for Whaley, the probably still-mad Webster was not in charge of his sentencing.
Kenton District Judge Douglas Grothaus showed some leniency and, instead of the maximum punishment of 90 days in jail and a $250 fine, gave a more reasonable, if possibly unconstitutional, penalty: "Do not say the word ‘bingo' for six months," Grothaus ordered Whaley.
If Whaley avoids trouble (and saying 'bingo') for six months, the charge will be dismissed.