Friday, June 17, 2011

Worse Than Flying

I think we all know the security drill with flying by now. Have your ID. Take off your coat.  Take off your shoes. Have liquids in containers of no more than 3.4 ounces or less, in a quart-size Zip-Loc bag. Take all metal objects out of your pockets and place them on the belt. Raise your arms or prepare to be patted down. Keep smiling. Actually, if these things keep us safe I'm all right with them.  Heck, they can even strip search me (if they really want to see what I look like, although I don't know why they should). However, I've found an event that is even more restrictive than the TSA about what attenders can bring in, and that's the U.S. Open currently going on at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda. Just consider their list of prohibited items (straight from the Open website): "cell phones (including any cell phones with photographic
capabilities), PDAs and/or other portable e-mail devices, noise producing electronic devices (including MP3 players), cameras and/or camcorders(other than Monday through Wednesday for personal non-commercial photographic use only and without their cases),  bags larger than 8”W x 8”H x 8”D in their natural state, cases and/or covers (such as chair or umbrella covers), signs, posters and/or banners, televisions and/or radios unless provided by the USGA, food and/or beverages, containers and/or coolers, pets (other than service animals), lawn and/or folding armchairs, bicycles, ladders and/or step stools or other similar items, metal-spiked golf shoes, weapons (regardless of permit, including but not limited to firearms or knives) and other items deemed unlawful or dangerous by the USGA and/or championship security personnel, in their sole discretion."

Well. I have a couple of observations about this list. The first is that the USGA needs to learn the difference between a proper noun and what we used to call an improper noun. In the original document, everything was capitalized whether it needed it or not. I don't like to be snarky about grammar but in this case I will. Also, it seems to me that people who attend golf tournaments are a fairly docile lot, kind of like the crowd at Wolf trap (but without the picnic baskets).  It's not like the Vandals have shown up at Congressional demanding to let in.  Now that would be a distraction.
That said, I'm sure there are reasons for these prohibitions.  I'm sure that someone somewhere some time tried to bring in a ladder to a golf tournament for a better view. My wife played for a wedding where the photographer hauled around a ladder during the ceremony. It had his name on it in case anyone wanted to make sure that no one they knew hired him for a wedding. 

I suppose that the list makes me sad. It seems that we have come to the point where we can no longer trust each other to be sensible and well-comported.  When I was teaching, my students complained about restrictive rules. I told them the best way to do away with such rules was to exercise self-control, thinking of the greater good and demonstrate that they could act in a civilized manner. Otherwise, there are rules and lists. It makes me sad that they are perhaps regrettably necessary, but somehow I think most of us are better people than that.


  1. Sorry about the different fonts. I think the PGA hacked into my account.

  2. Common sense is not so common--nor is common courtesy...or whatever else we used to take for granted. I agree. It is indeed sad, and at least in part, due to the litigiousness of our society. If anyone attacked someone in the crowd with a pocketknife, you can bet that the PGA would find themselves among the defendants for failing to provide a safe environment. Likewise for pictures that might be taken without golfers' consent. And so on, and so on. Most probably, they are doing what we all do-covering ourselves in case anything goes awry. Back to grin and bear it, I guess.

  3. I call 'em common nouns, but that's just my fourth-grade style. My students know the difference.

  4. @Mary--You're absolutely right that most of these regulations are to prevent or forestall lawsuits. Still sad, though.

    @Amy--Calling common nouns "improper nouns" is a good example of English teacher humor. As you can tell, being in an English classroom is a laugh riot.