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    Sit or stand during “God Bless America?”

    Date: 09.24.09 | by Judge Tom.

    Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, baseball parks across the country have played “God Bless America” during the seventh inning-stretch. Many spectators stand, some with their hands over their hearts. The question is, do you have to do either?

    At a game in New Jersey in June, 2009, three teenagers, 16 and 17-years-old, sat during the song. One of the stadium owners saw the boys and allegedly cursed at them and had security throw them out. “Nobody sits during the singing of “God Bless America” in my stadium” said co-owner Thomas Cetnar. The boys had not been disruptive at the game before this incident.

    Photo by Scott Abelman (Flickr)

    The boys filed a discrimination lawsuit in federal court in September, 2009. They claim their constitutional rights were violated and that they should not have been ejected because they didn’t participate by standing during the song.

    Do you have to join in patriotic rituals when attending public events? What about during the Pledge of Allegiance? Or during a moment of silence for a fallen soldier or at school in the morning? Can you be forced to participate in the beliefs of others?

    A similar incident at Yankee Stadium occurred involving a person who left his seat to go to the restroom while “God Bless America” was playing. He was thrown out of the stadium and filed a lawsuit claiming his right to free speech was violated.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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