O Say Can You Scream?: The many absurdities of the city code surrounding "The Star-Spangled Banner"

What with all this Star-Spangled hoo-hah going on here in The City With The Dawn's Early Light, we just happened to be skimming through "ARTICLE 19 POLICE ORDINANCES (As Last Amended by Ord. 14-231)," published by the Baltimore City Department of Legislative Reference, and could not help but be absorbed with several opportunities to break the law and incur $100 fines for each infraction. We've bolded the fun stuff and hope you will comment below, at the twilight's last gleaming.

POLICE ORDINANCES ART. 19, § 49-1

SUBTITLE 49

STAR-SPANGLED BANNER

§ 49-1.

To be performed as entirety.

(a) In general. “The Star-Spangled Banner” shall not be played, sung or rendered in the City of Baltimore in any public place, or at any public entertainment, or in any theatre or moving picture hall, restaurant, or cafe, except as an entire and separate composition or number, without embellishments of national or other melodies.

(b) Use in medley prohibited. Nor shall “The Star-Spangled Banner” or any part thereof or selection from the same be played as a part or selection of a medley of any kind.

(City Code, 1927, art. 32, §118(1st sen.)(1st, 2nd cls.)); 1950, art. 24, §84(1st sen.)(1st, 2nd cls.)); 1966, art. 19, §127(1st sen.)(1st, 2nd cls.)); 1976/83, art. 19, §152(1st sen.)(1st, 2nd cls.)).) (Ord. 16-167.)

§ 49-2.

Use for dancing or exit march prohibited. Nor shall “The Star-Spangled Banner” be played at or in any of the places mentioned for dancing or as an exit march.

(City Code, 1927, art. 32, §118(1st sen.)(3rd cl.)); 1950, art. 24, §84(1st sen.)(3rd cl.)); 1966, art. 19, §127(1st sen.)(3rd cl.)); 1976/83, art. 19, §152(1st sen.)(3rd cl.)).) (Ord. 16-167.)

§ 49-3.

Performers, etc., to stand. And whenever and wherever practicable, the musicians, performers, or other persons shall stand while playing, singing, or rendering “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

(City Code, 1927, art. 32, §118(1st sen.)(4th cl.)); 1950, art. 24, §84(1st sen.)(4th cl.)); 1966, art. 19, §127(1st sen.)(4th cl.)); 1976/83, art. 19, §152(1st sen.)(4th cl.)).) (Ord. 16-167.)

§ 49-4.

Proprietor responsible. No owner, proprietor, or manager of any theatre, moving picture hall, or restaurant, cafe or other place in the City of Baltimore where the public gathers shall permit or allow anyone playing, singing, or performing therein to play, sing, or render “The Star-Spangled Banner” in violation of the provisions of this subtitle, and in the event of any such permission or allowance, such owner, proprietor, or manager, upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to the penalties imposed by § 49-6 of this subtitle.

(City Code, 1927, art. 32, §119; 1950, art. 24, §85; 1966, art. 19, §128; 1976/83, art. 19, §153.) (Ord. 16-167.)

§ 49-5. {Reserved} 11/15/12 -137-ART. 19, § 49-6 BALTIMORE CITY CODE

§ 49-6. Penalties. Any person violating the provisions of this subtitle shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof before a Court of competent jurisdiction of this State, shall be fined not more than $100.

(City Code, 1927, art. 32, §118(2nd sen.)); 1950, art. 24, §84(2nd sen.)); 1966, art. 19, §127(2nd sen.)); 1976/83, art. 19, §152(2nd sen.)).) (Ord. 16-167.)

Furthermore, and in conclusion, with respect to Our National Pastime, Your Baltimore Orioles, and the unmistakable early stages of Pennant Fever beginning to make themselves apparent here in The City That Bleeds Orange, our careful armchair-lawyer reading of the above Ordinance allows us to remain confident that it is always OK to scream "O!" at that critical point in Our National Anthem, long may it wave.

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