Delaware Supreme Court Overturns $80,000 Fine For Theater After Employee Instructs Black Audience To Behave During A Tyler Perry Movie [Updated]

Update: It has been pointed out that this article contains factual inaccuracies. In fact, it was originally the Delaware Human Relations Commission that ruled that the theater should be fined a total of $80,000. That ruling has since been overturned by the Delaware Supreme Court. According to Delawareonline, the Supreme Court ruled that "there was no racist language in the announcement, no specific group was singled out and the non-racial explanation for the announcement — that it was part of a since-discontinued company policy at sold-out shows to ensure that all patrons would enjoy the movie — was reasonable." Apparently, the policy of telling audiences to be quiet has been discontinued.

The original article follows.

You almost can't win at movie theaters anymore. Whether it's people chewing their popcorn too loudly, some inconsiderate twat whipping out their cell phone in the middle of the movie, or somebody unloading a bullet in your arm or stabbing you in the throat with a meat thermometer, there are an almost endless amount of little irritations that can quickly turn a fun matinee into a frustrating ordeal. Such was definitely the case in 2007, when a theater manager demeaned a largely black audience who were getting ready to see a showing of Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married. Learn more after the break.

The story comes from a report by NewsOne, which explains that the resulting lawsuit has finally been resolved.

The incident started when, prior to the showing, the manager of the theater told the patrons to turn off their cellphones, be quiet, and remain in their seats during the movie. Doesn't sound so bad... until you find out that was the only one of the theaters he instructed to do so. Before that point, the audience had been well-behaved, so even though he didn't use "racist language", he did in fact single out a black audience. Some of the viewers noted that his tone "was offensive and condescending, as if he were speaking to children".

Here's the verdict:

The Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that the theater must pay almost $80,000 for violating the Delaware Equal Accommodations Law. Each patron listed in the complaint was awarded $1,500 in damages, and the theater was fined $5,000 on top of $20,000 in plaintiffs' attorneys' fees and costs.

Without having been present during the incident, it's impossible to determine whether this is a case of a discriminatory hatemonger getting what he deserves or political correctness gone awry. According to the article though, evidence was presented that the manager gave a similar speech to a largely teenage audience before a showing of Rob Zombie's Halloween. So it's quite possible the manager was interested less in race and more on people shutting the hell up during movies. If his speech was specifically tailored to the teen crowd, however, then the more likely explanation is that he assumed an almost all-black audience wouldn't be capable of keeping quiet during a movie without him kindly informing them that they should be. In which case, he's a dick, and we can laugh at his misfortune.

Still though, $1,500 just for being present? I wish I could score that much dough off being a victim of implied racism.