One of the worst ideas of the old year may hit us hard in the new year unless sufficient numbers of us protest. I'm talking about the possibility the Federal Communications Commission (search) might approve the use of cell phones on commercial airliners.
Those of us who travel frequently are already aware of rude people who speak loudly into their cell phones on the ground — in restaurants, while walking along the street and even in restrooms while they are conducting, shall we say, other business.
While waiting for the airplane doors to close and immediately after landing, one can often hear people talking loudly into their cell phones so that everyone around them and several rows away can hear. I recently heard a woman on a cell phone chewing out what must have been her husband (because he was taking it in silence). She was on the other end!
Imagine some guy after a few drinks shouting into his cell phone at 30,000 feet. And imagine a fellow passenger expressing his annoyance and not so politely asking him to hang up. Then imagine a fight breaking out and the chaos to follow.
If people can't be out of touch on an airplane, they are too busy or too full of themselves.
We managed to exist for thousands of years without cell phones and we are suffering through plenty of things at airports and in airplanes without the cell phone chattering classes making things worse.
Public comments on whether to allow cell phones in flight are now being received by the F.C.C. you'd better get your comment in now or buy a pair of good earplugs.
And that's a cell phone free column one for this New Year's night.
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Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America". Readers may email Cal Thomas at email@example.com.