- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 19, 2010

A national debate involving Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration is under way regarding airlines’ authority to permit passengers to use cell phones while in flight (“Cell phone ban on U.S. airplanes challenged,” Page 2, Wednesday). If the goal is to fully destroy the airline industry and make flying an even more miserable experience than it is, then cell phone use should be approved.

The prevalence of cell phones in our society has made us a lesser people. It is impossible to avoid the many oafs on our streets and on transit vehicleswho share the most intimate details of their lives with strangers through their public cell phone calls and those who think nothing of yelling at and cursing those who apparently are (or were) their significant others.

On an airplane, people are in very close quarters. If cell phone conversations were permitted, the privilege would be abused, as it is everywhere else today, and annoying conversations would be conducted within inches of passengers who do not want to hear them. No doubt verbal and physical altercations would ensue over the blabbermouth who would come to believe that he or she had an absolute right to use a phone for as long as he or she wanted, to converse as loudly as desired and on any topic.

While riding on public transit, I have heard people reveal their names, addresses and Social Security numbers, heard a woman ask someone, “Why were you calling my husband at 5 a.m.?” and listened to another woman say she was being investigated by a child welfare agency.

Because of the hassle of today’s airport experience and air travel, I have not flown in more than two years and have no desire to fly anytime soon.Cell phone use in flight would be another reason to forgo a vacation indefinitely.

Alexander Graham Bell could not have imagined the menace to civilization that his seemingly wonderful invention would come to be.

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.