March 3, 2010

The finger...

... and the law.


Unknown said...

Good thing it was in namby pamby Oregon and not Chicago. The first time he would have gotten a warning slap. The next time a broken finger.

Or so I hear.

traditionalguy said...

The idea of shooting the bird at a police officer is so stupid that their arrest should be for public stupidity, unless thatcome under a priviledge or immunity.

Anonymous said...

How about a recitation of Supreme Court caselaw on the use of "fighting words."

If I flip off the cop, can he fucking punch me out? Would that be OK with the court? Would the court then rule I'd used the equivalent of "fighting words?"

I need a law professor blogger.

Haven't I illegally incited him? And hasn't the Supreme Court ruled "fighting words" are not protected speech?

MadisonMan said...

their arrest should be for public stupidity

Being stupid is not illegal.

(If it were, I'm sure congress would have exempted themselves from that law too.)

traditionalguy said...

NewHam...The police officer has a gun, a taser and many friends that back him to the hilt, including the soliciter and the Judge. My advice is to pick on a weak person, like an illegal immigrant, for kicks.

Anonymous said...

"The idea of shooting the bird at a police officer is so stupid"

Why, exactly?

Isn't this a protected form of protesting our government?

In the world you would create traditionalguy, a cop could arrest you at any time, claiming you'd shot him the bird (even though you didn't).

How would you be able to prove that you never shot the cop the bird?

Allowing the police to pull people over for doing things like this eviscerates the principal of "probable cause."

And that's why courts reject it.

We don't want a police state. And the fact that this lawyer keeps getting illegally pulled over for fingering cops proves how easily we could have one if we let the cops get away with their unprofessional behavior.

I hope they have to pay him mucho dinero for their unprofessional and illegal arrest of him for merely exercising his free speech rights.



Hagar said...

If I knew how to research law, I think I probably could find quite a few precedents in the Common Law for punishing persons guilty of blatant disrespect for public officers.

There is too much thinking that there has to be a written statute covering your specific action for it to be punishable.

And there is way too much writing of statutes whenever there is an opportunity for politicians to grandstand.

traditionalguy said...

MM...I knew that. Why else do you think I am a free man? Which reminds me of the famous Stupid and Helpless and Representing Themselves in Court Defense. That is a strategy that make most fool Judges favor them with assistance and favorable rulings. (NUMBER ONE RULE in all trial courts is that "to the potential victim goes the protection").

Larry J said...

Being stupid is not illegal.

Perhaps, but it should be painful. If stupidity were painful, there would likely be less of it.

traditionalguy said...

NewHam...So what's new. If you only knew what the police get away with in jails and in arrests? The answer is the new abundance of digital cameras everywhere...but still never flip their switch to see what power they have!

Triangle Man said...

This brings to mind the video of a lawyer giving the finger repeatedly in court.

john said...

"I did it because I have the right to do it. We all have that right, and we need to test it. Otherwise we'll lose it", says this "retired 46-year old systems analysist", apparently worried he will lose his finger.

(One of the commenters wrote that this is a good opportunity for another beer summit.)

john said...

Were the cops white?

jayne_cobb said...

It's not illegal to piss off your waiter either, but that doesn't mean you should. Actually as a general rule you should never anger anyone handling your food.

I'll never understand people who act like jerks simply because they can.

Fen said...

Am I still allowed to flip off my congressman? Seriously. Because if I'm not allowed the freedom to express that, I will radicalize.

And if I'm STUPID enough to flip off a cop, how is that any worse than flipping of congress-critters.


Anonymous said...

It's not illegal to piss off your waiter either, but that doesn't mean you should.

Piss off your waiter, and he might piss in your food.

As for the Finger, it's sort of obsolete today, the shocker is the way to go.


traditionalguy said...

Fen...Flip off everybody you meet, but if the police officer you meet is as uptight as you are, he can seriously hurt you and also arrest you for resisting arrest. Then it will become a swearing contest with the community on the officer's side, unless you find witnesses or a video. Even then the attorneys fees will not be moderate, because the attorney will also become a persona non grata to the police force when he helps you destroy their fellow officer's career. It is best to think of any on duty police officer as a Killer Whale who only seems tame as long as you are tame. This is free advice, but it has a lot of experience behind it.

jayne_cobb said...


That's also one of the main reasons that I never skimp on a tip.

MadisonMan said...

I think most police would see most bird-flipping for just what it is: some sort of meaningless statement. But there are idiot bullies who are on police forces. The law should restrict the actions of these unprofessional police.

Sofa King said...

It is best to think of any on duty police officer as a Killer Whale who only seems tame as long as you are tame. This is free advice, but it has a lot of experience behind it.

That's right. You'd better learn to live in a police state, because standing up to it is just too damn inconvenient. Wouldn't want to miss the latest installment of 24, you know!

Sofa King said...

The law should restrict the actions of these unprofessional police.

Exactly. See, that's why flipping off the police is a public service: it weeds out the bad cops. We should be thanking this guy.

Scott said...

A Minneapolis cop gave me the finger once. It was late at night on Lake Street, driving West. I was in the right lane, maintaining precisely the speed limit, from Lake Calhoun to the Lake Street Bridge. The cop car was on my left, maintaining the same speed. The officer in the passenger seat had his elbow on the window ledge, and his "bird finger" presumably supporting his forearm on the door's window frame. I think it was intentionally designed to not look intentional.

Whatever. Minneapolis cops are quirky, but they're definitely not among America's worst. That honor might belong to police SWAT teams in Maryland, who execute no-knock warrants on misdemeanor charges and then shoot every dog in sight, an average 4.5 times a day.

Rich said...

You know you can be sued for flipping the bird at someone, even though you can't be sued for killing their daughter.

Wince said...

Allowing the police to pull people over for doing things like this eviscerates the principal of "probable cause."

Unless you tried argue the act itself is probable cause or "reasonable suspicion," which could provide the basis for a stop and an arrest for a more serious offense.

The argument would cut both ways. Signaling defiance to the police may indicate something illegal may be afoot, or signaling defiance to the police would be the last thing you'd do if you were up to something else illegal.

wv-"abonser" = Get six pack abs the fun way! (Viagra not included)

Fritz said...

I was arrested for flipping off the Naperville, IL police 22 years ago. It took almost 2 years to have the case dismissed, but worth every dollar when the judge lambasted the officers. I did want pursue civil action but it was too expensive and not many lawyers were interested. Public officials should take the Clinton attitude. He told President Bush on Inauguration day while driving to the ceremony, "people are always waving and sometimes they use all 5 fingers."

Allison said...

I told my daughters when they learned to drive that there were only two words they needed to know if stopped by a policeman: "Yes, Sir (or ma'am)." Save the argument for court.

wv: crodcomo.I believe it's extinct.

Penny said...

"In November, a Pittsburgh man was awarded $50,000 after he was wrongly cited for disorderly conduct after flipping off an officer."

All in all, $50,000 is a small price to pay for this priceless teaching lesson to police departments all over the United States. This time Pittsburgh paid the tab, and next time, for another teaching lesson, maybe it will be Denver or some small borough in Maine. Just handing out a copy of this required reading should be enough to save other police departments time and money.

traditionalguy said...

One last reality check: Police will put up with asinine community members that seem otherwise to be decent and politically connected righteous folks. That is their quick method of separating the sheep from the goats. If you do not look like a favored sheep class guy, then all bets for getting fair treatment and polite suffering by police in face of your foolishness are off, and the political theories that you expect to protect your misbehavior will be of no help to you at all.

Jason said...

If I were a cop and someone waved a middle finger at me, but wasn't doing anything wrong, I would simply smile and waive a plunger back at them.

And then get on with my day, enjoying the chuckle.

WV: entensionsp.

Good entensionsp ave the road to Hell.

rhhardin said...

Take the course on French Hand Gestures.

Synova said...

If a cop can't pull over someone being offensive to them, what can they do? (Same with someone being verbally abusive, etc.)

This is why I tend to be on the side of cops when it comes to this sort of stuff.

I have a bad reaction to a situation where one person has constitutional freedoms (the flipper-offer) and the other person does not have constitutional freedoms (the cop). Police are and *should* be constrained, much like the military is, from some of the freedom of expression that we have as citizens. They should be. But because they *are* constrained not to respond normally, like anyone else... if someone flips me off or flips you off we can respond in kind, or if they are verbally abusive we can respond in kind, or if they get up in our faces we can probably clock them. And the thing that strikes me is that cops can't do those things and they shouldn't.

In exchange, or just to be fair, people should not have some notion that they have a right to insult through gestures or words, a person who is constrained not to respond.

In a word where all associations were voluntary and cops were not constrained to be servants to individuals who were abusive jerks, my opinion would be different.

Fritz said...

Synova, do you think you should have "police" powers over people because you don't like something someone said? Police represent the State and we as citizens have the absolute right to show our grievance without harassment from the State. Pulling a motorist over because he gave the police the finger is abuse of power.

Synova said...

No, Fritz.

I think that people should have to privately contract their own security which then has the right, like any other citizen, to tell them to stuff it, quit, and refuse to work for them if they treat their employees badly.

I am not at all impressed with people who think that in order to express their displeasure with the State, they have a right to abuse their servants who have no reciprocal right to respond.

Synova said...

Maybe it's because I've worn a uniform that I see people who wear uniforms as people.

And those complaining that some cops are bullies, can pat themselves on the back for enabling and promoting a system where decent people simply won't do the job.

You're selecting the caliber of police who are willing to do the job at all and are going to get what you deserve.

Fritz said...

Then they should get a different job. Boo Hoo, the poor cop has to face ridicule from the public.

Those black folks should have just shut their mouths about harassment & brutality!

Synova said...

The story wasn't about brutality or no knock warrants or any police misbehavior at all.

It was about a guy who thought that the noble road, the high road, was to flip off cops in order to prove something.

So yeah, boo hoo. He got pulled over. Oh my freaking god the police are out of control and anyone who doesn't want to be treated like crap and love every minute of it should get a different job.

But the police are still supposed to rush to your aid, catch the bad guys, and get shot for you and die for you.

Because you're special.

If you had to actually hire these guys who had a choice to protect you or not, you'd have to be polite to them or they'd tell you where to stuff it.

I think that people should call their home alarm services and be habitually abusive and see what sort of service they get.

Fritz said...

The story was about police behavior in response to being flipped off. The man arrested is suing the police for violations of his civil liberties.

I don't buy your premise that police are doing me some type of favor. The job is not compulsory, and by job, they are paid to do it. Just like having to read Miranda rights to suspects, they have to follow the other rules set by the State. That includes not abusing their police incarceration powers simply because they are offended.

Synova said...

They aren't doing you a favor.

That's the point.

They are compelled and constrained to help you, no matter what you do, how rude you are, or how much you hate them. They don't get to, as any free citizen would be allowed to do, make a list of rude flipper-offers and refuse to do them any favors.

The lack of freedom of association has consequences.