Flipping Off the Police Is Legal, But So Is Picking Your Nose

police officerJust so you know? It's your constitutional right to flip off the police. I'm not saying you should flip off the police. I'm just letting you know, if you happen to have the bad manners to flip off a police officer, he doesn't get to pull you over and arrest you for it.

This came up recently when John Swartz flipped off a police officer using radar at an intersection. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Swartz and his wife sued the police, and a court ruled that this "ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity." 


As for the officer who arrested Swartz, he claims he pulled the man over because he thought he was "trying to get my attention for some reason." Ha, yeah right, said the court. Obviously, "nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness." 

So to summarize: Everyone knows that when you give someone the finger, you're trying to insult them on purpose. But insulting a police officer with your middle digit isn't illegal because it's just your stupid finger, get over it everyone.

Okay, so there are probably times when you feel truly justified in flipping off the police -- say, when they're pepper-spraying your best friend for protesting. But for the most part I feel like this falls under the category of "just because it's legal doesn't mean you should do it." I mean, farting in public is legal, too. But please don't! Maybe we could all resolve in 2013 not to flip off anyone at all.

Would you ever flip off a police officer?


Image via qwrrty/Flickr

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