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Man Defends His Right To Flip Off the Police 44

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-can't-hear-this-let-me-turn-it-up-for-you dept.
46-year-old Robert J. Ekas has filed a federal lawsuit to defend his First Amendment right to express himself by flipping off police officers. The trouble started in July 2007 when Ekas opened his sunroof and extended a middle finger to a deputy. The deputy turned on his flashing lights and pulled Ekas over. He was cited for an illegal lane change and improper display of license plates. He was acquitted of the charges. “I did it because I have the right to do it. We all have that right, and we all need to test it. Otherwise we’ll lose it," Ekas said. He claims the police have been harassing him ever since.

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Man Defends His Right To Flip Off the Police

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  • I got first post!
  • The golden rule (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:31PM (#31320458)
    Just because somebody else is being a dick, it doesn't make it ok for you to be a dick too! This rule applies to both sides in this dispute, as it does to both sides in the majority of disputes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nutria (679911)

      Exactly. Just like any machine, society needs lubricant in the form of good manners.

      Letting it all hang out and "expressing yourself" (to dredge up a couple of hippy/Me Generation terms) in any way you want any time you want (like flipping off the cops) are sand in the gears.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Entropy98 (1340659)

        Exactly. Just like any machine, society needs lubricant in the form of good manners.

        Letting it all hang out and "expressing yourself" (to dredge up a couple of hippy/Me Generation terms) in any way you want any time you want (like flipping off the cops) are sand in the gears.

        Maybe so, but it still should be legal.

        Unless you think the government should legislate "good manners"?

        • by Nutria (679911)

          Maybe so, but it still should be legal.

          Correct. Only that which directly harms another should be illegal.

          However, just because something is illegal doesn't mean that you should do it. Alas, many modern Westerners have forgotten that.

          Unless you think the government should legislate "good manners"?

          Hah!

          I'm thinking, though, that flipping off the cops is an indication of gross stupidity and an indication that he should not be allowed to reproduce. (Yes: I know fat, lazy idiots who have reproduced. Their off

          • "flipping off the cops is an indication of gross stupidity"

            Exactly, baiting the cops and then complianing about being picked on is like a teasing a bear and complaining about having your arms ripped off.

            BTW: I'm fat, lazy, and a little senile but all that occured after my kids started reproducing. ;)
            • No... it’s like teasing a caged bear and complaining about the zookeeper tying your hands and feet and waterboarding you in back of the exhibit.

              Sure, you were an ass, but that doesn’t give the authorities any right to break the laws, harass you, and generally abuse their power.

              • The cops didn't break any laws they just figured one good harrasment deserves another. Crying about it is just a case of the pot meeting the kettle.
                • So basically, it’s “he hit me first”? That didn’t work in kindergarten and it shouldn’t work in the police department. They carry guns; I’m allowed to hold them to a higher standard than kindergartners!

                  • So go and flip the cops, you won't get sympathy from me unless they actually do something illeagal.
                    • A Pittsburgh man, David Hackbart, won a $50,000 settlement last year after being cited for disorderly conduct for flipping off an officer. The charge was "retaliatory" and violated his constitutional rights, a federal judge ruled.

          • by tygreen (1612817)

            Maybe so, but it still should be legal.

            Correct. Only that which directly harms another should be illegal.

            same-sex marriage doesn't harm any one except denying it does create a group of second class citizens and how many States have legalized prejudice by sexual preference? I wish more people would use the same rule you just cited as a guide to what should be illegal. then maybe my sister could marry who she wants to, just as I have.

            • by Locke2005 (849178)
              "Homosexuals have the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex that heterosexuals do... how is that discrimination?"

              I agree with your 100%. Flipping off your legislators at every chance because they refuse to grant equal legal status to the children of same sex couples as they do to the children of opposite sex couples should be legal... but that still doesn't a nice thing to do. The flip side of the coin of freedom of expression is having the wisdom to know when expressing yourself serves no const
            • by Nutria (679911)

              same-sex marriage doesn't harm any one

              Except that marriage means, and has always meant, "legal union of a man and a woman for (theoretically) life, as husband and wife". (Would you look at this [drivesafenv.com] and say, "See the lorry?". No, because it's not a lorry, it's a bicycle, and no amount of calling it a lorry will make it so.)

  • Aggressive Stupidity: Definition: Insisting on your right to be stupid.

    I think any judge would allow that flipping off an officer of the law is probably cause to assume that the flipper is under the influence. The officer can now pull over said flipper and administer a field sobriety test. Pass or fail is a judgment of the officer, so needless to say, flipper fails. See where this is going?

    • I see escalation until somewhere in our great legal system the flipper is proven innocent and it's revealed that the officer is a cunt.

      Presuming faith in the system (I know, I know), I say so be it.

      • If the officer knows what he is doing, the flipper spends the rest of the day and that night in the tank and is released. Then, because the flipper is aggressively stupid, he tries to sue for false arrest, and loses. Which costs him more time and money. Nothing happens to the law enforcement officer at all.
        • If the officer is an asshole who is unable to keep his personal anger over petty offences separate from his job duties, the flipper spends the rest of the day and that night in the tank and is released. Then, because the legal system is hopelessly broken and biased toward law enforcement, he tries to sue for false arrest, and loses.

          Fixed that for you.

          • The flipper who is an aggressively stupid asshole spends the rest of the day and that night in the tank and is released. Then, because the flipper aggressively insist on his right to be stupid, he tries to sue for false arrest, discovers that the legal system is biased toward law enforcement by design to deal with idiots like him, and loses.

            Fixed that for you.

            • Um, earth to wonderboss?

              Being stupid is not a crime. You cannot put stupid assholes in jail just because they are stupid assholes. If you do, you’ve given the stupid asshole a justified cause to bring a suit against you, if only the system wasn’t so broken that this suit is impossible for him to win. And you should lose your badge. End of story.

              I don’t care what you think the flipper was. He didn’t do anything illegal, and this discussion is about how cops treat people who haven

              • Um, earth to clone53421? I suggest you run an experiment. Go around flipping random people off, including cops. See if the worst thing that happens to you is spending a night in jail.
                • Go around flipping random people off, including cops. See if the worst thing that happens to you is spending a night in jail.

                  Let me see if I’m getting this straight...

                  Since flipping off a random gangster is liable to get me shot, it’s perfectly okay for cops to use their government-given power to harass people who flip them off.

                  No. Cops’ power is given to them for the purposes of enforcing the law, not for the purposes of getting revenge against people who personally insult them. That is the standard to which I hold them.

                • Oh, and you’re an idiot, and that’s a nice straw man, really. Way to change the subject, though...

                  • My subject was aggressive stupidity.

                    I never said "it’s perfectly okay for cops to use their government-given power to harass people who flip them off". In fact, I never once said the cop's actions were ok. I simply stated what they would do. Nice straw man though, way to change the subject.

                    You can try and hold cops to any standard you want. However, they are people. Besides shooting you, people's reactions will include punching you in the face, vandalizing your car, flipping you off back, and ign

    • The officer can now pull over said flipper and administer a field sobriety test. Pass or fail is a judgment of the officer, so needless to say, flipper fails.

      Uh-huh, just an example of him abusing his power. And then when I get the breathalyzer result that shows that I’m perfectly sober, I’m going to have justified cause to believe that I was illegally harassed by an officer of the law simply because he didn’t like me.

      Cops need to do their job. That’s why we give them guns and badges, and no, their job duties do not include jailing people for being assholes! Not even for being assholes to cops.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm a bit disturbed by the reaction of slashdot posters on this one. Don't you find it the least bit disturbing that police officers are willing and able to use their power (as granted to them by the American people) for purposes besides enforcing the law? That they can and do use their power to inflict personal vengeance on someone for not showing the "proper respect"?

    Sure, it's probably a bad idea to go around flipping off people in a position of authority, as someone is bound to abuse their authority for

    • by msu320 (1084789)
      Lets look at the broader picture for a minute. When you flip the bird at most people (officers included), let's say at someone in a bar for example, you'd likely get a similar response if not worse. Your right to flip the bird is often counterbalanced by the right of others to disregard civility with you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by clone53421 (1310749)

        A personal dispute between two people is not license for one of them to abuse his or her position of power against the other. In fact, doing so is a stark indication that they can’t handle having that power and it should be taken away from them.

        Cops should be enforcing the law. If someone offends the law, there are well-defined ways for the cop to react. If somebody offends the cop personally, though, the cop can suck it up and continue doing his or her job. The law is not supposed to be a tool to vin

      • They can disregard civility all they want, but they can't detain me, and charge me fines.

        A verbal altercation in which someone is disregarding civility never prevents people from walking away. A cop pulling you over does.
  • Interesting. In Germany, insulting somebody is something you can be fined for - not only for insulting police officers, also private persons. Fines vary of course according to circumstances (e.g. your income), but can easily reach several hundreds or thousands of euros. According to some websites I just checked, flipping off a police officer has already cost some people up to 4000 euros.

  • by SpuriousLogic (1183411) on Monday March 01, 2010 @10:12PM (#31325908)
    I was at one of the many suburban festivals around Chicago several years ago, and a teenage girl was wearing a homemade shirt that said "Fuck the Police". At first she was just walking around in front of little kids wearing it, until one of the parents of the kids got a pair of officers and complained. The cops walked over, and this girl stood right in front of them, and the cops told the parent there was nothing they could do. The only things the Mom could do is either move her kids away from this teenager, or deal with the teenager herself. I suppose she could have taken a picture of the teen and gone to the local high schools, see if they knew her, and see if the schools were willing to contact the teen's parents.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RJFerret (1279530)

      a teenage girl was wearing a homemade shirt that said "Fuck the Police". ...the cops told the parent there was nothing they could do.

      Except see if she was over 18 and would keep her promise privately later?

    • by v1 (525388)

      I suppose she could have taken a picture of the teen and gone to the local high schools, see if they knew her, and see if the schools were willing to contact the teen's parents.

      And that's an escalation of ignorance. The school has no more right to get involved with the behavior of a citizen off grounds than the police do. You just don't get this whole "freedom of speech" thing do you? Just because one man's efforts to stop free speech fail, does not mean it's time to go looking for someone else that can

  • Robert J. Ekas is obviously the American representative of what will become a worldwide movement.

    In South Africa, a university student who may or may not have flipped off the police in a presidential cavalcade was summarily arrested, had a bag put over his head and was detained while his home was searched. Nice.

    http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-02-19-no-middle-finger-to-prez [mg.co.za]

    Fortunately the media kicked up a big fuss about it. It's not illegal to be rude.

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