Digitus Imputicus: Flipping The Bird
An Oregon man, Robert Ekas, a 46 year old retired Silicon Valley systems analyst is suing suburban Portland police for pulling him over for flipping the bird! Ekas claims he was pulled over twice for the gesture and issued bogus traffic citations, which were dismissed by a local court.
The gesture can be traced to ancient Rome and Emperor Caligula according to Ira Robbins a professor of law and justice, at American University. Professor Robbins has written an extensive history of the gesture in this definitive paper:
Professor Robbins insists that the gesture is protected speech under first amendment grounds, and cites a case in Pennsylvania last year, where a man arrested by police for the act was awarded a 50,000 dollar settlement. Robbins doesn't think flipping of the police is a wise gesture, just that the behavior is protected as long as no other criminal behavior is attached (no pun intended) to the act.
In a recent interview on the PBS radio series, On The Media, professor Robbins noted that the matter is not settled law on a national level. The US Supreme Court has not heard any cases related to the matter. Noted with irony, is the famous gesture by Supreme Court Justice, Scalia in response to a question from a NY Times reporter. Furthermore, just last week Senator Jim Bunning (R. Kentucky), flipped off a reporter from ABC News. Professor Robins asks: "Why wasn't Senator Bunning arrested for disorderly conduct?"
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New Port Richey, Florida, United States