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Protected Bird

November 26, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

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Is ‘flipping the bird’ a constitutional right in the United States? Is ‘giving the finger’ protected by the right to freedom of expression? The ACLU thinks so and so do the courts. Pittsburgh Council agrees to the tune of $50,000.

Parallel parking can get the best of anyone, at least occasionally. It certainly got the best of thirty-five-year-old David Hackbart, of Butler, in April, 2006. The situation got even more frustrating when a car encroached on Hackbart, limiting his space to maneuver.

At this point Hackbart lost his temper and ‘flipped the bird’ at the driver behind him. A third party shouted at Hackbart to refrain from the middle-fingered salute. Hackbart responded by ‘flipping the bird’ at the third party also. That person turned out to be Sgt. Brian Elledge of the Pittsburgh Police Department. "Elledge ordered Hackbart to stop his vehicle and cited him for violating a state statute prohibiting the use of obscene language and gestures," cbsnews.com reports.

I use mine all the time to exhibit free speech.  Maybe doing it to a cop in uniform isn’t the greatest idea, but this cop wasn’t probably acting in his official duties.  Of course the law in PA says it is apparently, but that needs to be struck down.  Nothing would please me more than the entire audience of a speech giving the bird to a politician.

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