We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Oh, and the right to flip off a cop.
In all seriousness, we have lot of guaranteed freedoms in this country. We have the freedom of speech, the right to an attorney, and the right to be free from unreasonable search, seizure, or arrest without cause.
Robert Bell will be well acquainted with all of those rights after this case, reports DNA Info.
The young constitutional scholar was partaking in a nice stroll outside of the Slaughtered Lamb Pub when a few of our boys in blue, strolled on by. The officers did not stop and frisk Mr. Bell. They did not harass him. In fact, they did nothing whatsoever that day to earn Mr. Bell's dislike.
Nonetheless, Mr. Bell has the right to dislike anyone, no matter how logical it may be. We can hate cops, anti-Semitic Elmo, or those Westboro Baptist protestors. We even have the right to express such hatred.
Mr. Bell decided the most effective protest was a silent one. He gracefully extended his arm, pulled in his index, ring, and pinky fingers, and gave a magestic one finger salute to those that swear to "Protect and Serve."
Unfortunately, Officer Peter Play, presumably of no relation to Kid N Play, was trailing behind the other officers. After the ensuing arrest, disorderly conduct charge, homosexual slurs, and his release, Bell filed a lawsuit, reports the Gothamist.
You see, it is established law that the big middle finger is protected speech. Courageous pioneers in Oregon and Pennsylvania have fought for these rights and won. Academic scholars have analyzed the issue, breaking it down to the most fundamental cases and principles of Constitutional jurisprudence.
Really. They have.
You see, we, as Americans, love it when someone protests something. From tea in the harbor to a wee finger in the night, we encourage our citizens to express their feelings about the government, authority, and the NYPD.
Free speech protections, to be sure, are not unlimited. Dangerous speech, meant to incite violence or a riot, is not protected. However, arresting someone for their inalienable right to protest against "the man" is not something that our courts look favorably upon.
It is not the court's place to decide the wisdom of the message or messenger. That is why speech, whether it be an offensive gesture or homophobic religious protests, is protected. When that speech crosses the line into inciting violence, however, it can result in a disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace arrest.
Bell was arrested for disorderly conduct, yet there was nearly no chance that his lone finger, on a cold and desolate night, could incite a riot or endanger the well-being of the officers. So, a victory in this lawsuit, assuming that the plaintiff can prove his case, should be a 8#%*! foregone conclusion.
- Speak to a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- Man Gives Cops The Finger, Gets Arrested, Sues City (Gothamist)
- Damn! That Could Get You 90 Days In PA (FindLaw's Legally Weird Blog)
- Man Flipped 'The Finger' at Cops: Charges Dropped (FindLaw's Blotter Blog)