Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What if you flip off a cop?

You must read this September 15th TIME magazine article - maybe even print it or otherwise save it. If nothing else, it's good for an afternoon laugh. But it's good for something else, too.,8599,1923125,00.html

David Hackbart, a 34-year-old Pittsburgh paralegal, flipped off a police sergeant who had observed him to express his displeasure toward a rude driver behind him.

The sergeant ticketed Hackbart for disorderly conduct under a state law that forbids obscene language and gestures. In March a District Court judge ruled that the law (and the $119 fine and costs) was unconstitutional.

The article also mentions a Pennsylvania woman who swore at her overflowing toilet and had been arrested. That one cost the City of Scranton, Pennsylvania, $19,000.

Recently, the City of Woodstock bashed one of its officers for flipping off a City Councilman and ordered him to stay away from the Councilman. Maybe, in view of court action elsewhere (and probably in many places), any discipline for that incivility was wrong. While it might not be the best of manners, is it disciplinable? Legally, I mean.

Should the City of Woodstock review that action and rescind that portion of its punishment?

"Hackbart ... says police should not be able to punish people by issuing citations they know to be unconstitutional." Well, duh...

I don't recommend driving around and flipping off police officers or deputies!


DownByTheRiver said...

I would say we are talking about two entirely, and not necessarily entwined issues.

One is obscenities.

Two, is at what point do many other acts, including obscenity, rise to the level of "disorderly conduct" as a charge to be defended against?

Just because it's been determined that obscenity in and of itself is not necessarily a crime, (and is not being argued in this case) to what extent does this or any other behavior rise to a chargeable offense of "disorderly conduct"?

Gus said...

Hmmm, how about if I give you the "lawyer's" answer: It depends.

I'd say that, if a lot of anger and aggressive directed at one individual accompanies the gesture, then it could be disorderly conduct.

We both know the definition of Disorderly Conduct. The person needs to be alarmed and disturbed and believe that his peace was breached.

While getting flipped off might produce a desire in me to maim and dismember (but not otherwise harm) the flipper, I wouldn't be alarmed or disturbed. : )

Frank said...

Could you imagine the posts from Gus if the police flipped him off?

DownByTheRiver said...

"It Depends"

That was the punchline for a joke involving Bob Dole as a presidential hopeful. Wish I could remember the lines.

whatmeworry? said...

Too bad you don't know the history of all involved. You won't get it from me either.

Karen12359 said...

"That was the punchline for a joke involving Bob Dole as a presidential hopeful. Wish I could remember the lines".

When Elizabeth Dole was asked what Bob tasted like, she responded "Depends"

DownByTheRiver said...