Man who gave trooper the finger has charge dropped
A harassment charge has been dropped in the case of a 35-year-old Colorado man who faced prosecution for displaying his middle finger to a Colorado State Patrol trooper.
The State Patrol said in a statement late Friday that it asked that the case be dropped.
The American Civil Liberties Union had argued that while the gesture may be have been rude, it amounted to protected free speech.
According to the ACLU, Shane Boor was driving to work in April when he saw a trooper pull over a car. As Boor passed by, he extended his middle finger in the trooper's direction.
Boor was later stopped and received a criminal summons ordering him to appear in court to answer a criminal charge of harassment, which carries a possible six-month jail term.Ed Brayton notes:
We've got a whole lot of police officers in this country who truly believe that they cannot be questioned or criticized the way any other citizen can, that their tender feelings being hurt allows them to harass and arrest people who have broken no law. If you dare to question them, they'll arrest you for "disorderly conduct," that famous catch-all crime that really means "annoying a police officer."Let's unpack...
If you flip off another person, you can't be arrested for it. Yet this officer actually believed that flipping him off was an arrestable offense. We need some serious retraining for police officers in this country. And we need to start penalizing those who overstep their legal authority in a big way.
Is flipping off a police officer rude? Yes, because flipping people off is a deliberately rude act.
Is being rude always bad? I don't think so.
Was it wrong to be rude to a police officer in this instance? Probably, because a person doesn't deserve contempt simply for being a cop.
Was it dumb? Probably, if you think it's dumb to endanger yourself.
But, should such an act be considered endangering oneself? Not in a better world.
Is this a better world? Sadly, no.
Was flipping off the cop an act of civil disobedience? Maybe; there's no way to tell from the article. But if that is why Boor did so, then my hat's off to him. To my rather odd civil liberties-loving mind, the idea of one person being rude to a cop because he hates cops is repellant. But the idea of everybody doing so, to make a point, is awesome. Forget Everybody Draw Muhammad Day; let's have Everybody Flip Off a Cop Day.
Police are, or are supposed to be, public servants. It does not amount to advocating hatred or denigration of them to say that expressing contempt for them is no worse (and no better) than doing so for anyone else. Certainly not to say that the idea of someone being arrested for it, let alone imprisoned, is absolutely insane. Yet it is also insane how many officers do not appear to realize that "contempt of cop" is not a crime. And, most disturbing of all, how many people don't realize it.
Dumb, not criminal. Thanks again, ACLU.