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Man Defends His Right To Flip Off the Police

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the if-you-can't-hear-this-let-me-turn-it-up-for-you dept.

Censorship 44

46-year-old Robert J. Ekas has filed a federal lawsuit to defend his First Amendment right to express himself by flipping off police officers. The trouble started in July 2007 when Ekas opened his sunroof and extended a middle finger to a deputy. The deputy turned on his flashing lights and pulled Ekas over. He was cited for an illegal lane change and improper display of license plates. He was acquitted of the charges. “I did it because I have the right to do it. We all have that right, and we all need to test it. Otherwise we’ll lose it," Ekas said. He claims the police have been harassing him ever since.

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44 comments

f-you! (1)

Rick Bentley (988595) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320390)

I got first post!

The golden rule (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320458)

Just because somebody else is being a dick, it doesn't make it ok for you to be a dick too! This rule applies to both sides in this dispute, as it does to both sides in the majority of disputes.

Re:The golden rule (2, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31320620)

Exactly. Just like any machine, society needs lubricant in the form of good manners.

Letting it all hang out and "expressing yourself" (to dredge up a couple of hippy/Me Generation terms) in any way you want any time you want (like flipping off the cops) are sand in the gears.

Re:The golden rule (2, Insightful)

Entropy98 (1340659) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321594)

Exactly. Just like any machine, society needs lubricant in the form of good manners.

Letting it all hang out and "expressing yourself" (to dredge up a couple of hippy/Me Generation terms) in any way you want any time you want (like flipping off the cops) are sand in the gears.

Maybe so, but it still should be legal.

Unless you think the government should legislate "good manners"?

Re:The golden rule (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321922)

Maybe so, but it still should be legal.

Correct. Only that which directly harms another should be illegal.

However, just because something is illegal doesn't mean that you should do it. Alas, many modern Westerners have forgotten that.

Unless you think the government should legislate "good manners"?

Hah!

I'm thinking, though, that flipping off the cops is an indication of gross stupidity and an indication that he should not be allowed to reproduce. (Yes: I know fat, lazy idiots who have reproduced. Their offspring are also mentally challenged and raised by the maternal grandparents because the parents are too fat, lazy and stupid to do anything themselves.)

Re:The golden rule - only when applied correctly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31324244)

So do you think it's ok for someone doing the legal act of expressing their opinion (whether positive or negative) should be treated by an illegal act (false arrest and police harassment) by the same people that are supposed to uphold and enforce the law?

I've been in several cities, and the cops vary significantly.
One city the cops were friendly people that everyone trusted (mostly).
Another one, the cops usually shot first, traveled in packs, scared everyone, but they did their jobs.
My current city, they are lazy shits that won't even show up to a report of gunshots fired or walk/drive the one block to check to see if the car wreck has any survivors unless they think they can write a ticket.
There are exceptions everywhere, and those 3 are only a sampling of the spectrum of enforcement quality communities have to deal with.

By the way, I've asked many cops around the US what the badge means to them.
Oddly, they all said that it was "a license to drive fast".

Re:The golden rule (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31324360)

"flipping off the cops is an indication of gross stupidity"

Exactly, baiting the cops and then complianing about being picked on is like a teasing a bear and complaining about having your arms ripped off.

BTW: I'm fat, lazy, and a little senile but all that occured after my kids started reproducing. ;)

Re:The golden rule (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330076)

No... it’s like teasing a caged bear and complaining about the zookeeper tying your hands and feet and waterboarding you in back of the exhibit.

Sure, you were an ass, but that doesn’t give the authorities any right to break the laws, harass you, and generally abuse their power.

Re:The golden rule (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31342880)

The cops didn't break any laws they just figured one good harrasment deserves another. Crying about it is just a case of the pot meeting the kettle.

Re:The golden rule (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344432)

So basically, it’s “he hit me first”? That didn’t work in kindergarten and it shouldn’t work in the police department. They carry guns; I’m allowed to hold them to a higher standard than kindergartners!

Re:The golden rule (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31345640)

So go and flip the cops, you won't get sympathy from me unless they actually do something illeagal.

Re:The golden rule (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31346076)

A Pittsburgh man, David Hackbart, won a $50,000 settlement last year after being cited for disorderly conduct for flipping off an officer. The charge was "retaliatory" and violated his constitutional rights, a federal judge ruled.

Re:The golden rule (1)

tygreen (1612817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31329880)

Maybe so, but it still should be legal.

Correct. Only that which directly harms another should be illegal.

same-sex marriage doesn't harm any one except denying it does create a group of second class citizens and how many States have legalized prejudice by sexual preference? I wish more people would use the same rule you just cited as a guide to what should be illegal. then maybe my sister could marry who she wants to, just as I have.

Re:The golden rule (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330732)

"Homosexuals have the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex that heterosexuals do... how is that discrimination?"

I agree with your 100%. Flipping off your legislators at every chance because they refuse to grant equal legal status to the children of same sex couples as they do to the children of opposite sex couples should be legal... but that still doesn't a nice thing to do. The flip side of the coin of freedom of expression is having the wisdom to know when expressing yourself serves no constructive purpose, but only increases someone else's frustration.

Re:The golden rule (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31334508)

same-sex marriage doesn't harm any one

Except that marriage means, and has always meant, "legal union of a man and a woman for (theoretically) life, as husband and wife". (Would you look at this [drivesafenv.com] and say, "See the lorry?". No, because it's not a lorry, it's a bicycle, and no amount of calling it a lorry will make it so.)

Re:The golden rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31324186)

"Locke" I think you're missing the point of his civil disobedience and his statement. Which is remarkable considering It's simplicity and you use the moniker of a famous Scottish philosopher widely regarded as one of the fathers of our Republic. Often times (especially in the case of the LAPD) out police and elected officials forget they are employed by us and meant to represent us. Not rule us. They are our servants not our dictators. Acts such as this serve as reminders and put them on notice.

Aggressive Stupidity (1)

wonderboss (952111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321112)

Aggressive Stupidity: Definition: Insisting on your right to be stupid.

I think any judge would allow that flipping off an officer of the law is probably cause to assume that the flipper is under the influence. The officer can now pull over said flipper and administer a field sobriety test. Pass or fail is a judgment of the officer, so needless to say, flipper fails. See where this is going?

Re:Aggressive Stupidity (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31321836)

I see escalation until somewhere in our great legal system the flipper is proven innocent and it's revealed that the officer is a cunt.

Presuming faith in the system (I know, I know), I say so be it.

Re:Aggressive Stupidity (1)

wonderboss (952111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31322576)

If the officer knows what he is doing, the flipper spends the rest of the day and that night in the tank and is released. Then, because the flipper is aggressively stupid, he tries to sue for false arrest, and loses. Which costs him more time and money. Nothing happens to the law enforcement officer at all.

Re:Aggressive Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31324818)

While it might sound justified by your own personal standards of justice, surely you can see why (in general) granting law enforcement that kind of unchecked power is complete bullshit.

Re:Aggressive Stupidity (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330432)

If the officer is an asshole who is unable to keep his personal anger over petty offences separate from his job duties, the flipper spends the rest of the day and that night in the tank and is released. Then, because the legal system is hopelessly broken and biased toward law enforcement, he tries to sue for false arrest, and loses.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Aggressive Stupidity (1)

wonderboss (952111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31339162)

The flipper who is an aggressively stupid asshole spends the rest of the day and that night in the tank and is released. Then, because the flipper aggressively insist on his right to be stupid, he tries to sue for false arrest, discovers that the legal system is biased toward law enforcement by design to deal with idiots like him, and loses.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Aggressive Stupidity (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344402)

Um, earth to wonderboss?

Being stupid is not a crime. You cannot put stupid assholes in jail just because they are stupid assholes. If you do, you’ve given the stupid asshole a justified cause to bring a suit against you, if only the system wasn’t so broken that this suit is impossible for him to win. And you should lose your badge. End of story.

I don’t care what you think the flipper was. He didn’t do anything illegal, and this discussion is about how cops treat people who haven’t done anything illegal... even if they’re stupid assholes.

Re:Aggressive Stupidity (1)

wonderboss (952111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31344562)

Um, earth to clone53421? I suggest you run an experiment. Go around flipping random people off, including cops. See if the worst thing that happens to you is spending a night in jail.

Re:Aggressive Stupidity (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31345480)

Go around flipping random people off, including cops. See if the worst thing that happens to you is spending a night in jail.

Let me see if I’m getting this straight...

Since flipping off a random gangster is liable to get me shot, it’s perfectly okay for cops to use their government-given power to harass people who flip them off.

No. Cops’ power is given to them for the purposes of enforcing the law, not for the purposes of getting revenge against people who personally insult them. That is the standard to which I hold them.

Re:Aggressive Stupidity (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31345524)

Oh, and you’re an idiot, and that’s a nice straw man, really. Way to change the subject, though...

Re:Aggressive Stupidity (1)

wonderboss (952111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31351940)

My subject was aggressive stupidity.

I never said "it’s perfectly okay for cops to use their government-given power to harass people who flip them off". In fact, I never once said the cop's actions were ok. I simply stated what they would do. Nice straw man though, way to change the subject.

You can try and hold cops to any standard you want. However, they are people. Besides shooting you, people's reactions will include punching you in the face, vandalizing your car, flipping you off back, and ignoring you.

The flipper is an asshole and aggressively stupid. He gets no sympathy from me.

There are plenty of truly innocent people that much bigger hassles from the law. Them I care about.

Re:Aggressive Stupidity (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31345636)

The officer can now pull over said flipper and administer a field sobriety test. Pass or fail is a judgment of the officer, so needless to say, flipper fails.

Uh-huh, just an example of him abusing his power. And then when I get the breathalyzer result that shows that I’m perfectly sober, I’m going to have justified cause to believe that I was illegally harassed by an officer of the law simply because he didn’t like me.

Cops need to do their job. That’s why we give them guns and badges, and no, their job duties do not include jailing people for being assholes! Not even for being assholes to cops.

that's so white of you (0, Troll)

saucerattack (587262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31322134)

Only a white guy is going to flip off a cop and think he should should get away with it. The rest of America knows you'll get shot in the back for pulling that shit.

Re:that's so white of you (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31322598)

In Oregon, they'll shoot you if you are white too.

Re:that's so white of you (1)

bostongraf (1216362) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330346)

Only a white guy is going to flip off a cop and think he should should get away with it. The rest of America knows you'll get shot in the back for pulling that shit.

That this was modded Troll is really a shame. It actually really gets to the heart of the matter. Police have created a system of being feared by the same people they are trying to protect. That is exactly what he is protesting. In TFA, he is very specific in explaining that he is protesting the killing of three unarmed people by area police.

For those that haven't RTFA, you should. It is actually a fairly well written and researched piece.

Re:that's so white of you (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31331468)

The rest of America knows you'll get shot in the back for pulling that shit.

Or for even less. This guy was just standing around: http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2010/02/16/victim-police-beating-seeking-damages/ [columbiamissourian.com] and now that officer is working a town over, as if nothing happened. Sometimes I think we are slipping backwards...

The problem I see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31322258)

If you want cops shooting people, this is a great plan. Law Enforcement is able to conduct itself peacefully because they have the respect of the people. Blatant disrespect for them breeds contempt. Contempt for the law or agents of the law create volatile situations. Cops have guns and the law on their side. who wins? noone.

No one is upset by this? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31324900)

I'm a bit disturbed by the reaction of slashdot posters on this one. Don't you find it the least bit disturbing that police officers are willing and able to use their power (as granted to them by the American people) for purposes besides enforcing the law? That they can and do use their power to inflict personal vengeance on someone for not showing the "proper respect"?

Sure, it's probably a bad idea to go around flipping off people in a position of authority, as someone is bound to abuse their authority for retribution eventually. However the poster is correct that he has a constitutional right to speak his mind, be it verbally or with hand gestures. What's next? People who speak out against the government being locked up on trumped up charges, perhaps? I know that happens too, but it isn't right, it isn't legal, and it certainly is against what we as a country stand for.

Come on, slashdotters... We speak out against other countries for Internet censorship, and for locking up journalists for political reasons. This is no different. Please, stand up for your rights.

Re:No one is upset by this? (1)

msu320 (1084789) | more than 4 years ago | (#31325072)

Lets look at the broader picture for a minute. When you flip the bird at most people (officers included), let's say at someone in a bar for example, you'd likely get a similar response if not worse. Your right to flip the bird is often counterbalanced by the right of others to disregard civility with you.

Re:No one is upset by this? (2, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330172)

A personal dispute between two people is not license for one of them to abuse his or her position of power against the other. In fact, doing so is a stark indication that they can’t handle having that power and it should be taken away from them.

Cops should be enforcing the law. If someone offends the law, there are well-defined ways for the cop to react. If somebody offends the cop personally, though, the cop can suck it up and continue doing his or her job. The law is not supposed to be a tool to vindicate every petty personal offense that a cop suffers on the job.

Re:No one is upset by this? (1)

bostongraf (1216362) | more than 4 years ago | (#31332194)

They can disregard civility all they want, but they can't detain me, and charge me fines.

A verbal altercation in which someone is disregarding civility never prevents people from walking away. A cop pulling you over does.

bad idea in other countries (1)

Golden_Rider (137548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31325148)

Interesting. In Germany, insulting somebody is something you can be fined for - not only for insulting police officers, also private persons. Fines vary of course according to circumstances (e.g. your income), but can easily reach several hundreds or thousands of euros. According to some websites I just checked, flipping off a police officer has already cost some people up to 4000 euros.

Not all cops are like this (2, Interesting)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31325908)

I was at one of the many suburban festivals around Chicago several years ago, and a teenage girl was wearing a homemade shirt that said "Fuck the Police". At first she was just walking around in front of little kids wearing it, until one of the parents of the kids got a pair of officers and complained. The cops walked over, and this girl stood right in front of them, and the cops told the parent there was nothing they could do. The only things the Mom could do is either move her kids away from this teenager, or deal with the teenager herself. I suppose she could have taken a picture of the teen and gone to the local high schools, see if they knew her, and see if the schools were willing to contact the teen's parents.

Re:Not all cops are like this (2, Funny)

RJFerret (1279530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31326004)

a teenage girl was wearing a homemade shirt that said "Fuck the Police". ...the cops told the parent there was nothing they could do.

Except see if she was over 18 and would keep her promise privately later?

Re:Not all cops are like this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31330240)

What, you think it meant "I WILL" fuck the police? Actually, "Fuck the police" is an open invitation to 7-foot niggers with police officer ass fetishes.

Re:Not all cops are like this (1)

wonderboss (952111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31352336)

I can't mod on this thread. Please somebody add +funny!

Re:Not all cops are like this (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31330862)

I suppose she could have taken a picture of the teen and gone to the local high schools, see if they knew her, and see if the schools were willing to contact the teen's parents.

And that's an escalation of ignorance. The school has no more right to get involved with the behavior of a citizen off grounds than the police do. You just don't get this whole "freedom of speech" thing do you? Just because one man's efforts to stop free speech fail, does not mean it's time to go looking for someone else that can try to stomp it.

It's not the police officer's business about how someone expresses their freedom of speech. It's not the school's business about how someone expresses their freedom of speech. And it's not yours either. You sound like the teacher's prize tattle tale in school. Stay out of other people's business.

Worldwide movement (1)

MadLad (1331393) | more than 4 years ago | (#31328396)

Robert J. Ekas is obviously the American representative of what will become a worldwide movement.

In South Africa, a university student who may or may not have flipped off the police in a presidential cavalcade was summarily arrested, had a bag put over his head and was detained while his home was searched. Nice.

http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-02-19-no-middle-finger-to-prez [mg.co.za]

Fortunately the media kicked up a big fuss about it. It's not illegal to be rude.
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