There have been a number of cases over the years about citizens being cited for giving the ancient hand gesture for “Don’t have a nice day” to members of law enforcement. The latest started way back in June of 2017 with a traffic stop involving driver Debra L. Cruise-Gulyas and Officer Matthew W. Minard in Taylor, Michigan.
Officer Minard had stopped Gulyas for speeding, but upon writing the traffic ticket he switched it a moving violation which is a lower (cheaper) offense than a standard speeding ticket. Before parting ways Gulyas decided to express her feelings for receiving a ticket in the first place by gesturing her middle finger at Officer Minard. Now it was Officer Minard’s turn to express his own feelings of distaste and stopped Gulyas again to write her up for the intended speeding offense. Gulyas decided to take it to court.
It took a panel of three judges to deliver the verdict from the United States Court of Appeals in the Sixth District. The key point in this case was that Officer Minard stopped her again immediately after the finger was gestured at him. Officer Minard tired to evoke “qualified immunity”, a doctrine designed to protect officials from lawsuits if they acted in good faith and not directly violating someone’s rights. That did not apply in this case however because of the second traffic stop for no reason other than payback for the rude gesture.
The court ruled that raising your middle finger at a police officer is within your First Amendment right as an American citizen. Is it a good idea though? Nope! I do not condone nor do I support anyone giving a cop the old “Up yours” hand gesture simply because you know it’s a protected right. It’s the same reason why you don’t walk into a dark cave. Sure there is nothing stopping you from doing it, but don’t act surprise if there is a bear in there. That’s just my own two cents for common sense.
If you read between the lines of this case one can assume that it boils down to 2 people who just couldn’t let it go. Both of them had to have the last word and now it’s nearly 2 years in court with probably a cringe worthy amount in court and attorney fees. So is there a moral to this story besides learning something about Free Speech? I think so, and that is “Be the bigger person”.