Regulation of the Day 214: Flipping the Bird

by Ryan Young on March 20, 2012

in Nanny State, Regulation, Regulation of the Day

Steven Pogue, 64, was cited by police for flipping the bird while driving in Ballwin, Missouri. He was exonerated on free speech grounds, and the city is now moving to repeal the law.

Such impolite behavior is par for the course in New York City, among other places. Should such rude people find themselves in a certain part of eastern Missouri, they now have nothing to fear.

The ordinance in question prohibits motorists from extending body parts outside vehicle windows. It was intended more to prevent people from sticking their legs out of windows than to discourage profanity, though at least one officer thought the ordinance also applied to middle fingers.

Your mild-mannered correspondent has also, admittedly, been known to let loose now and then. Usually it’s while in pain, though the D.C. area’s spectacularly inept drivers do occasionally draw my ire. But should linguistic decorum be a matter of law? In this case, discretion should be the better part of valor.

A local ACLU spokeswoman comments that “Repealing the law fits within our nation’s finest traditions of allowing free expressions without fear of arrest.” Right on.

Similar cases have been successfully fought in Philadelphia, and with less success in Milwaukee.

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