On Monday, June 18th, 2012, an Ohio Municipal Court acquitted a woman of giving the middle finger to an off-duty police chief, claiming the gesture was protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Last month, off-duty Chillicothe police chief Roger Moore was driving his personal vehicle when he attempted to merge into a lane of stopped traffic. The unnamed woman driving the car Moore pulled in front of allegedly honked her horn and then flipped the police chief off. At which point, Moore pulled the woman over and charged her with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The best part is that the police report lists the victims as Roger Moore and “society.”
On Monday, Municipal Court Judge John Street acquitted the woman, stating in part that her gesture is protected by the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech.
Assistant Law Director Michele Rout, who represents Moore, is considering an appeal.
Columbus’ WBNS-10TV’s report on the original incident can be found here.
Read Cincinnati’s WKRC-TV’s report on the acquittal here.
OK, so I’m not going to sit here and try to argue First Amendment rights and whether or not it’s right to flip police officers off. But here’s the thing; the police chief was off duty and was driving his own car. So it’s not like this woman knew he was a police officer. On top of that, all of the news stories on this incident reference that Moore was attempting to “pull into a lane of stopped traffic.” That to me sounds a lot like the classic Ohio traffic move of “I know we’re supposed to merge ‘one-and-one’, but the hell with that. I’m gonna run this lane up as far as I can and then dart in front of someone at the last second. It’s the other car’s job to stop before they hit me.” I’m not saying that’s what happened, but admit it; if you drive in Ohio traffic, you’ve either executed that move or had it done to you on a regular basis.
Look, people. Traffic sucks. But there’s no reason to get all bent out of shape about it. Just chill out and listen to a little Michael Bolton.