You Can’t Flip Off Free Speech

Despite a person’s protected right toexpress anger toward police officers, such lewd acts should not be committed as it is childish and disrespectful.

There are certain ways the Constitution allows people such as John Swartz and Robert Bell to get away with disrespectful actions. Expressing intolerable anger under the freedom of expression and the use of profanity under the freedom of speech are such examples. Although flipping off a police officer does not violate any laws, people should not take advantage of the Constitution to express offensive actions to the point where it becomes overused.

In May 2006, Swartz, while driving through the streets of St. Johnsville, New York, was angered by the sight of a cop using a gun radar to catch speeders and extended his middle finger at the police officer. Disturbed by the gesture, the officer followed his car and eventually arrested him for disorderly conduct. Although both immature and uncalled for, Swartz’s flipping the bird was perfectly legal. It certainly isn’t the best idea to signal rude gestures towards a police officer who is just doing his job. The freedom of expression should not be abused to an extent in which people flip off a police officer every time they see one. Even though it may be legal, not everything permissible is beneficial.

While the Constitution may protect a person’s rights, authorities still deserve their due respect. The police officer was only doing his job by catching speeders on the road for the safety of all drivers. This should be something to respect, not something to complain about.

In August 2011, Bell also expressed his anger in a similar fashion as Swartz’s. Bell was arrested at the spot immediately for his offensive behavior. Luckily, Bell was off the hook because the police did not show up in court, meaning the case was dismissed. Bell would have been let off either way even if the cop showed up because the law protects him. Soon after he was let off, Bell and the New York Civil Liberties Union charged the New York Police Department for violating the Constitution and for false arrest. Both Bell and Swartz are childish in the sense that they express their anger in a juvenile way. Despite this rude act, they were exonerated as the law kept them out of prison.

Certain people such as Swartz and Bell have taken their rights for granted. The rights of American citizens is a privilege and if it is going to be continuously misused, there will be many more egregious situations.

Expressing anger every now and then is completely fine when considering the fact that we are all humans who have committed worse deeds than flipping the bird. Even if the law protects the childish act of flipping off a police officer, it should not be encouraged nor allowed as it is disrespectful, rude, and offensive.