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Do Not Try: Flipping Off a Cop for Free Speech

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A Tale When the Angry Bird Gets the Worm

Fingers crossed

Note to self: Don’t pull the trigger on that middle-finger salute.
Image: ~dgies

A Michigan woman wore her heart on her sleeve when a cop pulled her over for speeding. The 2017 interaction ended with the officer, Matthew Minard, writing Debra Cruise-Gulyas a citation for a lesser, non-moving fault.

The initial merciful gesture did not sit well with Cruise-Gulyas, as she drove off giving the policeman a one-finger salute, indicating that she was not only fast but furious. Minard then stopped her again and increased the ticket to a speeding penalty.


Cruise-Gulyas responded with a lawsuit, arguing that Minard had violated her First Amendment rights in reacting to her act of free speech in flipping off a cop.

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Two years later, a lower court — and now the appeals court — agreed with her and dismissed her case in a landslide 3-0 ruling.


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While the court did point out that she was rude with giving an officer the bird, the two separate stops proved to be the x-factor in its decision against Minard. Since his first stop failed to connect her to the speeding violation, his action in doing so on the second stop was unjustified.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton stated that an action of vulgarity and ingratitude may infringe the Golden Rule, but it does not necessarily warrant punishment.

While the middle finger may not point to a consequence in this case, with exception to the courtroom expenses, it may be best to not “strike the snake nest.”


Be respectful to the police. If someone in uniform ticks you off, don’t lose your cool and flip them off.