A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a New York man deserves a day in court over his allegation that his civil rights were violated when he was arrested for disorderly conduct after he gave a middle finger-salute to a rural cop on radar speed enforcement duty.
The cop cooked up an alibi for the arrest that the appeals court rejected. The article includes some good background on the rich history of the symbolic gesture, including by high public officials. Dick Cheney and John Boehner, among others, have also earned fame for explicit verbal expression of its meaning. First recorded image of the finger: A Boston pitcher flipping off the New York Giants in an 1886 photo.
Of course you can make a rude gesture or remark to a cop with protection of the 1st Amendment. It is not advisable, as the ACLU will tell you, because they carry guns and badges and fighting for your rights can be a long and expensive proposition, as in this six-year-old case. I liked this comment:
Indeed, Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, suggested that if its officers “locked up everyone who gave the middle-finger salute, traffic would grind to a halt.”