Indiana man sues for right to flip off state trooper with middle finger

It's freedom of speech by way of a flick of a finger.

That's the argument an Indiana man is using to fight back after he was ticketed for showing a state trooper his middle finger. The Tribune-Star reports that Mark May filed a federal lawsuit alleging his First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated in the August 2017 incident. He is reportedly seeking unspecified damages against Indiana State Police Master Trooper Matt Ames.

In the complaint filed in the Southern District of Indiana by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, May contends Ames cut him off while pursuing another driver, so he gave the trooper the finger as he drove past him. The trooper then pursued him, pulled him over and ticketed him for "provocation," May said.

The ticket for provocation is issued in Indiana when "a person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally engages in conduct that is likely to provoke a reasonable person to commit battery," according to the Indiana Criminal Code. The Associated Press notes that such an offense carries up to a $500 fine.

"While perhaps ill advised, Mr. May's gesture, which in no way interfered with the Master Trooper's lawful activities, was fully protected by the First Amendment," the lawsuit argues, according to the Tribune-Star. What's more, the trooper also "had no cause whatsoever to initiate the stop ... and the stop represents an unconstitutional seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution," the lawsuit claims.

And the obscene gesture and the argument are nothing new. In fact: The BBC reports it's an age-old disrespect.

"It's one of the most ancient insult gestures known," anthropologist Desmond Morris told the BBC of the offensive signal.

The ACLU in Louisiana made a similar Constitutional argument in a separate August case, and the flippant expression grabbed viral attention in November when a woman defiantly flashed a middle finger to President Donald Trump.

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