The Right to Use an Obscene Gesture


PITTSBURGH, PA>
— The ACLU hopes to make a legal point about the right to use the middle finger in an obscene gesture. It’s suing the city of Pittsburgh and a police officer on behalf of a man cited for disorderly conduct who made the gesture.

David Hackbart made an obscene gesture to a driver who blocked him from backing into a parking spot, and he says he did it again when he heard someone yelling at him, only to find he was directing it at a police officer. But ACLU attorney Sara Rose says the gesture is clearly covered by court rulings and the First Amendment.


Pittsburgh police and city officials aren’t commenting. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

Hackbart explained his suit, “After I made the gesture a few times, my hand started to hurt. My doctor says I now have carpal tunnel syndrome.”

A photo of President Bush ‘giving the finger’ was handed to attorney Rose for her comment. Rose said, ” I guess we’ll have to take it all the way to the Supreme Court. Mr. Bush has presidential immunity. He can ‘flip’, but my client can’t?”

The case is attracting attention and making headlines throughout the world. After reading about it in Pravda, Ivan Gregoravich, a Moscow taxi driver commented. ” I don’t understand it…. strange things they do in America. I only use that finger to scratch my ear!”