Comments Subscribe to Personal Liberty News Feed Subscribe to Personal Liberty

Middle-Finger Salute Suit Can Go Forward

Middle-Finger Salute Suit Can Go Forward

NEW YORK (UPI) — A Federal appeals court in New York said Thursday a man’s lawsuit for his arrest after displaying his extended middle finger to a police officer can go forward.

John Swartz, a 62-year-old Vietnam veteran and retired airline pilot, is pursuing his civil rights case that stems from his May 2006 arrest for disorderly conduct after he stuck his arm out of a car window and extended his middle finger in the direction of a police officer using a radar speed-tracking device in St. Johnsville, N.Y.

While the disorderly conduct charge was later dropped, Swartz isn’t letting go of his civil suit, which alleges he was the victim of an illegal traffic stop, false arrest and malicious prosecution.

A lower court judge dismissed Swartz’s civil case, but the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan reversed that decision and Swartz can now proceed with his suit, The New York Times reported.

The police officer who was the recipient of the single-finger salute, Richard Insogna, contends he chased the car because he thought it may have been a distress signal and he “wanted to assure the safety of the passengers.”

And his attorney, Thomas K. Murphy, contended the gesture toward the officer was uncommon in St. Johnsville.

“This is St. Johnsville, New York,” Murphy said. “Not the Bronx. Not Manhattan. It’s a sleepy little town.”

But Judge Jon O. Newman, in a 14-page opinion for a three-judge panel, provided a synopsis of the centuries-long history of the sexually vulgar middle-finger salute and expressed skepticism of Insogna’s naivete.

“Perhaps there is a police officer somewhere who would interpret an automobile passenger’s giving him the finger as a signal of distress,” Newman wrote.

“But the nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness.”

The ruling, which was joined by Judges Gerard E. Lynch and Raymond J. Lohier Jr., made no finding on the merits of Swartz’s claim.

Swartz’s lawyer, Elmer Robert Keach III, said Thursday he had written to the judge in Utica who dismissed the suit to ask that it be placed on the trial calendar.

Swartz said his action on that day more than six years ago was an anomaly for him. “I never did it before and I haven’t done it since,” he said, adding, “It’s not something I’m proud of.”

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

Facebook Conversations

Join the Discussion:
View Comments to “Middle-Finger Salute Suit Can Go Forward”

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.

Is there news related to personal liberty happening in your area? Contact us at

  • Paul Wells

    Just more evidence of the breakdown of society, it’s norms, and civility. Score one for the anarchists!

  • Warrior

    In the very near future, I wonder what the punishment will be for a one finger salute to the “drone god”? Showing such “disrespect” to “gubmint representatives” may get you labeled as a………………………………….Tea Party Person! Yikes!

  • rendarsmith

    Really don’t know what to make of this. I can’t say it’s smart to provoke the police like that.

    • joerosey

      A police officers “peace” cannot be breached…the courts have already ruled that…he over-reacted…he should have just taken it in stride

    • Steve E

      Because of my nature, I don’t get upset if someone flips me the bird. I just reply; “Same to you, but with 4 more inches.”

  • Jonathan

    The fact that he arrested the guy shows his true intent. If he really had thought it was a distress signal, than as soon as he saw that everything was OK in the car, he would have let him go.

    • bakerjohn

      That was my first thought also, he gives him a ticket bet when he stopped him to do that he was very polite to ask if there was a problem and if Mr. Swartz was in need of assistance or so. LOL

  • Dwight Mann

    The power of the police state and the corruption of the justice system needs to be rectumfied. . . lol

    • steve

      that will never happen as long as judges , district att and police are emune from prosecution , just like the congress and senate.

  • rb

    While it may not be smart to provoke the police like that it is the right of a citizen to express himself or herself without the threat of being stopped and harassed by a police officer. It is no more the police officer’s right to harrass someone and arrest them for flipping the bird than it is for someone to kick your butt for the same reason. While the gesture may make the target of the gesture angry the proper handling of that anger is important. If a private citizen had decided to do a little butt kicking because of the gesture the private citizen would be arrested. The police officer simply used his badge instead of a fist.

  • Chester

    And remember, all this happened BEFORE Obama.

    • Steve E

      Come on Chester. Just say it. Don’t hold you mantra inside yourself. Just say it: “It’s all Bush’s fault.”

    • Benjamin Fox

      Steve is right Chester, it’s still Bushs fault to all you marxist commie types.

  • Joan

    So this can go forward but we cannot find out if our White House Resident is legal?

    • john

      Hawaii state registrar
      Alvin Onaka has publicly certified to AZ SOS Ken Bennett that Barack Obama’s HI
      birth certificate is legally non-valid and the White House image is a forgery.
      He also confirmed to KS SOS Kris Kobach that the information contained in the White
      House image is NOT “identical to” that in the official record.

      • Karolyn

        I have seen this on Before Its News, and it’s not true according to many of the posters there. There is nothing that can be found online to corroborate this information. The last testimony given was just the opposite.

    • Steve E

      Here some facts that the stupid liberals won’t believe.

  • Willie

    Ever hear if the 1st amendment and freedom of speech? That is what this was.

  • ibcamn

    my brother Tommy did this once and wound up in jail too!but he had to pay a fine also,but what got me is that the police after this,for the rest of the riding season,pulled all bikers in the area over for little or no reason.lot’s of complaints and court time wasted because of one little thing!there are consequences to your actions,be careful when i comes to that gang of thieves(police),better for all to retract that salute!

    • Gary Grayson

      No foolish ibcamn, your assesment and suggested course of action IS exactually what the steroid suckin pigs and your fed government thieving statist want And, from yours and a few others comments, Are getting From you backboneless *sheeple.
      I’d be willing to wager ibcamn, that you Love the command: *Turn around and Drop you pants boy*!!!

      *We the People*, With BackBones, Do Not serve Our government employees, they Serve US!

      ~+~ Keep UP the Good Fight Americans ~+~

  • Carlucci

    Like that was the first time this guy got flipped off by a driver, whether the “officer” was in uniform or not. What a big crybaby…..I’m glad the driver pursued this in court.

  • Sirian

    Now then, just how many people honestly know the origin of the “middle finger” salute?
    Jump to this link and find out. . . It runs back in history more than most know. Even so, it still manages to irritate people one way or another.

  • Incredulous1

    Hope this means I can now legally express my opinion of/to traffic cameras.

  • Ed

    He should be proud of what he did. I have done it, and probably will do it again. And, I have a law enforcement background. Police should learn more about what selective traffic enforcement is and quit “shooting ducks” at the local duckponds (speed traps).

    • ranger09

      Well when people gave up controlling their employees, The employees began controlling them. When the courts decided that the Police work for the Powers to Be Thats when the people lost control of their employees. Sticks and Stones may break your Bones, Knifes and Guns can kill you, but words cannot hurt you. Thats what i was taught as a D/Sheriff a long time ago in Texas. Respect, Right and Wrong has gone out the window,

  • Roberto

    The policeman is a lying A__H___. Oh no, you thought I meant something else officer. I was just referring to you as an AirHead. Yeah, Right!

    • Don

      the hotdog cop was insulted.

  • Don

    the cop was probly insulted for being flipped off. i ignore it. i’ve seen fights because of it. to me its just a gesture of someones low intelligience.

    • lukn003

      Well D’uhh don, Its a gesture OF insult,,”perhaps” the steroid suckin pig Needed insulting.. And MHO, anyone that equates *gestures with Intelligence* is Likely of low intelligence themselves,, Just My Opinion!

  • ranger09

    Under the Powers to Be Policemen and women are just Revenue Agents, No longer do they Protect and SERVE the Public. They only Protect the Powers to Be and serve Their own cause.

    • John Illinois

      Ranger 09, you are so correct. Cops are just armed revenue agents. When people hid beside the road, and took money from passing travelers, they were called highway robbers. Now they are called cops. You will note that when the police go on strike, they no longer walk on the street with picket signs, they just quit writing tickets.

  • ranger09

    Now dont git me wrong, There is still some good Policemen and women out there, Its just that they will not stand up againest the Bad, Its the buddy system, Plus they protect their Pay and Perks.


    Boys I guess they best be gittin the ol jale houses up and runnin if the “Alabama Peace” Sign is gonna be illegal. Most don’t know the ol “up yours” started in WW2 as an answer to a German order to the Americans to Surrender. It Ours We started it and the Cops or what ever might as well kiss Off,Weaint gonna change.

  • Ron

    Arrested and going to Court over flipping off a Cop? hate to say it, but I TOLD YOU SO! IT HAS STARTED! and you are next for using your credit card to buy to much unauthorized, not approved, non- government mind controlling cereal! OH PEOPLE! WAKE UP! HELLO? ANYBODY IN THERE? Guess not!

    • lukn003

      Ron, this arrest and court case Isnt the first for flippin off pigs, its been happening for 14 to 18 Years now, Not Long after the conception of the ‘homer`land suc`urity Farce dept’, in the early `90s! I do Not work For the federal Or state governments, they Work For Us taxpayers!
      ~+~Keep Up the Good Fight Americans~+~


  • JimH

    I always just thought people were telling me that I was #1.
    What a let down.

  • oldbill

    Did I miss something. Doesn’t the 1st Amendment protect the right of free speech, which is specifically a protection against expressing ones self towards the government and its employees.

  • Bpante

    One finger salute also known as the Jersey Wave.

  • Henry

    It’s not how you stay under the radar. Do something stupid like that and they take a closer look at you.


Sign Up For Personal Liberty Digest™!

PL Badge

Welcome to,
America's #1 Source for Libertarian News!

To join our group of freedom-loving individuals and to get alerts as well as late-breaking conservative news from Personal Liberty Digest™...

Privacy PolicyYou can opt out at any time. We protect your information like a mother hen. We will not sell or rent your email address to anyone for any reason.