Several months ago, I wrote a blog post called, Free Raymond Davis! Raymond Davis was the CIA contractor that was being held captive by Pakistan. He was also a friend of Cousin Mac. This post is also in the political prisoner vein, but it is much more tongue-in-cheek then that post was. I don’t expect to get the hate mail that I got with that one, this time around, but I could be wrong. Like that post, there is a personal connection, I work with Mr. Pogue.
Normally, blogging about work is something to be avoided, but since Steve’s story has been in the local media all week and has now hit the national news, I think that it is plenty safe for me to pile on too. Steve’s story went public last Sunday, when Saint Louis Post-Dispatch columnist, Bill McClellan, first published it. Since then, Steve’s story has spread virally through the Saint Louis media, first being talked about on the radio, during Monday’s morning drive time. Tuesday night, Anne called me in to see what was on the late news and there was Pogue, in my living room, telling his story on the TV. By Wednesday morning, his story was on CNN and frankly, I think that it was getting to be a wee bit too much for old Steve, but I’ve gotten ahead of myself.
Several months ago, Steve Pogue was on Manchester in Ballwin, a West County road and municipality both of whom feature way too much traffic and congestion. On this particular Saturday, a particularly bad day of the week to be driving there, Pogue was just driving along, singing a song, well no, creeping would be more like it. He was creeping in stop and go traffic, his frustration naturally building. After slowly, but surely working himself up to the light, it turned green and it was finally his turned to go, but alas no. Another motorist, blocked the intersection and Steve’s way. That motorist sat there, even after the light had changed red. As this offending motorist, finally moved on, Steve signaled his displeasure, by reaching out his left arm and then extending his middle finger. Steve flipped the other motorist off. The light cycled and Steve moved on and quickly left the incident behind him, at least until a pair of flashing red lights appeared in his rearview mirror.
The cop asked Steve if he knew why he was being pulled over. Mystified, Steve answered no. When the officer recounted the bird flipping incident, the light began to dawn for Steve. What about the other guy, Steve asked? He was certainly guiltier than I. The policeman said that he couldn’t catch him. Some time then expired before the cop issued the ticket. It took the officer a bit of research to codify the crime. He finally hit upon, extending body part outside the vehicle, for other than signaling. Subsequently, Steve tried to pay the ticket, but since none like this had ever been issued, he was summoned to appear before the judge for sentencing. Enough time passed that the whole idea began to rather irk Steve. When it came time to plea, he pled innocent. His court date was set in August and his very own media circus subsequently ensued.
Steve was going to represent himself, but it appears that the ACLU will step up to his defense. You see, Steve is planning a first amendment defense, freedom of speech. There are many and recent precedents for flipping the bird to be protected speech. I don’t know if Ballwin will choose to litigate this or not. I would recommend dropping it. If they do, they will probably claim that it is a safety issue and that free speech does not apply. Just as yelling fire in a theater is not protected speech. All this bad press may rile Ballwin’s prosecutor enough, to throw the book at Pogue. In that event I offer this final line of defense, claim second amendment rights, the right to bare arms. 😉