Digitus Impudicus? You be the judge

| 10/17/2003

Next time you’re in traffic in Texas and you feel like flipping someone the bird, just remember, you’re taking part in an ancient tradition.


According to a report in The Houston Chronicle, a court recently decided that car driver Robert Lee Coggin was not necessarily engaging in disorderly behavior when he made what is widely regarded as an obscene gesture involving the middle finger and directed it at a slower driver.

Coggin’s conviction for using the gesture was overturned by the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin, TX. In the majority opinion, the court noted the gesture’s distinguished sounding history.

"The middle finger jerk was so popular among the Romans that they even gave a special name to the middle digit, calling it the impudent finger: digitus impudicus,” the judges wrote in the decision, which was quoted by The Chronicle

"The middle-finger jerk has survived for over 2,000 years and is still current in many parts of the world, especially in the United States."

Coggins spent thousands in legal fees in his court battle, which helped him avoid a ticket for disorderly conduct.