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Protected Birds: Georgia Court Rules Middle Finger Is Free Speech

© AP Photo / Brennan LinsleyA gavel
A gavel - Sputnik International
If you ever find yourself in a Georgia church and are overcome by the urge to flip someone off, rest assured, the courts will stand by you. (Cue Bill Withers' "Lean on Me.")

The US State of Georgia's Supreme Court struck down a disorderly conduct conviction handed down to a man who flipped off his pastor after concluding the gesture was protected by the First Amendment Monday.

The incident occurred in August 2014, when David Justin Freeman attended a church service presided over by Pastor Jason Berry. At the end of the sermon Berry asked teachers present to stand as the congregation said a prayer for successful school year.

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Upset by the notion, Freeman, who home-schools his children, stood up and flipped the pastor the bird before shouting out to the crowd.

"Don't send your kids to the evil public schools," Freeman said, according to court documents cited by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. "Don't let Satan or the devil raise your kids."

From there, the pastor called local law enforcement, and Freeman was ultimately charged with disorderly conduct. Once convicted, Freeman was sentenced to a year on probation and ordered to pay a fine of $270.

Three years later, Freeman saw his own bit of justice after the court unanimously voted to overturn the conviction.

Per Justice Harold Melton, the home-schooler couldn't be found guilty because there was no evidence that "Freeman's act of silently raising his middle finger… constituted ‘fighting words' or a true threat' that would amount to a tumultuous act," AJC reported.

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