Teen Who Thought Burning Rubber In Front Of Cop Was ‘Protected Speech’ Misled By Satire


A high school student in Oakland, Maine, fell for a fake news site, which led to an encounter with law enforcement.

The student believed that his right to peel out and burn rubber was protected by the Constitution, a document that precedes automobiles by a few hundred years or so.

While driving around in his vehicle, the student spotted school resource officer Tracey Frost. According to a post published to the ​Oakland Maine Police Department’s ​Facebook page, the young man made eye contact and proceeded to burn rubber right in front of the officer. Frost didn’t let the action slide. Instead, he pulled the young driver over.

He asked him if he had “lost his mind.”  The teen’s response made the officer laugh.  “You can’t do anything about it anymore,” the student replied.

The teen turned out to be under the impression that the First Amendment protected his right to burn rubber because of an article he’d read online. He even pulled out his cell phone to show the officer the specific news story in question: “Maine Supreme Court Rules Rubber Marks Constitutionally Protected By Free Speech.”

There was just one problem. The source of information cited by the student, New Maine News, was a satirical website.

The article in question reads, in part:

“Not only does a super-buggy bake-up leave a literal mark, or ideally, two, it’s now protected under Maine’s right to free speech.  In a rare unanimous decision, the Maine Supreme Court ruled peeling-out is a form of free expression.  In her remarks, Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley said the court finds laying rubber a way to give ‘a voice to the voiceless.'”

Another headline story from New Maine News reads, “Strip of Brown Packing Tape Celebrates 30 Years as Temporary Window Repair.”

Recognizing that the teen didn’t have a clue, Frost took a lighthearted approach and gave the teen a reprimand instead of a ticket.

Officer Frost said it best himself.  “Explaining the concept of satire was probably the educational highlight of that young mans morning,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Just so I’m clear, No Judge in Maine has stated, ‘What good is a huge truck? What good are fat tires, a screaming exhaust set up, and a killer big block if all that power can’t be used to make a statement?’ Nor is ripping the tires off your truck on a public way protected free speech.”

According to a survey conducted by the ​2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, 63 percent of respondents said “the average person does not know how to tell good journalism from rumor or falsehoods.”


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