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Duped teen driver thought burning rubber was a form of free speech, Maine police say

A driver told a Maine police officer it was his constitutional right to burn rubber. He based his information on this satirical news site.
A driver told a Maine police officer it was his constitutional right to burn rubber. He based his information on this satirical news site. Screenshot from New Maine News

A teen driver thought he had the law on his side when he defiantly continued spinning his tires in front of an Oakland, Maine police officer, authorities said.

Sgt. Tracey Frost was incredulous last Wednesday when he made eye contact with the high school student, who kept spinning the tires on his truck while staring at Frost, the Boston Globe reported.

“You can’t do anything about it anymore,” the student proudly exclaimed, according to Frost’s post on the police department’s Facebook page.

The student then explained that the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court, recently ruled that burning your tires is now protected free speech. He couldn’t believe Frost hadn’t heard about it. “I thought cops would be the first to know,” the student said, Frost wrote on Facebook.

The teen then pulled out his cellphone to show Frost the article on a page called “New Maine News” — a satirical news website similar to The Onion.

Frost told The Globe he laughed when he saw the article, titled “Maine Supreme Court Rules Rubber Marks Constitutionally Protected Free Speech.”

Among the fakes quotes in the story is one attributed to Chief Justice Leigh Saufley (a real person) that says laying rubber is a way to give “a voice to the voiceless.”

“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?”

Frost said that one doesn’t have to read much past the headline before realizing the author is joking.

He didn’t give the student a ticket, he told The Globe, but he did educate him about “double-checking news sources in a time when information online is often questionable.”

The founder of New Maine News, Seth Macy, told NECN that he’s “not out to trick anybody,” he just wants to make people laugh.

The news station reports that the website has even duped journalists. Two ESPN radio hosts reportedly cited Macy’s story about a basketball game that was called off after the ball got stuck in a wood stove.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Macy. “It’s like c’mon… you guys are professionals.”

New Maine News site has gotten more than one million page views since October, NECN reported.

“Mainers are just thirsty for satire I guess,” Macy said.

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