Mayor Ardis Defends Police Raid, Complains That Parody Twitter Account Used Up All The Free Speech

from the i'd-find-something-else-to-spend-the-reelection-fund-on dept

As we recently covered, Jim Ardis, the absurdly thin-skinned mayor of Peoria, IL, got the boys in blue to raid a house over a parody Twitter account that portrayed him as a.) a possible drug user, b.) a possible patron of the world's oldest profession and c.) "trill as fuck." Peoria's Finest have never been finer, deploying seven plainclothes officers to nail a dangerous tweeter whose Ardis-mocking account had been shut down by Twitter weeks before. Bonus: drugs were discovered during the raid, which meant the cops could at least declare victory over marijuana use, if not the internet itself.

Now, the fact that the account was already suspended suggests Ardis had previously contacted Twitter about the unflattering parody. So, this next move was overkill. Why would a mayor do such a thing? Because Mayor Jim Ardis believes the First Amendment is zero sum.

"I still maintain my right to protect my identity is my right," Ardis said in an interview with the Journal Star before the council meeting.

"Are there no boundaries on what you can say, when you can say it, who you can say it to?" Ardis said. "You can’t say (those tweets) on behalf of me. That’s my problem. This guy took away my freedom of speech."
Presumably prior to this awesome show of force, the mayor had been forced to sit quietly with his hands folded on his desk. But now that he's stomped on someone else's First Amendment rights, he can finally freely speak.

But those official bootprints across the back of five Peoria residents aren't going to leave lasting marks. The Peoria Journal Star reports that no charges will be brought against the Twitter account holder.
A review of state law indicates the account holders of now-shutdown Twitter account, @peoriamayor, didn’t break the law because the actual crime alleged, “false personation of a public official,” has to be done in person, not over the Internet or other electronic media, said State’s Attorney Jerry Brady.

"At this time, no, because subsection (b) doesn’t include the use of electronic media," he said.
There are also questions as to whether the unrelated drug charge will stick because, well, it's completely unrelated. The warrant used to raid the house appears to be on legally shaky ground already, and its supposed purpose was to effect arrests and seize evidence related to a Twitter account, not root around until something better presented itself. But it could be weeks before that part is sorted out. The States Attorney says it's not uncommon for search warrants and affidavits to take "several days to weeks" to arrive at his office. (Must send these via trans-Atlantic steamer, I guess...) One imagines documents related to this case will take longer than usual.

Meanwhile, the population of Peoria, along with the city council, is extremely angry that Ardis abused his position. A long, heated discussion of this incident included members decrying Ardis receiving preferential treatment from the Peoria PD, as well as generally lamenting how his actions have turned Peoria into a national laughingstock.

Ardis, however, seems unfazed. He still firmly believes he did nothing wrong. The problem here is everyone else, starting with the media.
"You’re the ones responsible for getting full information, but not to spin it in the way you want to spin it," Ardis said to a Journal Star reporter. "To make us look stupid."

"It’s your responsibility to put actual information out there and cover both sides. Not to opine. And that didn’t happen. Clearly, that didn’t happen."
Hey, Ardis. Only one person can make you look stupid, and he's that person up there claiming the First Amendment can't be evenly divided among several people. The actual information is out there. And it all adds up to Ardis not being able to take a joke, ordering cops to arrest people he doesn't find funny, and complaining about "suddenly" being universally reviled.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 7:41am

    Has Mayor Ardis really that far detached from reality? You don't just lose your constitutional rights to free speech. Those are your rights, as long as you are a citizen in this country.

    Not only that, but you can't "use up" your constitutional rights. Just because government says you don't have rights, doesn't make it any less true.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 7:45am

      Re:

      On the other hand, if someone is impersonating you, it does affect your free speech because people potentially cannot tell whether it's you or the impostor talking.

      Of course, that only applies when people can't tell who is talking. Presumably people can tell the difference between a parody account and an official account.

       

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        John Fenderson (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:16am

        Re: Re:

        I don't think it affects your free speech at all. You can still speak freely (such as saying "hey, that's not me!") as much as you could prior to being impersonated.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't think you can just shrug off the effects of impersonation on your online speech. (Actual impersonation, not parodies.) You can say "Hey, that's not me", but the other guy might contradict you, and sometimes people falsely claim they didn't post something because they regret what they posted, so who knows if you'll be believed?

          It can amount to a defamation. If you falsely claim I said X, and X is something offensive, you've defamed me. (And yes, I can fight that with more speech and tell everyone that I never said that, but that doesn't mean it's not defamation.) And if you falsely claim to be me while saying X, that would seem to me to be worse than merely claiming I said X.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            John Fenderson is correct. Assuming someones identity does not remove their Freedom of Speech.

            Defamation is not the same either. Until you are coerced into silence by some show of force, your freedom of speech has not be altered one iota.

             

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            John Fenderson (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 10:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I'm not shrugging off anything. I never said impersonation was OK. It just doesn't impact free speech.

             

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:29am

        Re: Re:

        Fundamental misunderstanding about freedom of speech. That's ok, you probably don't have to have such fundamental understanding of all the laws for your job.

        A Mayor, on the other hand, should have that fundamental understanding of what is freedom of speech, and what is "i'm making this shit up cuz I'm pissed"

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:43am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Heh... you are dead wrong.

          All people that call themselves US Citizens should have a fundamental understanding of their rights. This lack of fundamental understanding is what is causing the rapid breakdown of this Nation.

          Remain ignorant at your own peril, the price we pay for this ignorance in Liberty & Blood is untenable.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 10:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          What am I misunderstanding? OK, he still has his "right to free speech" because he has that right no matter what anyone does. However, in the hypothetical situation of a non-parody account that people actually think is him, it could unfairly cause people to not listen to him.

          Imagine a televised debate where the networks dubbed over Obama's voice so it sounded like he was saying something else. Do you really think that would be OK? I mean, Obama still has his "right to free speech" because he can still say whatever he wants; it's just that everyone will think he said something else. I don't know about you, but I for one would not think that was OK.

           

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      Quixote, Apr 25th, 2014 @ 9:46am

      Re: the parody must be clear and obvious

      If the parody is not obvious and if it creates an impression that's embarrassing to someone, it crosses the line into criminality. It must be comical, not deadpan. "Giving an impression" is conduct, not speech, and is not protected by the Constitution. Whether the parody is obvious enough to pass muster is decided by juries on a case-by-case basis, so anyone who wants to engage in this kind of "speech" should be aware that he is risking arrest and prosecution for identity theft. See the documentation of one criminal satire case at:

      http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 7:51am

    "Used Up All The Free Speech"

    I hope the U.S gets a new batch of "Free Speech" soon, they could use it. Although, the new Free Speech may have some silly backdoors installed, if not useless bloatware that the public majority doesn't need.

     

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      DannyB (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:11am

      Re:

      Can FEMA do an emergency airlift to air drop a short term emergency supply of Free Speech to Peoria, IL?

      Could they also air drop several pallets of Common Sense too?

       

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        beltorak (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:58am

        Re: Re:

        I'm afraid natural common sense has been a very scarce resource for a few decades now. We have been making great strides in manufacturing sense though, and "I Can't Believe it's not Common Sense!®™" is very popular. Unfortunately this kind of sense seems to absorb the grease used in the wheels of justice and the halls of power at a truly astounding rate.

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 10:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Our local schools have been using "I Can't Believe it's not Common Sense!®™

          Just the other day my son told me "Duh, you have to vote for the best looking politician, its common sense Dad!"

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 10:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Damn that would be funny if it weren't so scarily close to the truth about how things work. (See historical polls on of those who watched Nixon/Kennedy debate on TV vs. those who listened to it on the radio.)

             

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 10:14am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So which is that &#174 or ? It can't be both. Just like someone can't be sort of pregnant.

           

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    Mark.T, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 7:55am

    Personation is a thing?

    "false personation of a public official" - all the good ideas start in the US.

    In the UK, all we have is 'impersonation'... how very last century of us.

     

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    Trails (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:00am

    "You’re the ones responsible for getting full information, but not to spin it in the way you want to spin it," Ardis said to a Journal Star reporter. "To make us look stupid."

    "It’s your responsibility to put actual information out there and cover both sides. Not to opine. And that didn’t happen. Clearly, that didn’t happen."

    In other words, "Your article fails to take into account my butthurt."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:05am

    According to the law:

    (g) A violation of subsection (a)(1) through (a)(7) or subsection (e) of this Section may be accomplished in person or by any means of communication, including but not limited to the use of an Internet website or any form of electronic communication.


    The impersonation of a public official is in subection(b). Since the law specifies which sections it's meant to apply to for the Internet, that implies it does not apply to the other subsections. That's why the law doesn't apply here, in case anyone was wondering.

    You'd think they'd read the law BEFORE raiding the guy's house. On the other hand, I originally missed that part myself when I was looking at this law earlier.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:15am

      Re:

      So, we have yet another example of why the world should do away with this crazy "legal language" and just write things in a way they can be understood.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:19am

      Re:

      Even IF it did apply. Parody is protected by the first amendment. The statute could only apply to someone actually attempting to deceive someone into thinking that they were actually the public official. Any state or local law that would attempt to criminalize parody would immediately be unconstitutional.

       

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      Coyne Tibbets (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 12:12pm

      Re:

      If they read the law first, then they wouldn't be able to punish. Trust me, they know this case will fail, but the point will have been made in the most brutal fashion possible.

      So then once the nonsense is over, he has to sue for recompense...and who pays for that? You and me, not the mayor. Punished him and punished us, all in one fell swoop; a perfect reminder of what it means to step out of line.

       

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    mcinsand, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:16am

    perhaps like Voldemort...

    It would be funny if, just as Voldemort picked his nemesis, Ardis has set up his own. After this royally stupid move, I have no doubt that the person arrested has publicity to spare. Not only that, but we can safely assume that Ardis' victim won't be a worse replacement as mayor. To boot, I'd vote for him just to raise a finger in Ardis' direction. If that happens, I certainly hope that Peoria's police force does not have a union. After the way they let power be so obscenely abused, it would be nice to have them report to someone with an axe to grind.

     

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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:17am

    "This guy took away my freedom of speech."

    Poor me. Poor mayor. Anybody who holds the power to fuck up five people's lives over at worst a personal insult doesn't get to use the victim card.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:20am

    another self-centered arse hole who thinks no one but him has any sort of freedom and only he can do what he likes!
    ass for the drugs, i wonder who found them and where? i wouldn't be surprised if it was a plant, just so Mr thin-skin had something to through out of spite!

     

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    Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:23am

    Hey Jim. I have some advice for you. Don't try censor the Internet. That doesn't work. Never has. Never will. Instead, my suggestion is to try to live up to the parody. That's what works for me.

     

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    ahow628 (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:40am

    I'm sorry...

    Oh, I'm sorry, your First Amendment Rights are non-transferable. Better luck next time!

     

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    hoare (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:46am

    "To make us look stupid."

    Ardis made himself look stupid by sending armed thugs for a twitter parody.

    Nobody needs to help him look stupid.

    Imagine a mayor thinking his rights trump everyone elses...
    I didn't know Peoria IL had a king.

     

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    Just Another Anonymous Troll, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:47am

    I'm Mayor Jim Ardis.
    Does this mean the real one has to shut up until I get arrested?

     

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    Peter (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:32am

    Stop picking on the guy! Totally not justified! His post on Popehat makes it perfectly clear that the accusations are ridiculous:
    - "[he has not] "shacked up" in a motel with a so-called "notorious furry.
    - [he has] not hired any sex workers. [and he hopes they will] stop being such fucking liars about important people.
    - [he does] not have a "drug problem." [which is a ridiculous accusation anyway, since Arden is] fortunate to be affluent, to have friends, and to know many people in the criminal justice system.
    - [he has] not accepted cash in low denominations for political favors, as has been claimed. That's ridiculous.

    [And please note that] Interns hallucinate and are prone to sudden unconsciousness. It's a thing. You can Google it."

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:33am

    Some politicians have much thinner skins.

    At least here our President decided to be mature and laugh with her "impersonator" (a guy who set up the facebook profile called Dilma Boladona) and even arranged a meeting with the guy supporting his parody.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:37am

    I always fall back on the idea that if someone fights something like this so hard it must be getting close to the truth. Perhaps the town council should have the mayor tested for whatever drugs may be in his system just to be sure.

     

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    David, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 10:03am

    Your job: It's not to opine.

    Okay, I'll grant that. After the facts are reported, it's MY job to opine. And I opine that Ardis did something that's overbearing, abusive of his position, and directly contributed to making Peoria a laughingstock.

    I'd also opine that Ardis may want to consider alternate employment options for after the next election cycle.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 10:38am

    Bad cops bad cops. What ya gonna do when Cushing comes for you?

     

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    Charles Carreon, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 12:53pm

    Hey Jim, I have a little experience here with these sorts of cases so give me a call and I'll see what I can do to help you out with that pesky media spin thing. I think the problem may be that you just need a bigger shovel.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 1:53pm

    Mayor Ardis is a friggin' public figure. Claiming defamation takes a higher bar to reach than a private person. We don't even have to talk parody here.

    This would be laughed out of court anywhere a kangaroo court isn't set up.

    Mayor Ardis's thin skin is the whole issue here and his ability to use his political force to get what he wants. I can't help but wonder just what he promised or implied he would do at a later date for the PPD.

    He has shown he doesn't have the political skills to actually hold the office he occupies. If he is that worried about his public reputation then I would suggest he has something else he is worried about being uncovered that wouldn't stand the light of day. Either than or those supposed parody lines may have hit a lot closer to home than was comfortable for him.

    Having dirty political commercials coming out during election time either must bring about a near allergic reactions or have him running for the bomb shelter. He has shown his metal and by that dirty political commercials might be something he could aspire to getting credit for. He'd sure come off looking better than this.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 2:08pm

      Re:

      Defamation doesn't even enter the equation even if public figures didn't have a higher bar to reach. Defamation cases are CIVIL LAW matters. Ardis had the police execute a CRIMINAL search warrant on his residence over this. Those are not even in the same ballpark.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 5:03pm

    Next Election

    I think that Ardis's opponent in the next election has just been handed a win. Can't wait to see how the campaign goes...Probably be lots of parody.

     

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      The Wanderer (profile), Sep 4th, 2014 @ 6:07am

      Re: Next Election

      Unfortunately, from what I can find online, it appears that the next Peoria mayoral election is in 2017 - which means that there's good odds this will have fallen off the radar, if not been swept under the rug, before then.

      Not to mention that last time, Jim Ardis ran unopposed...

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2014 @ 5:29pm

    Oh poo.

    The jerk mayor likely had the pot planted - probably from his own stash - just so that he could work without the annoying hinderance of civil rights getting in the way.

    Nothing says "you have no rights under the law" better than a bit of the old "drugs found on premises" addon to an arrest report.

    Like all crooks in office, his knowledge of the law is about the same level as his knowledge of right and wrong - non-existent.

     

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