Guest Post: Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis On The Rule of Law
Today's guest author, Jim Ardis, is the Mayor of Peoria, Illinois.
Ladies and gentlemen, the rule of law is what separates us from animals and barbarians and people from Joliet. It is that rule of law that I now invoke to prevent so-called "satire" from being used to abuse my person and position.
By now you have heard that someone pretending to be me on Twitter has breached the peace by suggesting that I am some sort of corrupt, disturbed drug fiend. The statements attributed to me have been scandalous, personally hurtful, and textually ambiguous.
Let me clear some things up right now:
- I am devoted to my loving family and have not "shacked up" in a motel with a so-called "notorious furry." I do not visit motels because their low thread-count sheets make my skin chafe. I have not been observed at any motels and if I had been it would have been to visit with community leaders about growing jobs in Peoria's business climate. I had a soiled fox costume in my car because I was going to participate in a pantomime for children at a local cancer hospital. My staff's nickname for me is "Swift," not "Yiff."
- I have not hired any sex workers. I have nothing against them, and feel our system should do a better job protecting them from harm and providing them with opportunities to better themselves and stop being such fucking liars about important people.
- I do not have a "drug problem." Drugs are a scourge of impoverished, powerless, and dark people everywhere. I am fortunate to be affluent, to have friends, and to know many people in the criminal justice system. Throughout my career I have strongly advocated that people, including myself, avoid the ruinous consequences of drugs.
- Interns hallucinate and are prone to sudden unconsciousness. It's a thing. You can Google it.
- I have not accepted cash in low denominations for political favors, as has been claimed. That's ridiculous. I am reliable and honest. Look — I have a lapel pin!
People may believe that they can get away with mocking me or saying unpleasant things about me because of the "First Amendment." They are mistaken. Here in Peoria we have a system that respects the law — and respecting the law means respecting the Office of Mayor. When I was victimized by satire — abused by someone with no regard to my right to self-esteem and dignity — my good friend Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard sprang into action. Could you get the police to devote substantial resources to investigating someone being making fun of you on the internet? Probably not — but frankly you don't carry the burdens of state that I do. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, and all that.
With the help of Steve, your tax dollars, scores of police hours, and other resources, we were able to present search warrant applications. First we got a warrant for Twitter from Judge Kirk D. Schoenbein. Good old Kirk understood that "satire" is no excuse for disrespect here in Peoria. Then we went to Judge Lisa Wilson to force Comcast to cough up the subscriber information associated with the Twitter account. Lisa gets it too: who does this punk think he is, making fun of the mayor? Finally we went to Judge Kim Kelley with an application for a warrant to search this asshole's home, and to toss it for drugs while we were at it. And what do you know? They found drugs! Time for this little shit to face some real consequences.
You hear all the time about judges getting all bent out of shape about the First Amendment. So why did three judges issue warrants here? Well first of all, they all understood that as the Mayor of Peoria I am an important man, and my reputation is something that should be protected under the law. Second, I made it clear in the warrant application how just plain mean some of those "satirical" tweets were. Now, some eggheads out there might say that the warrant suggested, on its face, that the tweets were not meant to be taken seriously, and that there's no articulated basis to search for drugs in the warrant. You just remind those eggheads that a Mayor in a town like Peoria can get things done. I know people, and people know me, and when I want a warrant, then by God I get a warrant. I know all of these judges. This is exactly why you cultivate relationships, my friends. That kid in your fourth grade class eating paste and wetting himself during story time may seem worthless to you now, but you never know when he's going to wind up having the power of life and death over people because he's got an inoffensive name and photographs well.
In conclusion: this is a case of the system working the way it ought to. Someone disrespected me, a man of respect. The system turned around and bit him in the ass. That will teach you to think twice about mouthing off about people like me, won't it?
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