A Tale of Two Consequences For Censorious Asshattery

The wheel turns slowly, my friends — but it turns.

Here are two stories of the wheel grinding down censorious jackasses.

Mayor Jim Ardis Costs Peoria Taxpayers $125,000 Plus Legal Fees

Remember Peoria Mayor Jim Aris? He's the jackass who took offense to a satirical Twitter account and used a crony cop and a compliant judge to get a search warrant to harass the satirist.

Now Peoria has agreed to pay $125,000 to settle the satirist's civil rights suit. Peoria taxpayers foot that bill, along with the no doubt much larger legal bill for the city's lawyers.

Now, Jim Ardis doesn't face financial consequences personally. But there's hope he'll suffer long-term reputational and political consequences:

The actions against Daniel unleashed a torrent of negative backlash directed at Ardis and the police, a controversy dubbed "Twittergate" by many in the central Illinois community. Daniel's lawsuit against Ardis and several city officials accused them of violating his First and Fourth amendment rights. Legal experts said political satire is a protected right of free speech.

The settlement also requires Peoria to issue a directive to its Police Department saying the law prohibiting the impersonation of a public official — the same statute the city tried to use against Daniel — does not apply to satire.

Please join me in proclaiming that #JimArdisIsAnAss.

MedExpress Ordered To Pay Lawyers Who Responded To the Popehat Signal

You may remember that in 2013 I put up the Popehat Signal to seek Ohio lawyers willing to fight back against Med Express, an Ebay seller filing frivolous lawsuits attacking people for bad reviews. Jeff Nye and Tom Harren stepped up. Your rights, and mine, depend upon lawyers like them doing things like that.

Working together with Paul Alan Levy at Public Citizen, they defeated MedExpress and convinced a court to order MedExpress to pay their fees. Paul has the story here. It's very hard to get courts to award attorney fees as a sanction for frivolous litigation. But it's great when it happens. Jeff and Tom deserved to get paid for their efforts, and the sanction should help act as a deterrent against other thuggish plaintiffs.

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  1. Scott Jacobs says

    Having recently departed Peoria, IL (and having run the NotPeoriaMayor account) I have to say my only regret regarding my departure is that I won't be at the City Council meeting this Tuesday (9/8) to crow at the mayor (and maybe make his face go red again).

    I don't like that the settlement is as low as it is, I don't like that the city will pay for it, and I don't like that it doesn't require any admissions of fault or any apologies, but I understand why Jon would settle instead of go to trial.

    And no. No Ardis won't face any consequences. Shame on any who think he might.

  2. Matthew Cline says

    The settlement also requires Peoria to issue a directive to its Police Department saying the law prohibiting the impersonation of a public official — the same statute the city tried to use against Daniel — does not apply to satire.

    Didn't the police claim that it wasn't satire, thus making that directive pointless?

  3. EPWJ says


    I like your impeach the asshats but then the down side is where would we get asshats to replace them? We would be having elections every 3 weeks

  4. OrderoftheQuaff says

    $125,000 is chickenfeed for the Peoria case. Wasn't there a SWAT raid on the tweeter's home? I would have priced that at half a mil.

  5. En Passant says

    Congratulations to Jeff Nye, Tom Harren and Paul Alan Levy for successfully striking another blow for freedom of speech. And congratulations on the new improved long range Popehat signal.

    As for Jim Ardis, looks like he finds the taste of paste appealing, as long as he gets elected.


  6. Peter says

    The Ardis case bothers me something fierce. It seems to be but another confirmation that American jurisprudence allows justice to be administered at the expense of its citizens. The citizens are forced to pay for the injustice inflicted upon it by its officials: viz., this is a case where the victims are victimized in the name—anyway, by means—of the law. This is not good. This is American—and, presumably, international—jurisprudence; it is perverted, repugnant.

    Reform is needed. The rule of law should not victimize victims.

  7. Jerry Leichter says

    @Peter: Indeed. And the consequences for the overall system of governance are even worse. I know absolutely nothing about Mayor Ardis, but there have certainly been mayors (and other politicians) in the past who are simultaneously asshats on a personal level while being effective on the political level. To quote Lord Acton – including the little known third line: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are seldom good men.

    So let's take the hypothetical case that Ardis is actually a very good mayor. Consider my choices as a voter at the next election. Ardis has been a good mayor (OK, that's what I want to vote for), but he's been an asshat (I don't like that but I can live with it). But … his asshatery has cost me and every citizen money. The only way to punish him is to vote him out of office. But … is that cutting off my nose to spite my face?

    Holding government officials – and them same holds for officers of corporations, cops, all agents of public or private organizations – harmless for the consequences of their reasonable decisions and actions is appropriate. Extending their protection to pretty much anything they do – which is where we've taken things, pretty much "on the sly" by making reasonable encompass pretty much anything – guarantees continuing abuses.

    — Jerry

  8. Ricky says

    There was another issue in the Illinois case; didn't the roommate of the tweeter get caught with a small amount of marijuana and get sent to jail? Does this get overturned due to it being an illegal raid?

  9. melK says

    > Does this get overturned due to it being an illegal raid?

    Settlement includes no wrong-doing on part of city/police/mayor. I doubt that the status of the raid gets changed by this settlement.

  10. Scott Jacobs says

    Regarding the pot:

    It wasn't exactly a small amount, to be honest. But that case was pled out a while ago after the guy's lawyer was unable to get the search tossed.