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Peoria Mayor Sends Police To Track Down Twitter Parodist 169

Posted by timothy
from the how-is-this-playing-in-peoria? dept.
New submitter rotorbudd (1242864) writes with an article at Reason about Jim Ardis, mayor of Peoria, Illinois, who ordered police to track down whoever was responsible for a parody Twitter account mocking him."Guess the good Mayor has never heard of the Streisand Effect. 'The original Twitter account had a total of 50 followers. The new account has over 200.'"
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Peoria Mayor Sends Police To Track Down Twitter Parodist

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  • by slackware 3.6 (2524328) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:57PM (#46791859)
    In Canada you can parody anyone. For example Justin Turdeau instead of Justin Trudeau (leader Liberal party Canada). It's funny and you can't get sued never mind have the police come after you. It's called freedom of speech.
    • by vajrabum (688509) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:02PM (#46791899)
      We have it here too, but it's enforced by the courts not by the police.
      • by Noah Haders (3621429) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:37PM (#46792129)
        apparently you can't parody in US... the the original account in question, @peoriamayor has been suspended. but a thousand flowers are blooming, including this guy [twitter.com], who's profile reads "Welcome to Peoria, bitches! My house, my rules. Check those civil liberties at the door and bow down to your leader. Humor and Parodies punishable by death."
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday April 18, 2014 @09:15PM (#46792555) Homepage

        No we dont, free speech is only allowed in free speech zones. Doing it outside a designated zone means you get tazed in the junk by police.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          That's the sad reality of things; the government will revoke your freedoms whenever they wish, and make up some bullshit rationalization ("You still technically have free speech, but only when you're in free speech zones!") to try and fool idiots into accepting it. Try getting onto most planes in the US and you'll have your rights violated by our good friends at the TSA, and the justification for that is something very similar.

          • by cusco (717999)

            The left made a serious mistake creating gun control laws that nibble at the edges of the 2nd Amendment rather than do the heavy lifting going head-on to revoke or change it. It opened the door for the Right to attack other portions of the Constitution from the side as well.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        The police should refuse to obey the orders from a mayor to follow an illegal order, but most won't do it because they either don't know the order is illegal or because they know they will likely get fired if they refuse depending upon how much power the mayor has in the town.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          well..

          the mayor shouldn't been giving orders to the police in the first place.

          anyways, that's how it's supposed to be in democratic countries. the mayor can make a report of a crime and the police could just then say that "hey man, that's not a crime."

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            The image I have in my head right now is Boss Hogg with a big cigar is his hand shouting at some policemen to "do something".

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:13PM (#46791989) Journal

      In Canada you can parody anyone. For example Justin Turdeau instead of Justin Trudeau (leader Liberal party Canada). It's funny and you can't get sued never mind have the police come after you. It's called freedom of speech.

      Legally, yes; but none of that kicks in until after some sort of legal proceeding actually occurs. If the cops just break down your door, shoot your dog, and seize everything that looks evidentiary and/or worth 'losing', and then no charges are filed? Well, if you have the resources to lawyer up, you could probably make a civil case out of it; but otherwise you just got protected and served.

      • Guess the good Mayor has never heard of the Streisand Effect.

        Uh, yeah. And how is that relevant here? Doesn't seem like he's actually taking much heat, except here at Slashdot and a single Left leaning web site. Maybe a little heat in his home town paper. But seriously, "Streisand Effect"?

        People like to pontificate "Streisand Effect", but in most of the cases where it is used, it has not actually occurred.

        "Streisand Effect" is a *WAY WAY* over used Intertube meme.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's not a very big effect in this case, but it does appear to be an example of the effect (to recap, the effect is when an attempt to suppress a piece of information has the reverse effect). His original site had 50 followers, it now has 200 and likely growing - that's an audience growth of 400%. Now some of that growth might have been happening anyway, but the story has got wider coverage than it otherwise would have done. I pretty much guarantee I would never have heard of the mayor of Peoria or anything

        • Actually this is a classic case of the Streisand Effect and it seems like you simply don't know what it is. Many many more people now know about the account and have read it. Followers went up 400% as a result of his actions. I now know of a guy in Illinois who is clearly an idiotic douchebag. One whom I certainly never would have heard about if he hadn't made it an issue.
          • by anagama (611277)

            Add to that, the internet doesn't forget. This mayor has just arrested any potential upward mobility he may have had on the political ladder.

            Also, as of this moment, @NotPeoriaMayor is up to 688 followers.

        • A lot of people know about this now that he tried to supress it.

          Now let's google streisand effect and see what it says...

          "The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet."

          Peoria seems like a definitive example to me.

    • Don't get me wrong, the US is not perfect, but it is one of the few western democracies that does not have hate speech laws or a state secret's act.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

      • by HiThere (15173)

        Are you certain about the "state secrets act"? It seems to me that National Security Letters cover the same ground...and then some.

        • No, national security letters are just used to investigate. In the US, the first amendment protects you if you publish classified information so long as you were not the one with privileged access and you do not impede the investigation into how the information was leaked.

          See: Pentagon Papers.

          • by HiThere (15173)

            The Pentagon Papers was 30 years ago. The government has changed what it claims to be allowed to do in that period. E.g., it has "suspended" Habeus Corpus. And it has instituted a system where "law enforcement" officers are allowed to profit by confiscating the property of people on accusation of a crime without waiting for conviction.

            You can claim that "national security letters are just used to investigate", but since those very letters usually forbid the recipient from revealing what they demant, this

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ShaunC (203807)

      Yes, parody is protected in the US, and parody against public figures has a long history of protection. However, once you piss off a politician, you can expect to be raked over the coals no matter what your rights. It's going to be expensive unless you can get the EFF or someone similar on board.

      Now wait, did I just hear that some guy named Ardis likes to slob knobs in a McDonald's restroom?

    • by crossmr (957846)

      That's not parody. Parody is not simply trying to be funny. This is why Weird Al actually goes out and gets permission to do the songs he does, because despite the popular thought, most of what he does isn't parody. Parody requires that the new work is used in such a way to comment on the original. Replacing a few words or singing something in a funny voice isn't parody in itself. Depending on how the account is being run it may not be parody either. As time goes on, it's easy for people to misunderstand th

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @02:38AM (#46793489)
        Weird Al gets permission because being right and getting sued sucks. Getting permission prevents such issues. It's expensive to win in court, even if you are clearly right.
        • by crossmr (957846)

          That's what he says, but the reality is that most of his songs wouldn't be defensible in court. Most of them simply do a funny spin on the name and change the lyrics but the often don't change the lyrics to comment on the song itself or the creator.

          I remember one R Kelly song he did clearly commented on the song and R Kelly himself. that one would have been fine, but some of the other ones, like "white and nerdy" awesome song, but doesn't really do much to comment on the original or the performers who made

        • by amxcoder (1466081)
          I believe he also gets permission, because in most cases he is copying the music as well, which is also copyrighted by who ever composed it, and media companies hold the rights to the music, even without the lyrics. So simply changing the lyrics doesn't change the fact that he is using the underlying copyrighted music.
      • Likewise people simply think "If I draw something funny, or make a stupid version of the name, it's fine I can do whatever I want". That's not true.

        That's because the government is filled with evil scumbags who don't care about fundamental liberties such as free speech or the constitution they swore to defend. They, along with those who defend blatantly evil behavior, make me want to vomit.

        • by crossmr (957846)

          Freedom of speech has to balance against people's right to protect the things they said and did as well. It's mostly about people being too lazy to create genuine parody because they don't really have anything to say beyond the level of a fart joke.

    • by Megol (3135005)

      I'll not read the linked article but there is a difference between parody and impersonation. Trying to impersonate a person and therefore skewing the public image of them isn't something that should be allowed but do a parody of them should always be allowed.
      Don't know how it is for this specific case but I have seen here and elsewhere that some people think one can do whatever they want under the protection of "it's just a parody". I'll wonder if they would say the same when a fake facebook account pops up

  • How appropriate... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:06PM (#46791927) Journal
    Hasn't Peoria been a cultural touchstone for humorless reactionary behavior since whenever "Will it play in Peoria?" was coined?

    Also, can they not afford enough legal advice to tell them that basically every step of this plan is practically a textbook case of 'How to incur legal exposure in absurdly obvious ways'?
    • I mix up "Peoria" and "Pretoria" all the time. Is there much of a difference?
      • I mix up "Peoria" and "Pretoria" all the time. Is there much of a difference?

        Nobody marches to Peoria.

    • by Druegan (646568)

      I can't really say that Peoria has been a cultural touchstone for humorless reactionary behavior..

      I grew up in a small suburb of Peoria.. lived in the area most of my life, so I know a few things about the city. The "Will it play in Peoria" statement dates back to the Vaudeville days, where Peoria was, at the time, the measure of "average joe american" entertainment preferences.

      The town is many things.. some good, some bad. I can't say "humorless" though (we did give the world Richard Pryor). or even terr

  • by fred911 (83970) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:07PM (#46791943)

    Total abuse of power.

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:10PM (#46791971) Homepage

      Before we get all silly, please remember that the police had a WARRANT to search the guys house. So any discussion of the "rule of law" needs to remember that the legeslative and judicial branches are also full of shit.

      No just bitching about the executive abuse of power.

      • by russotto (537200)

        Before we get all silly, please remember that the police had a WARRANT to search the guys house.

        A warrant obtained from a rubber-stamp magistrate buddy of the mayor or through a falsely sworn affadavit doesn't turn a witchhunt into "rule of law".

      • He sought said warrant didn't he? Whom should we blame if not the idiot who sought the warrant. Yes it never should have been granted, but it probably was granted because he's the Mayor and he has that kind of power. So again, I ask you, whom should we blame if not the guy who abuses his power to seek a warrant in a case where no such warrant was ... well ... warranted.
        • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

          The distinct branches of government are only of value to a free society when the branches oppose each-other to act as "checks and balances".

          Blaming the mayor is like blaming one dead hard drive for a failure of the raid-1 array. Sure, that one bad disk is a problem but if the overall system was doing its job, then the news story would just be about a mayor trying something stupid and failing (an email from the SAN about a disk that needs to be replaced).

          If cops showed up at this guy's house, it took all 3 b

          • O_O that's a dorky analogy
          • I am talking about first instance causality [wikipedia.org]. Clearly if the other people stood up to him and did their job it wouldn't have been a successful attempt, but even then you clearly admit that the story would be about the mayor and his actions, or more likely of course no story at all. The fact remains that he initiated the action. Yes others have culpability in the degree to which his actions succeeded, but it was his actions. He has the ultimate culpability in the matter. He is exactly as culpible as he w
    • by Bardez (915334)
      Well, he ran upopposed, for example. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]
  • by turkeydance (1266624) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:08PM (#46791953)
    does not include freedom after speech
    • Re:freedom of speech (Score:5, Informative)

      by Culture20 (968837) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:33PM (#46792095)
      Yes it does. Otherwise it's "freedom of talking". Freedom of speech means that no government entity can go after you for the content of your communications, whether broadcast or otherwise. Where exactly that crosses with Secret classifications, I don't know, but freedom of speech necessarily implies freedom from persecution (from government) for speech.
      • Freedom of speech means that no government entity can go after you for the content of your communications, whether broadcast or otherwise.

        Unless of course it has something to do with politics ("campaign finance reform").

        Because obviously the founders wanted to protect nude dancing, not that nasty political speech.

  • Twitter rolled (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:20PM (#46792029)

    So basically if a Jackboot^W LEO asks for account info on anyone without a warrant or even reasonable evidence that a crime has even been committed, Twitter will just hand over your private details to them without question.

    • So basically if a Jackboot^W LEO asks for account info on anyone without a warrant or even reasonable evidence that a crime has even been committed, Twitter will just hand over your private details to them without question.

      Why is this moderated insightful? Twitter (and Comcast) responded to a warrant signed by a judge, not to a simple request by police. Yes, the judge is a total douchebag who is abusing the power of his office just like the mayor but once he signs the warrant if Twitter doesn't comply they are breaking the law.

  • Governor makes parodies of you. And people on Slashdot were just talking about how much more free the US is than Russia. Looks like we can't even criticize our govt anymore.
  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Friday April 18, 2014 @07:56PM (#46792213)

    Freedom of speech is not freedom to impersonate or defame. From this article [pjstar.com];

    The @Peoriamayor account began in late February or early March with a photo of Ardis and a bio that stated he enjoyed serving the city and included his city email address.
    The content of tweets, or entries on the account, ranged from ambiguous to offensive, with repeat references to sex and drugs — and comparisons of Ardis to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as Ford’s drug use while in office became public.
    By about March 10, the bio of the Twitter account was changed to indicate it was a parody account.

    As for indicating it is a parody account, how many people read the whole bio of a twitter poster?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As for indicating it is a parody account, how many people read the whole bio of a twitter poster?

      Just as many people as those that read the detailed information about how movies claim to be "based on a true story" when in fact they have absolutely nothing to do with reality. Or, how many people actually read the EULAs they agree to.

      I'm not sure what your point is. It is blatantly obvious that it is a parody. Even if this guy had committed a crime, which he didn't, they did not follow procedures in their handling of the situation.

      • WHAT!?!?!

        But the Amityville horror was a true story of an actual event!

        They said it was based on a true story! Not it was inspired by a true story they heard while drunk and can sort of remember.

  • by Mr_Wisenheimer (3534031) on Friday April 18, 2014 @08:00PM (#46792233)

    . . . then impersonating a public official is not going to either. The Supreme Court basically ruled that you can outright lie about serving in the military because that is your first amendment right.

    Now if someone is trying to lie about being a public official to get into a restricted area or hell, lying about being a veteran to get a free lunch at Denny's on Memorial Day, that might be a crime, but this guy defrauded nobody.

    The best case scenario for the mayor is a civil lawsuit for libel, but it is so blatantly obviously a parody account that it would just be a waste of everyone's money. But why use your own money to sue someone when you can send the police to unconstitutionally harass them?

    • . . . then impersonating a public official is not going to either. The Supreme Court basically ruled that you can outright lie about serving in the military because that is your first amendment right.

      Now if someone is trying to lie about being a public official to get into a restricted area or hell, lying about being a veteran to get a free lunch at Denny's on Memorial Day, that might be a crime, but this guy defrauded nobody.

      whats the stolen valor act? that makes no sense. who cares if somebody lies about being a veteran?

  • Is it even legal for a judge to sign a warrant for such bullshit?
    • by HiThere (15173)

      Who's going to tell the judge no? Who's going to enforce it?

      Sometimes a judge will be so egregiously corrupt that the higher courts will discipline them, but it's quite infrequent, and I've never heard of it happening when he was acting to support the local politicos. (And even then the "discipline" is generally trivial in comparison to the offense.)

      • Who's going to tell the judge no? Who's going to enforce it?

        Sometimes a judge will be so egregiously corrupt that the higher courts will discipline them, but it's quite infrequent, and I've never heard of it happening when he was acting to support the local politicos. (And even then the "discipline" is generally trivial in comparison to the offense.)

        I'm curious - can you site one instance in which you "heard of" a judge not being disciplined because "he was acting to support the local politicos". It seems unlikely you actually have such knowledge. My guess is that you are generalizing, or guessing, or just wildly speculating.

        • by Anomalyst (742352)
          I imagine the "site" would be a bar, jawboning with his buddies.
        • by HiThere (15173)

          What evidence would you expect to find?

          You are right, that I don't have anything in the way of good evidence. I have only the evidence of judges making decisions the are flagrantly illegal, and which are to the benefit of local politicians. And since I'm not a lawyer, my idea of "flagrantly illegal" doesn't carry much weight.

          So lets just consider the MS anti-trust case, where the first judge found against MS, was quoted by a journalist as saying things that weren't complimentary to MS *after he had pronou

          • Ah, okay, you answered my question. You were talking out of your ass. You claimed "Sometimes a judge will be so egregiously corrupt that the higher courts will discipline them, but it's quite infrequent, and I've never heard of it happening when he was acting to support the local politicos."

            Yet you can't cite even a single instance. Thanks for clearing that up.
  • Dat Streissand (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    > The original Twitter account had a total of 50 followers. The new account has over 200.

    People almost care!

  • "Nevertheless, police raided this home and intend to charge whoever was responsible for the account for false impersonation of a public official."

    I have a hotspot up (as per EFF https://www.eff.org/ [eff.org]), at this time 3 people are using it, I may have hassles over it but I've got the time.

    • by Anomalyst (742352)
      So a "true" impersonation of a public official would be allowed? Does it require poorly applied makup, a badly tailored suit and accepting bribes from local busnessmen?
  • ...addresses this issue [popehat.com]

    Unless this is another one of them there parody things.

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