Last year, Peoria resident Jon Daniel, 29, started a Twitter account satirizing (loosely) his city’s mayor, Jim Ardis, portraying the mayor as a hard-partying strip club patron. Ardis did not take kindly to this caricature, ordering a police raid on Daniel’s house; Daniel sued in federal court claiming civil rights violations. This week, the city of Peoria announced that it had agreed to settle the case out of court, paying Daniel and his lawyers $125,000.
The Twitter account—which juxtaposed the mayor’s clean-cut image with a series of tweets conveying in a crude or vulgar manner an exaggerated preoccupation with sex, drugs, and alcohol—was a satiric form of expression protected by the First Amendment and the Illinois Constitution.
As part of the settlement agreement, the city agreed to inform its police that parody Twitter accounts are not a crime (even if they are criminally unfunny).
We believe strongly that the City would have ultimately won the case, but the reality is it would have cost the City several times the amount of the settlement in order to win in Court, and as a result, settling early was the soundest fiscal strategy for the taxpayers.
In other words: they’re not mad, actually they think the whole thing is pretty funny, and if they really cared, they would keep fighting about it, but they don’t, so they won’t, so bye.