Just say no?

Just say no?

A lot of foolishness could be avoided if someone just said, "Let's think about this for a moment."

Bad things can happen when no one has the stomach to tell the boss no.

That's one of the lessons to draw from the fallout of the great Twitter caper that resulted in Peoria becoming a national laughingstock last March.

One of the community's ne'er-do-wells came up with the bright idea of creating a fake Twitter account for Mayor Jim Ardis. The account, which had fewer than 50 followers, quoted the mayor as expressing fondness for drugs and women.

It was certainly tasteless, even unkind. But the bottom line is that it was essentially harmless parody.

But when Mayor Ardis and City Manager Patrick Urich got wind of it, the Twitter controversy became much more than that. They unleashed he city's police department on the perpetrator, sent out investigators to conduct search warrants and took several people into custody — all for the crime of not committing a crime.

The local state's attorney decided that no charges would be filed in connection with the Twitter controversy because no law had been broken. It's simply not a crime to create a parody Twitter account even if it's tasteless, stupid and sophomoric.

That was that until last week when the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of 29-year-old Jon Daniel, a short-order cook who was the mastermind of @Peoriamayor.

"Political parody is a great tradition in the United States — from Thomas Nast to Jon Stewart," said Harvey Grossman, the ACLU's legal director.

That Daniel's parody did not come close to reaching Nast's level, or even that of Stewart, is irrelevant. While Mayor Ardis and the City of Peoria once went after Daniel for the Twitter account, Daniel and the ACLU now are going after Mayor Ardin and the City of Peoria for violating Daniel's rights.

It all could have been avoided if Mayor Ardis and the city manager had responded in a more circumspect and thoughtful away. It could have been avoided if an underling or two had pointed out the danger of trying to run roughshod over a private citizen for what amounted to a gross, but legal, breach of etiquette. But nobody said no, and the rest is history, probably expensive history by the times lawyers have submitted all their bills.

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