Last week we asked all of you to pray about a decision from the district court regarding our motion to transfer the Stickergate case from Maskow here up to the district court. That motion was denied on Friday because the current judge on the case had not requested it. What that means is that the legal case against my son and two grandsons will remain right where it is for the present, mired in local enmities. Our civil authorities are out on the front sidewalk, killing ants with the flat of a shovel.
Allow me to remind you all of the salient facts in this case. In the course of last year’s totally unnecessary lock down and masking orders, one of our church events was a psalm sing at the city hall—just enough of a psalm sing to register our presence there. By that I mean there was a prayer, three songs, doxology, and then we were going to be gone. This was obviously intolerable from the point of view of those officials who believe it is their job to not tolerate things like that, and so there were three arrests. Keep in mind that three of our people were arrested at a psalm sing/protest that was entirely legal. This was later acknowledged by the city when they dropped the charges against the three. Those three have since then filed a suit in federal court against the city.
In the aftermath of these arrests, and as a protest against them, the now infamous stickers appeared on various fixtures downtown in the wee morning hours. Two of my grandsons were illegally detained with regard to said stickers, and a week or so later charges were filed against them. In addition, charges were also filed against my son for having had the stickers made in the first place. You can’t be too careful. If someone prints stickers that are critical of government decisions and policies, they might not stay limited to the confines of the critic’s home. They might show up in public sometime.
And if you think that our precious First Amendment freedoms include the right to have something printed up that implies pointed criticism of our government officials, then you just might be a right wing crazy.
The stickers pull off easily; it was not vandalism. Light poles in college towns are famously festooned with stickers. The charges are based on a law that has been on the books for decades now, and this is the first prosecution in the history of this law ever. In other words, this whole thing is a joke. Not a ha ha joke, but you know, a tedious joke where the one telling it has forgotten the punch line but keeps telling it anyway.
Since the time of the charges there have been all sorts of legal shenanigans, culminating in the denial of a transfer of the case last week.
It is impossible to escape the conclusion that this is a prosecution being conducted for two basic reasons. One is that the defendants have the last name of Wilson. The second is because the content of the stickers was critical of the behavior of our city government. Our thin-skinned city government had arrested three of our people for a perfectly legal activity, was then criticized on light poles out in public for being thin-skinned, and then responded by being thin-skinned.
Just How Thin-Skinned, You Ask?
A responsible guesstimate would say that the city has probably spent something in the neighborhood of 60K thus far on this lame prosecution. I would be happy to publicize the actual amount, down to the penny, but one of the things we have learned in the course of this clown car revue is that people who try to get helpful information from our city should be sent off on that task with an expression like good luck! This is another way of saying that the city is not exactly forthcoming. They do not spray information like a fountain. For example, they have declined to turn over any text messages from any city officials who were dealing with any aspect of this. Let us pause for a moment to wonder why not.
In the meantime, the city does have city services to maintain, and like many municipalities they come to the long suffering taxpayer, hat in hand, wondering if they could please have an increase in the budget again this year.
What Needs to Happen, Among Some Other Things
As it happens, we have an election this coming fall for seats on the city council, not to mention the office of mayor. I think that some questions are in order. I would like to see hundreds of people ask the following questions, and perhaps hundreds of times.
If you are elected, would you be willing to find out how much money has been spent on this prosecution, and share that information with us?
Do you support this prosecution, and all the expenditures associated with it?
If you support the prosecution, how much more of taxpayer money would you be willing to spend on this prosecution?
Do you think that the city budget should be increased since the city has money to burn like this?
Do you believe that when city officials are conducting city business via text messaging, that those messages should be subject to FOIA requests?
Other questions will no doubt come to me in due time.