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Throw the book at him

Friday, Dec 13, 2013

* Last March, Stephen Bona left this message on State Rep. Jeanne Ives’ voice mail

“Your Tea Party brethren Sarah Palin put up a map that included the names, locations, and faces of Democratic candidates and put them in the cross hairs of a gun…perhaps we should do the same for you. We know where you live. There’s no longer a ban on assault weapons. Think about that before you speak next time, [expletive].”

Bona got himself all worked up after Ives made some seriously goofy anti gay marriage comments.

* Amazingly enough, the guy called Ives again

Charges have been upgraded to a felony for a Chicago man accused of threatening a state representative over gay marriage remarks. Police say shortly after Stephen Bona, of Chicago, was charged with a misdemeanor for placing a threatening voice mail at Jeanne Ives’ district office, he placed another call to her, leading them to change the misdemeanor charges to threatening a public official, a Class 3 felony. If convicted, Bona could face up to five years in jail.

* And now Bona’s attorney claims the calls were constitutionally protected free speech

A man charged with threatening a state representative from Wheaton for her radio show comments disparaging gay marriage is attempting to have the charges dismissed, claiming his perceived threats are constitutionally protected free speech.

Bona’s attorney, Joanie Rae Wimmer argued during a Wednesday hearing before DuPage Judge Blanche Hill Fawell that the case should be dismissed because Bona did not specifically threaten Ives.

“The law is pretty clear that you only get outside the realm of constitutionally protected speech if you mean to convey an intent on your part to do harm to someone else,” Wimmer said. “I don’t believe that he did that. There are a number of cases where a speaker suggests to the listener that violence could befall them if they continue their course of action.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Scaliatine argued that the fact that Bona left the message “on a machine, directly to (Ives)” removes the protections of the First Amendment.

“This is clearly a threat,” he said.

I think it’s pretty darned clear there was an attempt to personally convey to Ives that she was in danger of harm.

I make my living on the 1st Amendment. But if someone left a comment on this blog saying what Bona said I would turn his IP address over to the cops and demand immediate action. Personal threats of violence against elected officials have zero place in a free society and nobody has the “right” to make those threats.

So “think about that before you speak next time,” Mr. Bona. It is my opinion that a judge should send you away for the maximum term allowable under law. How about that for free speech?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


22 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 12:53 pm:

    –There are a number of cases where a speaker suggests to the listener that violence could befall them if they continue their course of action.”–

    And those are the cases where you call the cops and have those Brownshirts or lunatics, whichever the case may be, thrown in jail.

    Free speech, my tukkus. It’s assault.


  2. - Ken_in_Aurora - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 1:00 pm:

    I’m generally not a fan of zero tolerance policies but here I’ll make an exception. Agree with you completely, Rich.


  3. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 1:01 pm:

    District staff, in particular, are exposed and vulnerable. They are made to feel ill at ease, or worse, by phone or in person, more frequently than you would expect.


  4. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 1:01 pm:

    “We know where you live. There’s no longer a ban on assault weapons.” Sounds like a threat to me.

    Maybe Ives would publicly forgive the guy if he apologized, but he doesn’t seem to be the type to say sorry.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    No elected official in a Free Society should fear for their safety, their families safety, or feel the need to look over their shoulders for any action or vote that they do in the duties of their elective office.

    Period.

    Examples of what are the “lines you do not cross” are needed in society, and to think that this should be taken even remotely lightly puts alot more at risk than someone who should fear for herself because of doing her job.

    I hope for a very strong response.


  6. - PhoenixRising - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 1:49 pm:

    “we should do the same for you. We know where you live” Dude has a seriously disturbed mouse in his pocket or something. Hope he gets his meds in the pokey


  7. - A guy... - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 1:50 pm:

    He’s a vile pig and a disgusting bully. He’s an incredible fool for calling a second time. According to his warped version of the first amendment, he can improperly interpret the 2nd amendment and stand above the law. Book him Danno.

    And that goes for every other vile pig, piggette or piglet out there who think it’s ok to threaten public officials.


  8. - dupage dan - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 2:08 pm:

    I don’t think there is any question as to what is going on here. None at all. This is not protected speech. Period.


  9. - dupage dan - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 2:09 pm:

    === - Jimmy - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 2:08 pm:

    Why doesn’t she just buy a gun. End of story ===

    Troll Alert


  10. - sal-says - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 2:09 pm:

    “Throw the book at him”

    AGREED !


  11. - Independent - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 2:43 pm:

    There are few, if any, more chilling phrases than “We (I) know where you live.”


  12. - TribuneAgoons - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 3:54 pm:

    Unfortunate that anyone who excises their right to free speech would have to endure these kinds of threats. It reminds me of certain reporters who go to peoples homes and imply retaliation if they don’t answer their questions.


  13. - walkinfool - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 4:01 pm:

    Hmm.

    I’m leaning toward free speech, though the statement about assault weapons gives one pause. I’d have the police check out the people making these kinds of statements, to give them a warning, and to gauge whether they really pose some kind of threat. The Secret Service does that kind of visit frequently, I’m told.

    Maybe I am calloused by the fact this has occurred to me three times, once with a note left in my mail box from “a neighbor.” I always viewed it as the cost of doing business for a public servant these days. People say the most outrageous things to their representatives, but rarely do they act out their speech.

    A felony for politically-motivated speech, without action, conspiracy, or specific preparation to act? That doesn’t sound like America, IMHO.


  14. - Brendan - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 4:05 pm:

    Stephen Bona is a very angry man who does not know how to express his anger in a civil or mature way. He is, however, quite harmless.


  15. - Rich Miller - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 4:07 pm:

    ===He is, however, quite harmless. ===

    …said Oswald’s neighbors.


  16. - hm - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 4:12 pm:

    As a lawyer and former staffer to a legislative office, no this is not a threat.

    We got letters, emails, and occasion phone calls from nuts. Never once did I feel threatened.

    As for threat from a legal perspective, weak. Leaving two nasty voicemails that show no time or day or any specific intent, doesn’t it cut it my opinion.

    Regardless of what party you’re from, when you’re an elected official collecting the public money and privileges, there is a certain amount you have to deal with. That’s also a reason why people don’t want to run but that’s a different discussion.


  17. - Wensicia - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 4:14 pm:

    Nice trick, trying to say vicious threats are protected by free speech when made against public figures. The last person to fall for this nonsense would be a judge. Like mentioned above, I hope this guy gets the maximum.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 4:16 pm:

    “He was always nice to me … mild mannered …”

    You beat me to it, Rich. Why take a chance on someone who felt the need to do it … twice?


  19. - SAP - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 4:19 pm:

    Quit advocating that somebody throw the book at this moron, it sounds too much like a violent threat. To get serious, there is no excuse for the kinds of threats Bona made, public figure or not. Despicable.


  20. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 4:37 pm:

    I have a relative that works in a federal official’s district office. Make a call anywhere near that to such a federal office and you run the risk of a visit by the Capitol Police and/or the Secret Service.


  21. - West Side the Best Side - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 4:39 pm:

    hm - As a lawyer your must be familiar with 720 ILCS 5/12-9 “Threatening public official” which defines that offense as:”(a) A person commits the offense of threatening a public official when: (1) that person knowingly delivers or conveys, directly or indirectly, to a public official by any means a communication: (i) containing a threat that would place the public official or a member of his or her immediate family in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm,…” Doesn’t have to set out the day nor hour when some looney with an assault rifle may come calling. No elected official official should have to deal with that kind of threat.


  22. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 13, 13 @ 4:54 pm:

    WalkIn, when I was a cops reporter, I got threatened all the time. I never informed the cops, but that was my choice.

    If someone receives a threat like that, and feels intimidated, they absolutely should report it. The law is clear and on their side.

    I covered way too many domestic, business and neighborhood beefs where someone thought, “he talked a big game, but he was harmless.”

    Tell it to the judge, if you’re a big-talking harmless guy.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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