There’s a right way and a wrong way to threaten to shoot someone. Or rather, there are people it’s OK to threaten, and people it’s not OK to threaten.
Mayor Daley did it the right way. He threatened a reporter. During a May news conference, here’s how he responded to a question from the Chicago Reader’s Mick Dumke about whether the city’s gun ban has been effective:
He grabbed a rifle, held it up, and looked right at me. He was chuckling but there was no smile.
“If I put this up your—ha!—your butt—ha ha!—you’ll find out how effective this is! If I put a round up your—ha ha!”
Daley grabbed a weapon, brandished at a questioner, and threatened to shoot him in the ass. However, he was clearly joking -- he said “ha ha” several times -- and the weapon was a prop meant to elucidate a lesson, as harmless as the stuffed toy giraffe my kindergarten teacher used to teach us about African wildlife.
Christopher Fox of San Jose, Calif., did it the wrong way. Fox found Daley’s remarks “grossly inappropriate.” So he called City Hall and left an obscene message, making roughly the same threats to Daley that Daley had made to Dumke. Fox was arrested, charged with threatening a public official -- a Class 3 felony -- and held in the Santa Clara County Jail on $1 million bond. Fox’s lawyer insists his remarks were all in good fun, and “not to be taken seriously.”
Tell it to the judge. Fox is now residing at 26th and Cal, after two Chicago police officers traveled to California to pick him up. A spokesman for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez called the extradition “unusual” because Fox has not been accused of a “serious or violent crime.”
Normally, the police department and the state’s attorney split the cost of an extradition, but Alvarez thought this case was so minor that she told the city to pick up the bill if they wanted bring back this guy who threatened The Boss.
“Threats against any public official are taken seriously, so where a person lives doesn't matter,” police spokesman Roderick Drew told Michael Sneed. “It is still a crime and we have to do what’s right.”
Sneed’s reaction: “Huh?”
According to the conservative website American Thinker, “The lesson here is that Mayor Daley can threaten a reporter on video with a bayoneted rifle in a room full of reporters and well armed body guards and face no legal consequences whatsoever, but an average citizen expressing outrage over such egregious behavior will be subject to the full weight of the regime’s legal system.”
How many people overreacted here? Mayor Daley, first of all, by waving that gun near a reporter. Christopher Fox, second of all, by making that long-distance phone call. And third of all, the Chicago Police Department, by sending officers to California on a weekend when there were a dozen real-live shootings back home. Fox is obviously an idiot, but he’s less of a threat to our city’s public safety than thousands of armed idiots right here in Chicago. The officials in California were taking care of their idiot. We should be taking care of ours.