Wednesday, November 17, 2010

most egregious first amendment violation of the week. **updated**

People have been sick in my house, and I haven't been keeping up with the local news like a good little girl.  I was pretty exhausted from the Sorting The Sick Baby Out, and decided to spend a little time turning my brain off by reading people's statuses on the effbooks.  


I scrolled down a little and noticed a new group on The Effbooks called "Free Chris Charvella".  (Chris is a very vocal member of the Genesee County Democratic Party.  And by very vocal I mean outspoken and often viewed as at LEAST borderline obnoxious by people who are not Democrats, which is approximately 85% of the population here in Genesee County.  I think he's brilliant, and I tend to agree with his political views, because hello! have you met me?)

Anyway.  Charvella works at his family's business, a local restaurant supply store.  Before the recent election, he went to work and discovered a sign for the Republican State Senate candidate.  Chris wrote a blog post about the incident, in which he offered up this picturesque promise:
The next time I see an unauthorized sign go up in front of a commercial property, I'm going to harvest the damn thing, march straight down to republican headquarters and cram it up the first ass I see.
Classy? Not so much.  Unusual?  Also, not so much.  And let's not pretend this is the first time we've heard a fellow with a history of being conscientiously outspoken say something ridiculous when he is feeling provoked.

Fast forward a few days.

Charvella went home in the middle of a work day to find that someone had placed a sign for the verysame Republican candidate in his yard.  The sign was autographed Courtesy of Sharome Glasshole, the very vaguely veiled pseudonym given to the Alleged Sign Placer in Charvella's previous blog post.   

Charvella place a call to Jerome Grasso (aka Sharome Glasshole).  Nobody answered, so he left a message: 'Hello Jerome.  Chris Charvella calling.  It's nice to know you read my blog.  Have a nice day.'  (links to Charvella's blog post).

So. What happens next?  Charvella was arrested for aggravated harassment in the second degree.   For a blog post.  And a completely non-threatening phone call.

The events leading up to Charvella's arrest, from all involved parties, sound like the kind of ridiculous high school pranks you might expect from rival football teams (no offense to football players).  

Tee hee, I put a sign in your yard.
Neener, neener, I responded to your sign with Big Man Words.
Ha ha, I put another sign in your other yard and even autographed it to Up The Fun Quotient.
Knee-slapper, man, I called and left a sarcastic message on your answering machine.

Cue the cuffs?  What?

I would understand a little better if Charvella had called from, say, Grasso's front yard, whilst holding a folded up Republican campaign sign and a tub of Vaseline,  whilst also wielding, maybe, a machete, and possibly screaming vulgarities in front of God and everybody. 

But what *actually* happened?  Please, now.  I'm going to go NOT TOO FAR OUT ON THE LIMB and say that the start of this incident was just another link in the Chain of Political Shenanigans.  And just like my 5 year-old, Mr. Grasso suddenly changed his mind about playing along.  His big boy panties got all bunched up and he ran crying to mama, and by MAMA, I mean LAWYERS AND JUDGES AND STATE TROOPERS, OH MY.
I'd like to extend a great big the dayton time thank you to the Genesee County District Attorney's office and County Legislator Grasso for throwing the taxpayers' money out the window, and spitting in the eyeballs of Free Speech.  Good work.

I would also like to mention that the short people and I discussed this over lunch today, and in their humble opinions, the worst part of this whole thing is that someone would say they would cram a sign up someone's butt.  Because that is mean and it would never happen, so really it's lying to say you'll stick a sign up someone's butt.   And also it would be mean to stick somebody's head up their butt.  And one time (one of them) stuck a finger up his own butt.  And (one of them) never stuck anything up his or her own butt.  And one time (one of them) stuck his finger up his own butt and poked his eyes.  FROM BEHIND.  And wouldn't it be gross to EAT YOUR OWN EYES???

I should have invited Charvella and Grasso to lunch, because the conversation was right on their level.

***UPDATE*** Or rather, additional information that I did not have yesterday that explains the phone call to Grasso's home.
The Genesee County Legislators do not have official county-provided office space.  In fact, the County Legislator website lists the home phone numbers of each of the Legislators in their contact information.   There was no other way for Charvella to contact Grasso, other than at his home.


  1. I am not familiar with Charvella, but I just read a bit of his blog... he seems a bit unstable to me.
    I tend to be on the other side of this one and feel that Grasso is completely justified.
    If someone who I were not friends with (quite the opposite) were to call my house and say "Hey Officer , Thanks for arresting me" or something of this nature, I WOULD feel threatened. And I would seek to have that person arrested.
    Especially if said person had also written repeated (obsessive) blogs about me.
    Especially if said person were obsessed enough to believe that I had placed a sign in his yard.

  2. I would hope that if somebody called your house and said 'thanks for arresting me' you'd have them prosecuted. But saying "thanks for reading my blog", however sarcastically stated, is not the same thing.

    And if the phone call had not been preceded by a long list of sophomoric behavior on the part of both men, not just pertaining to the campaign signs, I might agree with you. But harassment? We'll see.

  3. If a person who had previously written discusting blog rants including references to shoving something up my anus, were to call our family HOME (not public office) and leave a message "Thanks for reading my blog"... I would consider it an attack on my personal and private residence.

  4. Methinks that second sign was placed by someone else. Still. Harassment? That's a little byond the pale.

  5. The gentleman Hanna is vigorously defending manufactured evidence in an attempt to justify having Chris arrested.
    He presented a portion of a discussion between Chris and another (in June) on the
    in which Chris made the comment that he would be out flattening the tires of Republicans. He ended the sentence with a smiley face emoticon.
    It was light hearted banter between two very savvy politicos.
    The evidence given to the state police and then presented to the DA was the sentence from that discussion minus the emoticon and with the inference that the sentence was part of Chris' blog.
    Mr. Grasso is THE sign person for his local party. He KNOWS where every sign is placed, whether he does it or someone else. That is why after the first sign was placed, Chris went to the Board of Elections to complain that it was placed on his property without permission.
    The second sign, on Election Day, was placed on his front yard.
    There are reguations about placing signs. One of them is receiving permission from home owners before they are displayed.
    As stated above, there is no 'office' to call. The legislators' home phone numbers are posted on the county website. You are to call them at home.
    Justified, Hanna? How can manufacturing evidence ever be justified?

  6. I see no manufactured evidence.
    Guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

  7. whew.
    the comments slightly overwhelmed me.
    but your childrens' comments were much more at my level at this point.
    (and wow. unbelieveable nerve on the sign-placers part.)
    and if i say that the phone call should not have been called harrassment will i offend someone? 'cause really ... it doesn't seem more threatening than asking someone if their refrigerator is running.


talk to me, people. because you know i get all giddy when you do.