In Amboy, Alderwoman Deanne Hoy is accusing Mayor Tom Nauman of getting physical with her in an argument outside a local restaurant – a confrontation that the Lee County Sheriff's Department is investigating.
No one is suggesting that Hoy walked away hurt, but one doesn't need to be injured to allege battery.
According to Illinois law, a person commits battery if he or she "makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual," which is apparently what Hoy is accusing the mayor of.
If you're angry with someone, you can make your case verbally, but you would be advised not to get physical in any way, such as grabbing at someone's arm. You could be charged with battery.
In 2011, after a public meeting, I walked up to an official about a story. He wouldn't answer my questions, but he let me know he was angry with some of my stories, poking my chest as he was arguing. A uniformed officer was nearby.
His physical contact was certainly insulting and provoking. I made no issue of it.
Years ago, a tall man in his 80s walked up to me and twisted my nose after a county meeting. I asked him why he did that. He told me I was a brown noser, referring to my stories about the county's effort to bring in a dairy, which this man opposed.
He said we could take it outside. I declined.
A uniformed officer was seated a few feet away.
In all these cases, custom plays a role. I doubt my critics would have poked the chest or twisted the ear of a female colleague if she had written the same stories. And if they had, law enforcement would probably have jumped in.
David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.