Ann Arbor Councilor Jeff Hayner defends the publication of a homophobic arc after criticism from councilors
Content warning: Images of explicit language use
Jeff Hayner, Ann Arbor City Councilor, D-Ward 1, posted a quote on Facebook Saturday that included a homophobic bow and derogatory journalists. He defended his use of the bow while repeating it in a phone interview with The Michigan Daily on Sunday night.
In a Facebook comment that has since been deleted, Hayner quoted excerpts from Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, one of which journalists referred to as a “gang of atrocities”.
Although Facebook removed the comment, Hayner originally commented several times on an MLive article about online hatred against journalists in a post on Ann Arbor Politics’ Facebook group. Hayner told The Daily that a moderator from the Facebook group told him that the comment with the bow was removed after 10 minutes for violating guidelines.
Hayner said he did not apologize for posting the comment and said his language should not be considered offensive as it was included in a quote.
“People who are offended by such language are people who want to be offended by it … who let themselves be offended by it or have ulterior motives,” said Hayner. “These are not my words.”
In response to Hayner’s comments, Councilor Travis Radina, D-Ward 3, called out Hayner in a Facebook post on Sunday, condemning the language and feelings expressed in the quote.
Radina posted the screenshot of Hayner’s use of the quote along with the contents of an email he sent to Hayner and all of the other council members. On his Facebook post, Radina wrote that, despite Hayner’s “productive social media activity,” Radina has not received a response since emailing Hayner and the other council members. In the email, Radina expressed disappointment and criticized both the use of the homophobic bow and anti-press sentiments.
“Aside from your tirade against the free press, the thoughtlessness and disregard you showed our LGBTQ residents in sharing such a quote is extremely worrying and hurtful,” wrote Radina. “In 2021, LGBTQ residents – especially LGBTQ youth – in one of Michigan’s most progressive cities should never be exposed to elected officials who carelessly use homophobic slurs to insult their perceived opponents or advance a political point of view. It’s disappointing. It’s harmful. And frankly, it makes me question the sincerity of your alleged support for the LGBTQ community. “
Hayner said he was a supporter of the LGBTQ + community and was disgusted with Radina’s suggestion of harming someone. He told The Daily that he made the comment because it was harassed by the media and believed that some members of the press were untrustworthy.
“I firmly believe that some media can be trusted and others cannot,” said Hayner. “I feel strongly this way for having been treated like this … That (Radina) suggests in some way that I don’t support individual rights … is disgusting and disturbing and offensive to me. There is no question that I am committed to human rights, LGTBQ rights and equality in our society. And if he even suggests, it shows how little he knows about me. ”
Hayner is no stranger to controversy in the Council. In December, MLive reported he had added a second floor to his Ann Arbor home without permission. Hayner claimed he didn’t do anything wrong but has faced angry public commentators since the addition was reported.
Hayner also defended citing the excerpt, adding that he has friends who are members of the LGBTQ + community, that the sheet has been printed for decades and used in an important piece of literature by Thompson, a recognized journalist. Hayner said he was not contacted by community members and because the comment was not addressed to anyone, claiming that the bow itself was “archaic” and “barely audible (d)”, it was not offensive.
“If you take something out of context to arouse outrage, you’re going to get outrage,” said Hayner. “If you read things in context or know where they came from or what kind of person I am, you are not upset about it. If anyone is offended when they see this word in print, contact the publisher. “
Council members have previously raised concerns about Hayner’s behavior on social media. In 2017, he referred to Councilor Julie Grand, D-Ward 3, as the “Hive Queen” and tagged the tweet with the hashtag #RBF, which probably means “dormant b-tch face”. Before Hayner was elected to the city council, he also humiliated colleges for putting pins with gender pronouns on them.
“The college is giving out ‘pronoun pens’. # Will exclusion help people #coexist? #snowFLAKES “, Hayner tweeted.
As of Sunday evening, Hayner told The Daily that he had not seen Radina’s Facebook post but was preparing a response to his email. Hayner added that it was wrong for Radina to publicly post about the quote before having a private conversation with him.
Commenting on Radina’s Facebook post, Councilor Jen Eyer, D-Ward 4, thanked Radina for speaking out and said she was committed to the LGBTQ + community.
Washtenaw County Commissioner Katie Scott, D District 9, wrote a letter to Ann Arbor City Council on her Facebook page on Sunday evening, urging them to “credit the open and welcoming community we have in Ann Arbor affirm, “and signed it by a” proud LGBTQ elected official. ”
“There has to be a settlement,” wrote Scott. “We have the choice of creating a transformative culture here that supports every resident, or we have the choice of maintaining harmful stereotypes and being part of a regressive culture. Using such quotes in a public forum paves the way for more hatred and homophobia. it legitimizes it. I’m here today to advocate for the LGBTQ community. ”
On his Facebook post, Radina questioned the intent of Hayner’s comments and Hayner’s unwillingness to apologize to Ann Arbor’s LGBTQ + community. He added he was angry and exhausted having to respond to anti-LGBTQ + hatred a week after the anniversary of Kathy Kozachenko’s election. In 1974, the first LGBTQ + person elected to public office in the United States was elected to Ann Arbor City Council. She was a 21-year-old student at the University of Michigan.
“I am deeply disappointed, angry, exhausted and frustrated that just a week after the anniversary of the first LGBTQ person elected to public office, I was forced to bring up a colleague’s reference to bigoted and homophobic language and condemn, “wrote Radina.” This also comes less than a week after some of us in the council had to spend time educating our colleagues on the threat that white supremacy and terrorism pose to the (Asian- American and Pacific Islanders). ”
In a statement to The Daily, Radina said he was unable to comment on the consequences he believed Hayner should face as he had not yet received a response from Hayner. However, he said it was clearly Hayner’s responsibility to repair the damage he had done to the LGBTQ + community.
“It cannot be someone else’s responsibility (reaching out to the LGBTQ + community),” said Radina. “But that also requires real appreciation and acceptance of the damage caused, real remorse, and a real willingness to learn and do better.”
The daily employee Julia Rubin can be reached at [email protected]