Ann Arbor, Mich. councilman removed from committee assignments over homophobic slur

The Ann Arbor City Council voted on Monday to remove Councilman Jeff Hayner from committee assignments over his use of a homophobic slur in a Facebook post in which he attacked the the press.

Hayner came under fire earlier this month after quoting writer Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” in a rant against journalists.

“The press is a gang of cruel fa—s. It is a cheap catch-all for f—s and misfits — a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy p—s-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage,” Hayner, a Democrat, wrote April 10 in a since-removed post.

In a virtual meeting on Monday evening, Ann Arbor City councilmembers passed a resolution to remove Hayner from all of his current appointments until Dec. 1. The resolution also requests that Hayner participate in sensitivity training.

According to The Michigan Daily, the resolution passed on a 8-2 vote after “over an hour of discussion and multiple failed amendments.”

Initially Hayner had stood by his post.

A day after sharing the quote, on April 11, the councilman defended the use of the homophobic slur in an interview with The Michigan Daily.

“People who are offended by language like that are people who want to be offended by it … who let themselves be offended by it or who have an ulterior motive,” he said, adding that those were not his own words.

At least five of his fellow council members didn’t agree, and publicly expressed their disapproval.

The board of directors of Jim Toy Community Center, an organization serving the Ann Arbor LGBTQ community, issued a scathing rebuke demanding a “sincere apology,” Pride Source reported.

The growing backlash eventually led the councilman to say that he was sorry. On April 11, Hayner shared another Facebook post acknowledging that the language he used “is considered offensive by many.”

“I also recognize that as a semi-public figure, I should be more careful and considerate of what I post,” he wrote.

During Monday’s meeting Hayner repeated his apology saying that he understands the harm that the word caused members of the LGBTQ community, but added that he believes that the resolution “is a dangerous thing,” The Michigan Daily reported.

“Words are dangerous, and the harm that they cause to the community is real, but I also feel that it’s an inappropriate solution. I don’t see how my quoting someone’s foul language that was repeated at infinitum on social media and councilmember’s websites makes me less able to steward our parks or read a liquor license report or read a Brownfield report,” he said.