Ann Arbor councilman now says he’s sorry for homophobic slur on social media

Apr 13, 2021 at 12:44 pm

Ann Arbor Council Member Jeff Hayner. - City of Ann Arbor
City of Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor Council Member Jeff Hayner.
After refusing to apologize for posting a homophobic slur on social media over the weekend, Ann Arbor Council Member Jeff Hayner now says he’s sorry.

“I acknowledge the language I quoted is offensive, recognize my poor judgment in using it, and I sincerely apologize for the harm I have caused the community,” Hayner said in a statement Monday night.

Hayner drew condemnation from colleagues after he shared a quote from gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson over the weekend in response to an MLive article about online harassment of journalists.

“The press is a gang of cruel f****ts,” Haryner wrote, quoting Thompson’s novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. “It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits – a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-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.”

At least five council members and two other public officials admonished Hayner on social media.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Hayner defended his post and refused to apologize.

“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,” Hayner said. “They’re not my words.”

Hayner was more contrite in an email to Metro Times.

I appreciate your taking the time to write and I understand, but don’t share, your interest in this matter. I did not intend to offend anyone, but was merely putting forward the first quote that came to mind, from a favorite author of mine, that summed up my anger at the biased reporting and harassment I and others have been subjected to from a local reporter, in response to a thread on the integrity of our local media. Would you repeatedly text an elected official to complain about their mild criticism of your reporting, and suggest that they “please seek help”? Would you call an elected officials concerns over reporting “your latest bizarre rantings about me”? I certainly hope not. This reporter has done that, and more.

I'm not sure what can be done to remedy the situation, as I have already offered apologies to some, and explanations to others. The post was immediately removed, and would have been but an ill-considered mistake seen by few, had it not been screen captured immediately, and widely circulated and attributed to me, as my own words, out of context. Obviously they are not my words, and do not define who I am. I can't help the outsized effect amplifying this for political purposes had on the community, but I certainly recognize and take responsibility for my poor judgement in the first place, and for any harm that may have come from my actions.

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