Back in June, Janice Daniels typed out an insightful embargo against products showing love for marriage-equality states on her Facebook page. Once it hit the internet last week and people noticed she’s now the $135-a-month mayor of the small town of Troy, MI, the backlash in the news media and gay blogosphere was swift.
She still hasn’t given a full apology without making excuses or rationalizing, and a meeting on Monday with protestors, residents, and city councilpeople doesn’t seem to have gone so well. The Detroit Free Press reports:
Monday, [Janice Daniels] said she met with some of the protesters and apologized. “I explained to them that this is a perfect opportunity for all of us to learn how important it is to choose our words carefully. I’m human, I made a mistake, but I feel I did the right thing—I admitted my mistake, I apologized,” she said.
Daniels’ apology was accepted until she said that queer “is just a word,” said Zach Kilgore, 17, also a senior at Troy High School.
“That shows she just does not understand. We had a pretty calm conversation and then it erupted into people screaming at her and calling her ‘bully,’ ” said Kilgore, who said he organized the protest.
“We need to show the region—and now the country, because this is national news — that we aren’t this bigoted community,” Kilgore said.
Although the protesters stood outside, inside Troy City Hall were three adults with a sign about what they said was the inviolability of heterosexual marriage.
“It’s the law of God and the law of the land,” said the sign held by Mary Mills, 69, of Clarkston.
“The mayor happens to be a friend of mine. We’re both in the tea party,” Mills said.
If only that meant they had adorable tea parties every Sunday afternoon.
Laura Berman of the Detroit News (Detroit has two newspapers? I thought print was dying) gets Daniels’ problem just right:
Although Daniels has apologized weakly several times, always with caveats, she has yet to suggest she actually understands how she offended real people who live, shop and work in Troy and who are her constituents.
She is getting a short, not too happy, education in the facts of political life—specifically that the kind of sweeping stereotypes that fringe groups applaud don’t play well with the wider electorate, who may include the CEOs of major corporations or the local chamber of commerce.
While Daniels says “I love all people,” her Facebook post emitted the kind of “those people” vibe that created a barrage of Facebook jokes about Troy hairdressers and waiters exacting revenge on the mayor.
“We don’t regard this as statesmanlike or leadership,” said Michele Hodges, president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ve been deluged by emails and calls, but we want people to direct their anger, their justifiable anger, at city hall, not at local business.”
So where do we go from here? What’s the most appropriate punishment for Daniels’ original transgression and her further transgression of not apologizing appropriately? Here are three suggestions from a bunch of Queerty queers.
- Let’s spam the bitch on Facebook. A campaign to mark her status as “Hate speech” has already succeeded, in a way: it aimed to get the offending Facebook status purged off her page, and it’s not there anymore, though she could have deleted it herself. I personally think flame-trolling her with messages is a little juvenile, but it could show her the sheer volume of people who are offended by her, nationally and internationally. Throw some foreign-language insults in there if you can… she’s probably xenophobic too.
- Call for her to resign. A lot of the residents of Troy are already doing this, and it’d send a clear message that intolerant speech from public officials, from presidents to small-town mayors, is not okay.
- Force her to come to New York City and buy tons of I <3 New York/rainbow flag merch. She should also be required by law to buy a sex costume from Fantasy World and then wear it for a night out at the Ritz until 4am.