Gays are people too

December 9, 2011

Political Theory


I come from a very quiet, suburban area, Troy, Michigan where the biggest news that ever happens is when a new store is added to our city mall, Somerset.  However, recently, the big news with my hometown involves our newly elected mayor, Janice Daniels.  This past June, she made an extremely inappropriate facebook status that involved a slur against gay people.  She wasn’t mayor yet, but she knew she was running by then, and didn’t find it wrong to post this status.  My town is normally very conservative, but recently it’s been shifting to become a little more liberal.  Either way, although I’m conservative, I still find this to be extremely disgraceful to Mayor Daniels and my city as a whole.

My old high school rallied together to form a protest against Daniels at City Hall.  They made it onto CNN among other news medias, which you can view at these links:

http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c2#/video/us/2011/12/06/dnt-wdiv-troy-mayor-daniels-gay-slur-facebook-post.wdiv

http://www.freep.com/article/20111206/NEWS03/112060371/Troy-s-mayor-Janice-Daniels-urged-to-quit

http://troy.patch.com/articles/residents-speak-out-against-troy-mayor-during-marathon-city-council-meeting

Daniels argues that she made a mistake and that she apologizes for offending anyone.  However, people aren’t satisfied.  They want her to step down because they don’t find her to be a proper representation of Troy.  Machiavelli talks about whether or not it’s better to be loved or feared as a leader, but what happens when your citizens choose to do neither?  I was extremely shocked that the mayor of Troy would find it okay to post that kind of a facebook status, but I’m not sure what would be an appropriate role of action from this point on.  However, out of this entire experience, I’m proud of my city with everyone coming together to support the people in the town who were offended and hurt.  If it wasn’t the gays, it could be a specific race, or economic status that gets discriminated against.  Daniel’s excuse is that she wasn’t technically the mayor when she made the status and she also was just trying to make a joke, but I don’t find this something to joke about.  What would be an appropriate form of action at this point?  Should Daniels be forced to resign or should the city council give her some lenience?  People use the term “gay” in a negative way everyday.  Do we need to change the social norms for everyone, or just those in positions of power?  If you were really going to take this seriously, it should be banned that the term “that’s so gay” be used in everyday language.  At what point does this cross over the point of freedom of speech and equality?

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6 Comments on “Gays are people too”

  1. jordanwylie Says:

    I agree that the comment she made was completely inappropriate. Using any person despite their sexual orientation, race, gender, or anything else, as the butt of a joke should never be tolerated. While I completely understand that it is common to do, it doesn’t make it right. While many people are unhappy with her saying this, I think it may be somewhat extreme to force her to resign. If we set this precedent, than people could just quick people out of office for everything they do that they disagree with. If the people really feel she should not be in office than they should formally try to impeach her through a vote. If enough people show up and vote to have her out, then the people have spoken. However, I feel that getting city council to force her to resign is the easy way out. The squeaky wheel gets the grease so the only people fighting out against this may not share the majority opinion. Obviously I am not apart of this community so I don’t know that the overall majority opinion is, but I think this could set a bad precedent and every time a city council official does something that people disagree with the community might start pressuring council to force them to quit.

  2. cchevat Says:

    While I do believe that what this Mayor did was extremely wrong, I do not know if forcing the Mayor to resign is the best way to approach this situation. Yes, an apology is not enough for a person with such a high power position. What I believe would make more of a difference would be for gay rights advocates in the area to help the mayor see the more liberal approach of this and have it be implemented into life in Troy. What good is it if you make someone resign if they are only going to continue to have the same insight? I do not mean making them change their own personal beliefs, but instead to make them more tolerant of other people’s situations.
    If people in the town see someone making a transition from being ignorant, to being accepting then that could impact on how other people act. I personally believe that the phrase “that so gay” should be taken out of people’s terminology but that does mean it will. Instead you have to educate other people about how certain things affect certain people. So, if Mayor Daniels stops using the term so loosely, she can lead by example and show people the right way to approach a situation. As Mayor of a town filled with diversity, one has to be accepting of that. This is not prohibiting someone from having their freedom of speech but rather displaying that people are equal and no one should be spoken down to in that manner.

  3. daniellwang Says:

    Well mayor Daniels was given her political position by her constituents and I think that if her constituents have decided that they don’t want her in power anymore, then she should resign. Personally, I think that as a potential government official Daniels should know better than to make a joke about sexual orientation, but I think that she should be given the benefit of the doubt and a second chance. As for social norms, although I think that they need to be changed, the government should not institute laws against free speech. These types of social changes of understanding need to come naturally and I think that they will. I believe that people are smart and that they understand there needs to be a general acceptance of diversity for our society to flourish.

  4. blevz Says:

    If the citizens of Troy feel that her comments make her no longer fit to govern they should express their feelings in protests like those of your old high school. Government officials should be convinced to threaten to stop working unless she steps down or sets up a midterm election. I believe that people in government should be held accountable for their personal biases because it is inevitable that these will present themselves in their decision making. For people in office, the personal is the political and i think it is unacceptable to deride a person for a part of their identity. Although this comment may seem small, it contributes to a culture of silencing in which the plight of GLBTQ people is denied legitimacy. It is a shame that these Facebook comments weren’t published before the election, so that people could make their opinions heard.

  5. lmaren Says:

    If a leader of a community does not have the people’s love nor their fear, they are not legitimate and have no control or influence over the people. So, I would agree that she should step down and let someone who is more supported by the community act as the mayor. It is heartening to see the slow acceptance of gays in the US. No one should have to be discriminated against, and it is certainly not the place of a leader to offend their constituents. Thats seems pretty counter-intuitive. I believe that with time, GBLT’s will have their rights fully recognized and they will be fully accepted by the community. The younger generation have been trailblazers with the gay movement and I hope to see older generations follow. I feel like the term gay as in “that’s so gay” is being used less and is on the decline. With more awareness of gays, this term has started to take a new meaning. I think that it should be completely eliminated, because it is derogatory. However, there will always be people that will use it in insulting ways. People change slowly.

  6. Brandon Baxter Says:

    We can never suppress freedom of speech. The A.C.L.U. is an extremely effective organization in what it does because it does not have a bias. It stands up for any party in civil liberties cases whether they are on the far right or the far left or in the middle. Facebook is a public platform and you should be allowed to say whatever you want. However, as essentially an employee of the people any government official who makes statements on Facebook is certainly accountable to them. And if a comment they make is deemed unacceptable by the majority of the community then she should either resign, or be removed from office through democratic procedures.

    I don’t think the A.C.L.U. would advocate for removing her from office unless the people acted. You cannot legislate or really enforce laws that prevent people from saying politically incorrect things; mostly because Sarah Silverman would then be without a job. In any case, if anyone truly has a problem with the mayor’s words they themselves need to do something about it. The people of this country have more power than they realize. Look at Arab nations and their Arab spring, absolutely amazing. We need a revolution of our own, but change will never happen until the people realize that change is in our hands and not the president’s or any other politician or law.

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