Commentary: The Dixon Vice Mayor Defends Anti-Gay Remarks

Dixon is only a few miles down the road, but, as we see with the comments by Vice Mayor Ted Hickman in a recent independent newspaper column, it might as well be a million miles away.

We will see if the vice mayor can survive the furor around his column, in which he declared July 1 as the start of “Straight Pride American Month,” referring to gay men as “faries” (sic) and suggesting that gay people have an “inferior complex.”

“My point was, what’s the difference? They have their pride month, why can’t we have ours? … I support the First Amendment,” Mr. Hickman said.  “This is not really legally anti anything; instead it’s pro-family; and proud to be a straight American, and me expressing a private opinion… So there!”

He defends his column as a tongue-in-cheek column, but the problem is that no one is laughing.

Mr. Hickman writes: “We ARE different from them. … We work, have families, (and babies we make) enjoy and love the company (and marriage) of the opposite sex and don’t flaunt our differences dressing up like faries and prancing by the thousands in a parade.”

In a phone interview with the Sacramento Bee, he defends his column, explaining to the paper that he is “entitled to express his opinion using humor.”

That point is not in question.  The question is whether it is appropriate humor for an elected official to express in 2018.

He told the paper, “It was tongue-in-cheek and had nothing to do with my elected position.”

That sounds good, but, guess what, when you are an elected official, you don’t get to check your position at the door.  That matters whether you are writing offensive columns or getting drunk at the local bar or acting obnoxiously to a restaurant worker.

Next the vice mayor takes the modern day “refuge of a scoundrel” by turning the issue against the offenders in stating that “thin-skinned people took offense” to his column.

The problem of course isn’t just that the vice mayor acted in a way to intentionally offend people, but it was the nature of the opinion itself.  He doesn’t deny he is anti-gay.

For example, he told the Bee that “his beliefs do not affect his performance as a city official.”  But again, that would be like someone spouting racist comments and then trying to argue that they have no impact over his performance as a public official.  The fact of the matter is that, while he is entitled to his views, no matter how offensive they might be, he is representing the people of Dixon.

This is now of course a matter left to the people of Dixon to decide.

The Bee talked to Devon Minnema, one of his colleagues on the Dixon City Council, who made a statement on Facebook Saturday harshly critical of the column, calling it “deeply disturbing.”

He wrote: “The positions of Councilman Hickman published in yesterday’s Independent Voice are deeply disturbing to me. I have known what kind of person he is for a long time, but have never garnered enough community or council support to take action. I hope that the other councilmen will see through the ideology of hate that they share with him, and do the right thing in coming weeks. There is no part of the community that is untouched by the venom that Councilman Hickman has spewed over the years, and that is the saddest part. A man of his age should know better, but perhaps even that is an excuse, because really a man of his age should BELIEVE better.”

The Bee also interviewed Wyatt Mince, 23, and his father, 64-year-old Ray Mince.

“It’s a different level of rhetoric that’s not befitting of public officials,” said Wyatt Mince. “People are entitled to their opinion, but he’s a public official and he needs to comport himself a certain way to serve the city.”

The Minces have been in Dixon for decades, and Mr. Hickman’s viewpoints “are well-known in the community” but still they were taken aback by his “outlandish, high rhetoric” used in the article.

“When I was a small child, he and my father played cribbage together and would get into heated discussion about politics,” said Ray Mince.  Mr. Mince explained that after the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision allowing gay marriage, Hickman “got on Facebook and started talking about that, and at that point I unfriended him.” The elder Mince agreed that Hickman is entitled to his own opinion, “although he is representing our city and that makes a difference.”

The question now is what’s going to happen.  We know what would happen in Davis – this guy wouldn’t last long.  In Dixon, there is a Facebook group titled “Recall Ted Hickman, Vice Mayor of Dixon, CA,” and right now it has over over 1200 followers.

They recently posted: “Ted Hickman, we want your resignation on Mayor Bogues desk by close of business Friday. Walk away.”

Mr. Hickman’s attitude is that citizens are welcome to take democratic action against him if they are unhappy with his performance in office.

“They’re gonna have a recall motion? Let them do it,” he said.

Beyond that, we’ll see what happens.  Likely the external pressure is going to mount on Dixon, especially in these times.  Stay tuned.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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67 Comments

  1. Jeff M

    It wasn’t hate speech.  But it appears to be an anger-powered response.  It will be interesting how the voters of Dixon respond.  Certainly the overflow of UCD-related residents has changed the political demographic, but I have a sense that Dixon is still dominated by people that would prefer we protect free speech rights rather than persecute people because their opinions don’t fit in the PC identity politics rule book.

      1. Jeff M

        Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity

        Nobody was attacked.  You liberals need to settle down and not get so wee weed up over every comment from people that do not share your morality.

        You also degrade the meaning and purpose of hate laws to prevent material harm by turning it into a power-trip to browbeat people into adopting your liberal progressive speech code rules.  You are trampling on free speech when you do that.  It was never the intent of hate speech laws for them to be exploited for politics and for reverse hate and attack.  Get over it… there are people out there that do not share your values.  As long as they do no harm to others, they should be free to state their opinion.

        Frankly I would never take any children to participate or watch the Gay Pride parade in S.F.  And if you disagree with that, I have some images I can post on your blog.  And that opinion is not an attack.

        1. David Greenwald

          This is the legal definition: “speech that is intended to insult, offend, or intimidate a person because of some trait (as race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability)”

          This certainly falls under that definition.

        2. Jeff M

          You should read the opinions of Matal vs Tam.  And this was before Gorsuch.  It was a unanimous SCOTUS decision.

          Alito wrote:

          “The idea that the government may restrict] speech expressing ideas that offend … strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”

          Kennedy wrote:

          “A law found to discriminate based on viewpoint is an “egregious form of content discrimination,” which is “presumptively unconstitutional.” … A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.”

          The fundamental test of “hate crimes” has been acts with words, rather than just words.  I believe with the welcome changes of SCOTUS back to a constitutional bench rather than the activist bench we were heading toward, we will see more decision that turn back the clock away from weaponized speech hypersensitivity and back to our county’s principles of freedom to speak opinions without fear of persecution.

        3. Eric Gelber

          I believe with the welcome changes of SCOTUS back to a constitutional bench rather than the activist bench we were heading toward …

          As you note, this was a unanimous decision; so, I don’t know how you think it relates to your implication of liberal activism vs. conservative strict constuctionism. What is “activist” is in the eye of the beholder. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court has been highly activist–as in the recent Janus decision, in Citizens United, etc., etc., reversing decades of precedent when it suits them.

        4. Jeff M

          Ironically, the examples you cite are all reflective of First Amendment considerations… which is the point.  Those are not “activist” decisions, they are decision that reconnect back to constitutional original intent. And even the four liberal activist Supreme Court justices cannot go too far in ignoring the First Amendment.

        5. Ron

          Jeff:  Just to clarify, isn’t there a difference between unfettered first amendment rights of individuals, vs. the “right” of an employer to take action against someone working for them – based upon what they publicly espouse?  (In this case, working for the city.)

          Again, though – I don’t necessarily see sufficient justification for disciplinary action, in this case.  Especially with an election coming up in November. (Wow, though – what if he’s elected, again?)

          (For that matter, what if Trump is elected again? I’m sure it seems inconceivable at this point, to some. Just like the first time.)

           

        6. Eric Gelber

          Those are not “activist” decisions, they are decision that reconnect back to constitutional original intent.

          You are just wrong. Take Citizens United: It was absolutely not the original intent of the drafters (or subsequent courts) that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as individuals. This decision was the height of judicial activism.

        7. Jeff M

          It was absolutely not the original intent of the drafters (or subsequent courts) that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as individuals. This decision was the height of judicial activism.

          Not at all.  It gets to taxation without representation… one of the most fundamental principles that was included in founding our nation of laws.

          Now compare that to the union representation without taxation.

        8. Jeff M

          Especially with an election coming up in November. (Wow, though – what if he’s elected, again?)

          Dixon, although it has changed a great deal over the last couple of decades, had voter demographics more like the center of the country that voted for Trump.  It’s history was a farming community and farmers tend to be more conservative, more direct and much less sensitive.  Working in the dirt and manure tends to do that to a person.

          I lived in Dixon from 1974 – 1978.  Went to high school there and still have good friends that live there.

          I also have friends and family from Trump country.

          I have made this point before.  My experience is that these people that would be vilified and persecuted by the identity politics mob for something “hateful” they said, have a tendency of telling their neighbor directly that they disapprove of their neighbor’s lifestyle, but then when the neighbor becomes sick, they would mow their grass, clear the snow off their driveway and bring them soup… and pray for their neighbor’s recovery.

          Contrast that to the mob wanting to destroy anyone that utters a word they find offensive.

          In terms of the tribe causing the material harm these days, the trophy goes to the left.  And the history of that behavior helps explain why Trump won.

        9. Ron

          What I’ve observed is that this line of thinking is (ultimately) behind outright discrimination (e.g., in employment), and violence directed against particular groups.

          That includes physical “gay-bashing” (including frequent occurrences in San Francisco), and killing a young gay guy and attaching him to a fence in Wyoming, for example.

          For awhile, I recall reading that gay people in San Francisco carried whistles, to use in the event of an attack.  I seem to recall that they referred to themselves as the “Butterfly Brigade”.

          The worst “insult” that I recall (as far back as elementary school) was labelling someone as a “fag”.

          The hatred behind these types of attacks does not arise out of thin air. Unfortunately, it spreads to younger generations, who then sometimes act upon it.

          Fortunately, society has changed quite a bit, in the past decade or two.

           

        10. Jeff M

          I hate it when winners cannot turn humble and build bridges with the losers.  With respect to civil rights progress, I get the lack of confidence that the win is secured, but at some point it can become a self-fulfilling prophesy as new opposition reforms from the perpetual drum beat of criticism from the insecure.

          Have you ever had someone keep telling you your next try isn’t good enough… that your passed recent accomplishments mean nothing because you have not yet proved yourself?  You check all the boxes and do all the work, but then there is something next… something more granular and picky.  It is clear that your critic is perpetual and will never be satisfied.  You test this theory by asking your critic to describe the vision for what would finally satisfy them and cause them to find another negative hobby… and they cannot.  They can only react to the next “mistake” you make.  As some point you turn on the critic as being unreasonable and stop listening.  Depending on their influence on your life, you might flip to become critical of your old critic.

          There is no good reason for the continued insecurity.  Gays as a group are generally represented in higher socioeconomic circumstances.  They are better educated.  They have copious laws on the books to prevent any material institutional discrimination.  They can marry in most states.  And the states they can marry in are the best to live in.  They won the social war and established equality no more materially weaker than it is for short men and gingers.

          You cannot browbeat people people into liking you or accepting you.  That is all that is left… media-powered mob speech code rules that are a weaponized reaction only to seek retribution for hurt feelings of rejection.

          Sorry to break it to members of sanctioned victims’ groups, but today your clinging to the meme that you are still oppressed is b——t.  And there is no slippery slope back to the 1950s.  As more old farts die off it will get even better for most of you…  although politicized victimology will still prevent many from rising up and breaking though.

          And here is the reason I even waste any time posting this stuff and risk getting my house burned down from the mob… ya’ll are messing it up.

          The opportunity is to shift to civil rights 2.0… breakdown the new tribalism and social gaps that are raging.  It is largely economic.  But the social justice agenda is stuck on stupid and it has infected the Democrat party and making it about the most unappealing institution in the world to all but the raging mob.

          You can partially blame the media… they suck on the cheap copy of sensationalized group conflict.  If they cannot find a story, they will make it up.  Like Time Magazne posting that cover story image of a fake separated illegal immigrant child… stoke those fires… get the mob ginned up to purchase more subscriptions.

          The Assistant Mayor believes heterosexuality and traditional 4th of July parades are better than homosexuality and Gay Pride parades.  He is entitled to his opinion as long as he does not act on it to harm anyone.  Get over it.

          1. David Greenwald

            “The Assistant Mayor believes heterosexuality and traditional 4th of July parades are better than homosexuality and Gay Pride parades. He is entitled to his opinion as long as he does not act on it to harm anyone.”

            He is entitled to his opinion. That does not mean that he’s entitled to a seat on the Dixon City council.

        11. Ron

          To me, the more concerning comments are those in which he views (all?) gay people as “different” from others, regarding work, family, etc.  What does that even mean?

          As Jeff pointed out, gay people often have higher socioeconomic status, than others. One reason many of them can afford living in San Francisco. Of course, that also indicates progress, at least in some geographic areas.

          Less concerning is being appalled by some of the activities at the Gay Pride parade.

           

           

        12. Jeff M

          He is entitled to his opinion. That does not mean that he’s entitled to a seat on the Dixon City council.

          But then why has the topic been expanded outside of Dixon?  He does not represent you.

        13. David Greenwald

          The same reason that a lot of local issues emerge from outside of the confines of the community.  The Imam comments attracted attention through out the area.  The folks in Dixon will have to decide what to do, but clearly this is an issue that has now gotten national attention – I’ve seen it in the publications like the Hill and Huffington Post for sure.

        14. Ron

          David:  Truth be told, it seems that the Vanguard does not have a clear/consistent policy regarding the “geopolitical scope” of comments. (Not sure if that applies to articles, as well.)

          1. David Greenwald

            The policy is generally speaking that we don’t allow national politics to intrude onto local issues. An article like this is not necessarily viewed as a local issue and thus, we naturally relax the policy a bit.

        15. Howard P

          gay people often have higher socioeconomic status, than others. One reason many of them can afford living in San Francisco.

          Interesting comment…

        16. Ron

          Thought I’d better do a quick Internet search, to see if it’s true as a whole (e.g., are gay people generally wealthier).  Looks like it might not be true.

          Perhaps living in San Francisco is a determining factor, on average. Regardless of orientation. But, if the percentage of gay people is higher there, then that might impact the results.

        17. Jeff M

          but clearly this is an issue that has now gotten national attention – I’ve seen it in the publications like the Hill and Huffington Post for sure.

          The mob

        18. Jeff M

          Thought I’d better do a quick Internet search, to see if it’s true as a whole (e.g., are gay people generally wealthier).  Looks like it might not be true.

          I believe it is true but it is an inconvenient truth when the goal is to perpetuate a victim status.  The mob is doing well creating content that obfuscates the truth.

          http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/06/pf/gay-money/index.html

          And they tend to live in all the great places.  Washington DC for example is almost 11% LGBT.  Interesting though that far fewer gays in DC have children.  Looks like it is the place to attract young gay activists.

          1 District of Columbia 10.8%

          2 Vermont 5.8%

          3 Massachusetts 5.0%

          4 Oregon 4.8%

          5 Hawaii 4.6%

          6 California 4.6%

          7 New York 4.5%

          8 Nevada 4.3%

          9 Maine 4.3%

          10 Delaware 4.2%

          11 Washington 4.1%

          12 Michigan 4.1%

          13 Florida 4.1%

        19. H Jackson

          Jeff M:

          There is no good reason for the continued insecurity.  Gays as a group are generally represented in higher socioeconomic circumstances.  They are better educated.

          I think that depends on where one grows up as a gay person and what circumstances you run into.  If you have access to education and money, you have greater opportunity to assert your identity and move to a place that allows you to do so.  If on the other hand you are poorer and without much education, then not so much.

    1. Eric Gelber

      . . . Dixon is still dominated by people that would prefer we protect free speech rights rather than persecute people because their opinions don’t fit in the PC identity politics rule book.

      So, you disparage outrage at ignorance and blatant bigotry as “PC identify politics”?

      1. Don Shor

        Of course he does. “PC” is just conservaspeak shorthand for “I want to say any offensive thing about any group of people I choose, and not get called on it.” Anybody who’s been in or around Dixon for the last few decades is well aware of Ted Hickman. This is par for the course with him, and I’d guess he’s reveling in the publicity. He has a blog where he posts this stuff in addition to The Independent Voice. It’s Ted Hickman dot com. Check it out if you want to decide for yourself whether he engages in hate speech. It would take a weird sort of filter, IMO, to think otherwise.
        The council should censure him. He also should consider that it doesn’t take very many votes to get elected in Dixon, so it also doesn’t take very many votes to get recalled.

        1. Eric Gelber

          This is also a sad commentary on the residents of Dixon–those who voted for him and those who are responsible for electing him by not bothering to vote for anyone else.

        2. Howard P

          A new litmus test, Eric?  Let’s rachet it up… anyone who doesn’t CELEBRATE LGBQT+ is unfit for office…

          Note there is no “H” in the term…

          Many of us are tolerant, most of who also accepting…

      2. Jim Hoch

        Given the number of times I have seen this posted on FB in the last several days he has achieved an unprecedented level of name recognition for Dixon.

        Dixon seems to be in a head-to-head with Guinda this week for the “small California town I never heard of before and don’t want to go to now” award.

        1. Jim Hoch

          I’ve heard of Dixon. I’ve even been there once for breakfast though the restaurant was a dump and I never went back. My reference was to all the posts I see on Facebook with people saying “where is dixon?”. Many of my FB connections are not local and the post has gone viral.

        1. Eric Gelber

          What pictures?

          Pictures used by some commenters here as justification for homophobic statements and offensive stereotypes expressed by a local elected official.

        2. Jeff M

          So, if I post Marti Gras and Burning Man images that I consider immoral and disgusting will you say that is justification for hetrophobic statements and offensive stereotypes?

    1. Kendra Smith

      So this isn’t even from a pride festival, but from the Glastonbury Festival, which is not a “pride” event, but rather a counter-cultural “hippy” event closer in spirit to Burning Man than SF pride.

       

    1. Kendra Smith

      Care to also post photos from festivals such as Mardi Gras to show that heterosexuals get up to half-naked or all-naked antics in public, just like their gay counterparts?

      1. Jeff M

        Do you really want to get into a tit for tat posting of images from these events?  I had trouble finding examples that I felt comfortable posting.  But look as the sign in the top image and think about your son or daughter asking “what does that mean mommy?”  And I am sure the Assistant Mayor of Dixon is also not a fan of these other events too, but the Gay Rights Parade pushes the boundaries of sexual displays way beyond the average person’s moral filter.

        I do get your point about Mardi Gras.  Also the previous point about Burning Man.  However, the point was a parade celebrating homosexuality in very overtly sexual and provocative ways.  I know a lot of people that are completely accepting of homosexuality but recoil at the spectacle of that event (and other events).  I also know a lot of people that have a different morality and don’t have a problem with it.  My point is that we should not attack people because they own a different morality and speak about it.  No harm was done by his blog.

        1. Kendra Smith

          One might also say that Mardi Gras is an event that “pushes teh boundaries of sexual displays way beyond the average person’s moral filter.”

          You seemed to be posting these images to make some kind of point about how gay people demonstrate their sexuality in ways you find problematic, and I was just pointing out that heteros do it, also.

          There isn’t some magical dividing line that make gays different from straight people, except in the obvious. The mayor of Dixon seemed to think there is (by carving out how straight people “get married” and “work,” like gay people don’t value these characteristics or live with them every day just like straight people), and your point about what goes on at gay parades seemed to suggest that same attitude: that there is a difference in how gay people conduct themselves during a festival that is already known to be a bit out there (just like Mardi Gras).

          And I wouldn’t have a problem dealing with the sign. For a younger child, all that is necessary is: “It’s adult stuff.”

        2. Alan Miller

          > I know a lot of people that are completely accepting of homosexuality but recoil at the spectacle of that event (and other events).

          I know some gay people that recoil at the spectacle of that event.

        3. Ron

          Jim:  The most politically-incorrect (but humorous) comment, of the day. Fitting, for this article. (With the added “bonus” of publicly confirming our own orientation. Wouldn’t want anyone to think otherwise.) 🙂 (A reference to the stigma, that’s still in place.)

  2. Alan Miller

    > explaining to the paper that he is “entitled to express his opinion using humor.”

    Only if you’re funny.  Don’t quite your day job and become a comedian, even in Mississippi.

  3. Ron

    Jeff:  “No harm was done by his blog”.

    Probably true, since it helps to illuminate the beliefs of this person (and others like him).

    (References to “fairies”, stating that ““We ARE different from them. … We work, have families . . .”)

    I don’t see a basis for a recall or even censure, but hopefully he won’t be re-elected.  Have to wonder how he’d view (and interact) with a gay constituent. Would he view their concerns “differently”, than those of a straight person?

     

     

    1. Jerry Waszczuk

       
      Roy Ashburn is a best example
       Ashburn voted against every gay rights  measure in the State Senate since taking office all of which subsequently passed.
       

  4. Alan Miller

    This guy is really a dumb a**.  I mean, how often do we hear in the media of some politician loudly denouncing something or someone, only to find out they actually engage in that behavior secretly.  So when a politician loudly denounces gay people, I pretty much assume they are gay and can’t admit it publicly.  Nice job, dumb a**.

  5. Keith O

    Hey David, maybe Dixon should disregard what “out of towners” think.

    Remember that being said when picketers came to Davis to protest the Imam’s words?

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