State Rep. Mike Hill, a lawmaker whose bills are so absurdly stupid they can't even pass in Florida, spent the weekend in the fetal position dodging the consequences of his own bigotry. Friday, the Pensacola News Journal released audio of Hill laughing in response to a constituent's suggestion that he pass a law sentencing gay people to death. Almost immediately, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called for an apology.
But instead of simply admitting he'd callously made light of anti-gay violence, Hill dug his heels in and repeatedly refused to say he was sorry.
"Absurd to ask me to apologize for a statement that I did not make and that no one took seriously. This is a social media lynching!" he tweeted Saturday.
The calls for his resignation clearly haunted Hill all weekend. First, he denied the encounter: Friday, he told Miami Herald reporter Samantha Gross he didn't remember laughing and could barely recall what the constituent said about executing gays. Once the audio recording surfaced, however, his memory returned.
That was before I heard the audio. This event happened a week ago Thursday. I laughed at the nonsense of running legislation that the gentleman in the audience suggested. And you know it. Don’t join the #FakeNewsMedia https://t.co/X9aHS1J9U0— Mike Hill (@MikeHillfl) June 1, 2019
Then, Saturday, Hill called the News Journal's story "fake news" and a "social media lynching." He continued to deny laughing at the joke despite evidence to the contrary.
Your social media lynching is despicable. I never laughed at a joke about killing gays, and you know it. Your trash media has a history of attacking me. https://t.co/IMM5ghNwe3— Mike Hill (@MikeHillfl) June 1, 2019
Next, he simply became angry. After state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith — an openly gay state congressman from Orlando — told Hill he should resign, Hill freaked out.
"I did not laugh at or discuss legislation to execute anyone. How absurd!" Hill tweeted. "You are many things, but truthful is not one of them."
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In an interview with Burnie Thompson, a radio talk-show host from Pensacola, Hill said the exchange with his constituent was taken out of context.
"I never even said the words," Hill said. "They can't say that I said, 'Let's kill gays.' I did not."
Tellingly, he admitted why he hasn't apologized or done more to clarify his views about gay people.
"It simply emboldens my base," he told Thompson. "Just like when the fake news attacks Trump and his followers come out, I got all kinds of responses today, Burnie. It's encouraging and strengthening, people saying, 'Mike, don't back down, don't apologize, you didn't do anything wrong. You stand strong with your convictions — that's why we like you.'"