Before Election Day, an upstate New York mayor posted a status on his private Facebook page calling people who would vote for Democrats "retarded.” Fort Ann Mayor Denis Langlois wrote, "If anyone that I know vote [sic] for a Democrat on Tuesday you should sign yourself into the Mental Health unit at your local Hospital because you are retarded and need help, Vote Republican and 'Keep America Great'!"
According to the The Post Star, a screenshot of Langlois' Facebook post was sent to The Post Star by a Fort Ann resident.
Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which works to aid disability inclusion, stated, "Mayor Langlois’ statement is derogatory, inappropriate, and hurtful. We teach our children not to demean disability or any other difference, and we must hold our public figures to this same standard. Approximately twenty percent of Americans have a mental health disability, and yet there is tremendous stigma around mental illness, preventing millions from accessing treatment that could save their lives. We must demand that our public figures eradicate stigma, not add flame to the fire.”
After blowback erupted from the post, Langlois removed the post, according to local NBC affiliate WNYT.
Initially, Langlois said he didn’t remember posting the statement, telling The Post Star, "I might have. I post things all the time. I really don't remember what I do half the time." Later, he admitted posting the message, but said it shouldn’t have anything to do with him being the mayor, asserting:
I'm not doing it as an official; I'm doing it as a person. You can't quote me as the mayor; you can only quote me as a person. As a mayor I wouldn't say that, but as a person who believes in Republican values. Most people don't even know I'm the mayor. Nobody cares anymore. That's the problem with America today. Everybody just goes around with their life, and if it doesn't affect them, they don't care. It's a terrible thing.
Langlois remained unrepentant about the post, adding, "I live for myself and what I believe in. I have no regrets on what I say. I never have regrets on what I say. I believe what I believe. Whether it's politically correct or not, it's what I believe, and it doesn't matter. I talk from my heart and my soul, and that's all there is to it."
Langlois said he was a Canadian citizen for 63 years before he got his U.S. citizenship. He said he was bewildered by the fact that some Americans don’t vote.
The Post Star wrote in an op-ed:
We urge Mr. Langlois to give the U.S. Constitution a read, specifically the Bill of Rights and freedom of speech. We all have a right to our own beliefs, including Langlois. We suggest Mr. Langlois apologize to the people of Fort Ann for his ill-advised post, because it reflects badly on the community as a whole when the mayor says something offensive.
But if Langlois truly wants to give back to his community, if he truly wants to “Keep America Great,” then he should consider volunteering some time at a local special education class at one of the local schools, or better yet, establish a program in the village to provide work opportunities for mentally handicapped individuals.
That would be making America great again.