The wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford triggered a wave of condemnation after deeming Michigan a “dictatorship” over its latest coronavirus lockdown. Taking heat, she quickly reversed course and offered an apology.
Kelly Stafford took to Instagram on Thursday with a video railing against the new lockdown order – imposed last week amid an uptick in the state’s Covid-19 outbreak – arguing that small businesses “will not make it” through another round of harsh restrictions.
“I’m going to be very blunt: I’m so over it. I’m over living in a dictatorship that we call Michigan,” she said. “I understand there’s a pandemic, and I understand it’s very scary. I’m scared of it, too. If you’re at risk, do not leave your house until there’s a vaccine.”
Once we are able to leave our house, once this dictatorship decides to let us have some freedom, there will be nothing left.
Stafford suggested that many would disagree with her take – and she was right. Before long, the brief Instagram tirade rippled rage across the internet, with commenters lambasting the athlete’s wife for “white privilege,” some insisting that she, and everybody else, must “sacrifice personal freedom to get this pandemic under control.”
Some critics went a step further, suggesting that hospitals ought to deny healthcare for “her or her family” if they happen to contract the illness, while others proposed murder charges in the event Stafford passes the virus to anyone else.
Keeping with the “privilege” theme, Stafford’s apparently high standard of living also came under attack, as netizens pointed to her palatial estate in upscale Bloomfield, listed for sale this spring at $6.5 million.
A handful of netizens came to Stafford’s defense, however, arguing that any discussion of her husband’s salary was a deflection from her point about small businesses, with one company coming forward to endorse the message: “Pray I can make my ends meet this winter… not looking good.”
Facing the wrath of social media, Stafford reversed course and issued an apology within hours, saying she “should never have used the word ‘dictatorship’” and that she merely “got caught up in the moment.” The mea culpa did little to stem the outrage, however, even drawing ire of some supporters who saw the move as caving to “the mob.”
Amid a spike in coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations in Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday announced that some of the state’s strictest measures would return, shuttering high schools, colleges, bars, restaurants, casinos and a series of other establishments, citing what she called the “worst moment” so far in the outbreak.
The restrictions face ongoing legal challenges in Michigan courts, with judges issuing two rulings last month cutting against Whitmer’s lockdown orders, one demanding she seek approval from lawmakers before any new extension of her emergency powers. But a nod from the legislature appears increasingly unlikely, with Republicans in the state house introducing impeachment articles for the governor on Thursday afternoon, alleging abuses of authority and demanding her removal from office.