As I listen to and read coverage of the resignation of Shane Bouchard as Lewiston’s mayor, I cringe every time his comments are characterized as racist and sexist “jokes.” These are not jokes – not even intended jokes gone bad. These simply are racist and sexist slurs, with nothing funny about any of what he says.

This is a common way that these types of comments are characterized, and the press has an opportunity to rebrand it as hate speech. Calling these comments “jokes” minimizes the impact and, frankly, the intent of the comments and perpetuates social acceptance of the continued use of this type of language.

I do hope that conversation in your newsroom and others examines how these comments are identified as time goes on.

Saying that someone made a racist and/or sexist comment provides some real clarity about the nature of the speech and what that means to the target of those comments.

Paulette Renault-Caragianes