Home Reader Q&A: Why put the Jim Wood slur of Pete Buttigieg in the headlines?
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Reader Q&A: Why put the Jim Wood slur of Pete Buttigieg in the headlines?

Chris Graham
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It is irresponsible of you to repeat the homophobic slur in your headline. We cannot normalize this language! I know that the Vice Mayor said the slur originally but you do not need to say the actual word to tell the story. Apologize for your sloppy “reporting” and do better next time. – Emily M.

We’re the people who told everybody what Jim Wood said. All of the reporting done by others on this issue is based on our work.

Without us writing about it first, you don’t know that he said this.

Instead of thanking us, you tell me to apologize?

I appreciate it.

We have to make people in Waynesboro confront the fact that they voted for a guy who uses this kind of language to refer to an LBGTQ person.

It’s uncomfortable.

The truth that this guy is in a position of authority in our city is that much more uncomfortable.

We tried to warn people before he was voted into office that he was this kind of person.

Obviously, not enough people listened.

I totally appreciate where you are coming from with exposing the Vice Mayor and I truly appreciate that you are being truthful about his hateful actions. I thank you for your work. My concerns comes from repeating the slur in your headline, which I believe was unnecessary and perpetuates the harm. Many folks just see the headlines and may consider that type of language ok to repeat, if a reputable news organization puts it in their headline. Imagine if it were a racist slur – would you have used the actual word? I agree that we need to tell the truth, but I do believe we don’t need to normalize and repeat hateful language. – Emily M.

It’s a fine line, indeed. If Wood had used a racist slur, I would have used a headline like “Wood uses n-word.”

But if he’d called a Black colleague a racist name, I don’t know.

I think, again, it’s a fine line.

Because this was a personal insult, because he clearly meant it to be hurtful, and because he’s trying to hide behind the excuse that he didn’t mean it, I’m highlighting what he had to say, in all its ugliness.

And honestly, there’s a good bit of wanting to make Waynesboro pay for its sins in putting this guy in office.

I’m well aware, having done what I do in media for many years, that our stories are read not just here, but all over the world.

I want people everywhere to know that we elected a jerk who uses this kind of language to our City Council.

The headlines are written so that when people Google “Waynesboro,” this is one of the top results they get.

You may not like me for doing that, but I was embarrassed by this guy long before he got elected, I was frustrated that people didn’t seem to listen when we told everybody what he is, and so, I don’t feel bad that we’re getting the negative attention that I feel we deserve.

My hope is that the shock of having to confront what this guy is all about will spur people to action that they should’ve taken months ago when he was running for office.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].