A Rhode Island politician yelled out the N-word on-stage, one letter at a time, at his opponent during a contentious debate, TMZ is reporting.
Alan Gordon, representing the Compassion Party, is running against Peter Neronha in the race for Attorney General. Gordon is a pastor of a church that considers marijuana use a sacrament. And indeed, reforming Rhode Island’s marijuana laws is part of his agenda. That agenda was brought up, not unexpectedly, at Gordon and Neronha’s debate at North Kingstown High School — an event attended by students.
The kerfuffle started after Neronha used the word “marijuana” twice during the debate. Gordon, who believes the word is racist and insists that it be referred to as “cannabis,” got fed up. Gordon essentially told Neronha that he, Neronha, was using a racist word, so racist that — from Gordon’s perspective — Neronha might as well have been using the N-word. And rather than say the word, Gordon spelled it out letter by letter.
Members of the audience could be heard laughing awkwardly, gasping, and cheering. Gordon, for his part, later stormed off stage.
Gordon’s partner, Anne Armstrong, who is herself running for Governor of Rhode Island as the Compassion Party candidate, says that Gordon was promised by Neronha that he would not use the word “marijuana.” When he continued to bring it up — Gordon got fed up.
Gordon and Armstrong were busted earlier this month with 48 pounds of cannabis, according to Fox News.
So poorly are Gordon, Armstrong, and the Compassion Party doing in the polls that RealClearPolitics doesn’t even include their names among the candidates for the offices of Attorney General and Governor.
The word “marijuana” does have racial connotations associated with its etymological origins.
In fact, when the word first entered the American lexicon in the early 20th century, it was indeed intended to be racist, according to the Guardian. Anti-cannabis advocates used the Mexican slang term for the cannabis plant, “marihuana” or “marijuana,” a tactic intended to make it sound foreign to Americans and to equate it with Mexican laborers. These days, several users, dispensary owners, and advocates prefer to refer to the plant by its Latin name, “cannabis.”