Malaka Of The Week: Robert Copeland

I’ve always had the image of small town New Hampshire being made up of flinty, stoic, and even stubborn Yankees. While I know how conservative the Manchester Union-Leader was under William Loeb III, I’ve never thought of the Granite State as a hotbed of bigotry and malakatude. The case of Robert Copeland both supports and refutes my positive stereotype of folks from his state. And that’s why he’s malaka of the week.

Robert Copeland is the Wolfesboro, NH police commission member who was overheard calling the President of the United States the N word. Copeland did what malakas do and doubled down on the slur at that fine old New England institution, the town meeting.Here’s an account of last week’s meeting from

A police commissioner in a predominantly white New Hampshire town said he won’t apologize for calling President Barack Obama the N-word, and he sat with his arms crossed while angry residents at a meeting called for his resignation on Thursday.

Wolfeboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland, who’s 82 and white, has acknowledged in an email to his fellow police commissioners he used the racial slur in describing Obama.

Town resident Jane O’Toole, who moved to Wolfeboro four months ago, said she overheard Copeland say the slur at a restaurant in March and wrote to the town manager about it. Copeland, in an email to her, acknowledged using the slur in referring to the president and said he will not apologize.

“It’s not like I was eavesdropping. Mr. Copeland was being very loud,” O’Toole said.

Copeland was silent during Thursday night’s meeting. He was asked to resign and said nothing. He did say plenty in a letter to O’Toole after she wrote to his bosses about his racial slurs.

“The letter really took the wind out of my sails, really,” O’Toole said.

“I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse (sic),” Copeland said in the email. “For this, I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.”

Because they didn’t get an answer inside, a mob of people demanded answers after the meeting was over.

Whitney White and several others confronted Copeland as he went to his car.

“I admitted what I did. I made no bone about it,” Copeland said to White.

He did not want News 9 recording the conversation in the parking lot.

“If you want to talk further when this nosy individual leaves,” Copeland said to White referring to News 9’s Nick Spinetto.

“I’m not a nosy individual, I’m a reporter doing my job,” Spinetto said to Copeland.

“I know what you are. You’re a skunk. Goodbye,” Copeland said to Spinetto.

I’ve heard some people say that Copeland should be excused because he’s 82 years old. I might have been willing to cut him some slack if he hadn’t sent the email with the passage that I boldfaced above. That was a clear indication that he *knew* it was offensive and he didn’t give a shit . I guess that means that he thinks some blacks are “the good ones” and others deserve the epithet because they’re the “bad ones.”

There are some on the right trotting out the old “rappers use the word” and “this is political correctness run amuck” defenses. I demur as did WMUR. It’s really an issue of common courtesy and common decency, which seem to be qualities that people on the right think they have a monopoly on when, in fact, they’re guilty of grotesque rudeness and egregious malakatude.

The good news is that Copeland resigned under pressure yesterday without being called a honky racist by anyone in Wolfesboro, which can now happily go back to being an anonymous burg.

As a New Orleanian, one thing I got a kick out of was former WWL-TV reporter Josh McElveen‘s role in the story. He’s currently an anchor/ political director at WMUR in Manchester, and he fired off the first tweet:

Good job, Josh. The Copeland saga shows us that it doesn’t matter how old you are, public racism is unacceptable in the 21st Century. And that is why Robert Copeland is malaka of the week.

2 thoughts on “Malaka Of The Week: Robert Copeland

  1. Just my opinion, but I think the expiration date has mostly passed on the “excuse them because they’re [x] years old.” 82 years old isn’t young, but that puts him only a few years out of high school when Brown v. Board was decided, and in his 30s when the civil rights movement was at its height. Hardly someone with a set-in-his-ways excuse.
    Sounds more like your run of the mill asshole.

  2. I’ll agree with MichaelF. The Civil Rights Act was passed 50 years ago, which seems to me plenty of time for even the most hidebound racists to develop a new vocabulary. Mr. Copeland can continue to nurse his grudge in private until it grows teeth and bites him on the tit.

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