For many years my family vacationed a couple of weeks each summer in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, so I was especially interested in this example of OIP Derangement Syndrome.
As the Granite State News reported, a new resident of Wolfeboro named Jane O’Toole sent this report to the town government:
My husband and I were enjoying a meal at Nolan’s in Wolfeboro. We were seated very close to the bar, where we witnessed a man eating and drinking alcohol. I found out later he was Police Commission Vice Chairman, Robert Copeland. A man conversing with Mr. Copeland asked if he watched the TV show Chronicle. Mr. Copeland responded loudly, “No, I don’t watch TV because every time I turn it on all I ever see is that F*****g Nigger!” As I left, passing Mr. Copeland I whispered, “Is someone here tossing around the “N” word?” Mr. Copeland swung around and responded with an exuberant, “Yeah!”Copeland’s reponse was:
While I believe the problems associated with minorities in this country are momentous, I am not phobic. My use of derogatory slang in reference to those among them undeserving of respect is no secret. It is the exercise of my 1st Amendment rights. . . . I believe I did use the “N” word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse [sic]. For this I do not apologize – he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.Despite that admission, Copeland also claimed that he’d never said specifically what O’Toole had heard—but also that she shouldn’t have been listening to him. All of which suggests that he might have been drinking more “cocktails” than he recalled.
Copeland is eighty-two years old, one of three elected members of the town’s police commission. His term expires in 2017. At a recent board meeting scores of residents came to ask Copeland to step down, but he refused and criticized reporters for covering the event.
Wolfeboro is a small lakeside town now built around tourism. I have some fond memories of it. But I suspect that a lot of people share my feelings and would prefer not to visit a town with a racist helping to oversee the police.