'Sorry I called you racist'
Nik Coppin wins grovelling apology
Stand-up Nik Coppin has won an apology from an Australian newspaper columnist who branded him racist.
In a ‘review’ of Coppin’s Adelaide Fringe show published in the city’s Sunday Mail earlier this year, Peter Goers gave the mixed-race comic ‘minus four stars’ and called him a ‘racist Fringe comedian’.
However, Goers hadn’t seen the show, and based his comments on a run-in with Coppin, when he appeared as a guest on his ABC Radio show a few days earlier.
Coppin then called in the lawyers and has now won an undisclosed out-of-court settlement, and a humiliating apology from the journalist.
This weekend’s paper carried a statement from Goers saying: ‘APOLOGY: On Sunday March 4 in my column’s ‘What’s Not’ section I referred to Nik Coppin as “painfully unfunny racist Fringe comedian at the Austral Hotel. Minus four stars”.
‘I acknowledge that my comments were false and without foundation. In fact, I had not seen his show at the time I wrote my comments.
‘I have no reason to believe that Nik Coppin is a racist or that his Fringe show contained racist material.
‘I withdraw those comments without reservation and apologise for any hurt or embarrassment caused.’
Coppin said he took action because the ‘ridiculous’ claims could have damaged his career – so pursued the case despite the months of legal wrangling it entailed.
He added: ‘It was confusing, angering and frustrating having what I can only consider a foolish, arrogant Adelaidian “celebrity” full of his own self-importance doing a childish, vindictive thing like calling me a “painfully unfunny racist” in a popular newspaper…
‘Was it worth it going through with the fight and standing up for what you believe in, in the face of a form of oppression? Definitely.’
Ill feeling between the pair began when Goers abruptly cut off Coppin on the radio show, as he was saying he had chosen to support the Essendon Australian rules football team because the team – who play in black and red – were once nicknamed 'The Blood-Stained Niggers' but now have more aboriginal players and fans than any other AFL team.
Coppin later said that, off air, Goers told him to 'Get the fuck out of my studio' for using the N-bomb, and complained that he wasn’t given the chance to argue his point that although it can be inflammatory, the word can be used ‘carefully and in context’ without any intention of racial abuse.
Posted: 12 Sep 2012