'Dog the Bounty Hunter' star: "I will try never to use that word again"
By Christopher Rocchio, 11/07/2007
Duane Chapman initially didn't see the problem in using the N-word, causing the A&E Dog the Bounty Hunter star to learn a valuable lesson in American racial relations the hard way.
"I thought that I was cool enough in the black world to be able to use that word as a brother to a brother. I'm not. I didn't really know until three or four days ago what that meant to black people," Chapman said during an interview on Fox News' Tuesday night broadcast of Hannity & Colmes.
"I now learned I'm not black at all. And I never did it out of hate. This sounds so stupid. I always did it out of love. Other white guys would be like, 'Boy, who does Dog think he is?... And black guys would be with me and walk with me and respect me... I will try never, ever, ever to use that word again.... I did not ever want to be in the hot seat as I am right now, the hottest seat I've been in, because I'm always in the hot seat anyway."
Last week, a taped phone conversation in which Chapman could be heard repeatedly using the N-word was allegedly sold to The National Enquirerby his son Tucker. In the conversation, Chapman and Tucker are discussing the possible fallout of using the N-word around Tucker's girlfriend Monique Shinnery, who is black.
"I know the story, and I know America's story. But I never realized that [using the N-word is] like stabbing a black person in the heart," said Chapman. "I would never do that to any kind of person. I've always taken pride to be the white guy that can talk to the black people, that can refer to them truly as a brother from a different mother. But this is America and this is entertainment, and that doesn't fly there."
During the Hannity & Colmes interview, Chapman said his conversation with Tucker took place eight months ago and he believes his son ended up receiving $15,000 for the recording. When Tucker began dating Shinnery, Chapman said his Honolulu office received a threatening letter one day that accused Chapman of using the N-word repeatedly.
Chapman claims he then received a message from his brother Tim warning the bounty hunter that a group of girls -- strapped with audio recorders -- were planning to attack his wife Beth in the their office parking lot as part of an convoluted attempt to coax Chapman into into using the N-word on tape, which they then hoped to sell to The Enquirer
"So that's exactly what I was saying, 'Tucker, your friends are going to jump Beth and record it.' And as -- of course, he's recording -- he says, "No, I'm not, Dad,'" said Chapman, who added he explained to Tucker The Enquirer would pay for the audio tape regardless of the facts.
"Whether you tell the truth or a lie," said Chapman. "What The Enquirer magazine did is found a guy that the world has made a celebrity, a real guy that my fans have molded and made me. And they said, 'This guy's like a pin cushion. He used to do drugs. He's been in jail for murder. He says the N-word. This is a guy here. If we want to make a lot of money, we can destroy this guy.' And that's exactly what they did."
Chapman said he's still unsure why Tucker decided to sell the tape unless "there's some kind of habit or something he needs the money for." Tucker is currently on parole for armed robbery, which Chapman said his son did to support his drug habit.
While Chapman has issued a formal apology, he took the Hannity & Colmes appearance as an opportunity to personally apologize to Tucker, Shinnery and anybody else he offended.
"I owe Monique and Tucker an apology. My son knows my heart," he said. "Second of all, of course, all black people in America I owe an apology to. Whether how dark I think I am, I cannot say that word. I owe the rest of the people, whether they're black or not in America, an apology, because people looked up to me. I've learned a lesson. All my lessons I've learned in my life have been the hard way, or I guess I wouldn't learn them. This is one of the hardest lessons I've ever learned in my life, even facing death. If I could kill myself and people would forgive me, I would do that. I said on the way here, 'I hope no one died thinking I meant that word before I got here. I must come out.'"
Chapman added he's aware he "did not do the right thing" in carelessly using such a racially-charged word.
"That word means something else that now I understand, that no matter how you say it, how you spell it, even, it still refers to slavery. I don't like that. I am not like that. God knows that," he said. "People that really know me know that I've been warned by my black friends, by the way, 'Dog, listen, watch how we say that.' And I was like, 'Oh, come on. People know I'm the Dog and, you know, we're cool.' So I've been warned. It's not that I haven't been warned, by both white and black."
"There is no excuse. I am guilty, and I will take my punishment," he continued. "But the end of what I said is I will do everything there is in my power to make sure people have forgiven me. I will not stop until they say, "Dog has been forgiven.'"
To make amends, Chapman recently met with a group of African-American leaders as well as his minister Tim Storey, who is black. He also has a slightly more morbid plan to right his wrong. During a trip to Mount Vernon, Chapman said he saw some burial grounds for African-American slaves without head markers, and he now plans to call that his final resting place once he kicks the bucket.
"I'm going to be buried right in that center," said Chapman, who added he's currently in talks with the historic burial grounds to make it happen. "I want to be buried right where they're at, because I will never be forgiven as I'm alive. And you and I know that... Children will come to [the burial ground] saying, 'Why is Dog buried there? Why is that white man laid there?' And [they're parents will] be able to say, 'Because that white man made a terrible mistake and he requested that.'"
"That sounds like, you know, a crazy thing to say," he continued. "But to myself I'm doing that so that everyone will know, even after I'm dead and gone, I am sorry. And I feel at home right there. And that's where I deserve to be, a grave without a marker if they're going to be that, too."
As for his current image, that could be more daunting to repair since A&E has suspended production on Dog the Bounty Hunter's fifth season and pulled reruns of the show's first four seasons off its primetime programming schedule due to the comments.
"I'm not a racist, so I'm not done. But I need forgiveness way before I need my job," said Chapman. I can't say, 'Go ahead, film. Go arrest these guys and everyone hate me.' I can't do that. I don't arrest for myself. I arrest for America. I don't go out there because I want to die for myself. I go out there because someone says, 'You did a good job, son. You did a good job, Dog.' If no one is there left to do that, I'm not going to do that."
Chapman said he's currently "afraid" to speak with A&E and said he doesn't know if he ever wants to continue with the show.
"If my fans and the people say, 'We forgive you, Dog. We want you back. We now give you our blessing.' But if they're like, you know, 'Just another thing on Tuesday night,' I don't want it back," he said.