The shameful attack on Alastair Stewart

When a newsreader has to quit for quoting Shakespeare, you know wokeness has gone insane.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill


The tyranny of wokeness has reached a new low. Alastair Stewart has been ‘forced out’ by ITV News in part, it seems, because he tweeted a Shakespeare passage that contains the phrase ‘an angry ape’ at a black Twitter user.

Everyone – or at least everyone possessed of basic honesty and decency – knows full well that Stewart wasn’t calling the Twitter user an ape. ITV and ITN know it. Stewart’s online followers know it. Anyone who can read knows it.

And yet because offence was taken, because someone says their feelings were hurt, because we live in a hyper-racialised society in which people are incited to see racial hatred in every comment, every slight and every piece of culture, Stewart had to go. Cast out for quoting Shakespeare. Sent packing because someone wilfully misread his intention. This is how irrational the cult of identitarian censorship has become.

The Twitterspat was over the relationship between taxpayers and the Crown. In reply to Martin Shapland, the black gentleman with whom he was having the disagreement, Stewart quoted from Measure for Measure: ‘But man, proud man, Dress’d in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d – His glassy essence – like an angry ape.’

Mr Shapland instantly cried racism. ‘Just an ITV newsreader referring to me as an ape with the cover of Shakespeare’, he tweeted. There were just a few problems with this utterly cynical and narcissistic reading of racial hatred into Stewart’s invocation of Shakespeare.

First, Stewart has used that Shakespeare line before, in a spat with a white person. And secondly, are we seriously meant to believe Stewart loathes all black people? Despite there being no evidence whatsoever for this? Despite his never having expressed a single racist idea, including in this Twitter run-in, in which he was very clearly criticising Shapland’s ignorance, not his skin colour?

This episode captures the misanthropy that drives the modern-day obsession with racism, in which the worst is suspected of everyone; in which every white man is viewed as a race-hater in waiting; in which every tabloid-reader is considered to be one tub-thumping editorial away from becoming a moronic member of a racist pogrom; in which virtually the entire country is branded racist simply because it got sick and tired of Meghan Markle’s hypocritical, carbon-fuelled, hectoring woke nonsense.

This phoney anti-racism is the polar opposite of the great anti-racism of the past, in that it is not driven by a decent humanist urge to celebrate what people share in common, but rather by a suspicious, vengeful mindset that sees racist scumbags lurking in every street, on every social-media feed, in all institutions. It is identitarian paranoia and middle-class fear and loathing of mass society falsely dressed in the noble garb of anti-racism.

And yet Stewart, a consummate professional, a newsreader with 40 years of experience, one of the few broadcasters in the country who understands how essential objectivity is to broadcast journalism, had to go. It seems pretty clear that he was sent packing because of his social-media use. It was his ‘errors of judgement’ online that apparently meant he had to go. What a disgrace. It’s now a speechcrime to quote Shakespeare.

This latest hysterical outburst of woke censure tells us much about the current climate. It confirms that the intention of the speaker counts for absolutely nothing. The feeling of the listener is all that matters. And if the listener feels you were being racist, without the benefit of anything resembling evidence, then you were being racist. End of. The sacralisation of people’s subjective emotional response to words is a recipe for ceaseless censure and thought-policing.

It also points to one of the worst aspects of identitarian politics: its misuse of the word racist. They are crying wolf over racism. Not only does their screaming of the word ‘racist!’ at everyone they disagree with defame and potentially destroy the people on the receiving end of their cynical barbs – it also makes it more difficult for society to guard itself against genuine instances of racism. When we see racism everywhere, we cheapen the meaning of racism; we become so obsessed with calling racism out where it clearly doesn’t exist – in newspaper editorials about Meghan, in white kids wearing their hair in cornrows, on Alastair Stewart’s Twitterfeed – that we risk overlooking those mercifully rare instances where real racial hatred comes to pose a serious problem for communities and society.

So stop this. Stop sacking people for perfectly reasonable comments. Stop kowtowing to easily offended narcissists. Stop saying Britain is a racist country. Stop being misanthropic, censorious authoritarians who see their fellow citizens as little more than units of hate who must be contained and reprimanded. Because this ridiculous identitarian ideology is dividing society, creating racial tensions where none should exist, and shaming people for their skin colour, their presumed privilege, and their points of view. You know, like racism used to do.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Marvin Jones

3rd February 2020 at 3:17 pm

The only planet that we know that inhabits life has been around for maybe 4 billion years, we have maybe been around for a few thousand, how long before we destroy it. In 50 years, if we needed to make a phone call while out in public, we had to make sure we had change for a public phone box, and then hope the box has not been vandalised, NOW! we walk about with a computer in our pockets, BUT! still so fragile and flawed. Half the world just cannot sustain the entire world, and when intruders, migrants and foreigners now demand their rights in other people’s lands, they have either made the wrong choice to live in the wrong country, or except reality and be thankful.

Andrew-Paul Shakespeare

2nd February 2020 at 7:54 pm

“if the listener feels you were being racist, without the benefit of anything resembling evidence, then you were being racist”

Unless you’re white. As Laurence Fox demonstrated last week. Pointing out that the audience member was being racist meant the Twattersphere figured he didn’t understand his white privilege – which is somewhat worse than seducing your granny, apparently.

No, only Mr Shapland is permitted to perceive racism and destroy somebody’s entire career as a result. Mr Stewart certainly would not have been permitted to perceive racism had the situation been reversed.

As for ITN’s senior management, God forbid they actually grow a pair and stand up for their employees!

Marvin Jones

3rd February 2020 at 3:04 pm

This could be why this is a complicated matter and an enigma to us flawed humans. By taking offence to the misunderstanding that Alistair Stewart intentionally made a racist remark, does Shapland’s perception of himself monkey like or apelike? So, is the problem in Shapland’s brain and not Stewarts?

cliff resnick

2nd February 2020 at 10:30 am

The era of “wokism” will be defined as the time when it was not possible to say “boo to a goose”, not healthy in a democracy where free speech is the overriding principle.

Willie Penwright

1st February 2020 at 9:00 am

In my innocence, I didn’t know that ‘ape’ is a racist insult. Children in my community who are bold to their elders can be called ‘cheeky monkeys’. Perhaps Titania McGrath could be persuaded to publish a book of acceptable insults for wolk-folk.

Colin Broughton

31st January 2020 at 7:44 pm

The truth is that in practice, non-whites can say what they please about white people, however plain nasty. And they do. Frequently.

The much reviled (by the political class) Enoch Powell said that that ‘The black man will have the whip hand over the white man’. He was correct. That is why there is the ‘National Conference of Black Lawyers’ and a ‘National Black Police Association’ etc etc and no corresponding organisations for whites, because that would be ‘racist’.

This is how a nation destroys itself.

Ann Ceely

31st January 2020 at 7:18 pm

But humans are apes. Offence is impossible.

Cedar Grove

31st January 2020 at 8:20 pm

Shakespeare was addressing the human tendency to be aggressively defensive about our own views, and to be conceited about ourselves without justification.

It was an entirely apposite quotation in context, as Mr. Shapland had demonstrated his failure to understand such simple words as “basis” and “subsequently”in his zeal to triumph over Mr. Stewart.

That such an observation could be wrenched out of context and turned into a racist remark ( & Mr. Shapland allegedly said he was going to report the incident to Tell Mama as Islamophobic, as well ) is a truly sad comment on the stupidity of our current society.

Mr. Shapland has displayed his arrogant ignorance in public, without any chiding. Mr. Stewart has lost his livelihood. Where will this end, if we don’t ridicule it out of existence? One spat, one media personality less, may not seem very important. But it really is.

Paul Weston

31st January 2020 at 8:46 am

Stewart strikes me a being a bit thick and not at all the sort of man with a vast literary background who patiently waits to utilise against his intellectual foes the myriad of Shakesperian quotes rattling around inside his cerebellum.

But that’s Twitter for you. Pick up on a quote seen elsewhere and use it for sel-aggrandisement. And what is a man of his age and profession doing on a social media site more suited to low-intellect adolescents?

Paul Weston

31st January 2020 at 8:30 am

I have to say that I AM a racist, I’m sick to death of foreigners dictating politics and culture in MY country, but I wouldn’t stoop to call a black man an ape. I might suggest to this particular black man, a Mr Shapland, that he himself is clearly an anti-white activist and a racist revolutionary who should go elsewhere if he dislikes this country so much, but I really wouldn’t call him an ape.

Had it been Joe Bloggs, working for Vodaphone, who had been sacked using such language on social media, ITV wouldn’t give two hoots; indeed, ITV is behind the enforcement of speech codes along with the rest of the Traitor Class media.

But it wasn’t Mr Bloggs, it was one of their own and they are angry about it! The sheer unadulterated hypocrisy of it all!

Fred Mutton

30th January 2020 at 10:54 pm

Most people are racist. Most are sexist.
The difference between the various groups is that the laws against racism is only enforced against one group and one sex.

Colin Broughton

31st January 2020 at 7:48 pm

It has been rightly said that there are no people who are not racist, if that means ascribing certain characteristics on the basis of race. There are only those who lie; either to others or to themselves.

steve moxon

30th January 2020 at 9:57 pm

Talking about fake charges of racism: Ed Balls now on BBC2 has just demonised an AFD politician with a Turkish wife for his policy of deporting unwanted migrants. Evidently Balls is so taken over by virtue-signalling that he willfully fails to be able to tell the difference between migrant enclaving and integration.

Cedar Grove

31st January 2020 at 8:45 pm

Yes. He appears to be genuinely baffled that someone with a non-German wife could object to thousands of anti-democrats with no desire to integrate.

Mr Balls cannot tell the difference between visceral racism, a revulsion occasioned by the sight of darker skin, and an objection to an oppressive ideology. He cannot see that it’s not a matter of ethnicity, but of the effect on an open society when its enemies cannot be acknowledged to exist.

steve moxon

1st February 2020 at 3:10 pm

Yes. The German politician specifically said he objected to “parallel societies” of migrant enclaves, clearly drawing a distinction from migrants who make the effort to integrate; so that only the former would be the target of any policy of repatriation. Balls took moral umbrage at this but his only rejoinder was that it was unfair on all migrants (when the issue was not about ‘all’ migrants) and that there would be problems re the criteria for determining which migrants should be deported (which again is not pertinent: those targeted would be a distinct subset). Inasmuch as this is less a moral than a practical problem, there is an issue re those who reside in a migrant enclave but nonetheless are making an effort to integrate: what efforts would be needed to filter out these individuals? But in all government policy there is the drawback of blanket application leading to unfairness to some.
For Ed Balls not to be able to grasp the German politician’s position would be odd given that he had accurately identified that smaller communities feel ignored by politicians, surely recognising that the reason mass immigration is resented in these communities despite no migrants being present within them, is that necessarily taxpayers money is spent on migrant enclaves, that, therefore, is unavailable for spending on their own communities. This is a near universal view in the UK outside of ‘woke’ echo chambers (that is, other than elitist-separatist bigots; ‘identity politics’ totalitarians, whose disdain for ordinary people is not merely virtue-signalling at their expense but an expression of hatred towards them). A policy of repatriating migrant enclaves is not racist; at least not in itself. Certainly, advocating repatriation is problematic for ‘the devil in the detail’ that could scupper policy, but that doesn’t make a policy in principle ‘beyond the pale’ as is usually claimed. However you look at it. Balls’ and the BBC’s charge of racism here in unfounded. [I’m not saying I agree with policy ideas here: I’m pointing out that they cannot be disamissed out of hand as the Boo and Balls do — as shown by the Home Office itself having had repatriation policies. ]

Miles Plastic

30th January 2020 at 8:52 pm

These woke lunatics won’t be happy until they’ve rewritten Shakespeare. Their version of ‘Othello’ will have an all black cast and a lesbian Othello.

Dominic Straiton

30th January 2020 at 7:46 pm

The only thing to take from this is “free speech” is never free.

Stephen J

30th January 2020 at 6:07 pm

Surely if anyone is showing signs of racism here it on behalf of the complainant.

The fact that he immediately assumes that the epithet “ape” refers to his skin colour and therefore is an example of racism.

Hang on a minute though, when Willy the Shake was abroad, there were not many black people around, indeed the person that he is directing his speech at is not black…

… but like all of us, he is an ape.

Adamsson 66

30th January 2020 at 9:00 pm

But but but there were loads of black people in England at that time just watch Mary Queen of Scots

James Knight

30th January 2020 at 5:45 pm

Every act of cowardice in the face of twitter mobs is just the green light to more twitter mobs. No backbone, that is the problem.

Tinfoil Hat

30th January 2020 at 5:37 pm

Desmond Morris will be next…The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal. New York: McGraw-Hill. 1967. – a look at the humanity’s animalistic qualities and its similarity with other apes. In 2011, Time magazine placed it on its list of the 100 best or most influential non-fiction books written in English since 1923.

Michael Lynch

31st January 2020 at 2:21 am

You can hear the Universities lighting the furnaces already.

Jim Lawrie

30th January 2020 at 4:51 pm

It should not be in the gift of Shapland or any other individual or collective to decide who can say what to whom in public or in private.

behepeh behepeh

30th January 2020 at 4:32 pm

Fantastic work-from-home opportunity for everY one. Work for three to eight hrs a day and start getting paid in the range of 7,000-14,000 dollars a month… Weekly payments……


Don’t include “𝓛­” in url

Eva Prior

30th January 2020 at 4:28 pm

Actually Stewart wasn’t critising Shapland’s ignorance. He was defending his own ignorance when it had been highlighted by Shapland.

Stewart had just ‘been owned’ in that exchange. He pathetically thought that throwing a bit of Shakespeare in would get him out of that predicament. It appears to be his go to phrase, that seems to have worked for him previously irrespective of the race of the other person. Therefore, his intention was not racist. However, I can understand why Shapland thought that the put-down was racist.

The fact that Stewart is no longer employed is not Shapland’s fault. The blame needs to be pinned on the person/s within the ITV management structures who looked at the facts and decided he should be dismissed.

Jim Lawrie

30th January 2020 at 7:15 pm

Shapland is responsible for raising the hue and cry. He knew the pack would attack, and intended this – unless he wants to feign stupidity, as well as offence, when it suits. He has fanned the flames of racial division for 15 minutes of fame. He is not a mensch.

Eva Prior

30th January 2020 at 9:37 pm

I have never perceived or declared Shapland a mensch. My football analogy (!) interpretation of their twittery exchange is:

Stewart produced a sycophantic tweet.
Shapland retorted.
Stewart’s response did not play the ball it attacked the player. Stewart was basically inferring that he had relatively superior knowledge on history. Stewart did not provide any facts about the subject to back up his superior stance. He just threw out a lazy glib cliche that is commonly used people who brown-nose the unelected moochers.
Shapland’s response resulted in a hat trick.
Stewart tried to use his previously successful go to move but on this occasion it appeared that he was committing foul play.

Stewart’s signature method of winning a debate appears to be to attack the player rather that providing facts to back up his stance. So he’s no mensch either.

I do think that in this exchange, it is possible to understand why a black person would think that that particular quote from Shakespeare was loaded with racism. However, the senior officer/s who made the decision at ITN should have looked at the wider facts and not been influenced by the hue and cries of any of the parties involved.

Whilst Shapland had every right to perceive it as racism. ITN managers should have had enough clarity of facts to have concluded that Stewart was not being racist.


Cedar Grove

31st January 2020 at 8:51 pm

Did we read the same Twitter feed?

Stewart said, to be precise, that the origin of the current financial relationship between the public & the monarchy had its basis in the Civil List – though, he went on to say, this was subsequently replaced.

In response, Shapland triumphantly crowed that the CL had been abolished, thus demonstrating his failure to comprehend simple English words such as “basis” and ” replaced”. No wonder he couldn’t grasp the Shakespeare quotation.

If that sort of pathetic ignorance is what you mean by owning someone…

Eva Prior

1st February 2020 at 5:37 pm

With the greatest of respect their spat wasn’t actually about semantics. Both parties had sufficient grasp of linguistics.

Initially, the over-riding exchange was regarding both having polar opposite views about our unelected head of state. This descended into a ‘racism row.’

More pertinently, subsequent reports don’t seem to confirm that Stewart was actually sacked for racism. It appears he wasn’t even sacked!

So to conclude my stance on this saga, in homage to Stewart I will don my pompous persona and conclude by quoting Shakespeare from Romeo and Juliette:

“Nay, if our wits run the wild-goose chase, I am done.’

Ellen Whitaker

30th January 2020 at 4:09 pm

Are newsreaders required to have twitter accounts? It’s like asking them to walk the plank.


30th January 2020 at 3:27 pm

‘Get your filthy hands offa me, you dirty ape!’

C Heston — one of the greatest lines every spoken in cinematic history

Ed Turnbull

31st January 2020 at 9:38 am

Close ZP, but a bit of a paraphrase. The *actual* quote is “Get your stinkin’ paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”.

brent mckeon

30th January 2020 at 3:25 pm

The best action is for the presenter to sue the guy who made him lose his job.

Fred Mutton

30th January 2020 at 10:58 pm

Alistair gave ITV the opportunity to get rid of another white male.
Watch this space for replacement.

Alex Ander

30th January 2020 at 3:14 pm

I don’t agree with this article I’m afraid.
You have to take responsibility for your actions and apply a bit of lateral thinking, esp. when using social media.
Anyone with a modicum of intelligence knows that using the word ‘ape’ is going to been viewed with racial overtones. It just is – whether Stewart meant it or not is irrelevant.
Roland Barthes got to heart of this when he wrote “The death of the author” – it’s about how words interact with the reader – the authors original words & intentions are meaningless….
Honestly – it’s Stewart who typed the words and pressed the “post” button – he must have know this was going to blow up in his face. I don’t think he’s racist, but the rules of the games have changed and he’s a dimwit for not knowing or foreseeing this….

Ian Bradbury

30th January 2020 at 3:20 pm

So individual words are to be read without taking any account of the context?

Rikhard Wright

30th January 2020 at 3:44 pm

Common sense would seem to indicate that even quoting a wonderful master like Shakespeare will inevitably have negative consequences in a society where black people are addressed with a quote including the word, “ape”.
One can make one’s point very forcibly without resorting to insults.

Alex Ander

31st January 2020 at 12:21 pm

On social media, yes.

christopher birkin

2nd February 2020 at 1:11 am

If people get upset at being called an animal name they must consider themselves to be that same animal or it wouldn’t upset them. Just IGNORE IT. When I get called a wet-dog by Africans, it’s their most used racist slur for white people, I IGNORE IT because I know all Africans are naturally taught to be racist from birth. Try being a WHITE prison officer you get racist slurs every hour on the hour from the Shaplands of this planet and their family visitors are worse than the inmates especially the immature females.

Filbert Flange

30th January 2020 at 2:52 pm

Over here at the edge of the earth in the people’s republic of canadastan, our pubic broadcaster decided not to wait for any questionable cases of racial abuse in response to their own hysterical hyping of the latest literally viral disease scaremongering, and have preemptively declared an outbreak of racism. The usual suspects have duly been rounded up and presented as proof that we need more regulatory agencies, beginning with a citizen’s office for the prevention of pestilence and extreme racism, or COPPER. Led by a panel of “experts” of course, who will be easily recognized by their yak’s wool sweaters and red, el commandante berets.

But seriously folks, only one more sleep before England, Wales, Scotland and northern Ireland take the first few shallow breaths of freedom in decades. At the very least take a small step back from the precipice. I have little Union Jack flags on toothpicks to insert into the gin and tonics. Turn out for our celebration appears will be heavy, so I have laid on extra provisions.

Filbert Flange

30th January 2020 at 2:58 pm

And if any of you who happen to be close to the international media circus tomorrow, could you do me a favour and vomit all over the on-air presstitute representing the Canadian Broadcorping Castration, or CBC?


30th January 2020 at 3:55 pm

‘Canadastan’ lol. Is that near Bradfordstan?

Jerry Owen

30th January 2020 at 4:25 pm

ZP Bradfordstan .. do elaborate?

Perverted Lesbian

30th January 2020 at 2:24 pm

Anyone wanting some light relief from the asylum, Curb your enthusiasm season 10 has started, looks like LD has zero fricks left to give in regards to offence culture. Same here, to the point where I am willing to risk my livelihood if it comes to it, my own wellbeing cannot suffer the dishonesty that is running a mock. I think id/we’d all feel better if we took this mindset.
Also Zenobia, go outside and get some fresh air, make a friend, volunteer at a local animal rescue centre…or just do something, healthy

Vincent Vega

31st January 2020 at 12:59 am

10 years ago I worked in public transport a customer asked me about the time of departure for a particular service, I told them it was in 5 minutes, they went off to buy a ticket 10 minutes later they returned and were dismayed that the service had departed, in an angry shouty fit of rage they labelled me a racist.

There were many onlookers who would not have been party to anything but the accusation being levelled. At the time it really affected me, I did not sleep properly that night, wondering how it had come to pass that somebody could throw that insult at me so publicly and so cheaply on the basis of absolutely nothing but their own ineptitude.

I was at the time, in the moment embarrassed, I wanted to somehow relay to my accuser all of the relative merits I had accrued in life to stack me firmly in the camp of a non racist, after all I had many black friends, many Asian friends (I’m savvy enough to know that people scoff at this as evidence that you aren’t racist, this despite the reasonable assumption that if you were racist on what logical grounds would you entertain having friends of a different ethnicity?) but how could I convey any of that, I could not, and I argued and contested the claim but in reality that day myself and the disgruntled idiot in front of me were both losers.

Fast forward 9 years and I had a similar instance occur, still working in the same job I had a customer approach me and start berating me about a particular service that had departed, the man was abusive and extremely aggressive, I told him his attitude and behaviour had made it so that he now had rescinded his right to travel, he was not free to insult and abuse staff and still use the service. Well hey presto the charge was levelled at me again ‘You’re racist!’ the man repeated it over and over raising his decibel level.

The difference this time was the claim had in the ensuing years lost its credibility, its value was not the same, I slept well that night reflecting on how 10 years ago I had felt insulted and deeply shamed by such an epithet being thrown in my direction. This time I saw the absolute comedy in this charlatans attempts to use political correctness/woke culture to get his way, on this occasion I was actually emboldened enough that on his fifth uttering of the slanderous charge he so happily put upon me in public that I offered him what is now surely a common place refrain up and down the land, I said my friend, did you not hear the news, everyone is a racist these days.

That it has come to this type of impasse is a sad indictment on this culture, that victimhood is used as a currency in day to day dealings with people whose morality you are completely ignorant of, shows it up for what is. It does a disservice to real victims of actual racism. But what would I know I am clearly a racist, despite my inclination to treat every person I meet as an individual regardless of their immutable characteristics.

reality lite

30th January 2020 at 2:13 pm

I’m sorry, but it’s hard to feel much sympathy for him. He works for a company would quite happily to join in pillorying someone for some inadvertent bit of Twattery. He might even be the one reading out the news item. As for the Twat itself. Well that’s what you get for waving your dubious erudition around like an old college scarf. Not everyone is party to whatever bon mots you choose to aim at them. If you can’t use plain english you can’t complain at being misinterpreted.

Ven Oods

30th January 2020 at 6:10 pm

I don’t understand why folk ‘do’ Twitter, but I’m not sure there were many words in the quotation that aren’t plain English.
However, that a bloke of Stewart’s vintage wants to have online arguments using his own name suggests that he’s either an unwise oldie, or thought that his fame (newsreaders are ‘talent’ in TV-speak, remember) was some sort of shield.
If ITV were looking for an excuse to get rid of a senior (and presumably better-paid) news presenter, he gave it to them on a plate.
How many more ‘celebs’ are going to fall on their own Twitter swords before they wise up?

Michael Lynch

30th January 2020 at 10:04 pm

How many celebs will fall on their own swords, indeed – all of them I hope. Then the twitter mob can turn on itself and chew its own head off.

Andrew Bailey

30th January 2020 at 1:47 pm

The most telling aspect is people like Ranvir Singh leaping to his defence on Twitter. She does so because she ‘knows’ Alastair Stewart doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. But this is the same Ranvir Singh who spewed out all the classic ‘micro-agression / perceived racism / lived experience Woke-race-bull in an argument over Meghan Markle with Piers Morgan just a week ago (around 3:30 here:

This specious ideology collapses like a house of cards every time it meets logical scrutiny, but people like Ranvir still default to its tenets every time. Yes, the Woke are most definitely eating themselves, as we all foresaw years ago, but what about the people that don’t have influential figures coming to their aid when someone shouts racist. Stewart will probably be vindicated, but for many, many other people losing jobs and friends through this madness, the outlook doesn’t look so good.

steve moxon

31st January 2020 at 7:10 am

Spot-on post.

William Brown

30th January 2020 at 12:50 pm

Whilst it seems that the silent majority see through this nonsense, the wokerati in medialand appears obsessed. We, the majority, need to be far louder than we have been to date, in purging this vile malaise from our screens, books and broadcast media.

“Go woke, go broke” needs to be reinforced with tangible action, rather than merely existing as a handy verbal meme.


30th January 2020 at 6:36 pm

‘Wokerati’ — lol. Did you spend hours coming up with that one?

Vadar’s Hate Child

30th January 2020 at 12:43 pm

The small excerpts of the exchange I’ve seen show it was a directly addressed to the individual he was arguing with, so it doesn’t look great. I’ve read elsewhere that ITN think it was poor judgement to be having this sort of Twitter spat in the first place, do maybe the ape line was just the final straw.

Geoff Cox

30th January 2020 at 12:17 pm

Surely, the question should be: what did Shakespeare mean by the phrase? I don’t know Measure For Measure, but I see it is set in Vienna and there appears to be no black characters in it. Therefore, I think we can conclude that Shakespeare meant “ape” as a jokey, derogative pop at people who were hungry for power – white people I imagine he was thinking.

Well Measure for Measure is a comedy and tragedy – it certainly is now for Alastair Stewart.

Michael Lynch

30th January 2020 at 10:14 pm

The Irish in the 19th Century were often compared to apes and rascally chimps long before black people started to arrive en mass to Europe. Just look at the contemporary cartoons in Punch. So I don’t believe Shakespeare was using the word ‘ape’ to refer to Black people at all. Therefore, Stewart can’t possibly be accused of racism. I do wish people would grow brains and close down their Twitter accounts.


30th January 2020 at 11:36 pm

Stewart is culpable because even though Shakespeare clearly did not intend his original insult to be ‘racist’, Stewart should have known that the use of ‘ape’ when insulting a black person would be extremely controversial in the least.

Ed Turnbull

31st January 2020 at 10:10 am

@ZP, why is the use of the word ‘ape’ in Stewart’s exchange ‘extremely controversial’? Is it because *you* ZP, and the rest the woke idiots who decry Stewart’s use of it, think black people *do* look a tad, well…simian? Is this you allowing your racism to show?

Michael Lynch

31st January 2020 at 3:42 pm

Zen, if you accept that Shakespeare didn’t intend the phrase to be racist and that Stewart only used it in this context then what exactly is the problem? Is it that certain words and phrases cannot be used when communicating with certain minorities? If that’s what you are proposing then you wish to tread a very dangerous path. If you would not be prepared to ban biblical phrases when communicating with people from other faiths then why is it reasonable to ban Shakespeare? Furthermore, as someone has already pointed out, would it be reasonable to call all human beings ‘Naked Apes’ (as in the famous scientific book by D Morris), or must we exclude black people from this because the connotation is too sensitive? If so, then what you desire is an artificial segregation of the races and an end to equality. You can’t have it both ways.

Cedar Grove

31st January 2020 at 8:34 pm

Shakespeare was using his character to pass a misanthropic comment on human behaviour – the way we angrily defend our own positions, even if they’re absurd, and the way we puff ourselves up with unwarranted self esteem.

You don’t have to imagine or guess what Shakespeare meant. It’s laid out in the play. But rest assured that to distort the quotation by twisting into a racist & Islamophobic comment is malignant stupidity –

and of course evidence that Shakespeare was absolutely right.

SNJ Morgan

30th January 2020 at 12:14 pm

He should sue ITN. And then after getting a huge payout, tweet that he meant every word of what he said. That should ‘rattle the cages’ some more!

Over here (Australia) we were treated to a rare public shaming spectacle. Steve Price made the unforgivable sin of referring to the NZ PM as ‘that woman’. Well, the world stopped spinning on its’ axis!

The next day he was invited to recant by the wokest of woke little hostess (Lisa Wilkinson), who milked it for everything she could. It’s so awful I can’t watch it again, but it will be on YouTube by now.

Steve Price should taken his moment to say ‘He was sorry that he hadn’t shown enough disrespect to that bloody woman and told Wilkinson to go and laid somewhere’.

At least he would have left with his cojones intact.

Jonnie Henly

30th January 2020 at 11:40 am

“in which every white man is viewed as a race-hater in waiting; in which every tabloid-reader is considered to be one tub-thumping editorial away from becoming a moronic member of a racist pogrom; in which virtually the entire country is branded racist simply because it got sick and tired of Meghan Markle’s hypocritical, carbon-fuelled, hectoring woke nonsense.”

In which every Labour voter is at best an apologist for antisemitism and at worst an anti Semite themselves…….

Oh wait, Spiked actually likes those particular bogus accusations of racism. They were happy to promote then relentlessly.

Well, what’s good for the goose etc….. And all that.

Vincent Vega

31st January 2020 at 1:09 am

Who cares what Spiked did or did not do or does? Do you agree with this rationale or not? Do you think these types of accusations are acceptable? Or do you see them for what they quite patently are, disingenuous ploys to either oust someone from a position, or to win some argument be it trivial or pertinent?

steve moxon

31st January 2020 at 7:33 am

Jonny Henpecked-by-his-own-ideology still doesn’t understand.
* Nobody has ever accused mere Liebore voters of A-S or anything remotely like it.
The accusation is against core Left bigot entryists into the Party.
* For the very reason that Liebore has lost its marbles and become ‘identity politics’ totalitarian, it is wide open to extremely damaging charges of hypocrisy upon the slightest whiff of racism engaged in by its own members.
* That A-S is not just engaged in by some party members but evidently ingrained within the extremist core of Liebore, renders the party comprehensively hoist by its own petard; exquisitely vulnerable on this.
* A-S is an unshakeable facet of extreme Left opinion because J people are on average comparatively wealthy, and are therefore deemed uber-‘capitalists’ in the ‘reasoning’ of the Leftist creed; all J people being lumped together and thus stereotyped.
* This absurd stereotyping in itself further renders Liebore hoist by its own petard in that stereotyping is explicitly denounced in ‘identity politics’ and its ‘PC’ enforcement.
It takes heroic levels of Left apologism to somehow fail to notice all this! Jonny Henpecked-by-his-own-ideology surely is just such a hero in his own Left(ard) backyard.
[The A-S and J shortenings apparently are needed to get through the silly ‘moderation’ on here! — I’m trying it anyway.]

steve moxon

31st January 2020 at 7:35 am

It worked: using A-S and J.
Crazy ‘moderation’ or what?


30th January 2020 at 11:39 am

Utterly stupid article. How on earth does the fact that Shakespeare used this epithet justify its present use, particularly against a black man? Shakespeare was a confused pyrrhonist who, unlike the Puritans, rejected conventional morality and biblical norms. Moderns who use Shake-scene as a guide to anything are utterly deluded. Stewart should have known better and it is right that he leaves his job.

christopher birkin

30th January 2020 at 12:21 pm

Your prejudiced and racism is oozing out of every pour…get a kleenex


30th January 2020 at 12:36 pm

You haven’t responded to a single one of my points. Stewart was an idiot to have spoken as he did.

Noggin The nog

30th January 2020 at 4:39 pm

Completely agree with your comment. This was a very good article by Brendan and comments by the resident Troll, ZENOBIA PALMYRA (aka Amelia Cantor) are as usual, nonsense. ZP is a SJT troll who is best ignored. Note; ZP now calls itself an ‘evangelical Christian’ perhaps to deliberately bring even more shame on the Christian religion.

Eric Praline

30th January 2020 at 12:42 pm

Why should he leave his job for quoting Shakespeare?


30th January 2020 at 4:04 pm

Because John Milton is the greater poet.

Ven Oods

30th January 2020 at 11:29 pm

“Because John Milton is the greater poet.”
You can believe what you wish, ZP. Personally, I’ve never recovered from having to study the dross that I found in Paradise Lost. Shakespeare was vastly preferable to that, I found.

David Craig

30th January 2020 at 2:12 pm

Just to note on one of your points, I think you are confusing Pyrrhonism with Shakespeares rounded, balanced and insightful view of human behaviour. I think you could learn from him.

Eric Praline

30th January 2020 at 2:24 pm

Surely you mean that Shakespeare could learn from Zenobia?


30th January 2020 at 3:25 pm

I’m an evangelical Christian. I don’t see anything to learn from in Shakespeare. He doesn’t say anything new. Why privilege Shakespeare’s moral insights over those of, for example, Epictetus, Seneca, Plato, Aristotle, Boethius, Richard Hooker, Thomas More or anybody else?

I get truth from the Bible, which is salvation history. Why should I take my moral cues from some random late C16/early C17 English playwright?

Homo Sapiens

30th January 2020 at 4:28 pm

Zenobia said “I don’t see anything to learn from in Shakespeare. He doesn’t say anything new.”

He kinda did, literally. Nearly 2,000 words coined, scores of expressions and figures of speech created. You likely learned them through osmosis via your exposure to English, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t also learn them from Shakespeare.

I just hope you aren’t a graduate student in English. If so, angels and ministers of grace defend us.

Ven Oods

30th January 2020 at 6:14 pm

“Shakespeare was a confused pyrrhonist who…”
And there I was thinking he was just rather talented bloke who wrote plays and acted for a living.

Danny Rees

30th January 2020 at 11:28 am

As far as I can see nobody else other than the person in question attacked Mr Stewart.

William Murphy

30th January 2020 at 11:28 am

The Guardian is attempting a desperate backlash against the anti-woke backlash.

“BBC Question Time made a brief foray onto the national news agenda recently after panellist “Laurence Fox accused an audience member of racism when she described him as a “white, privileged male” ……Across left-leaning social media, meanwhile, Fox was mocked with a mix of amusement, disdain and pity……But focusing on the shallowness of FoFox was not the only person in that studio who was weary of contemporary antiracist discourse, and he wasn’t the only person willing to show it.”

Er…this “antiracist discourse” was plainly racist. How could “white, privileged male” not be racist?


30th January 2020 at 11:40 am

You think it’s OK to call black people ‘apes’ in any context? It wouldn’t be justified against a white person, let alone a person of colour.

William Brown

30th January 2020 at 12:54 pm

He didn’t. What’s more, I suspect that you know it. You are just another desperate race-baiter.

Harry 65

30th January 2020 at 1:00 pm

Explain why not? Context and intent absolutely do matter. You or indeed the original recipient of the tweet are wilfully reading racism where none can be demonstrated to be meant, which is dishonest. We can literally all be accurately described as ‘apes’ because that’s what we are. Primates belonging to the Great Ape hominoid sub-division. So even if read this tweet literally, without nuance, it can only be taken as a slur in the minds of those seeking to do what you are doing, shut down people and opinion you don’t like through the power of victimhood.

David Craig

30th January 2020 at 1:53 pm

Surely you should be referring to white people as people of no colour, i mean you are clearly committed to spinning in the theatre of the absurd.

Jerry Owen

30th January 2020 at 2:12 pm

He didn’t call anyone an ape. Your Brexit Derangement Syndrome is destroying what little sense you ever had.

Eric Praline

30th January 2020 at 12:42 pm

Funny that racism these days is anything that anyone perceives to be racist, but for Fox that seems to have gone out of the window.

Ed Turnbull

31st January 2020 at 10:20 am

‘Scuse me while I channel Ali G: is it coz he is white?

We all know that white people can only be perpetrators – never victims – of racism. At least, that’s been the case since ‘racism’ was redefined to mean *anything* done by white people of which someone – often another white person – disapproves.

Jerry Owen

30th January 2020 at 11:26 am

Undone by one comment from a long career of, well.. communicating via speech in perfect Queens English to millions of people on a virtual daily basis.
How tragic.
I wished Lawrence Fox hadn’t apologized for his historical error, he should have just acknowledged his error, that would have been plenty enough.


30th January 2020 at 11:41 am

Fox is just naive. What the hell would he know about racism? I can only imagine that racism that white people experience on a daily basis in this predominantly white country…

christopher birkin

30th January 2020 at 12:19 pm

Try working in the prison service where black visitors spit in white officers face and call them wet dogs and white meat on a daily basis, not the criminals but their vile racist anti-white visitors. White men suffer more racism than any black person ever has. When will society start handing out our white race cards? I’m beige is beige a colour?

William Brown

30th January 2020 at 12:55 pm

To paraphrase: Booooooorrrrrrriiiiiiiinnnnnggggg

Alley Kat

30th January 2020 at 1:41 pm

What the hell would you know ZP? Are you a mixed race Scottish transexual?

Jerry Owen

30th January 2020 at 2:14 pm

Only one revealing word in your post.. ‘imagine’.. that’s pretty much all you do.


30th January 2020 at 3:54 pm

CHRISTOPHER BIRKIN — I have no intention of ever working in the prison service… lol

Vincent Vega

31st January 2020 at 1:14 am

Do you believe white people cannot experience racism? If you believe that white people can experience racism then what would be the issue with highlighting it like any other form of racism? Social justice (an abhorrent term) has a lot to answer for.

steve moxon

30th January 2020 at 11:13 am

It looks like self-censorship. He went of his own accord, sick to death of the insane totalitarianism of ‘identity politics’ and its ‘PC’ enforcement, seeing an opportune juncture for belated retirement: he is past retirement age, after all. Why bother trying to fight the crazy monster when he’d had his career and anyway you can’t win?

K Tojo

30th January 2020 at 11:10 am

I always wonder, in cases like this, who are the people working behind the scenes to enforce this woke agenda on public life.

Alistair Stewart was forced to resign – by who exactly? A committee of officials whose identities and political affiliations must never be revealed? A clique of ITV executives only too ready to dance to the tune of righteous activists and keep broadcasting blameless in the eyes of the twitter mob? A cabal of influential offence-takers eager to turn broadcasting into an ongoing moral lesson for a supposedly ignorant and bigoted public?

Those who are able to force this woke agenda on the public should not get away with back-room anonymity. As usual people talk about political correctness gone mad, wokeness gone insane but the problem of power without accountability will continue until exposed and challenged.

Harry 65

30th January 2020 at 2:06 pm

I agree with you. In whose name and for whose benefit are these decisions made? Not in my name and not in the name of the vast silent majority who see what happens daily to good people for imagined indiscretions on social media and think quite rightly that the world has gone barmy! When are we all going to stop listening to the tiny minority of the professionally offended that form a twitter mob and start to think and act like rational apes again?

steven brook

30th January 2020 at 11:06 am

One slight problem, it will take courage to make a stand. Has the British establishment got what it takes or are they prepared to go with the flow and hope that the lynch mob doesn’t come for them?


30th January 2020 at 11:39 am

You think it’s OK to call black people ‘apes’ in any context? It wouldn’t be justified against a white person, let alone a person of colour.

christopher birkin

30th January 2020 at 12:15 pm

Ok Zenophobia. He didn’t call him an ape, try learning to read first, then have another stab at reading the article before jumping up and down.

Eric Praline

30th January 2020 at 12:40 pm

Is it only “apes” you have a problem with or are other animals also unacceptable?

Not that he called him an ape anyway.

Harry 65

30th January 2020 at 1:03 pm

We are all apes, you Great Ape!

David Craig

30th January 2020 at 1:59 pm

I note that the newsreader, Ranvir Singh, clearly more intelligent and in better mental health than Mr. Shapland, refers to her own son as “you little monkey”. Are monkeys less offensive than apes, you know the species we are all descended from?

Jim Lawrie

30th January 2020 at 2:18 pm

Had Shapland been called a meathead he would probably have come out all offended vegetarian. Or someone would have on his behalf. He ought to take a good look at himself in the mirror. He will no doubt think he is Alastair Stewart’s better because he brought him down by lying.
“Fair is Foul, Foul is Fair”.


30th January 2020 at 3:26 pm

HARRY 65 — Neo-Darwinist theory says that we are descended from ape-like creatures, not apes, with the exception of Alastair Stewart, who is descended from a Ugandan gorilla.

Homo Sapiens

30th January 2020 at 4:19 pm

Zenobia, you are correct that Neo-Darwinist theory claims that human beings are descended from ape-like creatures; we share a mutual ancestor with chimps, but aren’t chimps ourselves.

Where it gets a little more nuanced is that the phrase “Great Apes” is always used to refer to gorillas, chimps, bonobos, and orangutans, and increasingly to human beings, because all of these critters belong to the taxonomic family Hominidae. So contemporary biology, when it is being consistent and not deferring to human vanity, lumps human beings in with the rest of the apes. So in answer to your original question I would think that in THAT context, it is perfectly OK to refer to a human being of any skin color as an ape, because it is factually true.

Should a media personality have had the sense to avoid any sort of perceived insult at all, by not referring to a black man and an ape in the same sentence? Most probably, particularly given the overly sensitive times in which we live. I would think, though, that as an evangelical Christian, your response would seek to understand and forgive such a person (assuming they need it), rather than joining in the pile-on of pharisaical self-righteousness. What does John Chrysostom have to say about that?


30th January 2020 at 6:38 pm

HOMO SAPIENS — ‘John Chrysostom’ — a bit random, don’t you think?

Cedar Grove

31st January 2020 at 8:25 pm

As usual, you miss the point entirely.

A) We don’t know whether Mr. Stewart even knew he was talking to someone who identifies as Black.

B) Even if he did, since Mr Stewart is not a racist and therefore expects Black people to be no less intelligent than anyone else, he might reasonably have supposed that his correspondent would take the trouble to read and comprehend the quotation, instead of pulling out a single word, falsifying its meaning, and slapping the “Racist” label on it.

You and Mr. Shapland are obviously of like mind. That’s not a compliment.

Cedar Grove

31st January 2020 at 8:26 pm

You’re not familiar, then, with Desmond Morris’s “The Naked Ape”? Clearly not, as with so much else..

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