Taking offence doesn’t make you right

Mick Ferris
Latest posts by Mick Ferris (see all)

Things really have got out of hand when a 40-year career can be ended by quoting Shakespeare.

Alistair Stewart’s colleagues at ITN have been queuing up to voice their support for the 67 year-old veteran newsreader after he was forced to step down for using a line from Measure For Measure while engaging in a Twitter row about the Crown and the taxpayer.

The quote: ‘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,’ would not have caused the furore that followed but for the fact that the person it was sent to, Martin Shapland, is black and he immediately latched onto the word ‘ape’ as a racist slur, something ITN chief executive Anna Mallett seems to have used it as an excuse to get Stewart out.

Mr Shapland has said a simple apology would have sufficed, but I don’t see what Stewart has to apologise for if he didn’t mean it in a racist way – which I don’t think for a moment that he did.

We have to be able to disagree without the racist card being pulled out when the argument is not going your way.

I don’t even think Alistair was being clumsy. He’s quoting Bill the bard – who knows what he was thinking in 1603?

I can’t even begin to understand what it’s like to grow up as part of an ethnic minority in this, or indeed any country, but I do have vast experience of the machinations that go on inside this business we call news and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the suits at ITN had been working to some shabby agenda in the background (I could tell some stories, believe me).

If not, then we have reached a point where one word taken the wrong way can unjustly destroy a reputation and a career – and no one can expect any level of support from employers terrified of being tarnished with the racist brush.

The only mistake Stewart made is engaging on social media in the first place. Expressing any opinion on Twitter or Facebook is just an invitation for someone, somewhere to kick off. You could say the sky is blue and some doofus out there will want to argue the point. I’ve made comments in the past and I’ve come to realise it’s a schoolboy error on my part. I desperately try to avoid doing it now because people can get argumentative about literally anything..

Alistair Stewart should be reinstated immediately with an apology from ITN bosses, even if they don’t actually mean it.

Brexit bongs

Well 11 o’ clock came and went on Friday without Britain sinking into the Channel on a tsunami of despair or the streets running with blood (although the Farage gang’s flag waving on their last day in the European Parliament was ridiculously infantile and unnecessary, even if the look on Guy Verhofstadt’s face almost made it worth it).

I had no interest in the carnival surrounding our exit. The democratic decision of 2016 has finally been honoured and that’s all I ever cared about.

The rest is down to us – or Boris – but whatever happens from now is a consequence of the majority decision we made almost four years ago – and that’s how it should be.

That’s democracy – and we almost made a conplete mockery of it.

Stupid TV quiz answers of the week

Two crackers within seconds of each other on last Friday’s The Chase.

Question: Which actress was the mother of Carrie Fisher?

Answer: Bonnie Tyler

Question: Manx means from which island

Answer: Isle of Wight

They narrowly beat the contestant who thought the Berlin Wall fell in the 16th century.


Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk