One of Britain’s most popular and respected newsreaders has been sacked after using on Twitter a Shakespeare quotation that a black activist complained was ‘racist’.
Alastair Stewart, who had been a newsreader at Independent Television News (ITN) for 40 years, was engaged in a Twitter debate with a vexatious nonentity called Martin Shapland, a former Liberal Democrat activist of no known distinction.
Stewart responded to one of Shapland’s sallies with a quotation from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure:
But man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d;
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep.
Shapland seized the opportunity take offence, brand Stewart’s tweet ‘racist’ – and get the newsreader sacked.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) January 29, 2020
ITN claimed that Stewart was stepping down following ‘errors of judgement in Alastair’s use of social media which breached ITN’s editorial guidelines.’
But this has been widely seen as a massive overreaction – especially since it has emerged that Shapland is a professional malcontent with a track record of tweeting race-baiting remarks of a far more offensive nature than Stewart’s innocuous Shakespeare quotation.
It has also emerged that Stewart has used the quotation on Twitter before, in response to a person who wasn’t black – so the idea that he was using it to Shapland with racist intent is self-evidently nonsense.
The ‘offending’ tweet which was it seems tweeted to another but offence claimed by Shapland who it seems a bit of a race baiter.. pic.twitter.com/tgbRHnpFT7
— Sophie (@soph_rainbow1) January 30, 2020
What’s extraordinary is that a major institution like ITN — Britain’s second-largest and longest-standing news organisation after the BBC — was prepared to sack its most popular newsreader, a household name, on the cry-bullying say-so of some random person on Twitter brandishing his skin colour as a form of licensed victimhood.
The massive upswell of support for Alastair Stewart suggests that ITN has made a grievous and embarrassing misjudgement: the public mood on the tyranny of ‘woke’ is changing rapidly; people have had enough of corporations brutally enforcing politically correct codes which hardly any normal person actually believes in.
There is a war on language. These authoritarian, totalitarian ideologues want to scare you into silence by forcing racism into every word and thought. They have exploited our tolerance and our decency. They are the exact thing they acuse you of. #AlistairStewart
— LAURENCE FOX (@LozzaFox) January 30, 2020
— Richard Goodyer (@RichardGoodyer) January 30, 2020
I am totally DISGUSTED with ITN Another victim thanks to the *******PC Brigade maybe they should have investigated further, then they would have found this! dismissed thanks to a blatant racist! maybe someone should nick him! pic.twitter.com/t0NReCz96G
— Krissy 1 (@1Kristinsunmoon) January 30, 2020
I spent a lot of time with #AlistairStewart while working in the ITN building for Setanta .. he was always quoting Shakespeare and is one of the nicest men you could meet – he certainly wasn’t intending to be racist and I can’t believe he’s been sacked!
— Charlotte Coleman (@seecharlottej) January 30, 2020
This final point by Simon Evans too is well made. Our MSM — including conservative newspapers which ought to know better — has done far too much to foment this identity politics cancel culture; and far too little to defend the ordinary decent people who are being destroyed by it.
Anyone looking at this headline and first couple of paragraphs will conclude that Stewart called a black man an angry ape. Neither ITV nor the Daily Mail have made any attempt to illuminate the truth. Absolute disgrace. And nothing, as usual, one can do. https://t.co/EbZa7QZnaw
— simon evans (@TheSimonEvans) January 29, 2020