It can’t be gainsaid that Darcus Howe’s stock is on the rise
Media commentator Darcus Howe will find it impossible to get on any Tube train now without people asking to have their picture taken with him.
Why? Well, at least just in English circles (for now), Howe’s stock is on the rise after he stood up to a testy interview, live on BBC, with veteran news anchor Fiona Armstrong during the recent rioting in that country’s capital city.
Not only did Armstrong go too far in grilling Howe over the rioting, as documented by the Straight’s Adrian Mack, but BBC brass had to issue a formal apology to Howe after Armstrong suggested he was a rioter previously, an accusation Howe emphatically denied.
So why raise this? During the clearly aggressive line of questioning prior to that almost slanderous exchange, Armstrong had interrupted Howe repeatedly.
She did this even as Howe did exactly what she had asked of him. He spoke to the plight of inner-city black youth, using the example of his own grandson, who had allegedly been stopped and searched countless times by police for no reason other than the fact that he’s black.
Not allowing the paint to dry for a second, Armstrong filled the void, saying, “Mr. Howe, that may well have happened, and if it did, I am not to gainsay you.”
North American reports originally glossed over the Middle English usage of the word gainsay and had Armstrong saying she is “not against” Howe. Howe was on-camera live in the city, and the noise and transmission delay meant the Shakespearean language was probably going to be lost anyway.
All he knew was that Armstrong didn’t buy his line. She had tried to make him admit to condoning the riots, he had refused, and then she brought out the “gainsay”.
Last time I heard that was in English class, but don’t quote me on that, perchance ’tis but a trifle worthy of gainsaying. And in a nod to Twitterland, how many #gainsay tweets did we see today?