This is Radio Clash

New Statesman columnist Darcus Howe yesterday accused American comedienne Joan Rivers of being ‘offended’ by the term ‘black’ on the Radio Four Midweek programme.

Neither he nor discussion host Libby Purves was prepared for the response of a Brooklyn woman scorned.

Full transcript below:

Darcus Howe … since black offends Joan.

Joan Rivers Wait. Just stop right now. Black does not offend me. How dare you. How dare you say that. Black offends me? You know nothing about me. How dare you.

Howe The use of the term black offends you.

Rivers The use of the term black offends me? Where the hell are you coming from? You have got such a chip on your shoulder. I don’t give a damn if you’re black or white. I couldn’t care less. It’s what the person is. Don’t you dare call me a racist. I don’t know you. I want an apology.

Libby Purves I don’t think it was personal, Joan.

Rivers Oh, I think it was, when someone says the term black offends Joan. I will not sit here and be told that. How dare you say that.

Howe I think this is a language problem.

Rivers No, I don’t. I think it’s a problem in your stupid head. You had a child, you left them, your wife said you weren’t there, you married a woman, you deserted her, now your son comes back and he has problems. Where were you when he was growing up until he was eight years old?

Howe May we continue?

Rivers Yes, but don’t call me a racist. Don’t you dare call me a racist. Don’t you dare call me a racist. How dare you.

Purves I have great sympathy with both sides but I am starting to feel like Oprah.

Rivers Both sides? Then you’re a racist. How stupid for someone to say that. Now please continue, but don’t you dare call me that. Son of a bitch.

Purves Right, Darcus. Can we just …

Rivers Please continue about this wonderful father who left his three children.

Purves Can we just say that you don’t think Joan is a racist and then we can perhaps move on?

Howe I don’t know if she is a racist or not. I don’t care.

Rivers You said the word black offends me. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

Howe Normally I wouldn’t ever meet you in my life.

Rivers No, nor would I choose to meet you.

Howe No, she is not a racist.

Rivers Thank you. Now please continue about your stupid film.

Purves Can we talk about your tour Joan?

Rivers I’ll talk about anything you want.

Howe I don’t think you brought me here to be insulted.

Rivers Nor was I brought here to be insulted by someone and to be called a racist.

Purves I think we have to move on to Joan.

Rivers Please go to Andrea because I’m so upset.

Purves: Andrea, shall we talk about plant photography while Joan and Darcus glare at each other?

You can listen to it here to get a fuller flavour of the venom in the normally quieter BBC radio studio.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to formally offer both Ms Rivers and Mr Howe the freedom of the Harry’s Place comments boxes. They’d fit right in.