The following exchanges illustrate the power of the phrase "'Tain't neither" when used argumentatively.
A: "Is too!" B: "'Tain't neither!" A: "Is too!" B: "'Tain't neither!"
A: "No way!" B: "Way!" A: "No way!" B: "Way!"
B obviously has a rhetorical advantage in exchange 1 that he is missing in exchange 2. Why this should be so is the subject of much academic investigation, but it is generally believed that the phrase's power derives from its definite rhythm, percussive consonants, and genuine down-home hokieness.
In debate, "'Tain't neither" can be devastating in refuting many declarative statements. Examples include:
"It is self-evident that all men are created equal." "'Tain't neither."
"The world is my oyster." "'Tain't neither."
"It's time to end this pointless bickering." "'Tain't neither."
"'Tain't neither" suffers from a certain lack of flexibility, as it requires that its subject, verb and verb tense be appropriate for the statement being refuted. This is in contrast to other refutational constructs such as "In your dreams", "Bull-SHEE-it!", and the always popular "You're a goddamn liar!". The problem can be avoided by using the variants "I ain't neither", "Y'ain't neither", "Y'all ain't neither", "He ain't neither", "Sh'ain't neither", "Th'ain't neither", "Won't neither", "Warn't neither", "Wouldn't neither", "Didn't neither", "Don't neither", and "Cain't neither".
The variants lack some of the punch of "'Tain't neither", so debate coaches sometimes advise reframing the exchange to use the original:
A: "She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes." B: "You say it's a mountain she'll be coming around?" A: "Why yes, it is." B: "'Tain't neither!"
There have been attempts to ban the phrase from civil debate, simply because it is so devastating an argument. For decades, elementary school teachers have tried to eradicate the word "ain't" from their pupils' vocabulary for this very reason. Said a prominent teacher's union official, "Get rid of 'ain't' and you've done gotten rid of tain't'."
A different complaint, lodged by postmodernists, is that by attempting to refute that something is, the phrase implicitly acknowledges that there is a truth to be refuted (sometimes known as a falsehood). For the falsehood to exist, there would have to be a truth, albeit a false truth, to be falsified. In truth (postmodernists contend), falsehood, and hence truth, would have to be objectively real, and they ain't, or aren't. Anyway, that is their argument, and they are absolutely sure that they're right.
Defenders of the phrase enjoy tweaking the postmodernists by pointing out that one of the most famously disastrous expressions of relativism, President Bill Clinton's questioning of "what the meaning of 'is' is", might have been avoided by using "'Tain't neither":
Q: "Did you have sex with Ms. Lewinsky?" A: "Well, is tearin' yourself away from the sink to drop your britches so's some li'l honey of an intern can wrap 'er chops around the ol' Arkansas whanger a form of sex?" Q: "Yes, I would certainly say so." A: "'Tain't neither."
Thomas Paine: "These are the times that try men's souls." Response: "Th'ain't neither."
John Lennon: "I am the walrus." Yoko Ono: "Y'aint neither."
Tony Bennett: "I left my heart in San Francisco." Audience response: "Didn't neither."
"Are we human or are we dancer?" (Foolish attempt to defeat 'Tain't
Neither by posing a binary question) Response: "We ain't neither."
"Even when I say something I didn’t say, they still say I
said something different." (attributed to Sarah Michelle Gellar) Response: "'Tain't...Sh'ain't...WTF???"