Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tim Hunt and fainting feminists

The claws are out at the Daily Beast over the Nobel Prize winning cancer scientist, Tim Hunt, who told a joke about women. Oh my. The Twitterverse came alive--probably at least 15 multiplying in their nastiness and getting a valuable scientist fired. So to provide some clarity for hysterical posters I responded, "The real issue is that his institution is so afraid of a few twits on social media that it will fire two cancer scientists for telling a joke. I heard a recording of this, and that a few women fell on their fainting couch is ridiculous and doesn't speak well for women in the sciences (although it was social media that ran with it, not the women)."

Then these sweet ladies who can be sexist, racist, and self-haters, turned ageist and attacked me for my age, because obviously, anyone over 40 isn't allowed an opinion. They've apparently never heard how men talk to each other.

Norma Bruce's photo.

"Three things happen when [girls] are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry," he said. According to one of the attendees, the joke was greeted by a "deathly, deathly silence."

Since he met his wife in a lab, I strongly suspect this joke was very personal. She was also fired.

The response to Hunt is way more archaic than what Hunt said. Sure, his views might be a bit pre-women's lib, pre-1960s. But the tormenting and sacking of people for what they think and say is pre-modern. It's positively Inquisitorial.

The irony is too much to handle: Hunt is railed against for expressing an old-fashioned view, yet the railers against him do something infinitely more old-fashioned: they expel from public life someone they judge to have committed heresy. Kick him out. Strip him of his titles. Mock his misfortune. "Savour the moment." How awfully ironic that the Royal Society, which played a key role in propelling Britain from medievalism to modernity, is now being asked to behave in a medieval fashion and send into the academic wilderness a heretic among its number.

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