“It was like something from the show trials of Stalin”
Last Friday Kemberlee covered the feminist attack on Dr. Matt Taylor, the brilliant British scientist who helped achieve the seemingly unachievable, landing a scientific probe on a comet hundreds of millions of miles away, 5 Reasons “feminists” can’t complain about comet scientist’s “sexist” shirt.
How dedicated was Taylor to his work? He had a large tattoo regarding the project on his right front thigh:
That’s how much this project meant to him.
Taylor was attacked not for the tattoo, but because Taylor wore a shirt — given to him by a female friend — which had cartoon characters of pretty women on it. Not naked women. Not women engaging in sex acts. Just pretty women in “sexy” outfits.
Thanks for ruining the cool comet landing for me asshole.
— Rose Eveleth (@roseveleth) November 12, 2014
Here is the shirt in close-up (it’s sold out since the controversy):
— Tim Cavanaugh (@bigtimcavanaugh) November 16, 2014
You can see it easily in this photo, but on the video you have to really be looking for trouble to find it. The camera is pretty far away, and Taylor is only a relatively small part of the overall report.
The woman who complained obviously was looking for something to complain about, and she made it all about her own personal insecurities as a female scientist.
For that sin, Taylor was attacked at his moment of glory. Taylor was reduced to tears while offering an apology on live stream TV.
There has been a lot of pushback against the perpetrators who attacked Taylor, some of it serious, some of it humorous, and some of it vicious as often takes place on the internet.
Prof. Glenn Reynolds wrote a great column at USA Today about the incident, 1 small shirt for a man, 1 giant leap backward for women:
So how are things going for feminism? Well, last week, some feminists took one of the great achievements of human history — landing a probe from Earth on a comet hundreds of millions of miles away — and made it all about the clothes.
Yes, that’s right. After years of effort, the European Space Agency’s lander Philaelanded on a comet 300 million miles away. At first, people were excited. Then some women noticed that one of the space scientists, Matt Taylor, was wearing a shirt, made for him by a female “close pal,” featuring comic-book depictions of semi-naked women. And suddenly, the triumph of the comet landing was drowned out by shouts of feminist outrage about … what people were wearing. It was one small shirt for a man, one giant leap backward for womankind.
Not surprisingly, Reynolds then came under attack by the shirt-police:
— Seth Mnookin (@sethmnookin) November 16, 2014
The attack on Reynolds went beyond hurling the term “asshole,”, but also false accusations of “doxxing” (outing personal information) about the woman who initiated the attack on Taylor. Only after substantial pushback to that smear did they somewhat back down, as documented at Twitchy (here and here).
— jon gabriel (@exjon) November 16, 2014
— Instapundit.com (@instapundit) November 15, 2014
Now the Mayor of London is speaking out, writing a column in The Telegraph, Dr Matt Taylor’s shirt made me cry, too – with rage at his abusers (h/t Jazz Shaw at Hot Air):
This mission is a colossal achievement. Millions of us have been watching Philae’s heart-stopping journey. Everyone in this country should be proud of Dr Taylor and his colleagues, and he has every right to let his feelings show.
Except, of course, that he wasn’t crying with relief. He wasn’t weeping with sheer excitement at this interstellar rendezvous. I am afraid he was crying because he felt he had sinned. He was overcome with guilt and shame for wearing what some people decided was an “inappropriate” shirt on television. “I have made a big mistake,” he said brokenly. “I have offended people and I am sorry about this.”
I watched that clip of Dr Taylor’s apology – at the moment of his supreme professional triumph – and I felt the red mist come down. It was like something from the show trials of Stalin, or from the sobbing testimony of the enemies of Kim Il-sung, before they were taken away and shot. It was like a scene from Mao’s cultural revolution when weeping intellectuals were forced to confess their crimes against the people.
Why was he forced into this humiliation? Because he was subjected to an unrelenting tweetstorm of abuse. He was bombarded across the internet with a hurtling dustcloud of hate, orchestrated by lobby groups and politically correct media organisations.
And so I want, naturally, to defend this blameless man. And as for all those who have monstered him and convicted him in the kangaroo court of the web – they should all be ashamed of themselves.
Yes, I suppose some might say that his Hawaii shirt was a bit garish, a bit of an eyeful. But the man is not a priest, for heaven’s sake. He is a space scientist with a fine collection of tattoos, and if you are an extrovert space scientist, that is the kind of shirt that you are allowed to wear.
As for the design of the garment, I have studied it as closely as the photos will allow, and I can’t see what all the fuss is about. I suppose there are women with long flowing hair and a certain amount of décolletage. But let’s not mince our words: there are no nipples; there are no buttocks; there is not even an exposed midriff, as far as I can see….
I think his critics should go to the National Gallery and look at the Rokeby Venus by Velázquez. Or look at the stuff by Rubens. Are we saying that these glorious images should be torn from the walls?….
There must be room in our world for eccentricity, even if it offends the prudes, and room for the vague other-worldliness that often goes with genius.
Was it a bad week for feminism? Depends on how you define feminism.
If feminism now amounts to female scientists taking down male scientists because of their own insecurities and hypersensitivities, then yes, it was a bad week.
But it also was a good week for confident, emotionally secure women who don’t feel the need to denigrate others in order to achieve self-worth. Many of those women — who I would argue represent the true feminist ideal — defended Taylor.
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