Being on Facebook and Twitter, it is pretty hard not to be informed of every development of a news story like Professor Tim Hunt’s recent gaffe – what he said, how quickly it escalated, how the subjects of the remark responded, how his employer responded, and all that. After it cost him his position as a senior scientific adviser at UCL, the public furore appears to be calming down now. I happen to have observed the entire affair from the beginning, i.e. tweets from the appalled audience of Hunt’s speech in Seoul, and what I’ve found most interesting is the following article by The Guardian yesterday.
It is admirable for the newspaper to try to provide readers with his side of the story, although I am not sure if bringing in his wife and his study crammed with books on science, cooking and gardening was really necessary. What’s grabbed my particular attention is the reader comments below the line. Reflecting how controversial the incident was, the article has attracted thousands of comments and continues to do more. Two examples among those:
# All this kind of reinforces the stereotype of the uptight Asians! What he said was in bad taste but he’s obviously sincere in his remorse. Not sure any of this promotes equality, just that it’s not allowed to breach pc ‘opinion’. Sad. (User ID: Tom Rowley)
# Feminism, sexism, this is a clear case of ageism by his employer. (User ID: Thegrandinquisitor)
I certainly can imagine some might ‘side’ with Hunt. They might feel he was over-penalised for a joke in bad taste. They might feel PC really has ‘gone mad’. Nevertheless, as someone who ticks all the diversity boxes ;), I can’t help but be intrigued by this notion of a hierarchy of discrimination seemingly in operation. Intriguing indeed.
+ Note to myself: two more ‘identity’-related news articles from the past few weeks.
I’m a florist, but I refused to do flowers for my gay friend’s wedding (Barronelle Stutzman, The Washington Post, 12 May 2015)
Black or white? Who is Rachel Dolezal? (BBC, 12 June 2015)