Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 14 June 2015
Refusing to grow up in the 1980s
Britta mentioned the depressing news of Sir Tim Hunt's illustrious career being brought to an abrupt end at the age of 72, because of a few rather silly and immature cracks about female scientists in the workplace, made during an impromptu speech in South Korea attended by many female scientific journalists.
I have to say that I had never heard of Sir Tim Hunt until this fiasco, but he must have done something good in his long life to earn a knighthood and a Nobel Peace Prize. I have since found out that he is a rather eccentric and boyish man who has obviously been protected by the rarified atmosphere of his particular branch of academia. Why should he have to spend the rest of his days sitting around, doing nothing in disgrace, because of one ill thought-out and flippant comment about how women tend to be more emotional in laboratories?
If advancing your cause means destroying the lives of others who meant you no harm, is it really worth it? Some people bounce back from these - or worse - sort of accusations (I am thinking of the disgraceful treatment of Paul Gambaccini - guilty until proven innocent thanks to the police letting the press 'know' about his questioning concerning accusations of sexual impropriety), but most people's lives are effectively over once the finger has been pointed and the mud has stuck.
Having been held up as an example of the sanctity of free speech to the rest of the world, Britain has now reverted to something more resembling the witch-hunts of the 17th century, with baying mobs whipped into a frenzy by a handful of semi-deranged lobbyists with very limited agendas.
It started in the 1980s, when whole families were torn apart by a small but powerful office of social workers in Scotland. The families on an isolated island were actually accused of witchcraft by the social services, and every child was removed and placed into care. I was not joking when I referred to the 17th century!
This sort of quasi-official, social policing where the individual is sacrificed for the sake of the common good is - in case anyone has forgotten - the prime definition of fascism.