Disproportionate hounding of Sir Tim Hunt by Equality advocates and PR machinery

If only looking for links, go towards the end of story, but progression of story is interesting. A bit long narrative definitely but worth it as representative case study for equality movement and its effect on developed societies.

During World Conference of Science Journalists 2015 in South Korea, Sir Tim Hunt made a stupid remark about his insecurity with women in labs. He is from old generation (72 year old now) when feminism was not pervasive and men and women were not so open with each other. In general, serious scientists are shy folks who do not go so well with Women in their interactions. Here, he was called to speak in front of a large gathering but being unaware of the sensibilities of modern journalism where political correctness trumps everything else.

Some activist Journalists and Journalism professors from English speaking countries, US, UK & Australia, present at the conference decided that it is important to place his remarks on record via twitter. One of them, Connie St. Louis, took the lead on June 8 and other endorsed her. Four of them, Connie, Deborah, Charles & Ivan (links later) are old acquaintances, but they presented the story as if the outrage is independent and their old friendship added no bias. They together have large following on twitter who picked up these quickly. Buzfeed picked it on June 9 and  News agencies picked up story on June 10. At the same time UCL too picked it up and decided to asked him to resign. Newspapers picked it up on June 11 only, so UCL was clearly relying on most unreliable news source, twitter and Buzfeed.  A feminist magazine (Vagenda) started a hashtag on June 10 to humiliate and make fun of Sir Tim Hunt. No one taught this generation that public shaming of elders does not lead to any benefit to anyone.  Most of those responding and posting are young readers or professionals who consider twitter to be their scared space for spouting any venom they want. A representation was made by these so called journalists that female scientists in Korea got appalled, but this was a journalistic dinner and scientists, if any, were very few. Scientists would not have known if no one had reported it. Add to this, these slanderous journalists reported nothing else from the meet except this news. Only people who really felt offended are from Western World. Others are pretty much okay with it or did not care and definitely did not get shocked as claimed by.

Even before Sir Tim could return to Britain, UCL where he held an honorary position, had decided that he is a baggage. A Senior faculty member called his wife and told to pass along ultimatum that he must resign or face sacking. Faced with such warning, he chose to resign which was promptly accepted by UCL without any thought about his scientific stature as if he is yet another janitorial or clerical staff. This was classic PR machinery at work which only cares for avoiding trouble from media and not for the people working in the institutions. Who will fill up the void left by the sacking of a Nobel Laureate is beyond their comprehension. Twitter continued to stay alighted with tweets and hashtags denouncing Sir Tim and this sacking provided it more fire. Very soon, media houses also started pounding and using the heavy words to make it look like that Sir Tim is the one responsible for all gender biases in scientific establishment. Very soon, Royal Society disowned him as also European commission. His scientific career is effectively finished except for an emeritus scientist position at his former lab in Francis Crick Institute (An UCL venture, so its anyone’s guess how long will he survive even there).

When challenged, Connie St. Louis (former journalist but academic now) and fellow conspirator academic journalists Deborah Blum (1992 Pulitzer prize for a minor work) and Ivan Oransky kept insisting that Sir Tim Hunt was not sacked nor has he lost his livelihood. Its contrary to common sense. As Sir Tim said, Life seems to be over for him as far as science is concerned for a comment that would have meant nothing even 10 years back. We keep hearing from some of now disgraced Journalists and lecturers that this is not the case but they are just stopping short of saying that Sir Tim is lying in this claim. These illiberal feminist activists have also started blocking or muting anyone who strongly challenges them on twitter. Some even resort to swearing.

Within a week, something unexpected happened though. Badgered by politically correct brigade over the years, some prominent people decided that enough is enough and that included current and prior colleagues of Sir Tim Hunt, male and female alike. They started backlash against injustice committed where response of institutions was driven not by the facts of the case but perceived danger of public outrage. This outrage against the highhandedness of these institutions is spreading like wildfire. Faced with such onslaught, now the three non-journalists mentioned here have went quiet or sulking. Humiliating hashtag has also lost steam now its sponsors have withdrawn support proving that it wasn’t popular outrage but a manufactured one. Other supporters of these illiberal activists responsible for downfall are weakly defending their positions that bigger issue needs to be discussed but they are not willing to accept their mistake that they slaughtered the career of an innocent scientist for their ego. Its a clear case of witch hunt.

Finally faced with all the scrutiny, Even media houses have started turning and covering their asses by printing the articles either supportive of Sir Tim hunt or opposing institutions. This complete U Turn clearly shows that most of them acted in haste initially and now faced with backlash from discerning readers and mature scientific community have started to back pedal. Some feminists will definitely never accept the defeat but writing is clear on the wall. I think that very soon, Sir Tim Hunt will be back to his former glory and stay as anonymous as he was earlier. What would happen to the stupid journalists and their young twitter followers is anyone’s guess. They have shown to the world that their judgements cannot be trusted anymore. As per a storify by Louise Mensch, Deborah and others lied at every stage or provided half truth. The internet mob has picked up on a story by The Daily Mail UK that thoroughly questions almost all major claim in the CV posted by Connie St. Louis online. None of these so called journalists are able to defend themselves effectively and keep repeating that we should move forward and think of larger issues.

This whole episode will actually be a massive setback to Equality movement. People will see feminists as baying for innocent blood even when they are correct in future. Enough noise has been created that this perception will stay inside people’s mind and that’s a positive outcome of this whole controversy. Illiberals in Feminist movement needed to be reigned in seriously and they provided the tools themselves.

Sacking Brigade

All of below acted very impatiently and without any wait to hear the side of Sir Tim Hunt or even wondering if he really is such a monster as projected. They could have spoken to his current and former colleagues to understand whether this remark represents the associated action also. No one bothered about it.

Online petitions for Reinstatement

Twitter Activists about Sir Tim Hunt

List of feminist activists against Sir Tim Hunt is towards the end.

Twitter Trends

People opposing the sacking and demanding reinstatement and apology

Most of the commentators here are unanimous in their view that the response was disproportionate. Accepted that the remark was not good but is this nuclear response justified is the main plank of their support.

Feminist viewpoints

As usual, full of talking points and a conscious attempt to divert attention from their exposed attempt at persecution of an innocent scientist who did not deserve so much ridicule (Altogether more than 1,30,000 tweets in a week using a dirty hashtag). Perhaps, they are scared of real monsters but unable to take them on and hence taking their frustration at a genteel scientist. There is sexism issue in society but their approach is extremely naive and vindictive rather than conciliatory. They can perhaps take some inspiration from SA Truth and Reconciliation commission.

Twitter Hashtag created to humiliate

Many young apprentices and trainee scientists used this tag to post photos in their lab coat under the mistaken belief that this will make them better scientists. Markedly missing were serious and mature scientists who skipped this primarily for being unaware. Even if they were aware, most of them would not have done anything to humiliate or make joke of a colleague.

Participants who started persecution (Confirmed feminist activists)

These were present at the conference and planned the take down of Sir Tim Hunt like a cabal where Connie (vocal feminist activist) was given the honor to start lynching and then others picked it up from there followed by various media houses, one of which started the disparaging hashtag mentioned before. Rest is history.

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