UPDATE: Connie St.Louis has a new Op-Ed in The Guardian and a new custom bit,ly. /itsnotaboutyou. She starts with using Audre Lorde to show how this fits a typical paradigm of oppression and moves from there. Too bad a certain GM writer couldn’t have been this smart about it.
I do have sympathy for Hunt. Like everyone else I find the “internet tidal wave effect” horrifying. I thought it might happen and that there was a possibility that too much attention would be turned on Hunt, so I took considerable steps to ensure that the story moved on to the bigger picture. I asked the Royal Society to comment on its own policies for eradicating sexism in science. The Royal Society has been extremely quiet since then, apart from a few mutterings from the chair of its diversity committee, Uta Firth, about “slow science” on the radio, which frankly sounds like an excuse for inaction and delay for the radical change that is inevitable and urgent.
Hunt had a chance when there was a lot of attention focused on him to use that moment for good. He could have apologised properly; he could have talked about the brilliant work carried out by women scientists. This was an opportunity to turn a sorry mess into a positive advantage for everyone, including himself. However he has chosen to whine about how mean people are and this does not accomplish anything. UCL say that Hunt offered his resignation and was not forced to resign.
Admittedly, I only skimmed the Tim Hunt article because it repeats incorrect information and I knew it was going to piss me off. But one of the first women to report on his bullshit sexist remarks (I guess he thought Korean women were going to be OK with being told they were too sexy to be in a lab?) is a black science reporter, Connie St. Louis. I went to her Twitter account and saw that the very first response to her report was this, which really struck me since we are being bombarded with empathy for a mass murderer, his sister, his parents and any person who ever knew him and let his racism slide.
He’s old. He had a bad day. It was a professional gig, but it really doesn’t matter so much if he’s unprofessional because white people get to have bad days where they insult the people who invite them.
But wait a minute. He’s at the prime of his career and so still should have a cushy, post-retirement position. White people, MAKE UP YOUR MINDS. Too old to know what he’s doing or what?
By the way Connie St. Louis offers a smart take on the whole thing here. Don’t read that MP crap.