Louise Mensch (the Sun columnist and failed Tory MP) has been harassing people on Twitter for hours with grandiose claims about a story about to appear that would PROVE Tim Hunt really was joking. She tweeted this implausible promise at Deborah Blum and Connie St Louis and David Colquhoun among others – addressing DC as ‘Professor’ [in scare quotes], which is staggeringly rude even for the staggeringly rude Louise Mensch. She told all these people they would have to resign once the story appeared.
Then the promised story appeared. It’s in the Sun, and it’s ludicrous.
The headline and subhead:
‘Sexist’ Sir Tim WAS joking, photo shows
Picture could prove top scientist was wrongly hounded out of his job
Note the careful “could,” which is a lot more careful than Mensch has been. But note also the stunningly dishonest claim that Hunt was “hounded out of his job” when the Sun must know perfectly well by now that it was not his job.
The supposedly dispositive photo:
Yeaaaaaah that doesn’t “prove” anything. One woman who is looking away from Hunt is smiling slightly. That “proves” nothing whatsoever. You can’t tell what he was saying at that instant, obviously, and you can’t tell why the woman is smiling slightly, either.
From the ridiculous sub-literate body of the story:
THIS is the picture which proves scientist Tim Hunt was joking when he cracked the joke that ended his career — according to a Facebook poster who was there.
The Nobel Prize winner was hounded out of his job after his comments about “the trouble with girls” sparked a sexism row on social media.
It doesn’t prove anything. Hunt’s career has not been ended. He was not hounded out of his job.
They can’t get the most basic things right. Mensch is a columnist for that rag, so that explains a lot.
The outrage forced him to resign from his honorary position at University College London as well as other posts at the Royal Society and the European Research Council.
But this picture appears to show a female conference delegate chuckling at Sir Tim’s humorous speech.
Filippino science journalist Timothy Dimacali posted it on Facebook saying: “Nobel Laureate Sir Tim Hunt at the exact moment he gave his now-infamous ‘Let me tell you about my trouble with girls’ comment.”
At least they finally got the “job” part right, but only after getting it wrong in two places – clearly deliberately, to amp up the fury. But the picture does not even appear to show a female conference delegate chuckling at Sir Tim’s humorous speech, because she looks as if she’s paying attention to something else.
And Dimacali’s claim about the exact moment? I don’t believe he knows that – I think that’s post facto “memory.”
Mr Dimacali added: “As I keep telling people, he said it in a very lighthearted manner with no outward hint of malice, condescension, or derision.
“I’m not defending him, mind you; what he said was wrong and definitely deserved to be called out. But it was, more than anything else, a joke gone horribly wrong.”
Sexist jokes are still sexist. Mensch is wrong about that too. She’s comprehensively wrong about this whole subject.
One of Sir Tim’s most vocal critics was Connie St Louis, a lecturer in science journalism at City University in London, who insisted the comments were not a joke and left women horrified.
She faced calls to resign herself today as the fresh evidence emerged Sir Tim was the victim of a witch hunt.
Sun columnist and former MP Louise Mensch said: “This photo is proof positive that Sir Tim Hunt was falsely accused of being serious.
“We were told nobody smiled and women were hurt, shocked and scandalized. On the BBC, Connie St Louis said ‘Nobody smiled, nobody laughed — everybody was stony faced’.
“Now she should resign from City University — and the other journalists who misreported him should also resign.”
Mensch and Dawkins should set up a Global Sexist Joke Council.