Jacques Rousseau also thinks Dawkins is mistaken in his response to the Tim Hunt issue.
As with “shirtgate”, where Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor was in the news for wearing a shirt depicting naked women, the Tim Hunt case has prominently featured Richard Dawkins, telling us how to understand feminism and the issue of sexism in science.
It has, yes, and that’s unfortunate, because he’s not well informed about feminism nor is he sympathetic to it.
In his letter to The Times (paywalled, so – sorry – I’m linking to the Daily Mail‘s quotes of the letter), Dawkins says:
Along with many others, I didn’t like Sir Tim Hunt’s joke, but “disproportionate” would be a huge underestimate of the baying witch-hunt that it unleashed among our academic thought police: nothing less than a feeding frenzy of mob-rule self-righteousness.
‘A writer in the Guardian even described it as “a moment to savour”. To “savour” a moment of human misery – to “savour” the hounding of one of our most distinguished scientists – goes beyond schadenfreude and spills over into cruelty.’
One might hope that Dawkins is demonstrating “disproportionateness” via example, but he’s no doubt serious in this one-sided portrayal of events.
Well I suppose one of these days he could burst out laughing and tell us it’s all been an elaborate hoax, but it seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to for a joke.
When the speaker of the offensive remarks has felt the need to apologise, fully acknowledging that the remarks were inappropriate, seeing a senior male scientist like Dawkins describing reaction to those as a “feeding frenzy of mob-rule self-righteousness” is unlikely to reassure anyone who has concerns regarding perceived or actual sexist treatment of women in the workplace.
Indeed it is and that is why it would be so nice if Dawkins would just stop. But he won’t. He apparently likes being the darling of the anti-feminists, so that will be part of his legacy.