There’s been plenty of right-minded anger over progressive feminism’s co-opting of last week’s unmanned comet landing — an Internet sanctimony spasm that detracted from the significance of the achievement in order to target one man for his choice of clothing.
A Hawaiian-style button-up festooned with cartoonish, Betty Page-style bombshell models became the very mundane star of an otherwise momentous day. And its wearer, Dr. Matt Taylor, offered a shame-filled, tearful apology for unwittingly sending the world an (apparently) bad message about gender bias in the scientific community.
London Mayor Boris Johnson came to Taylor’s defense this week, penning a column for The Telegraph that excoriated the progressives’ obsession with off-the-shelf moral outrage.
After viewing Taylor’s apology on television, Johnson had a lot on his mind.
“Everyone in this country should be proud of Dr Taylor and his colleagues, and he has every right to let his feelings show,” Johnson wrote. “Except, of course, that he wasn’t crying with relief. He wasn’t weeping with sheer excitement at this interstellar rendezvous. I am afraid he was crying because he felt he had sinned. He was overcome with guilt and shame for wearing what some people decided was an ‘inappropriate’ shirt on television.”
Taylor’s apology — and its implicit message that progressive shaming tactics can succeed — made Johnson see red:
I watched that clip of Dr Taylor’s apology — at the moment of his supreme professional triumph — and I felt the red mist come down. It was like something from the show trials of Stalin, or from the sobbing testimony of the enemies of Kim Il-sung, before they were taken away and shot. It was like a scene from Mao’s cultural revolution when weeping intellectuals were forced to confess their crimes against the people.
Why was he forced into this humiliation? Because he was subjected to an unrelenting tweetstorm of abuse. He was bombarded across the internet with a hurtling dustcloud of hate, orchestrated by lobby groups and politically correct media organisations.
And so I want, naturally, to defend this blameless man. And as for all those who have monstered him and convicted him in the kangaroo court of the web — they should all be ashamed of themselves.
… What are we all — a bunch of Islamist maniacs who think any representation of the human form is an offence against God? This is the 21st century, for goodness’ sake. And if you ask yourself why so few have come to the defence of the scientist, the answer is that no one dares.
There’s much more where this came from.
A notable irony, of course, is that Taylor’s shirt was made especially for him, as a birthday gift, by a woman — by this woman.