Boris Johnson was also upset at Dr Matt Taylor’s shirt, it brought tears of rage…that people could abuse him for wearing such a thing.
The other day the brilliant space scientist Dr Matt Taylor was asked to give a report on the progress of Philae, the astonishing little landing craft that has travelled, in all, four billion miles to become the first representative of humanity to visit the surface of a comet. Dr Taylor leant forwards. He started to speak. Then his voice went husky, and it became painfully obvious to viewers that he was actually crying. And of course he has many very good reasons to feel emotional. The London-born astrophysicist has been part of a mind-blowing success.
Except, of course, that he wasnât crying with relief. He wasnât 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 âinappropriateâ shirt on television. âI have made a big mistake,â he said brokenly. âI have offended people and I am sorry about this.â
I watched that clip of Dr Taylorâs apology â at the moment of his supreme professional triumph â 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 Maoâs 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 â they should all be ashamed of themselves.
Yes, I suppose some might say that his Hawaii shirt was a bit garish, a bit of an eyeful. But the man is not a priest, for heavenâs sake. He is a space scientist with a fine collection of tattoos, and if you are an extrovert space scientist, that is the kind of shirt that you are allowed to wear. Â Read more »