So, there's a bit of a fervor over James Watson, one of the scientists who originally discovered the structure of DNA back in the day. Apparently, the 79 year old made some racist comments. As a result, he's basically been excommunicated. Speaking arrangements have been canceled, he's being not-so-gently forced from his job, etc.
I have mixed feelings about this, of course.
While I dislike racism as much as any desperately evenhanded white guy, I can't help but think that this obviously political ostracism is pretty silly.
People seem to forget that this guy is almost EIGHTY.
His racist comments aren't something I can take seriously. He's from another time, another culture. Hearing him be racist is sort of like hearing a old Japanese fisherman talk about leaving the first fish for the god of rain. It has no significant effect on what you think of mainstream Japanese culture, all it does is remind you where the culture is coming from.
In my mind, ostracism is brutal to the point of freakishly bizarre. He wasn't even trying to be mean. He was trying to be ethical and helpful, in his condescending old white guy way.
This guy devoted his whole life to making fairly good scientific advances, and then he says something dumb and out-of-touch about a political hot button and gets kicked out? Can you imagine how he feels? "Thanks for all the good times, but we hate you now. Get the fuck out!"
I feel ashamed for the British. They lost a chunk of my respect.
A better response would have been to play it condescending. Gloss over the comments with "ha, how out of touch..." Let everyone know that's not your culture anymore. This "BURN THE WITCH!" reaction is just silly.