#Shirtstorm backlash: Internet steps up to defend Rosetta scientist

#Shirtstorm backlash: Internet steps up to defend Rosetta scientist
British scientist Matt Taylor broke down in tears when apologizing for wearing a shirt with bikini-clad women during the comet-landing mission, but much of the internet says he’s got nothing to apologize for.

The 42-year-old eccentric chief of Science for the Rosetta space mission, wore the now-notorious Hawaiian shirt during media interviews, just as the Philae lander spacecraft was touching down on comet 67P following more than ten years in space.

Yet, on Twitter the achievement was quickly overshadowed. The most prominent early critics were astrophysicist Katie Mack and The Atlantic's science writer Rose Eveleth.

Within hours, the maker of the customized shirt, Elly Prizeman, defended her friend, telling the media that Matt wore the garment - a recent birthday present - as a gesture of gratitude to her.

Orders for the a $60 shirt with the same pattern immediately flooded in.

But, as news outlets, including the Verge (headline and lede: I don't care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing (that's one small step for man, three steps back for humankind) picked up the subject and published editorials against the shirt, Taylor apologized.

The sight of an evidently stricken, tearful Taylor, provoked a second wave of sympathetic responses.

A group of sympathisers set up a fundraising campaign to award a gift to Matt Taylor and his team (though the Rosetta scientist said he couldn't accept.) A petition in his support also gathered over 10,000 votes.

Screenshot from Indiegogo.com

Some used visual humor to take a pop at his critics.

Others went for the history angle.

As the debate grew more bitter, some still preferred to use sentences.

Then, even some prominent public feminists decided this had become too destructive.

Several lost patience with a straight-faced discussion of the issues.


While, the response to the initial incident has unleashed creativity, and forced people to assume social positions, what does it say about modern society that it overshadowed this?