Ah, Civility. Always there to lean on when we don't like what is being said, but would rather blame it on how it is being said. After the initial discussion died down around Tuesday's post, along came a commenter to tsk tsk about what he perceived were personal attacks directed at Dr. Jones.
So I ask, are Dr. Jones's statements not personal attacks themselves? These were open comments on a listserv directed at a young female scientist, followed up with other "helpful suggestions" to women that reinforced the idea that they should put everything on hold in order to concentrate on science. This is direct and unambiguous bullying by a senior scientist, aimed at influencing the choices of junior scientists. Apparently that is bad, but the individual should not be held accountable.
So here is my question for the day: At what point is it okay to stand up against bullying? Where is the line between silently or quietly disagreeing with a person's point of view and making a loud statement that their viewpoint should not be tolerated by anyone under any circumstances?
If influencing people's family decisions with the threat of career stagnation isn't enough, then what is the trigger? How egregious does a statement have to be in order for us to respond? If these statements was made by a man, could me call him sexist? Or should we just consider their point of view and go on our merry way?
Micheal McCarthy suggests that by strongly disagreeing and even using sarcasm in a response, we limit the voices that will join the discussion. I would counter with, by quietly and respectfully responding we let the bullies have their say and crush voices of their targets. By passing the buck on standing up to these people, we let them ply their trade down the road. I call bullshit on that.
If a white male can't stand up and say that direct sexism (regardless of the source) is not okay, then who does?