When is a shirt not just a shirt?

The little Rosetta probe was launched over 10 years ago, and to achieve the required velocity to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko it had to fly through most of the Solar System.

It’s well known that landing a jet fighter on a moving flight deck is tough. Landing at night, in rough weather, with no lights, that is the most stressful aspect of naval aviation. The challenge of landing a plane on a carrier at night is as daunting as the task is difficult: Working in darkness, the pilot has to bring in a jet at speeds over 150 knots, snag a cable 4 inches off the deck in a space that is roughly 20 feet wide and 100 feet long.  Close air support, air-to-air combat, nothing gets the pilot’s heart rate up like landing at night. On a moving, pitching deck.

Landing on a carrier at night is like running across your living room, leaping into the air, and trying to lick a stamp on the floor with your tongue. With the lights out.

Now, think about how hard it is to get a small spacecraft, thats traveled 4 billion miles to hit a dark, dusty comet, which is only 2.5 miles wide. That’s like someone standing in San Francisco shooting a thrown snowball in New York City with a 30.30 rifle.

Hard is an understatement.

And, to top it all off, you’re able to get a tiny probe out, land it on the damn thing, and do it all when the time it takes for a signal to get from here to there takes 28 minutes, 20 seconds. That almost 30 minutes. And the signal is traveling at the speed of light. That’s 186,000 miles per second. Per second. Let that sink in for a second. Now picture being 186,000 miles further away.

Difficult is an understatement.

This comet landing is an amazing scientific achievement by many dedicated scientists, and something to celebrate. So if your takeaway from historic occasion is that one scientist is an misogynist asshole, I think you’ve missed the big picture.

Great art work my friend!

Great art work my friend!

It seems a good friend, a woman, of one of the scientist made an outstandingly cool shirt. And Matt Taylor, the scientist in question, loves crazy shirts. And he had her cool shirt on. What a great way to celebrate. And the news cameras and media and the world went wild celebrating this amazing scientific accomplishment.

Until someone noticed what was on the shirt. Art. Art with beautiful women.  

The reaction was, just to quote one example out of many, swift and terrible:

Good work, Matt Taylor, Rosetta Project Scientist at the European Space Agency, snatching the spotlight away from the technical accomplishment of your team and making it all about about your clothing choices, and for also doing it with such elan that you simultaneously denigrated all the enthusiastic young women watching the webcast. They may have been cheering at first, but then it sank in that their designated prop role is to be half-naked and posed poutingly on your shirt.

The news has been wall-to-wall coverage not about the amazing scientific accomplishment, but about a shirt.

It seems the female mind is so weak she must be protected from “art!”

Those aren’t photos of women but drawings. There also happens to be nothing particularly wrong with the female (or male) body, clothed, unclothed or partly clothed, and if some scientist wants to make recognize his good friends art, no better way than appearing on a newscast wearing that shirt. What’s perverse is getting all bent out of shape by someone’s (non-obscene) clothing choices instead of focusing on his scientific accomplishments.

There are many that are saying this is “terrible” and must not stand. After all, we must think of the young women and girls who watched that and flinched when exposed to the female form, and their dreams of being a rocket scientist were destroyed. This guy’s shirt choice could have been the LAST STRAW for who knows how many young women who were thinking of pursuing a career in science or engineering. That last little push that made them say “You know what? Fuck that. I don’t need that bullshit in my daily workaday life.”

The poor little things… they must be protected.

Just so we’re all clear, must we now destroy this, for it shows a female form?

Look, a clear example of a woman being oppressed!

Look, a clear example of a woman being oppressed!

And this, think of all the little girls!

Street art, scaring girls for life!

Street art, scaring girls for life!

OMG! The world is not safe!

There can be no freedom. Cover all with burqas.

There can be no freedom. Cover all with burqas.

NASA, ESA, all of society could clean house of every person who enjoys the human form and it still wouldn’t satisfy its the feminist inquisitors. The feminist’s point is not to just shame this one man, but to drive home the message that the media spotlight is the sole playground for the politically correct, asexual, lefty approved view and that anything or anyone who doesn’t toe that line will find no regular place in public.

To quote the awesome Instapundit:

YEAH, WELL, I DON’T REALLY CARE WHAT YOU THINK, SINCE YOU’VE NEVER ACTUALLY DONE ANYTHING OF CONSEQUENCE EXCEPT COMPLAIN: I don’t care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing.

Landing on a comet is a big deal. Complaining about men isn’t. Also, we’ve been told that it’s always sexist and inappropriate for men to comment on women’s choice of attire, so why should women be allowed to criticize what men wear? This is just another sad effort on the part of losers to inject themselves into matters that are actually relevant, but in which they are unqualified to take part.

And to follow up from the editor of ricochet.com, Jon Gabriel:

Mr. Taylor then made the bad situation worse. Instead of telling these progressive puritans to go pound silicon dioxide, he issued a sobbing public confession straight out of a Maoist show trial. This guy just dropped a dishwasher on an ice cube 300 million miles from home and he’s groveling to a coven of D-list bloggers?

As long as people keep caving to the progressive puritans, the cruelty will only get worse.

Yep. Push back. Hard.

One final update 9:15 PM. Cedar Sanderson, who wrote an outstanding post here: Who will stand with me for individuality, and freedom of expression? informed me about this little tidbit of information that seems… I don’t know… important? Cedar writes, “you know what doesn’t even get mentioned? The team leader is a woman.” 

Ouch.

Ok… another great point from this beautiful (I have no idea what she looks like but I love the way her brain works), smart, pointed woman:

It’s not women objectifying themselves that concerns me at the moment, but the cruelty and viciousness behind some of these attacks. You just made a guy who landed on a comet feel like an epic failure as a human being.

Matt Taylor, your shirt was cute and I’m so sorry you had to meet the Social Justice Warriors. They’re an ugly bunch.

For those who ever wonder why I don’t get all warm and fuzzy about the idea of living in a matriarchy, this is why. Women can sometimes have a careless kind of cruelty about them that really has no boundaries, no limitations, and no remorse.

So can men… but we’re all human. A bit different, and that’s a great thing, but human.

Semper Fi.