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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Another case for the Thought Police

If a priest writing about religious affairs in his parish magazine can be 'looked at' by the boys and girls in blue, it's but a short step to 'looking at' a Nobel laureate talking about his own scientific field.

He may be right, he may be wrong. Biology was never my strong point, and when it started to involve cutting up rats I baled out at the earliest opportunity, so clearly the world does not need to hear my opinions on the subject. If he's hopelessly, absurdly wrong, let's have the reasons splashed over the front page of the Indie (they could even offer Stephen Rose a chance to teach rather than preach, just for a change). And please believe me, I hang on Keith Vaz's every word, I really do. It's just that I would like the option of hanging on a word or two from James Watson before I make up my mind.

If may I be permitted a little recycling, this (and its follow-ups here and here) will save me the bother of repeating myself.

And I'll tell you what really gets me about the article. It's the sheer sanctimoniousness of it. Affecting moral outrage and a high-minded concern to rebut a racial slander, it is actually a piece of gross character assassination in itself. Does Watson really think that 'black people [a]re less intelligent than white people', with the implication that he considers himself entitled to automatically treat every black person he encounters as a dimwit? Of course not. So is the Indie scribe too stupid to understand that propositions about group averages (however misguided they may be) provide no basis whatsoever for prejudging or discriminating against individuals? Or too set on making mischief to be interested in pointing it out?

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