Boris Johnson condemns Rosetta scientist Dr Matt Taylor’s 'Shirtgate' critics

Libby Plummer
Yahoo News.
Boris Johnson condemns Rosetta scientist Dr Matt Taylor’s 'Shirtgate' critics

London Mayor Boris Johnson has spoken out on the internet storm over Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor's 'sexist' shirt and said that his critics should be "ashamed of themselves".

European Space Agency (ESA) project scientist Taylor caused controversy when he wore the shirt, featuring scantily clad women, during a video interview in the run-up to the historic Philae comet landing, in which he played a major role.

His achievement was slightly overshadowed by the Twitterstorm that followed in which the shirt was branded 'offensive to women'. Taylor later gave an emotional apology during an ESA livestream following the sucessful comet landing.

Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor apologies for 'sexist' shirt during livestream (ESA livestream)



Posting on Facebook, Johnson wrote: "There must be room in our world for eccentricity, even if it offends the prudes, and room for the vague other-worldliness that often goes with genius.

"Dr Taylor deserves the applause of our country, and those who bash him should hang their own heads and apologise."



Writing on the The Telegraph Johnson stated that Taylor was "bombarded across the internet with a hurtling dustcloud of hate, orchestrated by lobby groups and politically correct media organisations."

The Mayor also dramtically compared Taylor's emotional apology during an ESA livestream to the "show trials of Stalin".

Athiest biologist and writer Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins), well known for his strong opinions on Twitter, also waded into the '#Shirtgate' argument to congratulate Taylor on his achievement, tweeting:

"Many congratulations to Matt Taylor and the Rosetta team on an amazing feat of space engineering. Such things make me proud to be human."

Many, but not all, of the objections to Taylor's shirt were raised by self-professed feminists, prompting Dawkins to take to Twitter once again to explain to the internet what feminism is:

"Do not blame feminism for the pompous idiots whining about a Rosetta scientist's shirt. True feminism is bigger and better than that."

While the notions of being impressed by Taylor's scientific achievement and being disappointed by his choice of shirt for an international broadcast are clearly not mutually exclusive, social media tends to amplify extreme opinions and present them as those of the majority.

Many of the individuals who objected to the shirt on Twitter later went on to thank Taylor for his heartfelt apology.

Taylor's friend Elly Prizeman of @EternalArtEssex who made the shirt for him as a birthday present has also spoken out in his defence in a blog post, saying:

"Dr. Matt Taylor is an amazing, kind, loving and sensitive person."

She also added:

"I appreciate that everyone is entitled to their opinion and having worked with people and events for a long time I have certainly learnt that you are never going to please everyone."

Prizeman also explained that while there has been some negative feedback, there has also been an overwhelming response from fans who wish to buy a shirt just like Taylor's.

Elsewhere on the internet, an Indiegogo page has been set up in support of Taylor and the Rosetta team, with a crowd-funding goal of $11,251. The plan is to buy Taylor an astronomical watch plus gifts for the rest of the team if enough cash is raised.