So it seems that some people are visibly outraged at Jim Watson's appointment on the SEED group board of directors, which among other things runs the well-respected Scienceblogs, featuring many well-known blogs like Pharyngula. According to these people, Watson should be fired and not allowed to sit on any such committee because of his racist remarks.
With all due respect to the sentiments of these folks, I have to say I disagree.
I completely agree with what a ditzy old fool Watson was, and I have disparaged his actions in a previous post. But no matter how much you may hate the man, there are two things; firstly, that should still not take anything away from his past achievements and his capabilities (something that some have unnecessarily tried to do), and secondly, it also does not preempt him from offering his services in some valuable way to other organizations. Relatively few science administrators have the kind of experience that Watson has.
In fact, I now think that removing him from his age-old post at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory itself was uncalled for. This was not because he does not deserve to be marginalised, but we have to agree that his direction of CSHL has nothing to do with his racist remarks. I completely agree how difficult it must be to have such a man running your institution, but to be honest, I believe that keeping him in his position and subjecting him to daily scorn might have been a better punishment for him than just removing him from front of everyone's eyes.
And no matter what he has said, I think it sounds a little totalitarian to say that Jim Watson should not be allowed to sit on any committee or on any board at any time in his life, ever. He is going to get his due ridicule and punishment from the way people will be treating him from now on. But how about this- we can give him that due punishment and also take advantage of his knowledge of science.
Two birds with one stone I say.
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar: A study in fortitude and rigor
1 day ago in The Curious Wavefunction