There has been a recent row concerning the treatment of Mary Beard, Cambridge Professor, after her appearance on BBC's Question Time. A discussion website called 'Dont Start Me Off' contained comments from contributors that were incredible offensive.
I support the idea of free speech and am reluctant to say that some things should be censored. The level of abuse seen here, however, that included comments about Mary's female body parts and suggestions of rape, were an affront to the gift of free speech that we long to protect.
Argue with Mary's opinions if you like but do not demean humanity by making it about things that really don't concern others.
The owner of website has since closed it down but not before suggesting that Mary hasn't got a sense of humour.
Then came an article by Rod Liddle in The Spectator suggesting that Mary wasn't blameless in the whole debacle. According to Rod we need to be a little more grown up about things. Thankfully Rod is grown up and to prove it says that he runs a competition on his website called 'The Most Stupid Woman to have appeared on Question Time in the last 12 months'.
Now before you look to make your nominations it's worth noting here that Rod is only looking for Stupid Women. It could be that Question Time doesn't allow stupid men to appear. Or it could be that Rod is revealing his own misogyny, albeit in a refined and humorous way.
It seems to me that whenever I see vile, misogynist, and aggressive people expressing their views they are quickly followed by eloquent and seemingly reasonable commentators who reinforce their objectionable opinions; often calling women "whiners" or "shrill" in order to undermine a woman's viewpoint.
The overtly vile are, in one sense, easier to dismiss; people like Rod are not because they have what looks like a legitimate voice on a legitimate platform.
This behaviour is not good enough; no matter how refined it appears.