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In 2001, British biochemist Tim Hunt was one three winners of a Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.Stephen Hird / Reuters

The backlash against Nobel laureate Tim Hunt's remarks about 'girls' and science ended his career. A deserved incidence of 'sexism has no place in science'? Or political correctness run amok? Readers, print and digital, put the case under a microscope

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What Sir Tim Hunt (a Nobel laureate no less) said was manifestly silly.

Relationships between and within genders are messy. Deal with it. But to force him to resign is absurd. "Free speech" means tolerating other people's right to say things you don't like to hear and/or don't agree with. The sad thing today is how often people report themselves as "offended" by what other people say (the shock, the horror). Killing people, raping children, that is offensive. As for a lot of what is said every day – sheesh. Lighten up, people.

Derek Besner, Kitchener

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Margaret Wente has quite missed the point (Science, Sexism And The Nobel Laureate – June 16). Of course there have been great steps toward gender equality . That is why it is distressing that a senior scientist like Sir Tim Hunt should still be trotting out such lame sexist jokes.

To help Sir Tim redeem his good name, I suggest the following rewrite of his speech: "When I was a young scientist 50 years ago working in a ghastly male bastion of a lab, we used to joke that girls (as we called them) are such a trouble in the lab. We had a hard time looking at them as people to work with, rather than as girls to fall in love with or be loved by, which I suppose was our fault.

"And they got upset when we criticized them, no doubt because we criticized them in a typically male aggressive way without any thought of the hard work and obstacles they had faced in gaining acceptance to our lab, and because we made them feel like intruders who belonged to the world outside the lab, in our beds or in the kitchen.

"Thank goodness the world and we men have changed!"

Mark Thornton, Toronto

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It seems that Elizabeth Renzetti has joined the ranks of those who are what comedian Jim Norton calls "addicted to the rush of being offended" (Science Suffers From A Particularly Acute Case Of Guy Blindness – June 13). She condemns Sir Tim Hunt with making "inflammatory" comments about female scientists. I have never worked in the field of science, but his words ring true of other professions when he says that men and women fall in love with each other, and the fact is, when you criticize a woman, she does indeed cry. Apparently speaking the truth is to be avoided today.

I think I see Ms. Renzetti's point, however, of breaking gender stereotypes with children's birthday gifts. Along those lines, I've started sprinkling cocoa powder around the base of my walnut tree, in hopes some day it will yield chocolate-covered walnuts. If children's chemical experimentation kits can alter female DNA, I'm sure cocoa should do the trick on my walnut tree as well.

Mark Woods, Winnipeg

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We live in a society in which political correctness has gone mad. Any thoughtless comment made by someone in the public's eye is gleefully pored over by numerous people who are just looking to say "Aha." I suspect that this is to make themselves feel superior, rather than true outrage at the comment itself. I defy people who are pointing fingers at this man to say they have never made a bad, ignorant or offensive comment.

Isidore Martynyshyn, North Bay

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So basically, women having a strong opinion about a stupid, chauvinistic remark are being too emotional. I would hope that anyone who hears or sees something that is against everything they believe would have some emotional reaction. I don't trust people who have none.

Janice Kirkeby, Kingston

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Does the punishment fit the crime? I agree that his comments were out of line and cannot be ignored, but is it better to end his career rather than using this as an educational moment?

I found the #distractinglysexy hashtag fantastic and it made a good political statement but is being overshadowed by the witch hunt that ensued. People need to understand the power of social media and their words.

Samantha Kuula, Sudbury, Ont.

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Margaret Wente writes, "It's too bad that so many feminists reacted to a silly comment about overly emotional women in a way that proves the point." Putting aside the question of whether feminist objections to Prof. Tim Hunt's remarks were "overly emotional," their reactions could only prove the point if all those feminists who reacted were women. Men can be feminists. Many of those who objected were men.

Jennifer Perry, Oxford, U.K.

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As experts in girls' K-12 education, we encourage students to take intellectual risks in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Instead of greeting mistakes and criticism with tears, as claimed by Prof. Tim Hunt, our young women celebrate the knowledge gained from a failed approach, and view it as a critical step toward gaining the competency to produce a better solution. Our students know that the Lawrence Summers and Tim Hunts of yesterday's academia are obsolete voices in today's world.

Tara Silver, principal, Linden School, Toronto

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ON REFLECTION LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Population and climate

Re Climate-Change Fix Requires Cultural Revolution, Pope Says (June 19): It is no coincidence the 20th century hosted both an unprecedented explosion in human population and the first availability of affordable, globally transportable hydrocarbons. Increased greenhouse gasses and increased population are inseparable facts of global ecology.

How can the Pope condemn the effects of hydrocarbon use, while still advocating against most forms of birth control? Where is the Pope's encyclical on population growth?

John Riley, Mono, Ont.

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Why first, why post?

Why do pundits call our voting system "first past the post"?

At the riding level, there's no first and no post. A candidate can win by a landslide on election day or come from behind through a recount days later.

"First past the post" applies a bit better when all the seats are counted after the election. But even there, the "post" only marks the majority (and sometimes no party reaches it), and "first" doesn't add a thing.

If we have to have a label, I suggest "winner take all."

Tom Brzustowski, Waterloo, Ont.

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The' unemployment rate

Thanks for your illuminating coverage of "the" inflation rate (The Logic And Lunacy Of Calculating The Inflation Rate – June 18). You should do a similar examination of "the" unemployment rate, which appears to be falling. Realities underlying this index tell a more sobering story. When discouraged workers stop seeking jobs, the official rate goes down. More jobs are precarious, short-term and part-time; many workers are underemployed. A falling unemployment rate based on such trends is hardly evidence of improved economic health.

Roy Culpeper, Ottawa

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Terror bill disconnect

It is remarkable that Bill Blair is a spokesperson for the Liberals on Bill C-51, given the abuse of civil liberties under his watch as police chief during the G20 summit in Toronto (Trudeau Vows To Repeal Parts Of Bill C-51 – June 18). The G20 events demonstrate the potential abuse of the power of detention. Given the lack of significant debate on C-51, it should be repealed. Any new powers given to the intelligence services or police should be carefully considered, with robust and transparent (where appropriate) oversight.

Paul Bryant, Toronto

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