Attempt to write something memorable backfires spectacularly.
Birmingham law firm SGH Martineau has been forced to revise a blog post in which it compares the tendency of Uruguayan footballer Luis Suarez to bite opponents with the actions of “insubordinate” star academics.
Headlined ‘Getting your teeth stuck into High Performer Misconduct’, the post — by employment law senior associate David Browne — references Suarez’s biting of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini before stating:
“Universities and colleges may, equally, encounter high performing employees who, although academically brilliant, have the potential to damage their employer’s brand.”
Since appearing on Thursday, the clunky analogy has sparked rage from potential clients in the higher education community, with disgruntled academics taking to Twitter to slam the firm for clumsily equating academic freedom with misconduct.
Highlights from the storm of angry tweets directed at the firm include this from UCL professor David Colquhoun…
— David Colquhoun (@david_colquhoun) July 4, 2014
…this from University of Leeds professor Stuart Murray…
Unbelievable. Linking disciplining Luis Suarez to 'high performer misconduct' in universities. http://t.co/NVHOEr1zat?
— Stuart Murray (@smurrayleeds) July 4, 2014
…and this from Kingston University arts and social sciences dean Martin McQuillan.
— Martin McQuillan (@mgmcquillan) July 4, 2014
Amid the backlash, SGH Martineau has amended the blog post and issued this statement:
“This blog has attracted rather a lot of attention on twitter, and has been interpreted by some as suggesting that the exercise of academic freedom might amount to misconduct. That was never the intention of the piece and we are happy to clarify that the lawful exercise of academic freedom does not amount to misconduct.
“However there may be circumstances where opinions and/or behaviour fall outside the lawful exercise of academic freedom and in these cases questions of misconduct may arise. Appropriate clarifications have been made to the text below.”