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Academics rage after Michael Gove drops a risky Black Lives Matter gag at the Society of Legal Scholars conference

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Former Justice Sec’s comments described as “unacceptable”

gove-grin

The Society of Legal Scholars (SLS) has released a statement expressing its dismay at a controversial joke made by Michael Gove at its annual conference.

The three-day bash — hosted this year at the University of Oxford — was attended last week by a number of top legal scholars, and Gove.

Addressing the society delegates over dinner, the former Justice Secretary decided to make a gag about how out of place the pro-Brexit politician felt in a room full of legal academics, who were likely pro-Remain. Attendee Richard Collins reported it on Twitter:

Gove’s comments caused outrage among the academic community, with one describing the Conservative MP’s remarks as “unacceptable” and requesting that an official complaint be lodged.

A lecturer from Birkbeck University said she was “appalled’ Gove was invited to the prestigious conference in the first place.

While an academic from Cardiff University said the KKK and the Black Lives Matter movement are not laughing matters.

Amid the furore on social media, the SLS yesterday interrupted its Sunday to release an official statement on the matter. Having explained that the invitation for Gove to speak at the 7 September event was made when he was Justice Secretary and months before the EU referendum campaign had begun, the SLS then revealed its embarrassment at the comments, stating:

In the course of his speech, aware that his academic audience might be largely hostile given his position on Brexit, Mr Gove drew an analogy, the gist of which has since been tweeted. The Society wishes to distance itself clearly and unequivocally from this comment and sincerely regrets that it was made and caused offence.

Not that everyone was appalled. In and amongst the backlash, the academic who tweeted the original summary of Gove’s words returned to defend the Surrey Heath MP — sort of.

Gove has not responded to Legal Cheek’s request for comment.

51 Comments

Anonymous

Gove. ….pure imbecile

(21)(14)

Anonymous

Oh the poor precious things…

Society of legal scholars – get over yourselves….

(36)(3)

Mammy Briscoe

ISS RAYSISS!!!

(9)(0)

Mammy Briscoe

ISS A RAYSISS!!!

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Do they realise he was trying to wind them up? Shooting fish in a barrel.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Enough about black lives matter nothing said about 109000 whites in south africa murdered
In the last 20 years.
Get over yourselves Gove an idiot why even comment on him. But since you brought it up white lives matter but he you do nothing about that or say anything.

(0)(7)

Dr Bonham

Not Amused is going to turn up and tell us about how BLM are terrible and the outrage is all political correctness gone mad.

(10)(11)

Not Amused

BLM is a serious movement, and people who dismiss it tend either to not really know what they are talking about or be in a place of wilful ignorance about racial issues in America. Also I am obviously not Not Amused, but this seemed like good opportunity.

(5)(20)

Not Amused

This is not obviously not me, but it is not me.

BLM is a serious movement dealing with a concerning issue which needs to be addressed.

BLMUK is self indulgent nonsense by narcissistic children.

Gove is persona non grata to me. But it was just a joke and faux outrage on twitter is more akin to BLMUK and not at all like BLM.

(20)(6)

Anonymous

That’s weird, this isn’t me either…

(3)(0)

Interloper

Might have been a joke – but he’s still a c..t for making it.

(1)(5)

Anonymous

Tell you what – down arrow this !
…………………./´¯/)
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………………./…./
…………./´¯/’…’/´¯¯`·¸
………./’/…/…./……./¨¯\
……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
………\……………..’…../
……….”…\………. _.·´
…………\…………..(
…………..\………….\…

(3)(0)

Trumpenkrieg

Movements tend to get serious after George Soros starts plowing millions of dollars into them.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

tongue in cheek joke, lecture academics from garbage universities need to shut up

(30)(8)

Kevin

Some people have very little to be worried about. When did we all become so bloody sensitive.

(28)(1)

Anonymous

If he had said he felt like a Nazi at a synagogue would people still be defending him? How is the base level of tolerance for racism so high that getting offended at KKK jokes is seen as overreacting, especially in the light of recent exposes of white supremacy in certain US police forces and the ever increasing number of burtal police murders of black men and women?

(16)(24)

Anonymous

THANK YOU!!!!!!

(0)(8)

Anonymous

YOU’RE WELCOME!!!!

(0)(8)

Anonymous

What an absolute idiot!

Good the SLS said something!

(2)(17)

Just Anonymous

“I feel rather like the grand wizard of the KKK giving an address to the AGM of Black Lives Matter”

Could someone explain to me just what exactly is ‘offensive’ about this? Yes, it’s a joke. But it’s not a joke at BLM’s expense (or even the KKK’s expense.) Rather Gove is simply emphasising that he has a hostile audience. What on earth is wrong with that?

I’m all for criticising Gove when he actually does something worthy of criticism. (Which in my view is an awful lot of the time.) But this hysterical social media trend of hounding people for causing ‘offence’ is getting very old and tired now, and needs to end.

(66)(2)

Anonymous

It’s offensive because it trivialises both the KKK and the BLM movement. It’s the sort of thing Frankie Boyle might say to get a rise, and in a different context maybe it could have functioned as a provocative joke. The context here though was a serious academic conference, being addressed by a former Lord Chancellor. The ‘joke’ consisted of inappropriate and unecessarily unpleasant imagery. Gove ought to have known better.

(7)(34)

Just Anonymous

“It’s offensive because it trivialises both the KKK and the BLM movement.”

No it doesn’t.

Merely mentioning something doesn’t trivialise it.

Assuming you’re the same Anonymous at 2:52pm, you seem to assume that Gove’s remarks were offensive merely because he mentioned the KKK. You seem incapable of actually reading his remarks in context to see whether, objectively, this actually was the case. Were you able to do so, you would see that his actual point (that his audience was hostile to him) was totally inoffensive and uncontroversial.

If you lack the basic English comprehension skills to read and assess a sentence in context, then that’s not Gove’s problem. It’s your problem.

(36)(3)

Anonymous

Obviously mentioning something doesn’t necessarily trivialise it. Mentioning it in a joke will tend to, and I think here it did.

I’m not the same anonymous at 2.52.

My comment focused heavily on context, and my argument was that in another context it might have been appropriate as a provocative joke, but in this context it’s clearly inappropriate.

(3)(7)

Anonymous

@4.19pm:

your oppressive ‘liberalism’ astonishes

(1)(1)

Anonymous

How does it trivialise anything? And what “imagery” – mere reference? If you think that certain people, events or ideas should never be joked about or spoken of in less than wholly serious terms, say so. But don’t suggest an intention or a meaning that plainly wasn’t there. The KKK wasn’t supported and BLM wasn’t denigrated.

Gove’s comment wasn’t funny though, I’ll give you that.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Really?? The imagery used by Gove was that of a KKK Grand Wizard addressing the BLM AGM.

I didn’t say that some things should never be joked about, and I don’t think that. I think that things are context dependent. In the context of an academic conference, I think it was misguided to include this in his speech and I can understand why people took exception to it. For the record I don’t think it is worth making a big deal out of, but I can certainly see why some would be offended.

(2)(3)

confused

How is referencing BLM or the KKK imagery? Please explain, I’m intriged.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

Typical ignorant-blind-to-issues-not-affecting-me white privilege comment!

(2)(14)

confused

Quite an assumption you have made there about my ethnicity.

The comment by Gove is not racist. In the same way as if Gove had said he felt “like a male chauvinist at a feminist convention” would not be sexist.

Merely evoking two groups of people with completely different views is not offensive. It is not a comment in favour or against those groups. Its merely an analogy which serves to illustrate the awkwardness of bring together two groups of people who sit at different ends of the spectrum on a particular issue.

(17)(0)

Anonymous

“I feel like Osama Bin Laden at a 9/11 commemoration”. Do you think people might take exception to that?

Also- the KKK and BLM are not just “two groups of people with completely different views.” Perfect example where sloppy language suggests that you equate the two, or consider them comparable. I assume you don’t.

(2)(6)

Anonymous

No, I don’t think people would take exception to reference to Bin Laden and a 9/11 commemoration. Or rather, if they did I would suspect of them of expressing ‘offence’ for show.

(4)(1)

Just Anonymous

‘Also- the KKK and BLM are not just “two groups of people with completely different views.” ‘

Really?

BLM’s core mantra is that ‘black lives matter.’

While the KKK have a long history of espousing the precise opposite.

Am I missing something here?

(9)(1)

Not Amused Dude

I’m black and not a fan of BLMUK. I don’t think it is valuable here, and the childish protests to get publicity are not really doing anything to tackle the different but real issues here in the UK regarding race relations. There is too much imbibing of the US going on to the point that serious famine in north eastern Nigeria gets ignored but police killings in the US get people so passionate.

Having said all that, as a previous poster said above, Gove in a million years would not stand in front of an audience and say ‘I feel like a Nazi General in front of the Jewish Defence League’. He would also not say ‘I feel like male sexist in front of radical feminists’. He would also not say ‘I feel like a Catholic Bishop in front of a bunch of homosexuals’. Unless Michael Gove is a comedian doing an edgy stand up routine, he should not be invoking the KKK for anything. For some reason people seem to think they can say anything about black people and we should shut up, but if white women or jewish people are even slighted in a minor way then the apologies come rolling out.

(11)(8)

Hike

I fort BLM was Berrymans Lace Mawer, innit.

(2)(0)

AllLivesMatter

I am ‘black’ (sort of). I totally agree with the above. I have a sense of humour and it matters

(1)(0)

AllLivesMatter

It doesn’t offend me. I can see the funny side. It’s merely a comment on how out of place he felt in that environment.

(1)(0)

confused

Also fail to understand what is offensive about this. He was drawing an analogy between two groups of people who have diametrically opposing views. Its similar to saying you feel like an owner of an abbattoir giving a talk to PETA.

I’m no Gove fan but in this instance I dont actually see what he did wrong.

(14)(0)

Mammy Briscoe

‘EEZ RAYSISS!!!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

“was attended last week by a number of top legal scholars, and Gove”

Wow, it’s a bad day when even Katie is having a go at a burn on you!

(2)(3)

Anonymous

hahahaa! Bantah.

These SLS need to get over themselves.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

I seriously don’t understand what the problem is.
Such prigs.

(8)(0)

Him wot knows stuff

PRIG stands for

PUGATIOUSLY
RACIST
IGNORANT
GIT

Y’know!

(0)(2)

Outraged Honky

DASS RAYSISS!!!!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I’d love to see the average limp-wristed white middle class Guardian-reading BLM supporter go to Detroit and actually interact with the people they claim to speak on behalf of.

(7)(1)

Tyrion

Right of course because every black person in the world lives in Detroit. Or every black person lives in Detroit. Or every black person lives in the hood. Black Lives Matter is of course only about black people in the ghetto. Well done mate. How wise you are.

(2)(5)

Anonymous

You are the dumbest fuck on the internet.

(1)(5)

BME Barrister

Not racist at all, and quite funny too.

(2)(1)

BMI Baby

Yea it is!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Interesting to note that Gove thinks the appropriate party to match the Brexit lot to in that analogy is the KKK. It seems that even Gove thinks they’re all a bunch of racists then…

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Textbook Gove.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Michael “bants” Gove.

To think he was nearly a candidate to be PM during this crazy summer period.

(3)(0)

Comments are closed.