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Oxford University Law Society in teenage blog post kerfuffle

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Presidential candidate’s musings as a 16-year-old derail election

Oxford University’s Law Society is to re-run its presidential election after controversy over a 2014 blog post written by the sole candidate derailed the original vote.

Screenshots of the now-deleted post arguing that “feminism is a pointless endeavour” were posted on Oxfess, the anonymous Facebook forum for Oxford undergrads. The male author, now a first-year law student but then aged 16, had written:

“Being a woman must suck, both biologically and socially, and so even if in some dream world something resembling social equality came to be, women would still be at a disadvantage.”

He also compared women to “the domestic cow” as part of a tortuous analogy that the embarrassed student told Legal Cheek “doesn’t reflect my current views”.

Outraged students launched a campaign to re-open nominations, saying that the sentiments expressed in the post made the author unfit to become Law Society president. One posted anonymously on Oxfess: “If there is one good thing you do today, please make sure to vote in the Lawsoc elections and use your RON (Re-Open Nominations) powers”.

Another wrote:

“The way in which he wrote about women, no matter what his intended sentiment (which is completely indiscernible in the muddled mess of his writing) is genuinely something people should be allowed to be distressed about… I was personally enraged by the article.”

A further anonymous poster said that “Law soc is becoming an absolute joke in the eyes of the university, not voting for this presidential candidate is now literally the only way to save this soc”.

But others thought that the backlash was unfair, saying that “if you actually take the time to read it, the tone of the article isn’t ragingly misogynistic… him questioning whether feminism will succeed [is not the same as saying] feminism is a bad thing or not worth trying to achieve”.

The Oxford Law Society came to the agreement that the Year 11 musings were relevant to the election, telling Legal Cheek:

“The existence of this blog post only became known to the Oxford Law Society after the candidate had put himself forward for President. We thought that the most appropriate way forward was for the members of the Law Society to decide whether, in light of this blog post, the candidate was suitable for the position. We would like to stress that the Oxford Law Society does not endorse the personal views put forward by any candidate for election.”

The election results, announced on 1 July, revealed that the duly elected president for Hilary Term 2019 was RON — in other words, nominations would be re-opened.

The Law Society says that it will hold another election shortly, with a “new candidate” — presumably vetted for teenage indiscretions — already in place.

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One current Oxford law student told Legal Cheek that the normal practice of the society is to put forward a single candidate for president — leaving members with RON as the only other option. They continued:

“Hopefully the Law Society will use this as a chance to reflect on whether they should put more than one candidate up for election. At the end of the day we pay to be members so it would be nice to have more of a say on how the society is run”.

The offending blog post argued that “sexism is so deeply ingrained in us all from such a young age that I struggle to see how it can possibly be combated in any significant way”. But it concluded by saying that “we might as well try to do what we all know to be right, to march forward as feminists knowing full well that we will ultimately fail, and fail spectacularly”.

One student wrote that “this whole thing has been blown way out of proportion. He does not deserve to be collectively punished and hated on for something he wrote when he was 16, and which has been interpreted without wanting to consider what he actually meant by it/his intention … A lot of times, people don’t actually mean to offend, they just don’t know better. Holding someone’s opinions from three years ago against them, without considering if they’ve grown, is not fair.”

The author, who Legal Cheek has decided not to name, told us that the post was “written to provoke a debate in my school’s feminist society — I went to a boy’s school but we had a joint society with our sister school. I’d forgotten it was on that blog. If I had remembered the post was still there, I would definitely have taken it down as it doesn’t reflect my current views. I’m very sorry for the offence I’ve caused”.

Oxford Law Society confirmed to Legal Cheek that it will be re-running the election later this week.

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38 Comments

Anonymous

So I guess free speech is dead. If this was a 16 year old female who had written a blog post criticizing men, such reaction instead be “oh she was just a young teenager when she wrote that, doesn’t matter” or “her post should be seen as an example of the enduring patriarchal society that women continue to be subjected to #MeToo”

Anonymous

Hmm. Not sure it would be. I did and said plenty of stupid things when I was 16. But that was pre social media, texting and Wat’s Apps so nobody knows about them. Downside of social media and the internet. Everything you say on it is there for ever.

Voltaire

I’m spinning in me grave.

Anonymous

I love the word “kerfuffle”.

Anonymous

This is a perfect demonstration of free speech. He was free to say what he wanted, and even to publish it (and as it happened, promote it from personal and professional social media sites. It is not undermining anyone’s freedom of speech if others respond to what you say.

Anonymous

Free speech means you are allowed to say what you want, not that everyone else is banned from having an opinion on what you say.

No one is denying this person’s right to have said or published these things. But equally the electorate have a right to decide whether or not what he said when he was 16 is relevant. In this case, the vote (for reopen nominations) showed that the majority of people voting do think it’s relevant. Fine if you think they’re wrong, but I don’t see how freedom of speech obliges anyone to vote for a candidate they don’t want.

Anonymous

What an utter wimp for backing down on what he said so as to become more electable.

Someone with moral fibre worthy of a leader of a university law society should convince people of his arguments

Anonymous

One stray blog post at 16 – unemployable for life.

What a dreadful society we are becoming.

Anonymous

Unemployable? He has a guaranteed gig in right wing media for life now!

Anonymous

He’ll be fine. Will miss out on the president role but this is so silly that it wouldn’t trouble any sensible employer.

Anonymous

You haven’t met the shelf dwelling harpies that populate most law firms, have you….

Anonymous

OK I’ll bite…

This is plainly a case of the institution working to norms that neither the law nor, more importantly, grown-up society generally recognises. In that way it’s closer to a clique of primary school children excluding another for some childish and personal reason: “she didn’t come to my party”; “he said I smell”; etc. We forgive those in the clique because they’re not capable of mature judgement.

The babyishness and irrelevance of student politics is astounding.

Anonymous

The fearful thing is that the current members of said institution, and particularly the one in question given the influence it has, are likely to take their norms with them into the wider world.

That is until they start earning and see how pointless their endeavours really are.

Anonymous

If it makes you feel better, remember that student politics is a complete joke, no-one except a tiny handful of self-important busybodies cares who wins, the leaders have no meaningful power and authority, and it’s generally just a forum for opinionated twits who don’t matter and who think they’re smarter and more important than they actually are to feel like they’ve achieved something when in reality they’re still worthless nobodies. I think and hope this guy’s career will survive.

Anyone who downvotes this is an enemy of progress

A 100% income tax needs to be placed on him until he is 45.

Anonymous

Germaine Greer, is that you?

Corbyn. Sympathiser

On everyone you mean.

A Feminist

“Being a woman must suck, both biologically and socially, and so even if in some dream world something resembling social equality came to be, women would still be at a disadvantage.”

Thought this echoed what many of us think – achieve equal pay but then be penalised for the fact that those who want to have children have to take time out and will be penalised for it in terms of upward mobility at work.

Anonymous

In other words equal treatment. A man who wants to take years out of work to bring up his children is penalised in the same way. A man who wants to advance has to give up seeing his children and spend the time at work instead. Do agree that state of affairs may not be great. But it is equal. Equal does not mean that men who wish to advance should have to miss out on seeing their children grown up, but women should not have to do so.

Anonymous

Next time a man forces a person out of his penis and doesn’t take any time off work, please let me know xoxo

Lestat du Lioncourt

Oh Louis, Louis! Still whining, Louis!

Anonymous

What a bunch of spoilt little brats – I did a lot of things at 16 that I would be locked up for now in our wimpy world.

Grow up and grow a pair (of male or female round things so as not to be castigated by Oxbridge morons)

Anonymous

Keep away from my female round things please.

Anonymous

I promise to, honest.

Anonymous

If it’s round, you need to see a doctor!

Anonymous

I love the quote from the person who criticises the “muddled mess” of his writing, then goes on to say “I was personally enraged by the article”. This, presumably, distinguishes it from the vicarious enragement that might otherwise have been felt.

50s guy

This guy does not know how to play the game. The reality is modern feminism is solipsistic nonsense. Feminism is whatever the bleached haired middle class white female pseudo intellectual or the bitter landwhale says it is. Any attempt to point out the idiosyncrasies of feminism will be shouted down with accusations of “mansplaining” “misogyny” or being inculcated by “privilege”.
They are unable to debate so the name call like children.

The guy is an idiot for thinking feminists are open to rational discussion. Dosn’t this guy know the golden rule, feminism is an extension of female nagging all you have to do is just let the women tucker themselves out give them ben&jerry’s and then prepare for that “full service relief” once dearie has calmed down.

I highly doubt any rational person waste time debating a paranoid schizophrenic about existence of a conspiracy. This guy should have been chill and just let feminists believe their BS.

Only the right medications can help the severely mentally ill. Not words. Giving up them attention and acknowledging their nonsense only makes things worse.

Anonymous

“Only the right medications can help the severely mentally ill. Not words. Giving up them attention and acknowledging their nonsense only makes things worse.”

So true. Now take your pills and turn off your computer there is a good boy.

Doctor Doom

Is this actually real or some sort of hamfisted satire?

Anonymous

Why haven’t you named him?

Anonymous

It’s not terribly hard to find out who he is, but I applaud LC for redacting his name.

Anonymous

Because he’s at Oxford.

Same reason local CPS don’t prosecute Bullingdon boys for fighting in public or trashing restaurants, or why pretty psychotics don’t get locked up for stabbing people- it will spoil their futures.

Now, if the poor sods went to any other Uni they would be named, shamed and hauled over the coals.

One rule…

Anonymous

I think you’ll find that the person in question is black and state educated. Please do your research

Anonymous

Shhh, don’t threaten the narrative.

Anonymous

It was this same state school that fuelled his narcissistic and pompous ego when he wrote the post. The narrative doesn’t change just because he was publicly educated and now goes to Oxford, he’s just found a higher institution to perpetuate his misogyny at.

Anonymous

The law soc at Oxford was never anything but a snivelling bunch of hacks desperate for a few CV points, but not quite up for the civil war that is the Oxford Union. There are so many fun and interesting things to do at Oxford, sad they don’t go and do them.

Anonymous

Name one

Anonymous

ur mum

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