Law academics include Star Wars quip in equity law textbook

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By Adam Mawardi on

The banter is strong with this one


Academics have channelled their inner ‘Jedi’ by including a subtle Star Wars reference in their latest equity law textbook.

The very well-concealed joke was shared by James Lee, a law lecturer at King’s College London, in a Tweet that he posted at the weekend to coincide with #MayThe4thBeWithYou, also known as ‘Star Wars day’ — an annual celebration of the Disney-owned sci-fi franchise that plays on the iconic line: ‘May the force be with you, always’.

As revealed by Lee, a reader in English law and vice dean for education at The Dickson Poon School of Law, the “deliberate” witticism was included in the 21st edition of the textbook, ‘Modern Equity’, that he co-authored with Jamie Glister, associate professor at the University of Sydney.

If you can’t spot it, then some background might help.

The case being discussed in the extract to the textbook was the Charity Commission’s response to an application from none other than the Temple of the Jedi Order. They were hoping that Jediism, the worship of the mythology of Star Wars, would qualify for charitable status as a religion.

Jediism is a philosophy based on the moral and spiritual codes depicted by the fictional Jedi characters in the epic space-opera created by film maker George Lucas way back in 1977. At the core of their belief system is ‘The Force’, an invisible energy field that, so the story goes, binds the galaxy together and endows an innate sense of morality in all of us to navigate good vs evil — also known as the ‘light and dark side of the Force’.

Sourcing its terminology from the books, films and video games relating to the Star Wars franchise, the Jedi Order purport to follow 16 teachings, which include maxims such as, “Jedi are mindful of the negative emotions which lead to the Dark Side” and “Jedi are guardians of peace and justice”.

Although the Order first rose to prominence as a tongue-in-cheek reaction to the UK’s 2001 census, when a question on religious belief was included for the first time, Jediism has since gained significant popularity. In the 2011 census, a staggering 177,000 people registered themselves as a Jedi under the religion section — which at the time made Jediism the seventh most popular religion.

However, in 2016, the Charity Commission ruled that Jediism does not qualify for charitable status because, among other things, they were “not satisfied that the observance of the Force within Jediism is characterised by the belief in one or more gods or spiritual or non-secular principles or things which is an essential requirement for a religion in charity law”. In addition to this, the philosophy’s tendency to encourage inward focus among its members meant there was insufficient evidence that it has a positive beneficial impact on society in general.

In response to this ruling, Glister, channelling his inner Yoda — the iconic Jedi master known for his back-to-front speaking pattern — wrote:

“Rejected the application was.”

As Lee also mentions in the Twitter thread, the gag that came in close second was: “It was not the truth they were looking for”. For Obi Wan Kenobi fans out there, you’ll know that this was a tough call.

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