Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Law school

You never know where a memory of your college days might pop up. For example, The Sporting News.

In the current issue, five college basketball players are asked about five different topics -- must-see TV, favorite March Madness memory, LeBron or Kobe, etc. The first was "toughest class you are taking." Arinze Omuaku of Syracuse said, "Communications Law for Television, Film and Radio."

Say, I took that class ... sort of.

All of the students at Syracuse's Newhouse School of Communications had to take a class in communications law in those prehistoric days, and it was the same class; it looks like they've split it up now into print and video versions.

Communications laws memories start with the text book. It looked like a law book, one of those volumes that look so good when you see a bookcase in a judge's chambers. I felt like a serious student just carrying it around.

Then there's the fact the course was open to the entire communications school, so I sat in the back with two friends from the television-radio program. Therefore, I knew I'd have a good time. Greg and John were always good for a silly remark or two in every class. They had an inviting target in the teacher, who was less than inspiring. He used to sit on the front of the desk, head buried in book, and either read from the text or made comments about it. I'm not sure I ever saw what he looked like, except for the bald spot on top.

Then there's the fact that Communications Law was the only open note/open book class of my college experience. The teacher's logic was that we'd be able to look cases up in real-world situations, so we were invited to do it in tests. That was like a hanging slider to me, as I might not remember legal cases but I could find relevant material in a hurry. Which is why my grade for the class was an A.

But did I learn something in the class? Absolutely. One case we studied was "Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire." The famous "fighting words case." A guy on a New Hampshire street corner yelled out some threatening words and was arrested, and the Supreme Court ruled that the rights of free speech didn't cover his situation.

To this day, if you say, "Dem's fightin' words," to Greg, John or me, they'll respond, "Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire." The teacher would be proud.


John Fraissinet said...

That was an open book test!!! I thought we were cheating.

Anonymous said...

Budd - was the Russki in this class? Any other 'celebs'???

Budd Bailey said...

Kathye Fetsko Petrie, the author of "Flying Jack," was clearly the big celebrity in the class. Can't say I remember anyone else.