The Murray State News’ Carly Besser asked me to be a regular contributor to this space. She was a student in my Media Law class. I tried to talk her into law school. Instead, she talked me into writing this column. See, Ms. Besser? I told you that you are persuasive.
She asked me because she thinks I’m funny. I’m not funny. Maybe I enjoy a sense of humor. But I’m not funny. Robin Williams was funny. So was Soupy Sales. Google it. Better yet, ask your grandparents. They will be glad to hear from you.
It would be gratifying to think she asked me to write because of my erudite legal analysis, my academic acumen or my keen insights into the human struggle. Instead, I am asked to provide thoughtful columns that have entertainment value. Specifically, I have been asked to write between 600 and 800 words about anything I want, with the understanding that they not be boring.
The last time I wrote a newspaper column was in 1984, my sophomore year of college. The journalism department had this device called a “word-processor.” Spell check hadn’t been invented yet. Reagan was president. I was wearing parachute pants. Check Google images.
Forty years later I still don’t have much to say. But I agreed to contribute to this page anyway. I’m not sure why but I think it has something to do with you, gentle reader. I like you. And I don’t mean that in a Facebook thumbs-up kind of way. I mean that I really enjoy you.
I don’t know anything about video games. I don’t follow sports at all. In the infrequent event that I like a current song, I have to ask one of you who the artist is. You accept me anyway. We are a generation apart yet find much to discuss.
Together, we ponder ultimate questions, marvel at the absurd, lament injustice and discover how to navigate the future. Let’s all hope that future does not include parachute pants.
Meanwhile, there are papers to write (and grade). There are deadlines to be met, exams for which to prepare and many classes to attend for student and teacher alike. Often those graded assignments are returned bloody with ink. Is this betrayal? After all, I just confessed that I like you. Yet, there you are with something less than an “A.” Why? Because I do like you.
This like is something much deeper than the superficial Facebook thumbs-up. It is a commitment to help you prepare for that career that’s not too far off. I truly want to see you succeed.
I further confess that it is exceedingly hard to resist a pun or a pedagogical punch line. And if I hear you laugh, I delight to know that your mind is engaged. That means learning is happening.
Every couple of weeks I’ll be contributing between 600 and 800 words to this space. I have no idea what topics I will choose or that you may suggest. I may rant a little about whatever is in the news. I may opine about pending legislation or prominent court cases. I may wax poetic, pathetic or both. I will try not to be boring. That’s a huge commitment. I may have failed already.
Considering future columns, I could take a cue from university course offerings. A CNN story showcases classes offered on university campuses across the country. At Chicago’s Columbia College you could take a course entitled, “Zombies in Popular Media.” At the University of Texas you could enroll in, “Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond.” If you like playing the online game “Words With Friends,” then Princeton University has “Wordplay: A Wry Plod from Babel to Scrabble.” Easy. Pandering, even. I hope to discuss things more substantive, because I like you.
My hope is that if I find something interesting, you will too. There is humor in almost everything. But not everything is meaningful. I submit into evidence Lady GaGa, The Golden Globe Awards and the 113th U.S. Congress. OK, that was just irreverent. I hope to do better.
OK, Carly Besser, I’ll give it a shot. I’ll try to give you between 600 and 800 words for The Murray State News Opinion page every two weeks. I make no guarantees on the entertainment value.
You can’t force funny. Nor can a classroom culture be applied to the pages of a newspaper. But I will try, anyway.
So, when are you going to take the Law School Aptitude Test?
Column by Kevin Qualls, Professor of Mass Communications