As attendance was either required or offered for extra credit by three of my course instructors, I didn’t have a reason to skip out. Prof. Arant had hyped up the event for the past few weeks, telling students get there early to enjoy “some good food.” I arrived shortly after the Aramark staff set out the greens, fruit, and meat and loaded up a plate. But my high hopes were dashed upon the first few bites of lukewarm meatballs, chewy chicken and bland salad leaves. This paralleled my experience in the lecture.
After Mayor Wharton’s surprise appearance on behalf of Prof. Sanford, the familiar Norm Brewer tribute played on the big screen and Leonard Pitts finally appeared. He proceeded to profess his love for the Avengers comic book series (specifically, no. 33), from where he drew one of his first First Amendment lecture examples. Pitts discussed how his expertise on the subject caused him to make hard decisions, given the fact that there are “virtually no exceptions to free speech.” He described being able to take a great deal of verbal abuse (as long as it isn’t physical), and then exercising his right to return the favor. “There is no ‘Calling Me Out My Name’ exception,” he said.
The most moving (and disturbing) part of the presentation was his account of the twisted man who legally wrote multiple child pornography novels, but wasn’t susceptible to repercussions because they hadn’t actually happened in real life. I was also surprised when he was able to recount his Miami Herald columns not by their names, but by their date of publication. However, besides this, I was generally disappointed by the speech. After all the fanfare surrounding it, I thought the guest would show a more vested interest in the student body and relating his stories to current events within the student life as opposed to recounting the top moments of his journalistic career.