Saturday, March 03, 2007

Libel and Slander

On Thursday, March 1, the law students at my law school held their annual "Libel Show." It was open season on 1L profs, including me. There was a skit called "Bowman's Bad Day," in which very brave (or foolish) 1L Leon Cameron channeled me giving a Contracts lecture. Clearly, next year's videographic team needs to get the camera and mike closer to the stage; much of what you hear is the sound of rowdy law students in the audience. But the gist of the skit is this: a self-important professor (where'd that come from, I wonder?) is teaching class hopped up on caffeine (got that one right), and he uses the purchase of a cup of coffee as an example of contract law in action (another bullseye). Of course, the barista gets the order wrong, and the prof goes ballistic.

OK, so I do wave my arms around a lot. And Mr. Cameron did an excellent job of imitating my speech patterns (sans curse words, of course). But here's the part that really struck me: how'd he know that I love cinammon? The coffee gag involves me ordering a cup of joe without any flavoring, and the barista puts cinammon in the coffee, and I go nuts. Now that's spooky. Did I mention my cinammon addiction in class? Or was this pure chance?

I suppose, perhaps, that it's like multiple choice exams: it's nice to know the answer, but once in a while you can get just as many points by being lucky.

Final question: if slander is defined as defamatory statements made in a fixed medium, and libel is defined as defamatory statements in a non-fixed representation (i.e., oral), then why is this show not called the Slander Show? Although I suppose that recording and posting the video on YouTube is slander.

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