All of the recent buzz about freedom of speech and freedom of the press reminds me of the first, and only, course I ever took dedicated to these topics.
I was working on my M.A. at the University of Houston, and in my first semester in 1976, I took a graduate course in Issues in Freedom of Speech.
The professor was William A. Linsley, who had both a J.D. and a Ph.D., and was the author of a book entitled Speech Criticism: Methods and Materials (New York: William C. Brown, 1968). At the time, he was a Full Professor at the University, and the Chairman of the Department of Speech Communication.
In the course, we reviewed historical and current free speech cases that were reviewed by the United States Supreme Court.
I reflect back upon the importance of those cases, and comparing them with the tit-for-tat interplay between President Trump and the media today, well – there is no comparison. The current rhetoric reminds me of playground bullying, and the CNN video Trump tweeted this weekend illustrates the unproductive use of time and attention that surrounds all this. It is laughable to me that the Supreme Court would ever agree to consider anything about all of this current case or recent incidents.
I would like to go back in time to Dr. Linsley’s class, and insert the current situation, and see what he and my classmates would say about all this from an academic free speech perspective. My guess is that the consensus would be it is “their choice,” poke fun at it, and move on.
And, what happened to Linsley? He passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2006. I found his obituary from the Houston Chronicle.
WILLIAM ALLAN LINSLEY, J.D., PH.D., died on October 24, 2006, from pancreatic cancer at the Houston Hospice at the Medical Center. Dr. Linsley was born to William Les and Berta M. Linsley on September 22, 1933, in Peoria, Illinois. He grew up in Peoria where he attained the rank of Eagle Scout at the age thirteen. William graduated from Woodruff High School and earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Bradley University in Peoria. At Bradley, as well as at Woodruff, William was national champion debater and served as the Bradley Brave at the University. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. William continued at Indiana University earning a law degree. Following his graduation from Indiana University in 1956, he entered the Air Force as a second lieutenant through an R.O.T.C. commission. He served tours of duty in Washington, D.C. and the Far East as a counter intelligence and espionage officer. Upon completing his service at the rank of captain with the Air Force, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma in 1963. William also did graduate research at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University. By 1963, William had earned five university degrees. Following the completion of his Ph.D., William joined the faculty at the University of Houston. He taught communication law and ethics, copyright law, and First Amendment Freedom of Speech to students in the School of Communication. He published many articles relating to these topics including the review of the Supreme Court cases relating to the First Amendment and served as a consultant to H.L.&P., M.D. Anderson, and Rice University. After thirty-three years, Dr. Linsley retired with the rank of Professor Emeritus. Professor Linsley is survived by his wife Joan; daughter Ann Linsley-Kennedy, her husband John Kennedy, and grandson and namesake William Kennedy of Bellaire, Texas; daughter Vanessa Linsley of Key West Florida, brother Dwight Linsley and his wife Karen of Whitehall, Michigan, brother-in-law Robert Van Horn and his wife Mary of Glidden, Iowa, sister-in-law Jean Cavanaugh of Great Bend, Kansas, nieces and nephews Kathleen Bowman, Tom, Jones, Mike, and James Cavanaugh, John Van Horn, his companion dogs Peter Paul and Bear, and many friends around the world. William was preceded in death by his parents, William Les and Berta M. Linsley and his beloved pets Cynthia, Freddie, Louie, DinKie, and Reggie. We are grateful for all the support and assistance that have come from special friends and colleagues Mr. And Mrs. Paul Eads, Dr. Les Switzer, Dr. Larry Judd, James Schumburg, Dr. Eugene Decker, Dr. Gerald Falchook, Mrs. Fanny Man, Laura Kirby and the exceptional caretakers, Mrs. Joan Wilcox and Ms. Margaret Watkins. Donations in William’s memory may be made to the Houston Hospice at the Medical Center or the S.P.C.A. Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o’clock to seven-thirty in the evening on Friday, October 27 at the Bradshaw-Carter Funeral Home, 1734 West Alabama, Houston, Texas. A memorial service will be held at four o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday, October 28, 2006, at the same location. On line tributes may be posted @www.bradshawcarter.com.
And, what happened to me in his class? I made an A. I still would (LOL).
In our Speech Class Refresher program class week, I taught a section on Vocal Skills. Due to time constraints, I omitted two sections on enunciation and pronunciation, that I have taught in previous offerings.
I first taught these topics to students and professional clients when I was at the University of Houston in 1976, working on my M.A. degree. So, they have a special place in instruction for me.
One of the most successful and impactful women in professional business is Jill Schiefelbein . She wrote the best-seller, Dynamic Communication (Entrepreneur, 2016). She is pictured with me below when we attended a meeting at Success North Dallas, where she presented the monthly program, as selected by its leader, Bill Wallace.
I thought you might be interested in what she says about these two topics. This is an excerpt from an article she wrote entitled “7 Delivery Skills for Public Speaking,” published in Entrepreneur.com on April 26, 2017. You can read the entire article by clicking HERE.
“How you articulate and pronounce words is important because people need to be able to understand you. But if you get a little nervous, you probably tend to speak faster and faster, until you’re not enunciating well and your clarity is going to suffer. Your audience won’t catch everything you’re saying and you’ll lack maximum effectiveness. Following are some ways to help with your enunciation and pronunciation.
“First, show your teeth! To get the sound out, the mouth needs to be open and the air pipes clear. So if you find yourself starting to speak too quickly, think about showing some of your teeth (in other words, open your mouth a little wider). If you’re not sure whether you do this, watch yourself speak in a mirror. Better yet, set up a camera and record yourself in conversation or during a video chat.
“The second tip has to do with pronunciation. In music class, I learned that the singers who have lyrics you can actually understand have something in common — they pronounce the consonants clearly, especially the final consonant of each word. Try it. Say “world” out loud without focusing on the final “d” in your pronunciation. Now say it while pronouncing the last “d” clearly. Practice this in your head (or even better, out loud) with other words. You’ll notice it makes a difference.”
Just like everything else that we taught in our recent program, you get better at a skill by practicing the skill. That is as true for enunciation and pronunciation, as it is for anything else about public speaking.