My Speech Class

In college, I had only one rule in regards to my classwork: ALWAYS find some way to make it entertaining. Keep in mind, when I say “entertaining” I of course mean “entertaining to myself, regardless of how others feel.”

A fine example of this was speech class. You know how speech class goes. You get a style of speech, you pick the topic, and nobody in your class listens as you deliver. I knew how the system worked. So I found ways to give speeches on whatever I wanted to give speeches on.

For every classmate speech on actual, good, interesting topics, I would have one about sports, how I have ADHD, or just whatever show I watched the night before.


But nothing could quite match the day that we were assigned impromptu speeches. We would either draw an object or a topic out of a hat, then have a few minutes to write an outline.

My topic was “An appropriate punishment for littering.”

If I didn’t take my normal assignments very seriously, why should this one be any different? My teacher apparently didn’t expect this.

She also didn’t expect me to be a master of speech.

Thanks to my good friend Roo Stephan, the cameras were rolling that night: (transcription beneath the video)

When you want me to deliver a speech, this is what happens:

“Good evening. My name is Joseph Craven, and I have a modest proposal for you. This is a very serious matter that we need to address. I was asked to talk about an appropriate punishment for people who litter the streets or highways.

I have two words for you: Capital punishment.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s be frank about this situation, because honestly, I think we’re all getting a little bit tired of this. People finishing a candy bar, and throwing the wrapper on the ground. It….it’s a disgrace to the planet, is what it is.

I’ve worked for a few years now down at Twin Lakes Camp and Conference Center as a Host, basically guest services. And the sad thing is that most of my job is dedicated to picking up trash, instead of helping the guests. And it sickens me. It sickens me to this day.

See, we need to take drastic action. Drastic action. I said it.

….I’m just getting so worked up about this.

We need to take drastic action because drastic actions bring about drastic results.

….This just means so much so me, I’m sorry. I’m getting emotional.

This problem is too bad right now; too serious; too severe for us to act conservatively.

Now you may be asking, “Joseph, are you talking about sacrificing people for the planet?” Well think about it. In 100 years, which is still going to be here: the planet, or some of these jokers throwing trash around? This about it. Think about it.

A huge proponent of punishment for litterers was former President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. This is a….this is….this is a quote I promise. “We are a free nation, not restricted by Communist rule. But NO man has the right to litter. Those who litter are scum, who give up their Constitutional rights, and even their right to LIVE.”

He said that in one of his speeches, and it was an important statement. It really was. It moves me to this day.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all about killing dudes. I don’t think we do it enough sometimes! We need to get a point across! We NEED to get a point across! And I think that the ultimate problem is not the people that are throwing trash around, and leaving trash on the sidewalks and the streets and our highways.

The ultimate problem is that we don’t care enough to DO something about it.

The musician Peter Frampton once asked, “Do you feel like we do?” Well we do, Pete. We do. And we are TIRED of this recklessness.

Thank you.”


4 thoughts on “My Speech Class

  1. Eveytime I think I about speech class, I think about Doug. In high school, my best friend Doug took a summer speech class. The first, day while going through the syllabus, the teacher very emphatically told the class, “Three topics you WILL NOT be giving speeches on: why you shouldn’t smoke, why you shouldn’t drink and drive, & why you shouldn’t have premarital sex.” Doug immediately writes down in his notes, “My first 3 speeches: why you should smoke, why you should drink and drive, & why you should have premarital sex.” I’ve never been more proud of Doug.

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