I am torn. My sensibilities are divided. This is like when I watch the Steelers play the Ravens. I want them both to lose. What am I talking about? I just saw today an article about a libel lawsuit that an NYU professor filed against James Franco. Apparently, the professor, Jose Angel Santana, used to teach at NYU’s graduate film school. He gave Franco a “D” after Franco missed 12 of 14 classes. Franco defended the absences by contending that Santana was an “awful” teacher. Santana lost his job at NYU, in his estimation, due to Franco’s comment. Now, the First Amendment lawyer in me thinks that Franco’s comment seems like classic protected opinion. And because no one can “prove” that an opinion is false, it can’t satisfy the threshold requirement for a libel suit – falsity. But on the other hand, I am also an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati Law School. And wearing that hat, it would be nice to know that I could sue any student who dares to criticize me. Nice tool to have at my disposal. Which is probably the main reason I shouldn’t have it. One of the purposes of the First Amendment is to avoid a “chilling effect.” Meaning, for example, if a student could be sued for stating his opinion about a professor, there wouldn’t be very useful evaluations. And this case could have been avoided so easily. Santana should have just given Franco an “F” for appearing in “Your Highness.” No one would have argued.