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JAMA Revisited
August 28, 2018

Letter: The Redundant Ritual

JAMA. 2018;320(8):842. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.12545

Originally Published August 26, 1968 | JAMA. 1968;205(9):648.

To the Editor:—Every year, from late May to the middle of June, American institutions of learning inflict on their faculty, their graduating students, and the latter’s relatives a series of protracted ordeals, viz, the commencement address, the precommencement address, the graduation oration, and sundry other forms of prolonged but exquisite verbal torture. Aside from the orgy of rhetoric at commencement itself, various faculties and schools, in particular those of medicine, nursing, dentistry, and law, pile on the agony by holding their own masochistic ceremonies. Since there are more than 2,000 colleges and universities in the United States, if these occasions are to be worthwhile it presupposes that there must be a thousand itinerant orators, all of whom have something worthwhile to say. This makes allowance for the fact that some speakers are invited—and inevitably acquiesce—to give forth twice or more.