IT'S a staple not only of cop shows, but of real-life law enforcement: the 'perp walk', when a suspect is paraded by proud detectives before the snapping lenses and rolling cameras of the media. The walk - its name comes from the official term of 'perpetrator' - has created indelible images associated with some of America's most famous criminals. Perhaps the most famous perp walk of all was Lee Harvey Oswald's in 1963. After he was arrested in Dallas for the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he was being walked from a police station when he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby. Although it's something of an artificially-staged moment, the perp walk suits the purposes of both the press - which wants the suspect's mug on its front page - and the police, who enjoy the kudos of having caught their criminal, or at least someone who might be their criminal. No one has ever bothered, however, to ask suspects their thoughts on the issue. While some of the nation's nastiest criminals appear to enjoy their moment in the spotlight, having one's face flashed on television sets is not always the average arrestee's cup of tea - especially if they're innocent. Enter federal Judge Allen Schwartz, who has sent shockwaves through New York's Finest, not to mention the ink-stained hacks who cover them for the city's energetic press, by condemning the practice. In response to a ruling by the judge that perp walks violate a suspect's constitutional rights to privacy, the city's police department has suspended its practice of routinely tipping off TV stations and publications to locations where a new suspect can be photographed. The judge's ruling has come in the case of a man who was never prosecuted after being arrested for petty theft in 1995. In ruling that the plaintiff's lawsuit against city authorities can go ahead, Judge Schwartz lashed out, saying that when the man, John Lauro, was made to go on a perp walk by police, 'it was conducted in a manner designed to cause humiliation to the plaintiff with no legitimate law enforcement objective or justification'. 'All this in a nation where an accused is presumed to be innocent until proven otherwise.' Mr Lauro has sued the city and the police for damaging his reputation by, he claims, hauling him out of the police station, driving him round the block and taking him back inside purely for the purposes of allowing the media to get him on camera. During the hearing, the court heard an opinion from a law professor, Robert McCrie, who wrote that 'society hates crime and hates criminals. When we see that someone has been apprehended, looking forlorn and shackled, it indicates that the system is working and that the defendant will get his just desserts.' But in Mr Lauro's case, his just desserts came when he walked free. He had been accused of stealing from the apartment of a tenant who had asked him to watch his place while he was on holiday, but was eventually cleared for lack of evidence. WHEN radical feminist professor Mary Daly started teaching at Boston College in 1966, she was an island in an unfriendly sea. The college was all-male, and it was another four years before it admitted women. Over the years since, she has found, not unnaturally, that the students attending her classes tend to be of the fairer - sorry, the stronger - sex. Imagine the 70-year-old veteran's surprise when two men turned up at her classes entitled Introduction to Feminist Ethics. Rather than express delight at having the enemy on hand to learn all about the horrors of 'phallocentricism', Ms Daly was dismayed. Telling the male students that their presence would distract the women students, she asked them to leave. Rather than take the sisterhood's rejection, the two men complained to the college authorities, who backed their right to attend the classes. Ms Daly is now the centre of national attention by opting to take a leave of absence rather than have the men in her tutorials. Ms Daly, who is renowned in feminist circles for a collection of works including Quintessence . . . Realising The Archaic Future: A Radical Elemental Feminist Manifesto, still carries the fire of the 1960s radicalism which spawned her. She says her refusal to budge is a matter of principle, and claims she has been set up by the right-wing, because one of the men is a Republican whose cause is being championed by a conservative Washington institute. 'To me, the root of the mess in society is patriarchy,' she told the Washington Post. 'What I'm trying to do is get at the core of what oppresses women.' While Ms Daly might be ideologically correct, the irony is that she is far from politically correct and is also breaking the law. A landmark 1970s law, known as Title 9, has rid the US education system of sex discrimination on the sports field and in the classroom. It was designed to promote better opportunities for women, but applies equally to men. It is illegal to bar anyone from a class on grounds of sex.