Balancing Civility & Free Expression - Memphis Event

Event Types: 
Featured Event
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 7:00pm
University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Wade Auditorium
1 North Front Street
Memphis, TN 38103-2189
United States

The Tennessee Bar Association and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will hold a public forum on the issue of free speech and civility in the public square on Sept. 18 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the law school's Wade Auditorium. In announcing the forum, TBA President Jacqueline B. Dixon said, "The TBA is pleased to be a part of such an important project. We cannot preserve our democracy without finding the right balance between free speech and civility."

The event, the first in a series of three forums across the state designed to encourage a public conversation about the tensions between civility and free speech, will focus on how these issues play out in public policy debates -- especially those with cross-cultural implications. The program will use the current school consolidation effort in Memphis as a case study of how to bring civility into a divisive debate. Three members of the Transition Planning Commission -- the body responsible for overseeing the consolidation -- will serve as the program panelists. They are:
Kenya Bradshaw
Executive Director, Stand for Children
Co-Chair, Engagement & Communications Committee, Transition Planning Commission
Daniel Kiel
Associate Professor of Law, University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
Commissioner, Transition Planning Commission
Christine Richards
Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, FedEx Corporation
Chair, Human Resources & Personnel Committee, Transition Planning Commission
Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom with Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell PLLC will moderate the discussion.
Specific issues to be discussed include (1) the challenges of working with communities that have a high degree of distrust along cultural lines, (2) the process of identifying similarities in interests among culturally diverse groups and (3) the way to use these similarities to mitigate challenges. The topic also is intended to examine how historical issues can impact a current day debate and how old barriers to dialogue can be overcome. In the case of the Memphis school consolidation, for example, tensions and distrust that grew out of the busing experience of the 1970s, continues to affect the tone and substance of the current discussion. 

The Balancing Civility and Free Expression Initiative is designed to encourage a public conversation about the tensions between civility and free speech, the state of our public square and the challenges of maintaining civil discourse in a democracy. The initiative will involve three public forums -- one in Memphis, one in Nashville and one in Knoxville. Each forum will focus on a particular topic, feature a panel of experts who will present real-life scenarios that raise civility and free speech issues, and conclude with a question and answer session with the audience. The forums are free and open to the public.

The program is part of Civility and Free Expression in a Constitutional Democracy — A National Dialogue, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and conducted in partnership with the American Bar Association Division for Public Education.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association or any of their program partners.