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Balancing Civility and Free Expression
A statewide initiative from the Tennessee Bar Association
Can civility co-exist with free speech in today's world? That's just one topic that will be explored in a series of public conversations presented across the state this fall and spring by the Tennessee Bar Association. The 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.
"We cannot preserve our democracy without finding the right balance between free speech and civility," TBA President Jacqueline B. Dixon said in announcing the initiative. "The TBA is pleased to be a part of such an important project."
The TBA's "Balancing Civility and Free Expression 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 series will kick off in Memphis on Sept. 18 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. This program, sponsored by the TBA and the law school, will focus on civility in the public square, where policy debates -- especially those with cross-cultural implications -- can quickly become contentious. It will use the current effort to consolidate city and county schools in Memphis as a case study in 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.
The second forum, set for Nashville on Oct. 16, will focus on civility in interacting with the courts, as well as in discussing issues affecting the access to and delivery of justice. It is being sponsored by the TBA and Lipscomb University. The event will be held at the university's Ezell Center. Refreshments will be served and free parking is available in front of the Ezell Center as well as in the P2 garage (view parking map). Following the program, attendees are invited to stay and watch the presidential debate scheduled for that night.
The final forum, scheduled in Knoxville on Feb. 21, 2013, will feature Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and two past governors, and focus on civility and effective governance, using the model emulated by former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to Japan Howard H. Baker Jr. The event is being sponsored by the TBA and the University of Tennessee. It will be held at the university's Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.
Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom with Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell PLLC will moderate the discussion in each location.
The TBA's "Balancing Civility and Free Expression Initiative" 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.
Program partners in Tennessee include the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University; Lipscomb University Institute for Law, Justice & Society; University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law; the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee; and the University of Tennessee College of Law. Learn more about these partners below:
American Bar Association
National Endowment for the Humanities
Tennessee Bar Association
The First Amendment Center
Lipscomb University, Institute for Law, Justice & Society
University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
University of Tennessee
University of Tennessee College of Law