Press Releases

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Aug 31, 2012

First of 3 programs across the state to focus on civility in public policy debates, especially those with cross-cultural implications

NASHVILLE, Aug. 31, 2012 -- 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 public policy debates 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, "We cannot preserve our democracy without finding the right balance between free speech and civility. The TBA is pleased to be a part of such an important project."

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 program panelists. They are:
Executive Director, Stand for Children
Co-Chair, Engagement & Communications Committee, Transition Planning Commission
Associate Professor of Law, University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
Commissioner, Transition Planning Commission
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 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.
Memphis program partners include the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Partners in other cities include the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University; Lipscomb University Institute for Law, Justice & Society; 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 organizations

Event Details:

Memphis, Sept. 18, 2012
7-8:30 p.m.
University of Memphis
Cecil C. Humphreys School
of Law, Wade Auditorium

For information about the University of Memphis School of Law's involvement contact (901) 687-4910
Access biographical information and photos for each of the Memphis panelists
TBA Civility Initiative: