Gov. Bill Haslam, two Former Governors Headline Public Forum on Civility & Effective Governance

Gov.Bill Haslam will be joined by former governors Phil Bredesen and Don Sundquist to headline a public forum on civility and effective governance Feb. 21 in Knoxville.

The event, sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association, the University of Tennessee Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, the University of Tennessee College of Law and the First Amendment Center, will take place in the Toyota Auditorium of the Baker Center from 5:30 to 7 p.m. It is the final of three forums looking at issues of civility and free expression across the state. Previous forums were held in Nashville and Memphis. The program is made possible by a grant from the American Bar Association Division for Public Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Like previous events, the Knoxville event will include an introductory discussion about why civility matters and what to do when the values of civility and free expression clash. It then will focus on how these issues play out in the political and public policy arena, including on the campaign trail, during candidate debates and within legislative bodies. The panelists will use the life of former U.S. Senator and Ambassador Howard H. Baker Jr. to demonstrate how civility enhances effectiveness in the political sphere.

Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom with Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell PLLC will moderate the discussion. He currently is writing a book on civility and politics using former Sen. Baker as the exemplar. Baker, who was Tennessee’s first popularly elected Republican senator, became known as the “Great Conciliator” for his ability to bring lawmakers from different political parties together to resolve pressing issues.

In announcing the Knoxville 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 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.

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