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CoastLine: Are Civil Discourse And Free Speech Mutually Exclusive?

White House Photograph Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library.
President Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter meet at the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia to debate domestic policy during the first of the three Ford-Carter Debates.

North Carolina state legislators have passed House Bill 527 – also known as an Act to Restore and Preserve Free Speech on the Campuses of the Constituent Institutions of the University of North Carolina --almost exactly along partisan lines.  Sponsored by North Carolina State Representative Chris Millis, a Republican from Pender County, the bill now sits on Governor Roy Cooper’s desk.

On this edition of CoastLine, we explore the concept and practice of civil discourse on the campuses of institutions of higher education.  And we find out why the practice, at least in modern conversation, is inextricably intertwined with free speech.

We also look at ways of practicing civil discourse and why the recognition of its value – now framed by the vitriolic and divisive partisanship on Capitol Hill – is rising.  

Finally, is civil discourse largely about political sensitivity, correctness, or can it actually help policy makers accomplish more far-reaching goals?


Amanda Lee, President, Cape Fear Community College

B.J. Rudell, Associate Director, POLIS, Duke University’s Center for Political Leadership, Innovation, and Service

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.