Marian's Tenth Annual Academic Symposium

Freedom of Speech vs. Civility: Where Does the One End and the Other Begin?

April 09 and 10, 2013

Freedom of speech is a constitutional right of every citizen of the United States that reaches into all corners of our society and personal life. Intertwined with freedom of speech is the belief that we all have a responsibility to be civil in our public discourse. Can these two frequently conflicting views be reconciled so that we, as individuals and as a society, can freely express ourselves while not diminishing others? Marian University's 10th Annual Academic Symposium will explore how these two critical ideologies might coexist.

The writers of the US Constitution declared freedom of speech a right, but did not provide a clear framework for how that would work. Are we free to say whatever we want, even if it's hateful? Must we be silent for the sake of political correctness or to avoid repercussions? Can we practice freedom of speech by gathering as a group to protest whatever we wish - wherever, whenever, and however we choose? Following the tragic shooting of U.S. Representative "Gabby" Giffords, President Barack Obama issued a plea for the nation to return to civility. The lengthy and sometimes acrimonious protests in Madison, Wisconsin over the removal of collective bargaining rights of some of Wisconsin's public employees; the tone of the public discourse during the 2012 Presidential campaign; as well as other events, have led to the perception that civility in public discourse has not improved - it has worsened!

Against this backdrop, the 10th Annual Academic Symposium will examine both civility in public discourse and the protection of one of our most cherished rights - the freedom of thought and expression. The many dimensions of these issues and concerns are certain to generate discussion, debate, reflection, learning, and understanding by the Marian Community, the Fond du Lac Area, and beyond.

For additional information, please contact or call 920-923-8133.


Fun Fact

79% of adult students at Marian self-report that classes convenient in their working schedule (Source: Noel-Levitz Adult Student Priorities Survey, April 2014).

Campus Info

Marian University
45 S. National Ave.
Fond du Lac, WI 54935-4699


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