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    Civility in Democracy - How Much is Required?

    Jan 25, 2011

    There has been a lot of discussion recently about the language used by politicians and pundits during the past two years:

    • Last year, Senate candidate Sharon Angle said voters will have to "express their second amendment rights" in order to deal with members of Congress.
    • Last year, Congressional candidate Jesse Kelly, running against Democrat Gabby Giffords, held a fund-raiser where supporters could shoot M-16 rifles at targets. She called it a "Help Remove Giffords from Office" party. Giffords was later shot in the head during a political rally.
    • During a speech on the U.S. House of Representatives floor last week, Congressman Steve Cohen compared his Republican opponents to "Nazi's" and claimed that their arguments for repealing the recent healthcare overhaul was similar to the "big lies" used by Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

    These and many other examples will be raised during roundtable discussion at 4 p.m. Jan. 31 in University of the Pacific's Janet Leigh Theatre called "Democracy and Civility: What level of civility is required for citizens to participate freely in politics?" It will be a discussion about whether politicians, pundits and their supporters should scale back their harsh rhetoric.

    The event will include participation by Pacific President Pamela A. Eibeck, Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston, Stockton City Councilwoman Susan Eggman, and members of legislative staffs, Pacific faculty, and a high school teacher.

    The overall question posed will be "What rules of political engagement encourage the level of citizen participation that American democracy requires and how can these rules be assured?"

    Each panelist will be asked to respond to a single question in 3 minutes or less. The room will then be opened for questions from the audience.

    The event was organized by the Jacoby Center for Public Service and Civic Leadership and President Eibeck's office. It will run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It is free and open to the public.