Mike Boettcher, left, will moderate a four-person panel focused on driving away hate speech on Wednesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. The panelists are David Surratt, top left, Keith Gaddie, top right, Norman Mayor-elect Breea Clark, bottom left, and Britney Gilmore, bottom right.

(Editor’s note: The following story appears courtesy of Gaylord News, a reporting project of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.)

The University of Oklahoma’s dean of students will be part of a four-person panel that will tackle an issue that has vexed America since its very founding — how to drive away hate speech and bring back civility to public discourse.

David Surratt, who returned in February to assume leadership of the university’s student affairs office, will join Norman’s mayor-elect, a political scientist, and a doctoral candidate in discussing the hate speech issues.

The panel discussion beginning at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 24, in the Gaylord College auditorium comes on the heels of the racist vandalism on Democratic Party offices, a school and a Native American office in Norman and Oklahoma City.

“The recent, racially-tinged vandalism in Norman and Oklahoma City points to an urgent need for a discussion on how best a concerned citizenry can respond,” said Ed Kelley, the Dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma.

“We think the state’s flagship university and its only college of journalism and mass communication are appropriate venues for such an event,” he said.

The panel, moderated by Mike Boettcher, OU correspondent in residence and award-winning CNN and NBC reporter, will include Breea Clark, Norman’s mayor-elect and director of OU’s JC Penney Leadership Center; Keith Gaddie, a Gaylord journalism professor and an expert on political commentary; Britney Gilmore, a communication department Ph.D. candidate, and Surratt.

The panel’s goal is to provide vital discussion on relevant social issues that relate to the dissemination of information and its influence on our culture.

Gaddie said the panel offers an opportunity to explore how the notion of a dinner table discussion could be extended to public discourse.

“Ronald Reagan said we needed an informed patriotism, with civic ritual and spirited conversation at the dinner table,” Gaddie said. “The path of civility and affirmative speech is to extend that dinner table to the nation and find a way to a common language that leaves behind hate speech.

“It also means engaging ideas rather than identity and making solutions rather than blaming scapegoats to serve the darker demons of our soul,” he said.

The panel is co-sponsored by the OU’s Communication Graduate Student Association, the Oklahoma College Broadcasters, the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Department of Communication in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The panel discussion will air live on OUTV (Cox Cable channel 124).

How to Drive Away Hate Speech and Bring Back Civility to Public Discourse.

When: 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24th
(doors open at 6:45 p.m.).

Where: Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Auditorium
in Gaylord Hall (on the University of Oklahoma Campus)
395 W. Lindsey St. Norman, OK 73019

Panel members

Mike Boettcher, moderator — OU Correspondent-in-Residence and former CNN & NBC reporter

David Surratt —OU Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Breea Clark — City of Norman mayor-elect & director, OU JC Penney Leadership Center

Keith Gaddie — OU journalism professor

Britney Gilmore — OU Communication PhD candidate