NIC's 2004-2005 Popcorn Forum to debate today's issues

North Idaho College's Popcorn Forum Convocation Series Symposium was established 35 years ago to create a venue to explore topics relative to our society, from historical lessons to today's issues. Event organizers do not steer clear of the hot topics either, which is evident in this year's theme “Hot Talk: Passionate Debate for a New Age” March 21-25.

Dozens of distinguished debaters and national dignitaries will debate some of the nation's most long-debated topics such as free speech, privacy and same sex marriages.

“We are impressed with the qualifications and prominence of all the debaters and presenters at this year's symposium,” said NIC's Popcorn Forum Coordinator Tony Stewart. “It will be a week of lively and informative dialogue.”

The presentations and keynote addresses will correlate with each day's topic:
Monday, March 21 The Patriot Act: National Security vs. Civil Liberties
Tuesday, March 22 Free Speech and Press vs. Censorship
Wednesday, March 23 Sex and Politics: The Arguments for and Against Same-Sex Marriage
Thursday, March 24 The Right to Privacy vs. The Public's Right to Know
Friday, March 25 The Second Amendment and Gun Ownership

On Monday, the symposium will kick off with a brief welcome by NIC President Michael Burke and Associated Students of NIC President Heather Erickson at 10 a.m. in Boswell Hall Schuler Auditorium followed by debate on the Patriot Act. U.S. Congressman Butch Otter will advocate revisions to the act based on his concern for civil liberties, while U.S. District Attorney Thomas Moss supports the act based on issues of national security. A response panel will follow at 1 p.m. in the Lake Coeur d'Alene Room of NIC's Edminster Student Union Building.

The eighth annual Human Rights Banquet “Human Rights for a New Age: Diversity in the 21st Century” will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Coeur d'Alene Inn, located at 414 Appleway in Coeur d'Alene. The featured speaker is Debbie Bird, the business development director for Safeco's Jackson Street Community Center, which is a center committed to improving neighborhoods where Safeco products are sold. Bird believes that understanding and appreciating diversity will result in more vibrant communities and healthy commerce centers. Tickets for the banquet are $25 and must be purchased by mailing a check to the Human Rights Education Institute at P.O. Box 2725, Coeur d'Alene, ID, 83816, by Friday, March 18.

James Vache, Gonzaga University School of Law professor, and Safeco Insurance Corporation Attorney Gary Maehara will discuss freedom of speech and freedom of press versus censorship at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Boswell Hall Schuler Auditorium. Vache advocates a broad interpretation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution while Maehara agrees with U.S. Supreme Court decisions to restrict certain forms of speech and press. Response panels will review the debate at 1 p.m. and at 7 p.m. in the Lake Coeur d'Alene Room of Edminster Student Union Building.

Also on Tuesday, representatives from the Idaho Press Club will tackle the question of media responsibility and balancing when a story should or should not be reported during a forum at 11:30 a.m. in Boswell Hall Schuler Auditorium. Mindy Cameron with the Seattle Times will moderate and panelists include Managing Editor of the Coeur d'Alene Press Mike Patrick, Editor of the Spokesman-Review Steve Smith, University of Idaho Media Professor Kenton Bird and Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson.

Public Policy Advocate with the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C., Praveen Fernandes will argue that the U.S. Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, including the right to a legal marriage, whereas Southern New England School of Law Professor Dwight Duncan will advocate that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee same-sex couples the right to a legal marriage during a debate at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Boswell Hall Schuler Auditorium. A response panel will follow at 1 p.m. in the Lake Coeur d'Alene Room of Edminster Student Union Building.

American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director for Idaho Jack Van Valkenburgh and Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby will present arguments on the right to privacy versus the public's right to know at 9 a.m. Thursday in Boswell Hall Schuler Auditorium. Van Valkenburgh supports extensive privacy as he believes the U.S. Constitution guarantees whereas Jacoby advocates that since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, government access to some personal information during investigations is warranted. A response panel will follow at 1 p.m. in the Lake Coeur d'Alene Room of Edminster Student Union Building.

Senator Larry Craig will support the right to own firearms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment during “The Second Amendment and Gun Ownership” at 11 a.m. Friday in Boswell Hall Schuler Auditorium. Lewis-Clark State College Division of Social Sciences Chair Marilyn Levine will advocate that technology has increased society's capacity for violence during “Violence and Technology in the 20th and 21st Centuries” at 11:30 a.m. in Boswell Hall Schuler Auditorium. A response panel will discuss both sides at 1 p.m. in the Lake Coeur d'Alene Room of Edminster Student Union Building.

A special concert premiere of “Southern Skies,” composed by David Jones of Seattle, will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Boswell Hall Schuler Auditorium. The NIC Popcorn Forum specially commissioned piece, which contains unique elements of swing, ballads, funk, Afro-Cuban, ChaCha and Samba music performed by the NIC Jazz Ensemble and the Eastern Washington University Percussion Ensemble.

All Popcorn Forum events are free and open to the public, with the exception of the Human Rights Banquet March 21.

Visitor parking permits will not be required on NIC's campus the week of the Popcorn Forum, but visitors are encouraged to utilize NIC's free Shuttle Express, which leaves every 15 minutes from the Museum of North Idaho parking lot.

To receive a free printed program, call the NIC College Relations Office at (208) 769-7764 or view it online.

For More Information
NIC Popcorn Forum Coordinator Tony Stewart, (208) 769-3325.

Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2005

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