FAIR News: Standing Up for Free Expression in the Arts
Dear friends of FAIR,
In February, I was introduced to a documentary filmmaker named Meg Smaker. The reason for our meeting was that her film, Jihad Rehab, had become the subject of a coordinated cancellation campaign and Meg needed some support.
I was moved by my conversation with Meg. She is a uniquely gifted and passionate storyteller who has lived a fascinating life. A former firefighter, after 9/11 she wanted to understand what forces could drive people to commit horrific acts of terrorism. Driven by curiosity, courage and compassion, Meg moved to the Middle East, lived and worked in the region for over 10 years, and spent five years making her film.
Jihad Rehab follows the lives of four Yemeni men who spent 15 years in Guantanamo and then were released to Saudi Arabia for rehabilitation and training with the goal of reentering society. The film’s access is beyond extraordinary. For the last 20 years we have talked about these men, this film is the first time we truly talk with them. It is also a look inside Saudi Arabia that we have never seen before.
The film had its world premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film festival earlier this year, and received rave reviews from major critics and trades. However, strategic amplification techniques by a small group of activist critics—such as coordinated op-ed articles, paid Twitter campaigns, and threats from legal counsel—caused institutions and funders to back away from the film.
Sundance apologized for showing the film not once, but twice, and one of the film’s Executive Producers, Abigail Disney, issued a formal apology that essentially damned the film from any distribution. Fear that this angry mob would then come after them caused other prestigious film festivals to pull the film after they had already invited it—making it nearly impossible for anyone to see the film for themselves.
Meg’s crime, in the eyes of her detractors, is that she is not a Muslim herself and should therefore not be allowed to tell these kind of stories. This sort of essentialist and intolerant thinking is the antithesis of what FAIR stands for, and that is why we have offered Meg and her film our help—from an opinion piece by Zaid Jilani and a public screening of the film in Los Angeles with Bari Weiss, to ongoing legal and public relations support—with more to come in the future.
FAIR strongly opposes mob intimidation and cancellation campaigns. As advocates of free expression, we believe that Meg should be free to share her film—and with FAIR’s support Meg’s story is finally getting out. A piece by the New York Times is forthcoming, and we will share it far and wide once it is published.
I am proud to stand with Meg, and with other artists like her who face cancellation for being out of step with the current orthodoxy. In the spirit of free expression, and promoting a common culture based on fairness, understanding, and humanity, I encourage you to do the same.
FAIR Twin Cities Chapter Networking Event
Join FAIR’s Twin Cities chapter on Monday, September 19th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for their first in-person networking event! Connect with members from the chapter for conversations and connections on pro-human approaches to local issues!
The event is free and open to all!
FAIR Wellness Webinar Series
Join FAIR Advisor and licensed clinical social worker Zander Keig in an eight-week series of free Wellness Webinars covering the following topics:
Week 5 (9/20): Cultivating Mental Fitness
Week 6 (9/27): Styles of Conflict Management
Week 7 (10/4): Strengthening Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Week 8 (10/11): How To Form New Habits
Session are on Tuesdays from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.
A Pro-Human Approach to Adolescent Gender Dysphoria, with Dr. Erica Anderson, Grace Lidinsky-Smith, and Lisa Selin Davis
Join FAIR in Medicine on Monday, September 19th at 5:00 p.m. ET for A Pro-Human Approach to Adolescent Gender Dysphoria: A Conversation With Dr. Erica Anderson, Grace Lidinsky-Smith, and Lisa Selin Davis, moderated by FAIR Senior Advisor Zander Keig, LCSW.
Our featured panelists are Dr. Erica Anderson, a world renowned clinical psychologist specializing in gender dysphoria, Grace Lidinsky-Smith, detransitioner and patient advocate, and Lisa Selin Davis, prolific writer on gender nonconformity, author of Tomboy, and host of the Substack newsletter Broadview.
Join us as we continue to explore the pro-human approach to transgender healthcare.
Registration is free and open to all!
Free Grassroots Training Opportunity: How to Be FAIR Without Starting a Fight
Do you want to share the message of FAIR with others but are worried that it may start a fight?
There is a better way: Empower yourself with the knowledge and skills to have better conversations, share FAIR’s pro-human message, and engage without risking your relationships.
Register today for this highly interactive live virtual training, happening on September 20th and October 25th!
Announcing the FAIR Legal Network Zoom Open House
FAIR’s legal team is excited to host our first Legal Network Open House on Wednesday, September 21st from 12:00 -1:00 p.m. ET.
Please join us to meet other attorneys in FAIR's legal network, hear more about the cases and matters we're currently working on, and explore future opportunities for collaboration!
There will be a second open house on Thursday, October 20th at 1:00 p.m. ET, which you can also register for free now.
FAIR Book Club: Mark Mathabane’s Kaffir Boy
FAIR Book Club is excited to host Fred Luskin as we round out our discussions about forgiveness and its important role in Mark Mathabane’s memoir, Kaffir Boy . Fred is the author of the book Forgive for Good and the director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project. Join us for a riveting talk on September 21st at 7:00 p.m. ET.
The FAIR in Education Fellows also invite you to our next book club meeting on October 26th. FAIR’s Book Club meets monthly with a goal to read books that challenge and deepen our understanding of humanity and fairness, while enriching our sense of what it means to be pro-human.
In October and November, we will be reading and discussing FAIR Advisor Ian Rowe’s new book, Agency: The Four Point Plan (F.R.E.E.) for All Children to Overcome the Victimhood Narrative and Discover Their Pathway to Power.
We hope you will join us as we dig into the sage wisdom and advice offered in this phenomenal book.
FAIR in the Arts Virtual Meetups
Arts practitioners, advocates, and media professionals—anyone who wants to create a culture where artists and others are free to express themselves, and where we model pro-human values in arts and media institutions—are welcome.
Meetings will include updates on ongoing FAIR in the Arts initiatives, as well as facilitated discussion group sessions. Join us on the following dates:
September 20th with special guest, FAIR in the Arts Fellow Lincoln Jones:
8:00 - 10:00 p.m. ET
Counterweight Conference on Liberal Approaches to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
What would a liberal approach to diversity and inclusion look like? How can we tackle discrimination and racism through a unifying lens? Do these approaches already exist?
Throughout this online conference, you'll hear pre-recorded talks from experts in the field of D&I who can answer some of these questions.
The conference begins September 22nd at 9:00 a.m. ET with an opening keynote from FAIR Director of Messaging & Editorial Angel Eduardo, and will feature talks by FAIR Advisors Zander Keig, Erec Smith, Ian Rowe, Sheena Mason, Greg Thomas, and many others!
Theory of Racelessness Workshop with Dr. Sheena Mason
Join FAIR Advisor Dr. Sheena Mason at Foothill College on September 21st from 1:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. PT in Los Altos Hills, California for a FLEX Workshop, presented by De Anza College’s Office of Equity, Social Justice, and Multicultural Education. Sheena will bring her Theory of Racelessness to addressing issues of racism in our institutions.
This in-person workshop is free and open to all. Visit the site for more details.
Resolving the Race(ism) Dilemma Conference
On September 24th in Lexington, Massachusetts, join FAIR Advisors Dr. Sheena Mason and Greg Thomas, along with Dr. Carlos Hoyt, for a day-long conference designed for everyone interested in overcoming racism—teachers, parents, scientists, scholars, social justice leaders, mental health professionals, journalists, and political leaders.
FAIR is proud to sponsor this important event. Learn how racialization produces the illusion of “race” and racism, how to deracialize your worldview, practice antiracialization, and recognize the racelessness of the human species. Explore methods of translating the misleading language of “race” into the actual issues that drive discrimination and oppression. Build connections with others who are eager to not only understand how to move beyond racism but take meaningful action, and consider joining an effort to improve our government's approach to addressing race-based discrimination—one that does not require perpetuating self-racialization.
Pro-Human Tour Stop: Washington, D.C.
Join us on Monday, October 10th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET for a chance to join the pro-human movement in person and engage in an evening of discussion about applying FAIR’s principles to a polarized world.
You’ll also have an opportunity to enjoy the musical talent of the legendary musician and FAIR Advisor Daryl Davis, along with FAIR’s Director of Messaging & Editorial Angel Eduardo, Constitutional law expert Johnny Davis, members of the FAIR D.C. and Virginia chapters, and FAIR-minded people from the D.C. metro area.
Registration is free and open to all!
Pro-Human Tour Stop: Evanston, Illinois
Join FAIR’s Founder and President Bion Bartning along with FAIR Advisors Daryl Davis, Monica Harris, and Jason Hill for an evening of music and conversation about FAIR’s pro-human approach to addressing social issues and uniting our communities.
The event will also feature music by Daryl Davis, FAIR in Medicine Fellow Robert Graboyes, and Nashville musician and Chicago native Madeline Kelsen.
This event will take place on October 18th from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. CT. Registration is now open.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Zoom Conversation with FAIR Legal
Want to know more about FAIR's legal advocacy work and speak directly with the lawyers who are making it happen?
Join us at 1:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, October 20th for a lively, interactive conversation with FAIR Advisor Samantha Harris and her law partner Michael Allen of Allen Harris Law, as well as FAIR legal network attorney Dan Cragg from Eckland & Blando in Minneapolis, and Letitia Kim, Leigh Ann O'Neill, and Reid Newton from FAIR's in-house legal team.
Registration is FREE and open to all.
Submit Questions for an Upcoming FAIR Perspectives Q&A Episode!
Do you have a burning question you’d like to ask FAIR Perspectives hosts Melissa Chen and Angel Eduardo? Submit it for an upcoming Q&A episode of FAIR Perspectives!
We want to give you the opportunity to ask questions about FAIR, the pro-human movement, the podcast, and more.
FAIR News Podcast
Sarah Haider: Freedom of Religion Means Respecting the Right to Be Without It
For FAIR’s YouTube channel, Co-Founder of Ex-Muslims of North America Sarah Haider describes the difficulties and intolerance she and many others have faced for leaving and criticizing their religion—from being called a “hate monger” to an “Uncle Tom” to a “house Arab.” Sarah emphasizes that the pro-human values of tolerance, fairness, understanding, and humanity should be extended to all, regardless of their beliefs (or lack thereof).
I don’t think anyone, even those who hate my apostasy, should be silenced. What I ask for is that we stand up for the right to speak for everyone, including both those that stand with us and even those who call for the death of disbelievers. This is what ex-believers like myself from all religions ask for: the freedom to be ourselves. Please stand with us.