Faith Commons will screen the documentary “Boycott” in partnership with the Dedman School of Law First Amendment Clinic on Sunday, October 23 at 4 p.m. at SMU’s Underwood Law Library. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on current threats to free expression and the First Amendment. Boycott traces the impact of state legislation designed to penalize individuals and companies that choose to boycott Israel. It follows three plaintiffs—one in Texas, one in Arkansas, and one in Arizona— whose rights were impacted by this legislation.
Anti-boycott laws, like book bans, aim to suppress certain ideas and narratives. Since 2015 a slew of anti-BDS legislation has been passed on both the Federal and State levels, with very little consideration of legal precedent. In 2021 Governor Abbott signed a bill banning government contracts with companies that “discriminate against the firearms or ammunition industries.” Now our tax dollars cannot be spent to access goods and services from companies or contractors who choose to divest from these industries in any way. A parallel law was signed in the same legislative session with regard to the fossil fuel industry.
Boycotts are a non-violent way to rally social and political change. Just as anti-abortion laws prevent women from accessing resources they need to protect their health and wellbeing, anti-boycott laws prevent citizens from advocating for themselves through the exercise of free speech, in any of its forms.
Faith Commons has chosen to screen this film in advance of the November midterm elections to raise awareness and understanding about the intended and unintended consequences of anti-boycott legislation, including the legislation that Governor Abbott signed into law in the 2021 legislative session.
Rabbi Nancy Kasten is Chief Relationship Officer for Faith Commons. A community educator, volunteer and activist, as well as a certified Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher, Rabbi Kasten’s work is founded on her intention to create deeper and more meaningful relationships with and between people of all backgrounds and beliefs. She serves on the Social Justice Commission of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center and several boards, including the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas, Dallas, Texas Impact (based in Austin,TX) and the Polyphony Foundation (based in Nazareth, Israel.)
Tom Leatherbury is Director of the First Amendment Clinic at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. Focused on First Amendment issues including free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly and petition, the clinic is funded by a grant from the Stanton Foundation, created by Dr. Frank Stanton, long-time former president of CBS from 1946 to 1971. The clinic uses best practices of clinical legal education to strengthen First Amendment values and to improve access to justice.
Leatherbury serves as practice group leader of Vinson &Elkins’s firm-wide appellate practice and has more than forty years of experience representing clients in state and federal appeals and trials. Throughout his career, Leatherbury has regularly represented traditional and digital publishers and broadcasters in all aspects of media litigation throughout his career, including libel, privacy and other torts, reporter’s privilege, newsgathering and access, misappropriation and breach of contract actions.
Among his many honors, Leatherbury was recently named a fellow in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, was presented with the Dallas Bar Foundation Justinian Award and was awarded a Presidential Citation from the State Bar of Texas for his commitment to helping its diversity and inclusion efforts.
His past leadership roles include serving as director and president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, president of the Media Law Resource Center’s Defense Counsel Section, chair of the Dallas Bar Association’s Media Relations Committee and board member of Texas Appleseed.
Faizan Syed is the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Dallas/Fort Worth (CAIR-TX DFW.) He moved to DFW in October 2019 after being the Missouri Director of CAIR for 8 years. While serving as Director of CAIR-MO Faizan responded to the Joplin Mosque Arson, Missouri’s anti-Sharia and anti-BDS legislation, and Michael Brown’s murder by police officer Darren Wilson. He has worked to bring justice to countless families suffering discrimination.
Faizan is not afraid of engaging with all people regardless of political belief and potential hostility. He was thrust into the media spotlight in 2016 when he passed out doughnuts at a Trump rally in St. Louis in order to engage in conversations and build bridges with Trump supporters. He is more than happy to dialogue with people who have different opinions because he fundamentally believes that the best way to build bridges is by fostering understanding between people who hold different opinions.
Rev. Dr. George Mason is a Christian theologian and the Founder and President of Faith Commons, an organization he founded in 2018 to lift up faith voices in the public square for the common good. He served as Senior Pastor of the Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas from 1989-2022. A nationally recognized leader among Baptists, especially with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Fellowship Southwest, Rev. Dr. Mason is the Lead Advisor for the Baptist House of Studies at Perkins School of Theology (SMU) and participates in numerous local and global ecumenical and interfaith endeavors.
Parking is available in the Daniel Parking Center located at the corner of Hillcrest and Daniel Avenue. From Hillcrest Avenue, go east on Daniel Avenue. The Daniel Parking Center is the first building on the left.
Parking is also available in the Airline Visitor Parking Garage located at 6506 Airline Road. At SMU Boulevard and Airline Road, turn north onto Airline and follow the road until it intersects with Airline Circle. Turn left to the garage entrance on Airline Circle.
Tickets & Details
You can purchase tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/screening-of-boycott-documentary-panel-discussion-tickets-438611016357