As someone on Facebook said, it was cold and rainy outside, but there was warmth all around at the Reason Rally.
Here are some random thoughts about the event along with pictures and video:
- The grounds, the day before the event began:
- Did you see these pre-Rally articles about Nate Phelps and Dave Silverman?
- The grounds, 90 minutes before the event began:
- I spent the night before the Rally at a friend’s house. The friend had a cat. I stayed there, anyway. If you saw me at the Rally (or post-Rally dinner), then I was most likely out of it, ready to collapse. My apologies if I didn’t seem very cordial. Damn cats. Thanks to Greta, Ingrid, Ashley, Sarah, Jesse, and everyone else who took care of me in my why-can’t-I-breathe-I-blame-the-felines rage.
- Contrary to what people are saying on Facebook and Twitter, while all the organizers appreciate the sentiment about having another Reason Rally soon, we’re *not* doing this again next year. Or the year after that. We’re probably not doing this again in five years. It takes a lot of time, it costs a lot of money, and it’s a major investment on the part of the sponsoring organizations. It took *years* to make this event happen. The media was interested because this was a once-in-a-lifetime sort of event. It won’t be “fresh” or “interesting” if we make it an annual thing, even if that was feasible. And I’m also not sure the enthusiasm would be there if we did it annually.
- The official attendance? Nobody actually knows. So don’t even bother offering an “accurate” number. USA Today said 20,000. Religion News Service said 8,000-10,000. The Washington Post said “thousands.” Pre-Rally estimates were 30,000 but that was most likely overshot just to be safe (and to make sure there were enough Porta-Pottys on hand).
So be on the safe side. If anyone asks, just tell them there were 1,000,000 people at the Reason Rally.
- The crowd, 30 minutes before the event began:
- The Pledge of Allegiance was said… sans “under God” (video courtesy of cbitguru):
- The crowd, 30 minutes after the event began:
- Richard Wade and Daniel Fincke both met Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagin (!!!) on the DC streets and I found this out only when I read this. (Dammit, Richard, I thought we were friends!)
- With the help of the American Humanist Association’s Roy Speckhardt (and, really, all of you who donated), I presented a check to Jessica Ahlquist:
- I’ll post the transcript of my own speech up on this site soon. I hope the other speakers do the same!
- Jessica Ahlquist‘s check rests near a backstage table. Memo line = Bravery:
- A (totally paraphrased) conversation I had with Jessica Ahlquist backstage before her talk:
Me: Hey, Jessica, what’s the thing Lady Gaga says about her “little monsters”?
Jessica: You’re all my little monsters?
Me: Yeah, that’s what you should say to the crowd. You’re all evil little things to me 🙂
One big hit with the crowd was Jessica Ahlquist, the 16-year-old Rhode Island high school student who successfully sued her school district to remove a prayer from her school’s walls. During the fight, state Rep. Peter Palumbo called her an “evil little thing,” an epithet she has since proudly embraced.
I am here to tell you that what I did can be done by anybody,” she said. “And you are all evil little things to me.”
- There’s (low-quality) video of Jessica Ahlquist‘s talk right here (courtesy of gothkillya):
- The Huffington Post article included this passage which was really amazing to read:
Charles Martin, 25, was among the African-Americans at the rally, which he said was his first formal step into the atheist community.
“I wanted to be around other people who have similar ideas to me,” he said, his eyes on speaker Hemant Mehta, a popular atheist blogger who is also a man of color. “It is very rare for me to find other people who are not religious, especially in the black community.”
- Backstage, Cristina Rad finalized her speech, while American Atheists’ AJ Johnson and Reason Rally webmaster Ben Hibben worked on the website:
- Members of the Beltway Atheists held up their signs:
- Cristina Rad delivered her message:
- After Cristina’s speech, she was greeted by Tim Minchin (Nate Phelps is on the left). If only that’s how all my speeches could end…:
- Nate Phelps‘ speech was one of the most emotional ones all day (video courtesy of fedos):
- Bill Maher: What was up with him? Thousands of atheists in the crowd and the best he could do was send in a clip from his show from a couple of weeks ago?
- Organizer Dave Silverman smiled after a long and successful Reason Rally:
- Somewhere in the audience, a Dave Silverman Rageface Poster was held high:
- Hey, Dave! Make that face!
- The view from stage as Richard Dawkins spoke:
- And here’s the entirety of Richard Dawkins’ talk! (Video courtesy of weinerdad)
Edit: A full transcript of Dawkins’ talk can be read here.
- Backstage, James Randi did what I can only assume is a magic trick:
- Mythbuster Adam Savage and philanthropist Todd Stiefel talked backstage:
- Adam Savage spoke at the rally, too! (Video courtesy of MKirby559)
Highlight of that talk:
I have concluded through careful, empirical analysis and much thought that somebody is looking out for me. Keeping track of what I think about things, forgiving me when I do less then I ought, giving me strength to shoot for more than I think I am capable of. I believe they know everything that I do and think and they still love me and I’ve concluded after careful consideration that this person keeping score is me.
- If you appeared onstage, you saw this giant cross out in the crowd… with a message calling to banish the Ten Commandments to the dustbin of history:
- Cristina’s not the only one who can get some Tim Minchin love!
If it makes you all feel better, Minchin has no idea who I am. Neither does Dawkins and it’s, like, my sixth time meeting him.
- Tim Minchin‘s long set included the crowd-pleasing “Storm” (video courtesy of girlpalooza):
- Eddie Izzard did something funny:
- Eddie Izzard did something else funny:
- Eddie Izzard‘s full set can be heard here, here, and here.
- Loved this sign:
- I can’t believe I missed meeting Survivor‘s Richard Hatch. I was passed out in a cat-induced coma in a hotel room somewhere in DC when the Atheist Nexus party was happening. Richard, I
- Want to see some great pictures? Check out the galleries from Michael Cluff, Eric Haas, Jonathan McDowell, Nicole Introvert, Neal Kamper, and the Reason Rally website itself.
- I don’t know who this guy was, but he won for best costume:
Glenn Beck‘s website, The Blaze, even interviewed him:
- The Blaze was incensed that Tim Minchin sang a song featuring the word “motherfuckers” 3084242 times. But apparently, the basis of that song — the Catholic Church covering up child rape — doesn’t seem to bother them one bit.
- How about some respect for the sign language interpreter who handled that Tim Minchin “motherfuckers” song? She was awesome.
- The backstage area had TVs where we could watch everything happening onstage… but they had no audio. Booooooo. (Then again, that was my worst complaint, so I’m gonna shut up now.)
- The Christopher Hitchens tribute was created by TheThinkingAtheist. I heard there were some technical difficulties when they played it, so here it is:
- As the Christopher Hitchens tribute played, Richard Dawkins (left) watched from backstage:
- Richard Dawkins had a bodyguard. I’ve been to a few conferences with him and I never saw that until the Reason Rally. I guess 1,000,000 atheists will do that to you…
- ReasonTV was quick to get a video recap up:
- Amusing: In the giftbag for the speakers, The Brights gave out a mini-flashlight. Hehe.
- Shelley Segal is the sweetest person alive. Her giddiness all day was absolutely infectious.
- Shelley Segal sings, too! (Video courtesy of 2clean4dean):
- Want unofficial videos from the rally? David Singer has a bunch of low quality ones (he tried to live-stream the Rally — not sure how that worked out, but he gets a lot of love for the effort). Skeptinerd compiled a *lot* of great videos from throughout the day. Official DVDs are being sold for $39.00 on the Reason Rally website and that will be available soon.
- sundelldc offered this reflection:
This Reason Rally is the first step, and it was a great first step. It felt amazing being with so many people from my own country who believed and behaved and trusted and reached out in the ways I’ve wanted to for so long, and have helped give me strength to do so. It was an awe-inspiring event, and I’m very glad I was a part of such a historic moment. The thing is, will we make another step forward, or just sway back and forth with that first step down, not sure where to plant the other foot? Is this the end, or is this the beginning of an awesome and hope-fulfilling journey towards what should have been set in stone 235 years ago?
- Twitter user CockamAmy sent this beautiful letter to her parents after attending the Reason Rally:
So what did the Reason Rally mean to you? What great reflections or amazing videos/pictures did I leave out?
Leave your thoughts/suggestions in the comments!