The #reasonrally thread

I’m backstage, winding down, with Bad Religion howling from the stage. My net assessment of the day: OMFG AWESOME SQUEEEEE.

I’m sorry to say that if you missed it, oh, you should be burning with regret right now. Burning. Regret. Boy, did you make a mistake.


  1. csue says

    That’s OK; the Trophy Husband went on my behalf. I spent *my* craptacular weather day at a horse show this morning. :>

  2. says

    You’re so articulate PZ. Could not have said it better myself. Awesome indeed and I am proud to have been a part of history made.

  3. says

    Random person handed me a cup of tequila.

    Had a conversation with Eddie Izzard, Tim Minchin, and Jamila Bey.

    Called Sy Ten Cate a slimy motherfucker to his face. What a stupid excuse for a human being.

    I’m soaking wet.

    Shelley Segal and Jessica Ahlquist were up early. They were marvelous.

    I think we need to go strip and have an orgy in a mud puddle.

  4. says


    Called Sy Ten Cate a slimy motherfucker to his face.

    :Clenched Tentacle Salute:

    I think we need to go strip and have an orgy in a mud puddle.

    Nope. Not allowed unless there’s video.

  5. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Called Sy Ten Cate a slimy motherfucker to his face.

    Who’s that? Google is being most unhelpful.

  6. aleopold says

    Damn. Some day, when I’m not so many thousands of $$ in debt from school, I’m going to attend as many free thought/atheist conventions as I can. Though admittedly, I will always regret missing the “woodstock” of secularism. Cheers to all that went.

  7. yoav says

    Everyone keep telling us about how libroool is the media and yet I didn’t hear a single mention of the reason rally on the news.

  8. bryaridd says

    It was amazing!!! Even got a pic with PZ!! Thanks PZ! Great speech too! Thanks for all you do for this cause!!

  9. noastronomer says

    “Hey, not everyone lives close enough/can afford it.”

    and many of us who are close enough and could afford it are spending the weekend supporting our families in many different ways. Not the least of which is saving money for college.

  10. David Marjanović says

    Called Sy Ten Cate a slimy motherfucker to his face.

    Standing ovation!


    Who’s that? Google is being most unhelpful.

    “Sye Ten C” is some kind of creationist apologist who is frequently Wrong On The Internet.

  11. janine says

    I was so much easier to search the old blog for content. I cannot find that thread when erichovind, sye ten, and friends sent about an hour and a half tossing chum to us. It was a silly good time.

    Perhaps someone who has a better grasp of the story can point forbidden snowflake to how sye ten debated a couple of atheists and sold the debate without their consent.

  12. Ogvorbis: shameless AND impudent! says

    I’m sorry to say that if you missed it, oh, you should be burning with regret right now. Burning. Regret. Boy, did you make a mistake.

    Wish I could be there. Kids in college and I keep buying books. Oh, and I have to work.

  13. jayceemess says

    It was a great day. The weather was wonderful, and PZ was excellent of course. I don’t think I can be “bad” without god as he suggests, but everyone inspired me to be far more open about my atheism. The result: my first post on Pharyngula. Minchin was fantastic, and Dawkins never disappoints. I’m really hoping most of the day’s proceedings were recorded and preserved.

  14. theobromine says

    @csue #6:
    I had to work, so I also sent my Trophy Husband (equipped with my smartphone and instructions to tweet and send photos). Assuming you are female (with my apologies if you are not), I suppose you and I need to shoulder some of the blame for increasing the M to F ratio in the horde by our neglectful absences.

  15. dgrasett says

    I’ll be seeing you in Kamloops in May 2012. Which, from Guelph in Ontario, may not seem closer, but I can then visit my remaining brother in Vancouver. I don’t learn about these events soon enough to arrange the time off. Is anything anticipated over the next year in Ontario (or Quebec), or in the North-Eastern states? I could do NewYork or Chicago in a couple of days drive, but at my age, I am not too happy in cities. Mobility problems, age, stuff. I have to rely on the advertisements on Free-Thought Blogs. I am also trying to find the books you all rave about [small plug – especially Red-neck Blue-collar Athiest) All we have up here is Chapters. They are good, but. . .

  16. Azkyroth says

    I’m sorry to say that if you missed it, oh, you should be burning with regret right now. Burning. Regret. Boy, did you make a mistake.

    Wait was I the one who scheduled the rally in the middle of the fucking spring semester? My sincere apologies.

  17. says

    I was there from about 9AM until Eddie Izzard was done. I just couldn’t take any more rain and cold. I did come prepared. But my old poncho was leaking (tossed it in the trash when I got to the subway.) And I had no idea the day was going to be as cold as 55 most of the day. I brought an extra layer but it wasn’t enough.

    OK… so enough whining and complaining.

    The show was awesome. My favorites were (in no particular order) Eddie Izzard, PZ (of course), Greta Christina, Tim Minchin. All the others were good but not everyone “wowed” me like the ones above.

    There were quite a few people there and even though I have no reasonable method of estimating sizes accurately I can say with certainty that it was in the thousands and may have been close to ten thousand. This was remarkable because the weather was so crappy. I was located off to the right and about 50 yards back from the stage in the same location for about 7 hours. In that time the mass of people in front of me changed completely at least three times. So either they were trying out different spots or the attendance at the rally was several times the size of the group at any given instant due to turnover.

    It was very well run by the organizers. They moved things along pretty well and most glitches were cleared quickly. Considering the breakneck pace of the schedule it was only 30 minutes off by the time PZ was up.

    There were some godbots near where I was camped but I had absolutely no interest in them. Who wants to hear about sin and damnation when there was a really talented young woman with a hula-hoop to watch instead. Did anyone else see that?

    I really had fun. I am so burnt out now I am just gonna get some dinner and crash. It was cool to be there though I wasn’t aware that some sort of history was being made. That is to say… I didn’t feel like I was stepping on the moon or charging up some beach in Normandy.

  18. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Called Sy Ten Cate a slimy motherfucker to his face.

    What will the accommodationists think?

  19. Patricia, OM says

    Does anyone know if the numbers being reported on Google news are close to being correct? 20 – 30,000 people standing in the rain for hours sounds amazing.

  20. says

    I’m back at the hotel — no way were we going to make it to the friendly atheist/ftb dinner. Mary and I are kind of dead on our feet. The plan is a shower to warm up, then off to the afterparty here at the North Bethesda Marriott. More awesomeness, I’m sure.

  21. Catnip, Shameless & Impudent says

    Glad to hear it was a success. Was going to come, but finding a baby sitter for kids for the week it would have required defeated me. Not to mention the odd$5k required for airfares etc

    @Ogvorbis: like the new moniker

  22. says

    I’ve been huffing and puffing all day because there has been no news coverage!

    Everyone keep telling us about how libroool is the media and yet I didn’t hear a single mention of the reason rally on the news.


    Cruel of you to rub it in, P.Z., but i Have to admit, I am thrilled to read this update and see that you were energized by the event and appear to be riding on a wave of Godless heathenish euphoria! That’s what I wanted to hear – even if damn it, I could not be there!

  23. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Too far, too expensive, too scary. Thousands of strangers together in one place, being loud? Sounds kinda like an unmitigated nightmare to me, even without the weather being icky. Glad people are enjoying themselves though, and glad the turnout was so impressive! Hope it does some good.

  24. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    While it’d be awesome to have bands and so forth, I’m kind of glad the GAC is all indoors.

  25. maryb says

    It was great. Great speakers, entertainment. Blasphemy is so much fun! Loved PZ’s speech, wish it could have been longer. Wrathful, indeed. Loved Tim Minchin. Wet and chilly. I finally gave up at 5pm. They said the Park Service said the crowd swelled to 20K. Probably would have been significantly bigger if the day was dry. I’m local so it was just gas money and Metro to get there. It thought it would be good for the politicos to see as many of us as possible, but I’m glad I went for the quality of the event.

    They showed Maher’s bit when he de-baptized Mitt Romney’s father-in-law. One of his best bits. Rep Harkin was benign but plugged science. Nate Phelps was powerful with his family right there with their hate signs. I saw several big cameras and media types but there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of stories.

  26. cactusren says

    Crowd estimate 8K – 10K which is about what it looked like to me.

    The National Park Service estimated at least 20,000, according to an announcement Paul Provenza made at some point (don’t remember exactly when).

    It was a great event, and I had a lot of fun, despite being cold and wet all day. Thanks so much to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen, and to everyone who participated! And now I’m going to go stand in a hot shower for a while…

  27. Nemo says

    I was there for Jamila Bey through Christina Rad, but then I had to leave because I had a ticket for the Mythbusters Tour. Hated to miss PZ though! Adam talked about the Reason Rally during the show.

    It was funny to see all the fundies gathered together in one corner, holding the majority of the signs. I got stuck with a religious flyer by a guy who looked a bit like Carl Sagan.

  28. TV200 says

    It truly was an amazing day.
    I had volunteered, and took my shift as an information usher in the afternoon. Most questions were in the hour before Dawkins went on, and nearly every one was people wondering if they had missed him. Second most common question was from random people, not rally goers. “Um, what exactly is going on here.” “It’s an atheist rally.” Reaction to that varies from supportive to, well, let’s say not terrible keen on the idea.

  29. gbjames says

    Rub it in, already. Jeeze. As if I already didn’t’ feel bad about missing it!

  30. FossilFishy says

    Oh sure. I can’t afford to go to the GAC even though it’s only a 3 hour train ride from home, let alone jet to another continent. Whinge…whinge…whinge…
    At least I live in the time of the internet and cheap video cameras so I’ll get to hear most of it. I’ve already listened to Adam Savage get it right and can’t wait to hear all the other speakers. I do really regret not being there for Bad Religion and Tim Minchen though. Crappy mobile phone cameras don’t cut it when it comes to music.

  31. robro says

    Would love to be there in the rain, instead of here in SF in the rain. But, I’m not allowed around that many lawyers and politicians…they’re bad for an old man’s respiratory system. Next time, the organizers will have to evacuate D.C. a couple of weeks ahead of the event to clear the air. It would do everybody a world of good, I’m sure.

  32. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Thanks, David, Janine and Owlmirror! I do vaguely remember the incident involving the guy, just didn’t connect it to his name. Now I know why Teh Google was so unhelpful.

  33. cccbccc says

    The event was absolutely awesome. (Seemed kinda like a waste of time to show Bill Maher’s recycled video, but whatever, people were entertained). PZ’s speech was rousing and eloquent and, well, awesome. (Particularly the dig at Harkin). I’ve been getting repetitive all day because that’s the adjective I keep coming back to. Met so many great people. I’m ashamed to admit it was my first atheist event, ever. And it was everything I could’ve hoped.

  34. DLC says

    RE Sy ten: I’m rather glad I’ve never even heard of him or his stupidity before. Ken Ham was enough burning stupid for me.

    Too bad I couldn’t have figured out a way to go.

  35. Ray, rude-ass yankee says

    Awesome! Went with a few work friends and had a great time. Hardly noticed the weather. Was frustrated enough to almost throw my phone as far as possible when (after a quiet morning of no calls) I got two urgent calls and had to make one myself (due to my older son being on the road during tornado warnings in his area) all during PZ’s speech. Which was *only* one of the main reasons I went in the first place!

    PZ, Sorry to say I missed a lot of your speech. I hope to catch it in its fire breathing entirety on YouTube. I also wish I could have met you to thank you in person for all you do. I hope here will suffice.

  36. Patricia, OM says

    Wow, Nate Phelps was incredible! If I had been there I’m sure he would have moved me to tears, I can SO identify with his experiance. Hopefully he will be asked to speak again.

  37. puzzlecraig says

    @cactusren: The National Park Service stopped doing official crowd estimates after the Million Man March in 1995, where their estimates were significantly lower than the organizers’. Funding for crowd estimates was cut in The Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 1997 (H.R. 3662) (later rolled into the Omnibus spending bill). Unless the funding has since been restored, it seems reasonable to question the validity of Paul Provenza’s source.

  38. Aquaria says

    I’m sorry to say that if you missed it, oh, you should be burning with regret right now. Burning. Regret. Boy, did you make a mistake.

    I don’t do regret for being broke. It’s a waste of energy.

    Getting pissed off at people assuming that everyone has the means for that kind of stuff–that’s more productive.

  39. demonhauntedworld says

    Fox News local affiliates did their usual crappy job of covering the event. Check out these two stories:

    Now, they too will be down in the muck with those who invoke God and scripture to invoke wrath upon those with whom they disagree.

    We can look forward to the same kind of rallies, the same kind of triumphalist slogans, the same kind of seething disregard for those who are outside their “church.”

    Paradoxically, it has become a kind of religion, a Church of Unbelief complete with a saint ( Christopher Hitchens), a high priest (Richard Dawkins), and holy writ (anything Dawkins writes). And now, with the political nature of this rally, Dawkins is set to become the Pat Robertson of atheism.

    But there is something not quite right about all of this. Christianity, whatever the faults of its adherents, has a rich intellectual tradition that has a comprehensive view of life.

    It has given rise to the West as we know it. Our laws, arts, governments, and the very framework of our thought find their meaning in Christianity. Take for example the central premise of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal.”

  40. says

    Markita Lynda, the news link you provided about the FCC decision which will free up FM radio bandwidth for local, non-corporate/religious right broadcasting is THE best news I’ve read in a while! Thanks for posting the link!!

    Now to round up the youtube and videos to pass on! I still haven’t seen any major news coverage – grrr – but it seems that bits and pieces are leaking out and the internet horde may be able to do much of the rest!

  41. psocoptera says

    puzzlecraig – Paul actually said it was the rally logistics people (the company who supplies stages, clean up crews, ect) who gave the estimate.

    Standing for most of 8 hours in the rain probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do 9 days after abdominal surgery, but so worth it.

  42. puzzlecraig says

    @psocoptera: Okay, I hadn’t been there for the statement, so I had no way to know if the ascription were correct. It’s good to hear that it was a private organization supplying the estimate.

    And ouch, standing for 8 hours 9 days after abdominal surgery. I hope that you’ll be okay.

  43. onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork says

    Long, cold, wet day. So very much worth it. And great to see other DC locals represented–come out to some of the other Pharyngula meet-ups here! :)

  44. TV200 says

    Onion Girl:

    Long, cold, wet day. So very much worth it. And great to see other DC locals represented–come out to some of the other Pharyngula meet-ups here! :)

    As a DC local,somewhat (live in Baltimore, own a business in DC, so I’m there 6 days/week), that sounds like something I would enjoy, but alas, I have no idea when and where such things occur.

  45. captainahags says

    Definitely had an awesome time. Despite the rain, I stayed until about 6, and then just couldn’t handle it anymore- I was not dressed for the weather. Got a group picture with quite a few hordemembers and the overlord himself, hopefully it will be up on the blog sometime soon. My critique- next year, hire a better group to handle the A/V stuff- the miking went from fair to terrible, and it was a shame that the Hitch tribute didn’t roll as planned. I thought Jamie Killstein’s (sp?) first set was great, but the second one he did while Bad Religion was setting up was not a great idea- for a family friendly event, it was highly inappropriate, especially if people wanted their kids to see Bad Religion after. I did think it was hilarious though. Other than that- heavyweight lineup of speakers, good variation in speeches, nice job overall. Last quibble was that the % of people who’d vote for an atheist president statistic got repeated at least three times in pretty much the exact same words. While it’s good to harp on it, it did get a little tiresome when it was presented as if it was a fact that would shock us, when I think we know all too well what many people think of us. Also I liked Indra Zuno’s speech a lot, my high school level comprehension notwithstanding.

  46. captainahags says

    I should clarify-for those who didn’t see, Indra Zuno’s speech was given entirely in Spanish, so I was referring to my high-school level spanish listening comprehension.

  47. says

    I’m sitting in the lobby up in the con hotel, still bagged from yesterday. Arrived on the Mall ~10:30, stumbled across the Horde by accident after ~half an hour of wandering around. Loved meeting everyone (though I now only recall about three of you), enjoyed dinner, thanks for welcoming a Canuck.

  48. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    Oh man! I got home a few hours ago and I’ve been feverishly googling to find photos, video, and recaps ever since. It was just so much fun! And yes, PZ’s speech RAWKED. Sadly, I missed Taslima Nasreen and Tim Minchin. But that’s okay because I got to meet so many of the Horde and other people too! It’s decided: I definitely have to go to Rhinebeck next year.

  49. onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork says

    Sally for Rhinebeck! YAY!

    So sad I missed you for brunch yesterday, but I’m glad you’re home safe. :)