Contracts? What?

Lyz Liddel is answering questions about the Reason Rally. It’s been off to a slow start, with only a small number of speakers, so there have been some concerns about what’s going on behind the scenes. But she still can’t give out any names.

I wish I could give you specific names right now! Alas, we’re still negotiating contract details and I have been sworn to utmost secrecy until those contracts are finalized (because leaking that information at this point could cause the speakers to back out, and that would be no fun).

What I can say is that if even a few of the speakers we’ve received preliminary “yes” responses from come through, our lineup for 2016 is going to knock the socks off the 2012 rally. We have mainstream musicians (in two rather surprisingly different genres), nationally known celebrities, and some very high-profile politicians who are interested in speaking.

Ooookay. It’s still a little odd. I was in the first one, and there were no “contracts” for many of us, I couldn’t imagine on insisting that the organizers hold off on naming me once I’d agreed, and I especially couldn’t imagine changing my mind if I were listed on a program before my “contract” was signed.

Maybe they’re signing really big names who live in a different kind of world than peons like me, but none of this rings true. Say there are some people who are more demanding than I was; hold off on them, but there must be lots of others who are eager to see this thing take off. I’ve been holding off on committing to attend because I want to see more reason to go to the Reason Rally, and I’m sure I’m not alone.


  1. John Morales says

    Lyz Liddel obviously has a lot to learn about what “utmost secrecy” entails.

    “Who would keep a secret must keep it secret that they hath a secret to keep” — paraphrasing Sir Humphrey.

  2. says

    Maybe they’re trying to get people who are saying stuff like that they only perform at conferences that have posted harassment guidelines and safe zones. Hey, that could be it.

    After being involved in the whole “conference” thing for almost 20 years now* I’m really puzzled by it. It’s as if people just have to have authorities and leaders, or they won’t be happy. I suspect there are huge amounts of fractally detailed cool stuff going on, but instead, let’s hear what The Usual People have to say about The Usual Things. The whole thing about name recognition and celebrity is pretty weird when you step back and think about it. I wonder if evolutionary psychology has any good explanations for conference-going behavior.

    (* you could fairly say that I am a professional conference-goer)

  3. hexidecima says

    this sounds very much like the paranoia I’ve heard around fandom conventions. the fear that something is being taken when the speaker is often completely unaware of what needs to go on for a large gathering. I’ve been at too many cons where there is no coherence and authority. As much as everyone wants to be the herd of cats, nothing gets done without someone taking responsibility.

  4. Artor says

    The idea that some speakers would drop out if things were made public suggests to me that they might be signing someone who is particularly controversial or toxic. I hope it’s the former and not the latter.

  5. christinerose says

    You have a verbal contract. It’s understood what you are to do, and what they are do, and when you are to do it. Courts have upheld these many times.

  6. Ray, rude-ass yankee, Bugblatting Flibbertigibbet says

    I wonder if some of the bigger names who could be there are being pushy, as in: I won’t participate if so-and-so is a speaker. Maybe the organizers are hashing it all out behind the scenes before they announce anyone’s participation? I’m already planning to go since I live close enough to do it as a day trip, and the first one was fun. I hope there is a good line up of interesting speakers.

  7. says

    Given how fractured some parts of the atheist world are and how unpleasant certain individuals are (no naming and mudslinging please) it make me wonder if it’s like this:

    Speaker A: I won’t go if Speaker B is there.

    Liddel: Okay, but what if you appear Friday and Saturday and Speaker B is contractually bound to stay away until Sunday?

    Keeping them apart by time might be the only way to get them to appear in the same place.

  8. Ray, rude-ass yankee, Bugblatting Flibbertigibbet says

    Great minds think alike! I didn’t want to point fingers and name names either, just didn’t want to go there.

    PZ Myers@8,
    Kind of makes me sad that there’s a possibility it could be like that.

  9. says

    I personally know Lyz since she was a member and on the board of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio and she is committed to diversity in the secular movement. That was what she stressed while with HCCO and while working for SSA.

    I have no real concerns with the line up of the Rally at this point.

  10. says

    I also favour the hypothesis that our glorious masters of logic and reason and more logic are using their titanic intellects for evidence-based backstabbing and skeptical blackballing. Praise be unto Dawkins. May he protect us from the scourges of uppity women and non-white schoolchildren who build clocks.

  11. bargearse says

    Once upon a time getting involved with organised athiesm and/or skepticism was an appealing idea. That is all.

  12. says

    This sounds entirely reasonable to me, if only because I know that people will make a big fuss if their favourite “preliminary yes” person turns to “no”. Of course there could be sinister motives, but they can also be perfectly OK

  13. Reginald Selkirk says

    We have mainstream musicians (in two rather surprisingly different genres)

    “We play both kinds of music: Country and Western.”

  14. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Possibly, there is hesitation from the big names, thinking that if their attendance were announced and they had to miss it, there could be some blowback, prompting wild speculation about the reason for their “ducking out”. And not only at the absent presenter but at the conference itself, for “false advertising”, using the name as “click bait” (in meet [pun] space). So, in some cases, it is preferable to have contracts in place before listing the speakers.
    Still, that kind of thinking is my personal form of paranoia showing. They. are. watching. me. I know it …