How strange…I’m hearing from so many people ranting and raving about how the Reason Rally was a failure, but they’re all people who weren’t there; at the same time, I’m seeing a lot of enthusiastic appreciation from attendees. This wouldn’t be at all odd if it were Christians and Fox News trying to dismiss it, but there’s also a cadre of the usual dedicated anti-SJW atheists also triumphantly declaring the defeat of the Reason Rally.
Here’s the deal: it was a mixed success. It sounds like it was a good event, and the people who went there got what they wanted out of it, but it also had lower attendance than had been hoped for. The accounts I’m seeing suggest that it fell somewhat short of the attendance at the first one, although it was still a healthy turnout.
So what reduced the number of attendees?
Obviously, it’s because I wasn’t invited to speak at this one.
Wait, no, that’s not it. With such a mob of speakers, I’ll be the first to admit I’d be a fairly low-wattage draw.
I’m going to pin the problems on organization and focus. Personally, I didn’t go because the early organization was very frankly a mess — way back in January I was complaining about the slow start and the small number of speakers at that time…and if you’re trying to get large numbers of people to commit to the expense and time of travel, you’ve got to get them enthused early. I just couldn’t. And by the time they got their act together, it was too late for me to make arrangements.
This is fixable. Next time, get a solid core of speakers committed well in advance. Don’t dribble out announcements slowly, over months.
The other problem is focus. This is an atheist event, but a lot of the noise being made ahead of time was about Big Name Celebrities agreeing to speak there, like Johnny Depp and Margaret Cho. That’s nice for getting a blurb in the newspaper, but they have no reputation as atheists, and haven’t spoken much about godlessness, so they were no draw at all to me (although I might have been pleasantly surprised by their talks, if they hadn’t cancelled, which is a whole ‘nother problem). It needed atheists qua atheists, not random celebrities who happen to not believe in gods. If I want to listen to someone talk about atheism, Greta Christina is more of a celebrity than Johnny Depp.
This is also fixable. Start with a solid roster of known atheist speakers first, sign ’em up early (they’re easy, they’ll be enthusiastic for the cause), and then try and get those popular but largely irrelevant celebrities.
So sorry, naysayers. It wasn’t a failure, but there’s room for improvement.