Almost a year ago, Hemant Mehta prophesied that the 2016 Reason Rally would probably run into certain difficulties with appeasing all the various constituencies which make up the secular community as a whole:
I don’t envy the job that lies ahead of them. The first rally cost a lot of money (hundreds of thousands of dollars) and took years to plan. Even compiling a list of speakers is a disaster in the making since just about anyone they choose will offend some group of people. But the first Reason Rally included a mix of celebrities, group leaders, and individual atheist activists. I suspect another rally will be similar — though I’m hoping they can lure even bigger celebrities this time around.
Emphasis mine. And lo, these many months later, it has come to pass. Ashley Miller writes:
I sent a web form message to Reason Rally expressing concern about the people who were speaking and their ability to appeal to a broad base of non-believers. I thought, especially with both Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins in the line up, that they might need a nudge to understand that they were turning off a lot of potential attendees. They should consider finding more women and people of color to speak.
The reply from the Reason Rally organizers was to puff up their minority numbers to 71% using some sort of mathemagical legerdemain, the details of which one can only guess. I’m here to tell you that they can do much better, though.
All of the women speakers are oppressed and marginalized, obviously, because of rape culture and patriarchy. That leaves only the men.
— An Honest Liar (@anHonestLiarDoc) January 15, 2013
James Randi is not only gay, but he has been subjected to incredibly unfair and arguably defamatory allegations as a result, so that’s him sorted. On to the affable and hilarious Paul Provenza.
— Paul Provenza (@PaulProvenza) September 8, 2015
Provenza is a proud Italian American, of course. (TW: Nudity)
@emeryemeryii Well you've finally figured out how to offend me. Both as a human AND as an Italian American.
— Paul Provenza (@PaulProvenza) October 10, 2013
I probably don’t need to remind you all that Italians are an historically oppressed minority here in the United States but just in case, here you go.
Que sera sera, as they say.
— Ciudad de las Ideas (@cddelasideas) January 6, 2016
As to Dr. Krauss, he was raised in a Jewish household with a German surname. If that’s not an oppressed minority, what is? I shudder just thinking about what that must have been like.
That leaves only the 900 lb. gorilla in the room, Dr. Richard Dawkins. Surely an Englishman and former Oxford don cannot be oppressed in any way, right?
Wrong. Not only was Dawkins a survivor of sexual abuse, but he had to deal with being continually retraumatized by the latter-day warriors for social justice who have repeatedly accused him of failing to process his childhood experiences in the proper way.
And that’s all she wrote, folks. When it comes to choosing speakers with a history of oppression (either on an individual or group membership basis) the Reason Rally is batting 8/8.
I defy anyone to disagree.