Winning friends with ridicule
I have to ask: Why would atheists want to rally? How does a "live and let die" outlook drive people to congregate?
The stated purpose of the rally:
The intent is to unify, energize, and embolden secular people nationwide, while dispelling the negative opinions held by so much of American society… and having a damn good time doing it!...This will be a positive experience, focusing on all non-theists have achieved in the past several years (and beyond) and motivating those in attendance to become more active. While speakers have the right to say what they wish, the event is indeed a celebration of secular values.
However, results did vary:
One woman, a Reason Rally attendee, approached a group of counterprotesters with a sign on which she’d written, “So many Christians, so few lions.”
Violence was apparently a recurring theme, anger the prevailing emotion:
Outrage was the parlance of the day, however, for many speakers, including David Silverman, Reason Rally organizer and American Atheists president.He reveled in the group's reputation as the marines of atheism, as the people who storm the faith barricades and bring "unpopular but necessary" lawsuits...In a thundering call for "zero tolerance" for anyone who disagrees with or insults atheism, Silverman proclaimed, "Stand your ground!"
Richard Dawkins, the headliner, brought new meaning to the words "celebration" and "positive experience":
Then Dawkins got to the part where he calls on the crowd not only to challenge religious people but to "ridicule and show contempt" for their doctrines and sacraments...
So much for "dispelling negative opinions."
If the atheists sincerely wanted to put a warm glow on atheism, they chose the wrong folks to carry their banner.
In addition to the militant Silveraman and the belligerent Dawkins, speakers at the rally also included Rep. Pete Stark (he who would pee on his constituents, but it would be a waste of urine), Bill Maher (one of America's most uncivil misogynists), the hateful curmudgeon PZ Myers, and an assortment of jerks whose names I don't recognize (but I think it's a safe bet that a quick google search would reveal many of them to be just as combative and surly as the rest).