I’ve got to hand it to those Reason Rally organizers.[1. It has come to my attention that the National Atheist Party, which invited Westboro, may not be one of the “organizers.” That means the leaders of the Rally may have to credit them for this brilliant strategy.] I’m a strategist, but I have never come up with anything quite this excellent. They are setting themselves up for the world’s most brilliant marvelous strategic maneuver ever.
They have a challenge before them, you see. It’s quite an obstacle for them to overcome. It starts with the identity they claim for themselves. They have branded themselves as the defenders of reason. It’s not just in the title, “Reason Rally,” it’s all over the names of their books, the names of the organizations they’ve founded, their websites, and their mottos and slogans. Along with that, virtually synonymous with it in some senses, is their claim to a high commitment to scientific thinking. The Reason Rally’s headline speaker was after all once the Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.
But they have been under pressure from bloggers and others who have been questioning just how reasonable they are, or how committed they are to science. I’ve had a thing or two to say about that myself. It was perhaps becoming necessary for them to prove once again how reasonable and scientific they actually are. Here’s where their stroke of sheer brilliance comes in. They’ve invited the Westboro Baptist Church to attend the Reason Rally. Everybody knows that this group is on the fringe, that they are unique, sui generis, one-of-a-kind. Everybody also knows how tempting it would be for the atheists running the Reason Rally to point to the Westboro group’s hatred and say, “see what awful things Christianity does!”
But they’re not going to do that. This is where they’re going to prove their commitment to reason and science. They know how wrong, how scientifically irresponsible it would be to draw conclusions from a small, non-representative sample. They know how excellent it is to resist the temptation to report non-representative findings as if they could be generalized to a larger population. They know that everyone would expect them to fall into that temptation with Westboro.
Is the genius of their plan not now falling into place before your eyes?
Here’s why they invited Westboro Church. They’re going to turn expectations upside down. They’re going to stand up on stage and tell the world, “We know Westboro Church is non-representative! We refuse to draw any conclusions about Christianity from them! We stand against anyone who thinks they illustrate anything at all representative of believers in Jesus Christ! Everyone repeat after me: There’s no reason to think Christianity is anything like this!”
And the world will see how magnificently they adhere to science, how reasonably they spurn the temptation to paint Christianity with a Westboro brush.
Is it not brilliant?! I’m holding my breath to see it happen that way.