Richard Dawkins speech at Air Force Base undermined at last minute

The details are still unclear, but the U.S. Air Force Academy is no longer a viable host for a planned Richard Dawkins speaking engagement. Despite the last-minute military venue ‘no-go’, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science secured the large Macky Auditorium at the University of Colorado at Boulder for Monday, October 15th.

Military members are encouraged to sign up for free tickets! Military ID / uniform gets you and up to three family members free (further accommodations may be available, so ask if necessary).

From RDFS:

The venue tentatively scheduled for USAFA for Oct 16 with the red tape, bureaucracy and ignoring of requests resulted in the event needing to be moved to Macky Auditorium in Boulder CO on Oct 15th. That’s only a week and a half a way and we need to start promoting it!

From what I gather, despite 8 months of attempts at finalizing this at the academy and assurances that it would work out, it didn’t. It was made clear that too many obstacles were still in the way early this week. Spokespeople at RDFS were extremely puzzled by the lack of communication but were unwilling to let the mud fly. Within two days, RDFS had secured a large replacement venue at Macky Auditorium in Boulder, Co.

Eddie Izzard is scheduled at the same 2,000 seat venue just two nights earlier, but it’s sold out. Tickets for civilians are very reasonable, at $6 student/child or $12 General admission (once again free for military families!)

I’m not surprised at the extremely tardy finalization (or lack thereof, rather.) It took me 18 + months to secure the Fort Bragg main post parade field for Richard Dawkins back in March. 1500 people showed up! Earlier, they tried to shove us into a small movie theater, telling reporters that only a hundred people would likely attend (reporters laughed at this, and immediately called me for comment)… In the end, Fort Bragg commanders really came through for us in a big way. It was a breakthrough, and it was hard-won. Every day was a cut-throat game of chess, but by the end of it – it seemed like we all were on the same side.

I’ve offered the RDFS my pledge for future support regarding any future efforts along these lines. I explained a few more viable strategies for securing a venue, potentially cutting off a year of red-tape. Frankly, aside from the military jargon, RDFS leadership generally had the right idea. We’ll probably never know the source of the real holdup, but I’m certain the public affairs rep for USAFA is standing by with several semi-plausible reasons for the scarlet tape.

This is a closeup from the makeshift press tent we set up right before Rock Beyond Belief. Dozens of reporters captured the scene as the three of us (Dawkins, Sean Faircloth and myself) shared the microphone. Fort Bragg commander, Col. Sicinski even fielded questions from the press. It was unreal.

In the background you can see the Main Post Chapel. At one point, I had to stop Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president, Dan Barker, on his way into that building. He took a potentially embarrassing situation and he turned it into the best one-liner of the day “I was going to make a religious movement.”

Please spread the word to any military personnel and / or family members in the Colorado area.

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  • Pelton

    WTF??? $12? I have exactly 420 dollars per month, or $14 per day to pay for food, clothing, and medication.

    Do you know how much disability is for a single person? $1048 per month. My rent is 550 per month for a shitty ass room. I also spend some on my share of the internet connection, phone and medication, leaving the 420 for everything else.

    Exactly which day do you suggest I go without those things so I can go to this event instead, asshole?

    “not much” my ass. Fuck you!

    • Justin Griffith

      Do you want to go?

    • Tenebras

      Wow. Dawkins could sell out an auditorium that charged a hundred dollars a ticket, and you’re ranting about $12. Yes that IS “not much”. But if you’re going to be completely hateful and obnoxious, I’d suggest you forego the internet connection to save up.

      • Justin Griffith

        It’s possible that something else is going on here. If this is a veteran who really wants to go, and maybe had a bad day… I’ll pay for the taxi and I’m certain that RDFS would comp the ticket.

  • Compuholic

    It would be nice to have some statistics that analyze the average time it took the USAFA to approve religious events by denomination. I have a hunch which denomination has the shortest average approval time.

    And what on earth can possibly be so complicated about approving a speaker and assigning him a room? I would really like to hear their mental gymnastics on how they spent the 8 months.

    If they really had so much red tape, they would not get anything done.

    • Erp

      I can’t speak for the USAF but at my local university certain times (first couple of weeks of each quarter during class times) can’t be booked for special events (reason here is they don’t know which classes might have to be shifted to larger rooms ahead of time and classes have priority over most outside speakers). Other space isn’t open to booking except under very special circumstances until so many months ahead of time. Oddly enough the easiest (and cheapest) large space for the atheist group is the university church.

  • Ender Wiggin

    The Air Force Academy did not commit to hosting Dr Dawkins’ political rally. For the enlightened beware this article is misleading. The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) was the original venue for the rally. UCCS contacted the Academy to see if they could use an Academy facility since their venues were to small based on projected attendance. After further review, UCCS decided to not to host Dr Dawkins’ political rally wrapped in book tour trappings. To determine if this is a political rally see Dr Dawkins’ web-site on the subject for yourself, to include the material on the two other speakers in addition to Dr Dawkins. Decide for yourself.

    • Justin Griffith

      Richard Dawkins’ people were told a very different story. They were given a host of shifting reasons at the end, including a sports team practice time that interfered with the schedule. When times and dates were suggested around this, other excuses came up. Politics was not one of them.

      To determine if this is a political rally see Dr Dawkins’ web-site on the subject for yourself, to include the material on the two other speakers in addition to Dr Dawkins. Decide for yourself.

      All three were present for a festival on the main post parade field of Fort Bragg this March. Sean Faircloth and Richard Dawkins both gave speeches, and were not political in nature. RDFS people state that the speeches were for the same exact book tour. I’ve seen the other speak as well, and it was a gender related psychology talk.

      I’ve decided for myself, who decided for you? Where did you get your information? I’d be very interested in getting a name / rank (if applicable).

  • Heather

    I do love seeing the facts misconstrued. If UCCS had really decided to not do the event, instead of being screwed over by usafa, I wouldn’t be going to a chancellors reception for Dr. Dawkins in two hours.