I wrote this down in a notebook the second after this experience took place. I kept it to myself because it was personal, and it pissed me off royally. Of course, I didn’t want to share the negatives of my efforts, only the positive…nobody wants to be bothered with the bullshit. I’m dealing with lots of different personalities, and on occasion, I wonder why I’m not a complete recluse. Even with so many positive experiences, that one shitty
experience tends to be remembered the most...
Promoting FFFF at the AAI Convention has proved to be a wise decision. 99.99% of the feedback we have received from convention attendees with whom we spoke were enthusiastic about our efforts by the time they left our table. It was highly encouraging to have confirmation that FFFF is meeting a need in the freethought community.
The .01% who expressed passionate contempt for our efforts was a lone, seasoned filmmaker who strongly suggested (actually, he was pretty damn close to demanding) that we not require any film submission fees for the International Freethought Film Festival—regardless of how nominal the fee. This particular encounter was an interesting parallel to what it is like attempting to talk to a religious fundamentalist who would clearly never, ever budge on her or his position. Blinded by a single point, he chose to deny the big picture of the purpose of
I told him, “We are promoting reason, critical thinking and freedom of inquiry and encouraging a film niche for freethinkers. We’re a non-profit organization, and the submission fees go directly to executing the event.”
He loudly replied, “I won’t support it because of the film submission fees!”
Fee, fee, fee! That was the ONLY thing he opposed. Of course, I respectfully disagreed, and diplomatically attempted to explain that we are a not-for-profit, and we need funding to support our efforts from various outlets. What kind of leader would I be if I abruptly changed policies because one out of 700 people raised the volume of his voice in disagreement? (Ok, perhaps this is a poor example, considering that this is exactly what happens far too often within our society—people often cave to bullies.)
It has been said many times before that louder does not mean right-er. This experience clearly demonstrated to me that even those who would describe themselves as rationalists are not immune to narrow-mindedness.