A rowdy crowd, an attempt to suppress the video via a legal threat, and ongoing controversy over the host — it didn’t turn out as planned.
By Jesse Singal, New York Magazine
The first thing you notice when you talk to Desh Amila, beyond the fact that he’s an outgoing and friendly guy, is that he has a lot of faith in the power of public debate to help improve the world. This stems in part from his background: The Australian entrepreneur and event organizer was born in Sri Lanka in 1981, not long before a civil war broke out that, over the course of 26 years, would kill as many as 100,000 people.
So Desh contacted another possibile host: Meredith Doig, a feminist with a Ph.D. who is president of the Rationalist Society of Australia, a Medal of Australia winner, and one of Desh’s mentors. Doig said she’d do it if she had to, contingent upon the speakers’ agreement, but didn’t really have enough time to prepare, and she thought the request to unseat Desh as moderator was unfair. All day on the 30th and 31st, as Desh helped his small team pack up cameras, props, and other gear for the flight to Sydney, emails from Gay’s team kept pinging his inbox. While at the airport waiting to fly to Melbourne for the event that day, he received several from Kevin Mills, a vice-president of the Tuesday Agency and the point person for the mini-tour. “I strongly urge you to go with Rachael,” read one. “Roxane will not put up with any more stunts provoking a reaction out of her or the audience.” Gay’s team made it clear that Doig was not acceptable. “We are not playing games, my friend,” read another. “Who are you planning on having for a moderator? Easy question.” Sommers, meanwhile, said she was fine with Doig but didn’t like the idea of Hocking hosting — she thought it was unfair for Gay to get to choose the host — and she preferred Desh overall.
Read the full article: Inside the Near Meltdown of the #Feminist Tour in Australia (New York Magazine)