'Sanity/Fear' Rally A Protest Of The Absurd Tens of thousands of people got together Saturday on the National Mall with comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was mostly a good-natured riot -- a laugh riot, that is.
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'Sanity/Fear' Rally A Protest Of The Absurd

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'Sanity/Fear' Rally A Protest Of The Absurd

'Sanity/Fear' Rally A Protest Of The Absurd

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LIANE HANSEN, Host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

HANSEN: NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports on the demonstration, or the protest, or whatever it was.

ANDREA SEABROOK: Mr. JAMIE HYNEMAN (Co-Star, "Mythbusters") Three, two, one.

M: That is the coolest vision I have ever seen.

M: Yeah, I felt that.

SEABROOK: The crowd packed the Mall from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument - 16 blocks of people - there to see their political guru.

M: And now, please welcome your host, Jon Stewart.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SEABROOK: He then brought on supposed conservative Stephen Colbert, who Stewart had to block from trying to get the crowd to kneel before him.

M: No kneeling. There's no bowing, there's no kneeling. These are reasonable people. This is...

M: They're reasonable for now, Jon, but soon they'll be a mindless panicked mob, once I release the bees.

SEABROOK: And so on. It was more of a spoof of a rally than a rally itself, and the audience played right along. Signs said things like Fight the Power after Lunch; there's nothing to fear but fear itself and spiders; and, from Chris Smith of New York City:

M: Beer. We're here in support of beer.

SEABROOK: Jen Malek of St. Louis, Missouri carried a sign that read Hyperbole is Destroying America. Her point?

M: Trying to bring adult conversation back to our nation's governance. Instead of you suck; no, you suck more; you're evil; no, you're evil.

M: The absurdity of the rhetoric has just gotten out of line.

SEABROOK: Chuck Yormy drove down from Newark, Delaware.

M: You know, screaming about death panels, screaming that they're going to take 500 billion out of Medicare, and to be screaming like you're a bunch of kindergarten children having tantrums is ridiculous.

SEABROOK: A group of people marched by chanting "Three-word slogan."

GROUP: (Chanting) Three-word slogan. Three-word slogan. Three-word slogan.

(SOUNDBITE OF HORN)

GROUP: Ow.

SEABROOK: It wasn't until the very end of the so-called Rally to Restore Sanity that Jon Stewart got a little serious.

M: And now I thought we might have a moment, however brief, for some sincerity, if that's okay. I know there are boundaries for a comedian pundit talker guy, and I'm sure I'll find out tomorrow how I have violated them.

SEABROOK: All the bickering and hostility and hyperbole in politics these days, Stewart lays the blame, at least in part, on the media.

M: The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen, or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire. And then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected, dangerous flaming ant epidemic.

SEABROOK: Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, Washington.

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